MISSOULA – Paul Gladen, director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at the University of Montana, recently was named CEO of the Montana Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. In both capacities he helps students jumpstart their own businesses.
“This is an exciting time for entrepreneurship at UM,” Gladen said.
The Kauffman Foundation ranked Montana the No. 1 state in the nation for startup activity for the third year in a row.
Last spring, sponsor contributions to the statewide John Ruffatto Business Startup Challenge, organized by MADE, increased 50 percent, enabling the organization to offer $50,000 in prize money.
“The numerous judges, coaches and audience members commentedthe quality of the ideas and pitches were the highest they have seen,” Gladen said.
MADE members voted last week to expand its mission from focusing on School of Business Administration students to encompass all UM students and entrepreneurial talent across the state. The members also elected Dori Gilels, chief operating officer and publisher of Mamalode, as chairwoman. Dawn McGee, CEO of Goodworks Ventures; Jeremy Brown of Dorsey & Whitney; and Kellan Carter of Ignition will serve on the MADE executive committee.
MADE also planned a program of upcoming fall activities to provide students from all UM colleges and schools opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and engage and interact with Montana’s entrepreneurial community.
As part of that plan, Gladen will teach a course entitled Startups: A Real World Introduction, which will introduce students to the world of entrepreneurship and Montana startups in particular.
The course will use recordings of local entrepreneurs captured at the weekly 1 Million Cups Missoula meetings to analyze startup business models and identify opportunities and challenges encountered by startups. 1 Million Cups is an initiative of the Kauffman Foundation that provides startups with the chance to pitch their businesses to the local community.