2014 Member News:
Announcing two new Blackstone LaunchPad ventures open for business: If you're looking for natural personal care products, check out Ruma Organics and read their story here. Also, if you're interested in art to purchase or to create, visit Picasso's Grapevine. That business was featured in the Troy Patch and other Patches.
Confidence in the Michigan economy and a passion for controlling personal economic destiny guided Stephanie Zanon as she opened her new venture Ahoy! Marine Specialist - six months after receiving her bachelor of science in business management from Walsh College. Now, as she marks the one-year anniversary of her marine brokering company, she reflects on a year filled with valuable lessons and successes that exceeded her expectations. Located in a small marina at 32575 South River Road in Harrison Township, Zanon’s company began business reaching out to customers beyond the sale with a full line of services including marine transporting, color restoration and waxing, custom vinyl and wraps, and bottom painting. Custom marine electronics and interiors were also part of its offerings. “Our goal was to build a continuous relationship with our customers,” said Zanon, who is joined in business by her husband Jim and their friend Tom Sepesi. “Most boat brokering relationships end with the sale of the boat, but we knew we needed to offer services after the sale to stay in business during the long Michigan winter months.”
To help support her business goals, Zanon took advantage of the services offered through Walsh’s Blackstone LaunchPad program. “You can dream, but you want to make sure you have a solid business plan and are following the correct procedures when you launch a business,” said Zanon. “Blackstone LaunchPad provided us with insightful brainstorming, great contacts for business, insurance, and legal representation – and helped us through the state registration process.”
Zanon’s hard work and planning paid off. “We haven’t had to put any new money into the company since July; it has been self-sustaining since then,” exclaimed Zanon. “I’ve been amazed at our progress, we were only operational for a few months last summer before we had to get through the winter.” Zanon’s early success has enabled the company to expand. Ahoy! Marine Specialist now rents out wells surrounding the marina and offers winter storage. Her advice to other would be entrepreneurs … “just plan for the unexpected,” she exclaimed. “Our first boat transport should have taken three or four days, and ended up taking two weeks. We had to get permits in every state, broke down twice and ended up stranded over a holiday.”
Check out the article that appeared in the Oakland Press and the Daily Tribune announcing the Make It Better Competition winners here.
Deadline to enter the Make It Better Competition is Friday, February 28th at 5:00pm.
Click here for all the details and please share this information with family and friends.
Back by popular demand! Walsh College, Michigan Women's Foundation and Inforum bring you the 3rd Annual Entrepreneur-YOU Conference on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 from 8:00am – 2:00pm at the Walsh Troy Campus. Register here.
The Buy Michigan Now Festival is taking place August 1st – 3rd in Northville. This family-friendly event includes tasty treats, street vendors, live music, and children’s activities, all highlighting Michigan-based businesses and Michigan-made products. For information about showcasing your business click here.
On Friday, January 31, Walsh College participated in Junior Achievements's National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. Thirty students from Osborn Evergreen High School visited the campus and listened to presentations from six speakers. Carol Glynn, Director of the Blackstone LaunchPad, actively engaged the students in a discussion about the traits of an entrepreneur, shared this video with them, and then helped them solve the Launch a Business crossword puzzle.
About a dozen alumni, students and friends ventured the inclement weather to attend the Walsh College Alumni Associations's Evening Networking and LearningEvent on January 16. The topic was: Elevator Pitch. Carol Glynn, Director of Blackstone LaunchPad, along with LaunchPad Adviser, Brian Renner provided in an interactive instructional presentation on fomring and delivering an elevator pitch.
2013 Member News:
In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Walsh College opened their Troy campus to the community Monday, November 18 for the third annual Walshpreneur Fair. Approximately 20 decorative booths showcasing products and services of several Blackstone LaunchPad Members’ businesses were set up in the Barry Center Lobby and included; Growable Greetings: environmentally friendly greeting cards that become flowers when planted; Fun Stuff!: a whimsical gift boutique; Great Pilates Now: virtual Pilates; Ahoy! Marine Specialist: a boat brokering company; IBS Global Consulting: an international business development company; Blackforge Tools and Equipment: a company providing an arsenal of tools, equipment and knowledge to meet specific job needs and budget; and SMFerguson Photography: a photographer who uniquely captures milestones moments of life. These new businesses represent only a fraction of the over 200 ventures that have been mentored during the last three years through the Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad program.
Joining Walsh College President and CEO Stephanie Bergeron as special guest speakers was Larry Gardner, president of the consulting firm Lawrence Gardner Associates and Vince Thomas, founder and chairman of Billhighway. In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of newly minted entrepreneurs, Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad Director Carol Glynn designed the event to provide attendees with insight on starting and maintaining a viable business.
