Mike Semanco, BBA 1991, MSF 1999
Semanco, a Walsh College trustee and alumni booster, is president and COO of Hennessey Capital, a division of Hitachi Capital America Corp. Through his involvement on community development boards a few years ago, he learned about Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s intention to make an investment that would spark innovation and business creation in Michigan.
With Dave Egner, director of the New Economy Initiative (NEI) for southeast Michigan, he helped make the case for Blackstone partnering with Walsh.
“As the state’s largest graduate business school, Walsh has the business side of innovation covered. We have well-known academics, highly regarded faculty, and employers who Alumni support advances entrepreneurial initiative recognize our students. Teaching and supporting entrepreneurship is a natural progression for us,” Semanco asserted.
In 2010, Blackstone awarded a threeyear grant to create a LaunchPad based on the pilot program at University of Miami. Walsh took advantage of this opportunity and developed the infrastructure that is now a model for other LaunchPads across the country.
“Blackstone is very happy with our results and provided funds for an additional year,” said Vice President and Chief Development Officer Audrey Olmstead.
“However, our sustainability plan includes gifts from alumni and other friends to secure its availability for future entrepreneurs.”
What Semanco likes about the LaunchPad process is that it shortens the learning curve for entrepreneurs. “When people go through the program, they are matched up with mentors and venture coaches who have been there, done that,” he explained.
To date, LaunchPad at Walsh College has worked with 337 participants and helped start or grow 96 businesses that have hired 161 employees.
“For alumni, it’s gratifying to see these companies evolve and know that they’re coming from our alma mater. There’s something to be said for Walsh being a higher level undergrad and grad school that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses,” said Semanco.
“As the state’s largest graduate business school, Walsh has the business side of innovation covered.”
Mike semanco, President and COO of Hennessey Capital
Please join Walsh College in applauding Mike Semanco in his continued success by adding your comments below.
To nominate an alumnus to applaud, contact Duc Abrahamson, Alumni & Student Relations Manager at (248) 823-1298.