Walsh College LaunchPad News

2014 Member News:


The following Walsh College LaunchPad businesses were nominated for the 1st Annual Best of MichBusiness Awards:  Avaneer, Doce B Shop, Fun Stuff!, Motor City Brew Tours, Picasso’s Grapevine, Read with Max, Ruma Organics and The Work.  Winners will be recognized at a reception on November 18th at the Sound Board inside Motor City Casino.  Good luck to the nominees!

With October known as national breast cancer awareness month, Walsh College LaunchPad member and Walsh student, Sylvia Ruma, of Ruma Organics  has partnered with The Pink Fund.  Her products are also listed on happychemo.com, a website offering freebies, discounts and resources for those facing cancer. 

Walsh College LaunchPad member and Walsh alumna, Danielle Cecconi of Doce Brigadeiro was featured on the front page of the September 5th edition of the Royal Oak Tribune.  View her story here.

If you’re a fashionista looking to express your true self with clothing and accessories, check out 325BLVD.com.  Blackstone LaunchPad member and Walsh alumna Julie Wardi created this venture because fashion is her passion!  Walsh College LaunchPad member and alumna, Denise Kulak, is a finalist in the 3rd Annual EntrepreneurYou Business Competition for her venture:  other Fun Stuff.  Over 100 entries were submitted and she is 1 of 10 finalists chosen to compete on Friday, October 10th at the Troy Campus.  Register here to attend the event and cheer on a Blackstone LaunchPad member!


Walsh College LaunchPad Competition Winners Announced

Walsh College LaunchPad announced the winners of its third annual “Make it Better” competition. Designed to encourage participants to think outside the box – the competition challenged individuals to describe how they would redesign an existing product or service or develop a new one - to help improve the quality of people’s lives, or to make the state of Michigan or their community a better place to live.

The competition was open to Michigan high school students, community college students residing in Michigan and Walsh College alumni. Fifty-four students entered the competition detailing creative entrepreneurial ideas. A total of 12 students from Frankenmuth High School, Troy High School and Lakeview High School in St. Clair Shores won cash prizes, including two $500 top awards.

Brooke Bowden of Frankenmuth High School took first place and was awarded $500 for her idea of a Furry Friend Finder that tracks pets and reports on their location and physical condition. Second place winner Kunal Garg from Troy High School also took home $500 for a mobile application programed to find recipes based on existing home food supplies and third place winner Abby Schmitt of Frankenmuth High School was awarded $250 for her submission of a home shopping company specializing in groceries. Fourth and fifth place winners Delaney Tepel and Kaila Verhaeghe, both from Lakeview, were awarded $250.
Other high school winners included the team of Jinxin Dam and Vaidehi Ambardekar of Troy High; Layne Davis, Nick Volk, Amber Kischnick and Melissa Olgren of Frankenmuth and Cassandra Van Acker of Lakeview.

Kennedy Smeader of Frankenmuth placed first in an optional marketing exercise instructing participants to create a one-page flyer to promote their product or service in a creative manner. Marketing awards also went to Shelby Scharrer and Melissa Schoenow of Frankenmuth High and Kunal Garg.

“Entrepreneurial creativity can be found within individuals at all stages of life. Our goal is to celebrate that creativity and offer exposure to the entrepreneurial community,” said Glynn, director of Walsh College’s Blackstone LaunchPad program. Walsh College LaunchPad program encourages entrepreneurism as a viable career path and helps individuals start new companies and take untested ideas to market. Paramount to the program’s priorities is its efforts to keep created jobs here in the state.


News from March...Once again Walsh College LaunchPad members’ contributions exceeded our expectations for the for WCAA’s 5th Annual Casino Night VIP basket donation.  A heartfelt thank you to the following members who donated and a special thank you to Nicole Sesko of Growable Greetings who added the finishing touch! 

