Monday, February 25, 2008

I Don't Think the Speedstick Was Strong Enough

Earlier today while I was doing my research for the previous post on Lion Launchpad/Blue Line I found some information which I needed to digest. It suggests that some thing strange is going on with this business incubator.

First off the idea for Lion Launch Pad came from a senior honor thesis by Robert Shedd. It was made into reality with the help of Robert Macy, clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Penn State's Smeal College of Business. Macy explains the basic idea,
"We see so many good ideas coming out of our entrepreneurship classes, but most of them need some form of help to become a sustainable business," said Macy, who is chairman of Lion Launch Pad. "In the past, the students with the best ideas had to leave Penn State and the surrounding area to find the capital and other assistance they needed. Our goal is to keep them here by providing them what they need to grow their businesses."
Neither the press release from the Penn State Propaganda Portal, from which that quote is taken, nor the Collegian story, which is based on the press release, names Dave Barton as part of the the Lion Launch Pad, which, by the way, is an independent 501(c) 3 corporation, not affiliated with Penn State. However, Robert Shedd has a blog and he does name Dave Barton.

We incorporated as a Pennsylvania non-profit this past summer, thanks to the help of John Rodney of Thorp Reed & Armstrong (http://www.thorpreed.com/). Then we opened our offices on College Ave, right across from the HUB & Atherton Hall, thanks to the amazing support of David Barton (http://www.blueswarf.com/), along with Liz Kisenwether, Robert Macy, and Keith McClellan.

In addition to opening the office, we held our first meeting with the board of directors earlier in November. What a fantastic group of directors: Hank Foley (Dean, College of IST), Donald Hahn (State College Borough Council), Elizabeth Kisenwether (Director, Engineering Entrepreneurship Minor), Robert Macy (Professor, Smeal College of Business), Jim Thomas (Dean, Smeal College of Business) and David Wormley (Dean, College of Engineering)! I will serve on the board of directors, as well.
From this it appears that Mr. Barton is just one amongst many who have contributed to Lion Launch Pad and he doesn't even sit on the board of directors.

Yet the Jennifer Thomas article explains that it was Barton that renamed and re-purposed Lion Launch Pad into The Blue Line.
"It's tough here because there isn't a long history of start-up companies," Barton said. "The goal is to get them to stay and get them to build a company."

He's hoping the creation of The Blue Line, a downtown business incubator he's sponsoring, will make a difference.

[...]

There's no financial commitment required from the businesses. Barton, who is funding the venture, said he envisions companies staying about a year to get their business established before moving on.

[...]

The Blue Line started last June as Lion Launchpad, a Penn State Smeal Business College-affiliated incubator. It has since transitioned to house all types of entrepreneurs, from students to any adult with a viable idea, changing its name along the way and ending its affiliation with the university, Barton said. Barton said he didn't want to limit the entrepreneurs he can help to only Penn State students.
So, Lion Launch Pad has gone from a Robert Shedd idea for fostering student entrepreneurs with a board of directors heavy on Penn State faculty and administrators into a one man operation which duplicates the function of the CBICC business incubator.

Here is the strange thing I found earlier today. This is a blog post by Daehee Park a Penn State IT student posted on February 6, 2008.
What happened to the open and driven atmosphere that first attracted me to the Lion Launch Pad? The blog is dormant, the site hasn’t been updated, the Facebook group is dead, and I haven’t heard anything at all (rejection or acceptance) from the board.

I did notice that 3 new companies have been added to the LLP companies page: Go2Entrepreneur, MateoBlu, and 8trk. But it’s weird that no announcements have been made.
Rob Shedd responded to the post in comments the next day.

Hey Daehee,
Yes, we’re working to reestablish the momentum that we had prior to the holidays. I’m not sure why it took so long to make decisions on the ventures that presented in December, but if you contact me, I’ll give you an update. Sorry for the lack of communication!

Rob

Three hours latter Dave Barton unloads.
As the person who is paying for the LLP, I take exception to your blog entry. A quick trip across the street would show as many as a dozen entrepreneurs working on their companies in the LLP. You would see that while most students and faculty were off on their holiday break we ADDED and renovated space that increased the LLP’s capacity. I am not a sugar-coater, I don’t get paid by Penn State to do what I do, so I can say what I think. REAL entrepreneurs don’t wait for an engraved invitation or approval to get started. They kick the door down and get to work. Progress was not seen because you did not make an effort to look for it beyond looking at your browser. I make no apologies for the lack of blog entries, website updates our patting-ourselves-on-the-back announcements. We are all too busy WORKING on our companies.

Did you even try to get contact any of the people you presented to? Sometimes brain barfing on your blog is not such a good idea.
That was earlier in the month and Lion Launch Pad hadn't changed its name or purpose. But if the changes were underway behind the scenes, it might explain the LLP vanishing act.

What happened to cause Barton to pick-up his toys and go home? Did he do this with the approval of his board? Could he legally do it without the approval of the board.

Something smells and the Jeniffer Thomas article is starting look like so much deodorant applied by Dave Barton.

Don't you all wish we had a better paper than the CDT?


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7 comments:

Great Book 1 said...

bluelinenetworks.com

good research but do more.

David Barton said...

Jennifer Thomas interviewed over 20people over a period of four months before doing the story. She didn't just do her research by reading blogs. I tried to stay in the background and allowed others take credit, even though I paid 100% of the costs of the Lion Launch Pad, now the Blue Line. I chose not to serve on the board or as an officer of the corporation because doing so would have restricted my entrepreneurial activities and I have a business to run. After 9 months, the entrepreneurs who took the initiative to use the LLP were largely recent graduates of Penn State. Only 3 of the first 12 companies were undergraduate run and this spring it will be down to one. This was is conflict with the LLP board's intent for this to be an undergraduate experience, so the decision to separate was made. The LLP will continue on campus. I let them to have the name, website and logo all of which we developed here. My commitment to entrepreneurship remains intact and unchanged, despite being insulted in blogs. We are doing so under a new name. I agreed to come out of anonimity to make sure the story is being told correctly for the benefit of the entrepreneurs in the Blue Line and those they may want to come here in the future. And that is why I am responding to this nonsense.

As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished. I believe you owe me an apology.

Anonymous said...

Wow. So this is what Dave gets for trying to lend a hand. Perhaps you should do some actual research and go down to the Blue Line and speak with some of the people involved rather than citing other blogs. It's obvious you don't have much else going on.

Anonymous said...

Someone has way too much time on their hands, and posts inaccurate information. Keep up the good work Dave!

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Veblen. This Dave guy seems unprofessional at best. I feel sorry for the entrepreneurs in the Blue Line that have him as their example. His responses to both you and Daehee say much about his character.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

That's serious pi!