Two students from Northeastern University created LaunchPlan in 2008. Founders Ray Di Nizo and Matt Chepeleff met in the classroom; having been assigned to the same team tasked with writing a business plan.
Immediately, they encountered their first roadblock; having great difficulty in finding proper tools to make writing their plan more efficiently, while being guided through the process. Rudimentary software existed – which they thoroughly tested – but they were frustrated they couldn’t find a complete solution (let alone one affordable for a student in college). This frustration was not in vain, as ultimately, Ray and Matt structured their business plan to focus on creating the very tools that would help others be more effective in their own business plan creation.
Their vision for a complete solution was based on three basic tenets: (1) be web based to support multiple users collaborating, (2) allow professors to customize the templates and resources to fit their exact need in a course, and (3) easily create comprehensive financial projections without using excel. Lacking the resources to prototype the application themselves, they explored fundraising and looked for a developer to help them get the project off the ground. While they were both full-time students – in addition to holding down jobs – they concurrently worked towards building a prototype and testing it with customers to learn ways to improve their platform. This loop repeated itself numerous times over during the next two years – with each iteration yielding a more thorough and complete product.
After graduation from Northeastern, Ray and Matt devoted full-time efforts to launching their new platform, and released a beta version of the site in January 2009, bringing on renowned MIT Sloan and Northeastern University as charter beta customers. The students and administration at these schools proved invaluable in helping further enhance and refine the product.
Version 1.0 was released in September 2010, and received positive feedback from academia and SMB customers nationwide. Ray and Matt used this feedback – and their absolute passion to provide their customers with the best product possible – to start developing their next release. They wanted to add integrated resources and refreshing tutorials, more transparent financial tools, and private/branded networks to their platform. And to ensure an excellent reception from their customers, they worked closely with professors at top business schools in New England and an advisory team with deep financial expertise.
In September 2011, Version 2.0 was released to universal accolades. LaunchPlan’s platform now included completely redesigned business and financial planning tools and hundreds of smaller enhancements improving usability and functionality. In January of 2012, LaunchPlan was used in over 20 universities around the world, and LaunchPlan will be used in over 30 universities in September 2012. And this is only the beginning. Despite what can only be described as “thorough product development,” the team continues on its path of continual improvement of what are already the best business planning tools in the world. Their unceasing passion for building the best solution possible is readily demonstrable in the platform – and they’re thrilled to be sharing it with you. It’s fantastic.