Stephanie Comptois (1997/BBA), Bear Necessities
Danielle Cecconi, Doce Brigadeiro
Donovan Shand (2010/MBA) and Nancy Martens, ElderCompass
Denise Kulak (2000/BBA), Fun Stuff!
Rob Berry (1997/MSM) and Judy Farmer, Great Pilates Now
Nicole Sesko, Growable Greetings
Mike Kastler, Kastler Consulting Group
                                                       Steve Johnson (2010/MBA), Motor City Brew Tours
Brian Renner (2009/MBA), The Movie Insider
Anthony Mitchell  (2013/MBA), National Mother’s Hall of Fame
Leanna Harrouk Haun (1996/BBA), Picasso's Grapevine
nthony Majewski (2010/MBA), Read with Max
Adam Funk (2006/MSF), Savings Coach
Katie Flickinger, The Garden Hoard

Despite their busy schedules and lack of funds, The Walsh College LaunchPad community of entrepreneurs are always willing “pay it forward”.

February News...Well, we may be in for six more weeks of winter, but participating in these upcoming events may have you thinking about spring and summer! 

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.   Registration information available 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 Achievement's National Groundhog Job Shadow Day. Thirty students from Osborn Evergreen High School visited our campus and listened to presentations from six speakers. Carol Glynn, engaged the students in an active discussion about the traits of an entrepreneur, shared this video with them and concluded her presentation by helping them solve the Launch a Business crossword puzzle. 

About a dozen Walsh College alumni and students ventured through the inclement weather conditions on January 16 to attend the Walsh College Alumni Association's Evening Networking and Learning Series:  The Elevator Pitch.  The Director of LaunchPad, Carol Glynn along with LaunchPad adviser, Brian Renner facilitated the interactive instructional event held at the University Center. 

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 Walsh College 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 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.

Walsh College 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 Walsh College 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 Walsh College LaunchPad 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 Walsh College 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 Walsh College 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’.

March and April were busy months for our Walsh College LaunchPad Members...

After realizing that the Walsh College 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 Walsh College LaunchPadTeam, 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 Walsh College 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, Walsh College 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 Walsh College 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 Walsh College LaunchPad 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. Walsh College LaunchPad members also showcased their businesses.  Walsh College 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 Walsh College LaunchPad Members who won the 2012 Venture Accelerator Program and received a cash prize to advance their business!

Rob Berry and Judy Farmer
Aaron McCarthy
Tony Mitchell
Derek Baker
Jason Beale
Armando Doku
Mary Miodowski
Jamaine Reece

The Great Pilates Now venture is featured in two local newspapers: The Canton Obeserver and The Plymouth Observer.

One of our Walsh College LaunchPad Members, Nancy Martens of Eldercompass, is a finalist in the Michigan Women's Foundation Entrepreneur-YOU Competition!

Gotbibs breaks through to Export Market
Walsh College 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 Walsh College LaunchPad Members opened businesses in March:

Walsh College LaunchPad 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).
Walsh College 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.

one hen

"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...

  1. Vineet Jammalamadaka, Novi High School
  2. Hannah Sassone, Frankenmuth High School
  3. Glenn Czupinski, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus
  4. Agustin Paniagua, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus
  5. Audrey Gray, Frankenmuth High School
  6. Kacinda Payne*, Oakland Community College-Auburn Hills Campus *(Now enrolled as Walsh student!)
  7. Travis Lange, International Academy-Bloomfield Hills
  8. Brandi Hannah, Frankenmuth High School

See here why was such a HUGE success! Stay tuned for next year! - See more at: http://www.walshcollege.edu/blackstonelaunchpad-member-news#sthash.i8BCAW4l.dpuf

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.
Walsh College 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 Walsh College 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!!!

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).

Detroit Venture Capital and Angel Investor FundingPost
Eleven of our more active and advanced Walsh College 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. - See more at: http://www.walshcollege.edu/blackstonelaunchpad-member-news#sthash.i8BCAW4l.dpuf

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