Local DMV startup Launch Workplaces announced it has hired Karen Kalantzis as the new Operations and Community Manager. This addition bolsters the Launch leadership team as the company continues to expand and explore new opportunities. Karen will assist Director of Operations, Mark McMahon, with operations of the flagship property in Gaithersburg, Maryland as well as supporting the Launch Community members at five current Maryland and Virginia locations.
“Hiring a dedicated Community Manager, and especially someone as experienced as Karen, adds to our already robust culture for small business growth.” CEO, Mike Kriel said in a statement.
Karen joins Launch directly from Montgomery County’s Business Innovation Network, Maryland’s largest business incubator program operated by the Department of Economic Development. She was initially responsible for educational programming as the Programs Coordinator and later for managing the Wheaton and Silver Spring business incubators as Incubator Manager. Karen brought in over 50 speakers per year to help entrepreneurs receive the training they needed to get their businesses off the ground while they were enrolled in the program, which typically was for a period of one to three years. As a member of the Tenant Review Committee, Karen advised aspiring members on their initial pitch deck and subsequent updates. During her tenure she also helped create the Maryland SBIR Resource Network, consisting of mentoring and conferences designed to help entrepreneurs apply for and win SBIR awards. She helped transition the county’s incubator program to private management in June 2016.
Prior to working with the small business community, Karen was a small business owner herself. She and her partner founded Corporate Network Services, Inc. (now called Main Spring) in 1993 with 3 employees out of a townhouse basement to provide low voltage cabling for local area networks. The company flourished, and over the years expanded its services to include computer support, help desk, managed services, and application development. The company serviced commercial accounts and the Federal Government including NIH and Ft. Detrick. It was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 plus won numerous Best Place to Work Awards. Upon Karen’s exit in 2013 the company had over 50 employees and had expanded beyond Maryland.
Ms. Kalantzis earned a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University and an MBA from George Washington University. She has served on numerous volunteer committees, including past President of the Poolesville Community and Economic Development Committee where her claim to fame was establishing the town’s first annual signature event that offered alcohol in the town’s commons called SpringFest, featuring beer, blues and BBQ. In her spare time Karen enjoys traveling and has already taken separate trips this year to Spain, Greece and Israel.
Launch members are part of a community of movers and shakers that take advantage of a shared office environment and receive benefits – such as onsite amenities, regular networking opportunities, and access to resources that allow them to save money and spend time growing their businesses. The Launch Workplaces model appeals to organizations seeking an alternative to traditional office leases and spaces, as well as the individuals and small businesses that are the backbone of our entrepreneurial community.
About Launch Workplaces:
Launch Workplaces creates productive, collaborative flexible office communities with the entrepreneur in mind. We understand what it is like to be a startup with a tight budget, or a passionate entrepreneur leading a small business unable to commit to a multi-year lease in a traditional corporate environment. Home to amazing small businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovation-focused teams from the Inc 5000, our communities are designed for companies looking for simple workplace solutions to get serious work done. For more information, please visit www.launchworkplaces.com.