Launchpad Q&A – What’s the Impact?

Among the speakers, workshops, team meetings and full-time employment, Orr Fellows spend time bolstering the entrepreneurial spirit among Indianapolis middle school students. Launchpad was started by Orr Fellowship to encourage Indianapolis eighth graders to launch their own entrepreneurial initiatives, giving them the skills, mentors, and presentation experience needed to be successful. A few weeks ago, Fellows spent one week in the classroom, helping students create, brainstorm and pitch business ideas.

This week, we sat down with Launchpad’s fearless leader, Holyn Marshall from the Orr Fellow class of 2016, to find out more about Launchpad, and why it’s so important to Orr Fellowship.

Q: Why is Launchpad an important part of the Orr Fellowship experience?

Holyn: As Orr Fellows, we receive so much from the city of Indianapolis. This city has given us some of our strongest friendships and helped us form our greatest opportunities. Launchpad is our way of giving back to the community that we love!

Q: Why did Orr Fellowship choose to work with eighth grade students?

H: Eighth grade is historically when students will start to lose their entrepreneurial spirit that drove them to start lemonade stands and mow lawns as a kid. As students enter high school, the idea that their future job could be anything they want it to be gets lost. This is the age where they lose sight of that the lemonade stand they once had and focus on being doctors or lawyers. But, this age group can grasp how a business works and are still willing to think outside the box when it comes to what a business could be.

Q: What do you hope students take away from their Launchpad experience?

H: We hope that students come away from the program inspired to think outside the metaphorical “box”. Not all of them will go on to start a company, but hopefully they will begin to look at problems in their life and feel empowered to solve them instead of ignoring them.

Q: Do you have a favorite moment from this past spring running of the program?

H: I can’t pick one because all the moments have proven to be so powerful and impactful for both the Fellows and the students! One of my favorites was watching a Fellow work with a disengaged student and bringing them back into the fold by relating Launchpad directly to their life. It was also incredible to watch the students working with one another to create fun and unique companies! Students ideate around everything from parental control remotes to ways to fix potholes all over Indy!

Q: Are there any changes coming to the launch of the fall 2017 program?

H: Lot’s of things are changing! We are so excited that Launchpad will continue this fall and we are looking forward to implementing a couple big things what we learned from this past spring program. We will be tweaking the curriculum to include more valuable experiences for the students, such as creating prototypes and branding their companies. Another big change will be working more closely with teachers outside of the classroom so we can better empower Fellows to be comfortable facilitating in the classroom.

Q: Where do you see Launchpad 5 years from now?

H: The sky’s the limit! My ultimate hope is that this continues to be an opportunity for Orr Fellows to engage with parts of the community that they may not be exposed to on a regular basis. Our goal is that in every running of Launchpad, whether it is this Fall or three years from now, the programming at its core continues to inspire young minds and launch big dreams.

Q: How can the broader Orr Fellowship community get more involved with Launchpad?

H: Ask about volunteering! As we look to expand our reach with the Fall program and into 2018, we are going to need all of the volunteers we can get. The orientation process is simple and we would love to see more community members be involved as classroom facilitators, guest speakers, and so much more!

Launchpad has been a great experience for all of the Fellows and we are looking forward to growing the program even more in our Fall 2017 running! If you are inspired by impacting young entrepreneurial minds and would like to make in impact, please contact Holyn at to get involved!

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