Ready for Launch:
New Ideas and Career Opportunities
By Chris Kersting
Ours is an industry built on imagination, fresh ideas and entrepreneurship, qualities that offer exciting opportunities. While the annual SEMA Show in Las Vegas remains an obvious beacon for industry entrepreneurial activity, awareness of the scale and scope of innovation in the specialty automotive sector—and the opportunities it affords—has mostly been limited to the inner circle of our business community.
This year, an updated and significantly boosted SEMA Launch Pad program will expose our industry’s remarkable creative capabilities—and the business opportunities that arise because of them—to a much broader audience.
Originally the brainchild of the Young Executives Network (YEN), the Launch Pad program—in which participants pitch new products to a panel of iconic judges—quickly became an entertaining means of spotlighting emerging automotive professionals and their innovative insights.
Though it succeeded in offering compelling aspirational encouragement to a young audience, the program was not originally designed to generate exposure on a national scale. But the potential is there, and the enhanced SEMA Launch Pad is seeking to capture it.
Over the past few months, guided by a group of dedicated industry volunteers, efforts to scale up the program have intensified. One key aspect of the plan to make our industry more widely known is already in progress—capturing dramatic reality-style content that tells the human stories of the Launch Pad contestants, their backgrounds, hopes and aspirations as they pursue a life-changing opportunity. Currently, six episodes are planned for digital release this fall, leading up to the goal of engaging millions of viewers.
Already a diverse group of nearly 200 applicants have presented themselves, ready to compete for a generously expanded prize package that will extend deeper into the field than ever before. As they make their way chasing the American Dream, Launch Pad cameras will be rolling. Ultimately, there will be a dramatic showdown between finalists at the 2021 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, where a new Show feature, the Launch Pad Pavilion, will provide a focal point for all attendees and media. In addition to exposing our industry’s best and brightest innovators to the public, the SEMA Launch Pad will generate stories that will help construct a positive storyline for national media.
Along with creating greater industry awareness, the new SEMA Launch Pad program will serve to support other strategic priorities. Not least will be to help attract young workers and college graduates by providing a demonstration of the wide variety of career paths available in the automotive specialty-equipment industry. In addition, by acting as a showcase for entrepreneurship and innovation, an expanded Launch Pad will better support new product development while providing greater visibility for new companies in our industry.
FYI, the supercharged SEMA Launch Pad program will not be the only exciting, new aspect of the upcoming 2021 Show. This year’s Show will feature the new West Hall facility at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a 1.4-million-sq.-ft. showcase housing state-of-the-art exhibition and meeting space. Attendees will also be able to traverse the Show campus using a pioneering underground transportation system, spanning from the South Hall to the new West Hall, and designed to transport 4,400 riders per hour, per direction. These and other exciting features will provide an outstanding backdrop to the industry’s return to the world’s greatest gathering of automotive innovations and business opportunities—and all the more reason you need to be there!
You’ll be hearing more about SEMA Launch Pad participants and their ideas as we move closer to the Show. And starting this year, an audience of millions around the world will get a taste of our industry’s legendary inventive capability as well.