Part 1

LaunchHouse celebrated a year locating to Highland Heights and will soon celebrate its 10th birthday! It’s amazing how time flies. Ever wondered how LaunchHouse even came to creation? Our CEO and co-founder, Todd Goldstein shared his journey back to Cleveland on Quote UnQuote with JD Caminero.

The Creation of LaunchHouse

JD Caminero: That’s awesome. One question I have is how do you prepare to start something like this? What was your background before you made LaunchHouse?

Todd Goldstein: I was originally from Cleveland. I grew up in Lyndhurst. I graduated high school, went to Johnson Wales in Providence Rhode Island. The question people ask me most is why Rhode Island? Why Johnson Wales? It’s usually known for a culinary arts degree but it has a really good small business program or has a really good business program. When I went to tour that school, the first class they said I could take was entrepreneurship. I always knew in my gut that I wanted to be in business or I wanted to be an entrepreneur even when I was in high school carrying the wagon in baseball field full of sodas and lemonade and selling them to the parents and people playing sports.

I graduated November 2003 and I really just I remember right before graduating I came home and I had lunch with my grandfather who had owned a restaurant in Cleveland and we were talking about how Cleveland was this great place in the 1950s and 60s and 70s and had more Fortune 1000 companies than anywhere else in the country but somewhere kind of lost its way.

We stopped innovating. Innovation went to Silicon Valley and Boston and other parts of the country and we kind of got complacent. I looked around and saw all my friends going everywhere else but Cleveland. I looked at myself, I said, I’m going to come back home. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet, but I’m going to come back home and see if I can make a difference.

The Move Back To Cleveland

Todd Goldstein: So in January of 2004, I moved back to Cleveland, I took a full-time job. At the same time, I started a business where I was buying real estate and rehabbing properties and renting them out and selling them. It was a very different time than today where as long as you had a job you could get a mortgage. Which ultimately things like that led to now tighter restrictions where it’s more difficult to do that. But that was kind of my entryway into being an entrepreneur but working full time.

And then in the summer of 2005, I kind of got my first break. I went to work for a medical technology start-up company. I was I think the eighth employee and I fell in love with startups and I watched that company grow from eight employees to 40 employees. We kept growing our space, I worked through directly with the CFO and the president and learned all about growing a start up company.

Meeting The Right Person At The Right Time

Todd Goldstein: Shortly thereafter when that company raised private equity funds I made the decision that I was going to leave and become an entrepreneur myself or figure out what was next. Around that time I actually met my co-founder Dar Caldwell and he had a similar path. He’d went to Cornell. He’d come back to Cleveland. He’d started a business doing landscape architecture and design and we actually met on our first on a project where I was rehabbing a house and I needed someone to do my architectural design.

We just really hit it off and had that really same passion of why is everyone leaving Cleveland? There’s great resources, access to capital, low cost of living. And we said why don’t we take what’s happening everywhere else in the country and bring it to Cleveland? Build a community where young entrepreneurs want to come and start and grow businesses. And really that was the emphasis behind LaunchHouse starting and then in 2008, we spent a year from 2007 to 2008 we identified one start up that we started working with.

We wanted to really see if the opportunity was really there to kind of bring people together. And I can tell you it was there. Before we knew it, we started with two 10 by 10 offices above Geraci’s Pizza in University Heights. And within a year we had taken over about 2,000 square feet about Geraci’s Pizza.

Listen to the full interview with JD and Todd here.

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