Blackstone LaunchPad Member, Armando Doku, celebrated the ribbon cutting ceremony of his business, Avaneer Dental Studio, on Thursday, September 26th. Avaneer Dental Studio is located at 448480 Utica Road in Utica, MI and Utica City officials facilitated the event, which was attended by family, friends, dental hygenists and the Blackstone LaunchPad team. Avaneer Dental Studio will provide dentists with a complete line of cosmetically pleasing ceramic restorations, including crowns, bridges and veneers. Although Armando spent 10 years working and learning the technical aspects of a dental laboratory, he needed assistance learning business operations and utilized support from the Blackstone LaunchPad team. "The most exciting part of becoming an entrepreneur is realizing your ideas come to fruition," Doku said. For more information, visit: http://avaneerdental.com.
On September 24th a crowd of about 75 people witnessed business pitches of 15 women at Walsh College in the Michigan Women Foundation's second annual Entrepreneur-YOU competition for $75,000 in venture funding donated by Huntington Bank, The Ford Motor Company Fund and The Kellogg Foundation. Carol Glynn and Brian Renner of the Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad staff were assigned to coach Katie Flickinger of Garden Hoard. Garden Hoard’s mission is to propagate heirloom seeds for a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs while providing consumers with the knowledge and tools to grow healthy, safe produce and beautiful flowers. It was quite an education for all involved with Carol and Brian learning all about heirloom seeds and Katie learning how to prepare a business plan. Their diligent efforts paid off -- literally -- Katie won the $10,000 first prize in the Lifestyle category. She is also now an Honorary Blackstone LaunchPad member! Check out her website at http://www.gardenhoard.com.
On August 21st, 2013 Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh College sponsored the Know-Do Crowdfunding event presented by Fundington. Over 30 attendees learned terms, tips and tricks of Crowdfunding 101. The workshop took place from 6pm-9pm and participants left with a good understanding of the crowdfunding model, tools for a successful campaign and met new peers for networking. The next Know-Do Crowdfunding workshop is on September 25, 2013.
On June 4, 2013, Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson visited Walsh College and the Blackstone LaunchPad Office.
We had 33 entries for the 2013 Innovators Start Here Competition: Make It Better. Eight winners will receive cash awards for their unique ideas and two will receive Apple® Gift Cards for their creative marketing flyers. This year we enlisted the help of our Marketing Department Staff to help choose the winning flyers. Check the Competitions Page for the results.
Thank You LaunchPad Members for Giving Back: As the Admin Assistant for Blackstone LaunchPad, I often find inspirational entrepreneurial quotes to post on our Facebook page. One of my recent posts was this quote from Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google: “Find a way to say ‘Yes’ to things.” Well, I’m truly amazed how when I put a call to action out to our community of entrepreneurs they are always so willing to say ‘Yes’, despite their busy schedules and lack of funds, since most of them are true startups.
Recently, I sent an email to our Blackstone LaunchPad members asking if they would donate an item from their business for the “Made in Michigan” basket that LaunchPad was preparing to be part of the silent auction at the Walsh College Alumni Association’s Casino Night. I received an overwhelming response and our basket was overflowing with the members’ fine products. They personally delivered their items either on their way to work, in between a meeting, during their lunch hour, before class, or by email.
I am very proud to be associated with such a special group of entrepreneurs who just naturally “pay it forward.” The Walsh College Alumni Association was so impressed with our basket that it became the VIP Raffle Prize! So thanks to the following “VIP” donors: Steve Johnson of Motor City Brew Tours, Stephanie Comptois of Bear Necessities, Denise Kulak of Fun Stuff!, Anthony Mitchell of National Mother’s Hall of Fame, Anthony Majewski of Read with Max and eMarketing, Nicole Sesko of Growable Greetings and Brian Renner of Movie Insider. Eric Schmidt ends his quote with “Yes is what keeps us all young. It’s a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.” I witnessed the generosity of our LaunchPad members and saw firsthand what big things they accomplish by saying ‘Yes’.
April was a busy month for our Blackstone LaunchPad Members...
After realizing that the Blackstone LaunchPad consulting service was available to employees, Jamaine Reece sought their assistance and launched his own business --FLYA THAN AVERAGE -- a clothing line consisting mainly of T-shirts and hoodies marketed for individuals who share his passion for sneakers. Read his story here.
