The Launch Pad opened in August 2008 as part of the Toppel Career Center and offers career guidance, resources, and advice to entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors at the University of Miami. One basic goal of The Launch Pad is to show University of Miami students and alumni that starting a new venture is a legitimate career path. A second key goal is to encourage every UM student who wants to start a new venture - either for-profit or not for profit - to do so in South Florida and thereby contribute to the economic and social growth of our region.
Through regular individual and group consultative sessions, workshops, and networking events - and through the good work of a network of local Venture Coaches - The Launch Pad is strengthening an entrepreneurial culture at the University of Miami and helping students and alumni from every school, college, and campus transform innovative ideas into successful and sustainable South Florida enterprises. The Launch Pad programs connect ideas, people, and resources; provide advice and guidance; builds relationships with experts in the local business community; and thus increases the likelihood of bringing new enterprises - whether for-profit or not-for-profit, to South Florida.
The Launch Pad Team is comprised of entrepreneurs, inventors, business professionals, and students who are committed to helping you at every stage of your entrepreneurial journey. If you would like to join The Launch Pad team, please contact us!
University Oversight and Administration
William Scott Green - Ph.D.
Dr. Bill Green is the Senior Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Education at the University of Miami. He conceived, instituted, and, with Susan Amat, co-founded The Launch Pad. Green was a member and then as chair of the Kauffman Foundation Panel on Entrepreneurship Curriculum in Higher Education. He currently serves as Senior Program Consultant for the Kauffman Foundation's Kauffman Campuses Initiative, which supports the development of cross-campus entrepreneurship programs in 18 colleges and universities. Green came to the University of Miami in 2006 from the University of Rochester, where he was Dean of the College and also served as director of the University's Center for Entrepreneurship. He chaired Rochester's Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year Program, which provides a tuition-free fifth year of education to students engaged in a project in the study or practice of entrepreneurship. Green earned an A.B. in religion at Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. in religion from Brown University. Click here for full bio.
Susan Amat - Ph.D., Consulting Director
Dr. Susan Amat is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Launch Pad at Toppel, the entrepreneur and innovator resource center at the University of Miami. Dr. Amat ventured into the music business as a concert promoter at age 15. A serial entrepreneur, she started and ran a successful record label, developing a television show that aired on the E! Network and the first CD-Rom magazine, and was a consultant to media outlets, record labels, and retail stores on marketing and strategy issues. Dr. Amat then moved on to the health care sector, creating products focusing on health monitoring and preventing childhood obesity. Dr. Amat has consulted extensively on brand development and management, strategic planning, and marketing in industries including high-tech, retail, health care, and non-profits. She currently serves as a lecturer in the Departments of Management and Marketing at the School of Business Administration, teaching courses in strategy, entrepreneurship, organizational behavior and has created courses including Leading for Innovation and Marketing for Entrepreneurs. Her extracurricular activities include being a founding board member of the Coral Gables Museum, author of the “Entrepreneurship Tools” column in the Business Monday section of the Miami Herald, and serves on several committees, including serving as Chair of StartUp Florida (StartupAmerica Partnership), One Community, One Goal (Beacon Council), and the Technology Advisory Council (Downtown Development Authority). In 2011, Dr. Amat was selected as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential Business Women in South Florida” and “40 Under 40” by the South Florida Business Journal, “20 Under 40” by the Miami Herald, and Women In Technology International's (WITI) honored her with both the Women to Watch award and the Carolyn Leighton Women's Leadership Award. In 2012, Dr. Amat was recognized at the White House as a Champion of Change for her work mentoring entrepreneurs and was admitted to the 31st class of Leadership Florida and was selected as a Leadership Fellow of the International Women's Forum. She received her MBA from the University of Miami with highest honors, specializing in Marketing, Management, and Computer Information Systems and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Miami in Strategic Entrepreneurship with coursework in industrial engineering, education, management, and communication.
Will Silverman - Ph.D., Director
Dr. William Silverman (M.B.A. '10) completed his Ph.D. in physiology at UCLA Medical School and migrated into business upon realizing that his career as a biomedical researcher was a long-term exercise in entrepreneurship and start-up financing, after having raised nearly $300,000 to support his investigations. His research explored areas as diverse as cardiology, immunology, and treatments for traumatic brain injury, and resulted in nearly a dozen publications in international scientific journals. He has lectured in graduate level neuroscience courses and taught laboratories ranging from biophysics to pulmonary function at the Miller School of Medicine at UM. Dr. Silverman is particularly interested in commercializing and promoting cutting-edge biomedical technologies and medical devices, from original inception through product launch. He joined The Launch Pad at its inception as one of its first Venture Coaches. His business expertise lies in the areas of finance and marketing and he has led workshops on financial modeling, business and corporate strategy, presenting business opportunities, and the foundations of start-up feasibility. He was nominated for a 2012 Small Business Influencer Award, and serves on the New Leaders Taskforce at the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development agency.
Peter Martinez - M.EE., Assistant Director, Technology Initiatives
A serial entrepreneur and noted social media expert, Peter has successfully launched several tech startups which have engaged millions of users and have been featured on news outlets including BBC News, the Washington Post, USA Today, the Miami Herald, TechCrunch, Mashable, among others. Both Pikchur and Cloudshopper have been noted for their innovative approaches to solving common pain points in daily life. Peter earned an Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering and a Masters in Electrical Engineering and has focused the better part of the last decade developing, scaling and consulting on social media, mobile and application development. Believing that being hands on and understanding all aspects of starting of a business is important to success, Peter has studied and put to practice the latest in programing, scaling, and financial molding approaches.
Dave Kershaw is a private consultant with a focus on economic development initiatives. He has more than twenty years of grant and project management experience spanning the public and private sectors as well as higher education. During his professional career he has helped establish and/or operate numerous incubators across Florida dedicated to nurturing and growing entrepreneurial high-tech businesses, facilitated the training of entrepreneurs, developed alternative fuel dispensing infrastructure, managed multi-million dollar energy investment programs, and supported the growth of rurally based clean tech companies. He is currently evaluating the commercial feasibility of several invention disclosures in the consumer products and internet services sectors. Mr. Kershaw received his B.S. degree from the University of Florida and his MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. He serves on the board of the Space Coast Clean Cities Coalition.