Oberlin Blogs

Halfway through LaunchU!

January 23, 2015

Ty Diringer ’14

Today is the third Wednesday in winter term, which means we're halfway through LaunchU—and it's probably time to introduce you to some of the participants. Here are five:


MyChair is an international team of alums working to build and distribute a mobile chair for students in developing countries. Many students around the world do not have access to a traditional desk and chair, leaving them to learn while sitting on the ground. Proper seating infrastructure has been proven to improve concentration, grades, and general well-being. In addition to providing this, MyChair, which folds into a backpack for ease of transportation, will give the students a place to call their own while they learn—another element proven to invigorate learning.

Drakonus Brewing Commune

Juan Bolaños, who left Mexico City for Oberlin in the dead of winter, is representing the Drakonus Brewing Commune. The four-member team is capitalizing on new laws in Mexico breaking up the current oligopoly on the beer market by providing an incubator for craft brewers. With a wide open market for craft beer and an enormous customer segment, Juan and his team are setting up a brewery in Mexico City, where they will help nascent craft brewers get off the ground—they will teach the basics of brewing, help new companies brand themselves, provide access to distribution and sales channels, and then let them fly. In addition, half of the brewery's capacity will be used by Brewmaster Juan for the Drakonus brand.

Worlds Beyond Studios

LaunchU had the distinct pleasure to bring together the two lead team members of Worlds Beyond Studios—Gabe Baker and Cederik Haverbeke. Despite having worked together for a few years, the two had never met in person—Gabe lives in California, and Cederik in Belgium. Their current project is a 3-dimensional educational world, specially designed for online classes. Online education is rapidly growing (maybe you've taken a MOOC), but of the largest problems the educators face is the lack of vital student interaction. Though Gabe and Cederik's video game-like environment, participants will be able to meet one another, have conversations, engage in group discussion, and perform exercises.

Call and Response

Just down the street is Call and Response, co-founded by the alum-and-student team of Gabe Pollack and Taylor Greenthal. The two are capitalizing on Gabe's Bop Stop in downtown Cleveland to launch an annual summer festival supporting local artists in Hingetown. There will be one each Wednesday in July, coinciding with Ohio City Stages.

Real Boy Digital

Real Boy Digital is also a student-and-alum team focused on the arts. Launched in 2013 by Myles Emmons and Devin Frenze, RBD is "a visual consulting group that utilizes digital media to enhance live events. We create projections that respond to audio and human interaction to provide a cohesive interplay between sight and sound." In other words, all those cool videos that are displayed behind performers at live performances? This is the next generation—the images are responsive both to the music and to human control, and are scalable for any event or venue.


There are fifteen more ventures represented at LaunchU—take a look at them here. For the next week and a half, the participants will continue to ideate on their business models, review their budgets and marketing materials, and hone their pitches for the final pitch competition on January 31. If you're on campus, join us in Clonick Hall starting at 10:00 AM, or watch live-streaming at our webpage.

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