With the help of the Blackstone LaunchPad Team, Walsh Alumni, Mary Miodowski, created a website devoted to busy moms and their families. Her story is featured here. Visit her website at: www.dashingelements.com.
Congratulations to Blackstone LaunchPad Member and Alumni Anthony Majewski for being selected in Brooks' 2013 Class of Elite 40 Under 40.
Steve Johnson, Walsh Alumni and owner of Motor City Brew Tours, is featured in the Thursday, March 28, 2013 edition of The Troy Times.
On Monday, March 25th, Blackstone LaunchPad member, Nancy Martens, RN, CSA and founder of ElderCompass presented: Elder Care and the Challenges of an Aging Population at the Troy Public Library. Thirty people attended the 7pm event and received practical information about dealing with elder care challenges. Nancy addressed safety, medical, lifestyle, and legal/financial issues for seniors and provided a list of the Top 10 Elder Advocacy Tips to the attendees.
Informative Entrepreneurial Articles at Innovation America.
On Friday, February 1st, 26 Junior Achievement Students from River Rouge High School visited Walsh College to participate in a Job Shadow Day. Carol Glynn, the Director of Blackstone LaunchPad, was one of the speakers and encouraged the students to consider entrepreneurship as a career choice! She also worked on a fun "Launch a Business" crossword puzzle exercise with the students.
2012 Member News:
Best Holiday Craft Ideas From Detroit Artist (and Blackstone LaunchPad Member) Stephanie Comptois of Bear Necessitites.
Campus Pilot Program Helped Launch or Boost 105 Local Businesses | The Oakland Press, Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
Carol Glynn, Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at Walsh was interviewed by Michigan Business Network Radio in October. The first part of the broadcast can be heard here and the second half can be heard here.
Congratulations to alumni Larry Cunningham (BBA 2007), a member of the Blackstone LaunchPad and retired Deputy of the Wayne County Sheriff Department, who started Step-Up Transportation. Step-Up will provide reliable transportation for elementary and middle school students in Detroit’s riverfront district with an emphasis on preventing bullying. It’s a win-win situation -- students will feel comfortable and parents will have the peace of mind knowing that their children are safe commuting back and forth to school. More information about Step-Up Transportation is available here.
LaunchPad Member and Alumni, Denise Kulak (BBA 2000), opens gift gallery, Fun Stuff!, in Birmingham, MI. Fun Stuff! is an experiential pocket shop with whimsical, eclectic gifts for all. Check out the articles written about Fun Stuff! in The Oakland Press and metromode.
Nancy Martens of ElderCompass was recently featured in the Detroit News and Free Press.
The 2nd Annual Walshpreneur Fair and Reception, held on November 12th to celebrate Global Entrepreneur Week was a huge success. As our President, Stephanie Bergeron said, no roller coasters were available and cotton candy wasn’t served, but fun was still had by nearly the 100 attendees. The event featured presentations from Terry Cross an Angel Investor, Antoine Dubeauclard, President of Media Genesis and Tony Tolentino from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone LaunchPad members also showcased their businesses.
Blackstone LaunchPad hosted FundingPost again this year on November 1st. Joe Rubin conducted his Pitching Workship via Skype. During the morning workshop, attendees were able to practice their pitches and receive advice from Joe. In the afternoon, they presented their "perfected" pitches to a panel of Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.
CALLING ALL MOMS!!! LaunchPad Member, Anthony Majewski, transformed his Moms 2 Moms website. Visit the new transformation of this LaunchPad member’s project at http://www.CutieBuy.com/ -- A Moms 2 Moms Community Shopping, Event, and Socializing site.
Congratulations to the following eight Blackstone LaunchPad Members who won the 2012 Venture Accelerator Program and received a cash prize to advance their business!
Rob Berry and Judy Farmer
The Great Pilates Now venture is featured in two local newspapers: The Canton Obeserver and The Plymouth Observer.
One of our Blackstone LaunchPad Members, Nancy Martens of Eldercompass, is a finalist in the Michigan Women's Foundation Entrepreneur-YOU Competition!
Gotbibs breaks through to Export Market
Blackstone LaunchPad Members Virginia and Ken Krolczyk, had a major breakthrough with their business, Krol Mfg, selling 500 multi-purpose bibs to a business in the Middle East. Virginia credits Blackstone LaunchPad for providing insight and guidance with the export and shipping processes. She stated they now have confidence to pursue selling in other countries. Interested in the product? Visit their website: http://gotbibs.com/.
