Relaunching JWU's Entrepreneurship Center

Author Makena Warfield '24 is a Media & Communications Studies major and works as a student assistant at JWU, contributing to JWU News.

Do you have an idea for a product, business, or side hustle but don’t know where to go from there? JWU Providence’s Larry Friedman Center for Entrepreneurship, also known as The Launch Pad, is a place where students can share their dreams and discuss their ideas.

“Our goals are to build a world-class innovation ecosystem as a safe and brave space for students,” says Jeff Binczyk, director of the Larry Friedman Center for Entrepreneurship. “The Launch Pad inspires student ideas to take flight! In real time, they can get resources at any stage they could be within their idea — from needing more information to financial assistance or licensing needs.

Two alumni talking to each other.

Launching The Launch Pad

A team of students in different majors (including myself) were involved in revamping the existing Entrepreneurship Center through projects in their classes, with the goal of increasing awareness about the space and recommending overall improvements that could be made. In Professor Diane Santurri’s Intro to Digital/Social/Mobile Media class, I worked with Xavier Sandoval ’27, a Digital Marketing & Social Media major, to research ways to help The Launch Pad’s social media presence. We gathered examples from other colleges’ entrepreneurship centers and offered advice on color schemes and social media trends. 

In their Design Team course, Graphic Design students Anya Hart ’24 and Ally Buckley ’24 were tasked with creating a brand for The Launch Pad, which included developing a logo and other visual elements. “We used a rocket as the logo to symbolize propelling something innovative forward,” Buckley shared. 

After all this hard work, we celebrated the relaunch of the center with an Open House for faculty, staff, current students and alumni. In addition to celebrating, it was an opportunity for students to network with alumni to get advice and share ideas.  

Celebrating a Legacy of Entrepreneurship at JWU 

Originally founded as a business school in 1914, JWU has a long history of fostering entrepreneurship. The College of Business is home to a variety of programs, but each one offers the ability to study the management of small and large businesses, startups and intrapreneurship. “My time at JWU assisted in a lot of the ‘big picture’ in owning a business,” shared Paul Dechichio ’04, the owner of Teeth Like Swords Printing. He completed an associate's degree in Culinary Arts and a bachelor's in Food Service Entrepreneurship during his time at JWU.

The Center also offers many extracurricular activities that help our students sharpen their communication skills. “It gave me a plethora of opportunities to sharpen my communication skills, both professionally and socially — professionally through internships and socially through extracurricular activities like The Campus Herald and Student Government Association,” says Bradly VanDerStad ’15, the executive director of the Providence Tour Company. While at JWU, he earned a bachelor's degree in Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Management.

Dechichio, VanDerStad and several other alumni shared their advice to students during the event.

How can The Launch Pad benefit students?

For current students, the new and improved Launch Pad will be the perfect space to develop their business plans and ideas. “I want to start my own business after college, so I’m really excited to spend some time in The Launch Pad and come up with a plan to make that happen,” says Chloe Hickox ’26, a Food & Beverage Entrepreneurship major. 

For students who are considering JWU, The Launch Pad is a perfect example of our commitment to supporting student entrepreneurship and creating collaborative spaces for bringing ideas to life.  

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