A startup may have a great product, but that’s very different from running a business. Just because you have a hot IP doesn’t mean you know how to form an LLC, do taxes or set up the software for office work. Iowa City company Launch Services is aiming to handle some of the less glamorous work so startup founders can focus on their passions.
How Launch Services works
While students at the University of Iowa, Launch Services co-founders Luke Haverkamp and Gerry Redlinger started giving their entrepreneurial friends advice based on their respective accounting and finance backgrounds.
After graduating, Redlinger and Haverkamp decided to make a go at Launch Services as a career. The company got its start operating out of the IC CoLab, before relocating to its own offices in 2016.
“When you’re starting a new business, you might not be considering your entity structure or how to make a multi-member partnership or LLC,” Redlinger said. “Or maybe you want to figure out how to share in any profits or understand financial projections, budgeting and preparing the financials for banks. We do the basic work there, and if things need to get more involved, we can refer them to legal professionals we have partnerships with.”
Launch Services also handles sales tax, payroll, annual taxes, managerial reports, bookkeeping and financial advising, among other services. Launch Service’s clients include Iowa City frozen yogurt shop Yotopia, Christian ministry Bring Me Hope and Glory Be Collectibles.
“A big part of this has been learning to be client oriented,” Redlinger said. “There can be a big difference between what we think a client needs and what they deem important. But we want to be proactive toward their needs, not reactive.”
Launching new clients
Like many startups, Launch Services has done its own pivoting. Helping startups is the focus of the company, but that means working with clients that are bootstrapping themselves into business, who might not have a lot of extra money. To make sure Launch Services meets its own financial needs, Redlinger has taken on more established clients in need of tax and other financial help.
“‘Grow wisely’ is our mantra,” Redlinger said. “We want to make sure our clients are happy, so we can increase the services we’re currently offering.”
Redlinger lines up clients for Launch Services through referrals, as well as attending networking events and regular activities like 1 Million Cups.
“Luckily, the startup ecosystem of Iowa City is very tight knit,” Redlinger said. “We try to get potential clients to articulate what they’re passionate about and then we fill in whatever gaps we can.”
A successful Launch
Down the road, Redlinger hopes to expand the staff for Launch Services to better meet the needs of Midwestern startups.
“I want us to have the most efficient process for helping people form a business, do tax work and financial planning,” Redlinger said. “That will probably involve increased partnerships with lawyers and financial planners. The goal is to try to holistically serve our clients in a quality manner.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.