Four Blackstone LaunchPad Members opened businesses in March:
BLP members make the news: MomsTwoMoms.com launches maternal eBay platform in Grosse Pointe
(MetroMode), Nancy Martens' Eldercompass (MetroMode
) and Nicole Sesko's Growable Greetings (Detroit News
Blackstone LaunchPad Students Partner with One Hen to Kick Off Mentorship Program
We extend our thanks to the following Blackstone LaunchPad Members
who are volunteering as mentors for the One Hen Project
: Chris Coussens
, Adam Funk
, Garrett Graham
, Anthony Majewski
, Nancy Martens
, Mike Pircer
, Brian Renner
, Wendy Richardson
, Nicole Sesko
and Donovan Shand
"The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is proud to support One Hen," said Amy Stursberg, Executive Director, Blackstone Charitable Foundation. "Instilling entrepreneurial spirit and know-how at the earliest ages is a groundbreaking approach that will help foster the next generation of entrepreneurs. The economic future of the country is in the hands of these young entrepreneurs and we are pleased to be partnering with One Hen to start them on a path toward innovation and discovery."
Innovation Starts Here Competition:
"What Bugs You?" And the winners are...
- Vineet Jammalamadaka, Novi High School
- Hannah Sassone, Frankenmuth High School
- Glenn Czupinski, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus
- Agustin Paniagua, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus
- Audrey Gray, Frankenmuth High School
- Kacinda Payne*, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus *(Now enrolled as Walsh student!)
- Travis Lange, International Academy-Bloomfield Hills
- Brandi Hannah, Frankenmuth High School
See here why
was such a HUGE success! Stay tuned for next year!
2011 Member News:
LaunchPad Member Reveals Website
On Friday, December 9th, one of our Blackstone LaunchPad members, Anthony Majewski,
officially launched a business website and several Walsh employees attended the reveal. Moms2Moms (www.momstwomoms.com
) -- is an alternative to the traditional garage sale. We received great feedback from all who attended.
Blackstone LaunchPad "Pays Off" in November
November was an exciting month for our Blackstone LaunchPad members who participated in several activities which took place during Global Entrepreneurship Week
Congrats to Nancy Martens who won the $5,000 first prize for her Eldercompass elevator pitch at the Blackstone LaunchPad sponsored "Get Launched" event held at Wayne State! Our other two participants, Anthony Majewski (Moms2Moms) and Jason Beale (RegainGo), received Honorable Mentions for their business submissions. Great job by all!!!
Detroit Venture Capital and Angel Investor FundingPost
Six members won cash prizes of $500 or $250 to help move their businesses forward through our Venture Accelerator Program. Kudos to the following winners: Eldercompass (Nancy Martens/Donovan Shand), Growable Greetings (Nicole Sesko), Moms2Moms (Anthony Majewski), Once Upon an Adventure (Cheri Priester), Krol Mfg Virginia Krolczyk), Meridian Exchange (Marisa Scott).
Eleven of our more active and advanced Blackstone LaunchPad members from Walsh College and WSU were invited to join 70 entrepreneurs in the Detroit Venture Capital and Angel Investor FundingPost event hosted by Walsh on November 3rd
. They were given the opportunity to participate in a workshop to help educate them on real-world Venture Capital and Investor experiences and received tips on how to pitch their businesses effectively. In the afternoon session, four VCs and Angel Investors shared their tips on early-stage investing, hot sectors, things that are most important to them when they are considering an investment, the best and worst things entrepreneurs can do to get their attention and, of course, the best ways to reach these and other investors.
Discover, Network, Win | Walshpreneur Fair and Alumni Open House, November 14, 2011
President Stephanie Bergeron
helped host our first ever Walshpreneur Fair and Alumni Open House which was a huge success. Nearly 100 local entrepreneurs, Blackstone LaunchPad members and Walsh College staff attended. Fifteen of our "budding" Blackstone LaunchPad entrepreneurs featured their company products or services.
Other special guests included Carolyn Cassin, President and CEO of the Michigan Women's Foundation
, and a surprise appearance by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson
. Mr. Patterson talked about his respect for Walsh College as well as his commitment to building the entrepreneur spirit in the State of Michigan.
Paul Chambers (Core3 Solutions)
and Brian Renner (Walsh Alum, who is now an Advisor for LaunchPad, and Founder of MovieInsider.com)
gave the audience some quick tips on maximizing revenue through search engine marketing (SEM). Brian Pilarski (President of the Walsh Alumni Association)
facilitated a panel discussion with three serial entrepreneurs, Dave Morin (Cielo MedSolutions), Allen Wolff (Crowdrise and PaySimple),
and Bobby Smith (EnGarde! Detroit)
who shared lessons learned and secrets to success in building their businesses.