Seven Blackstone LaunchPad Ventures Win Best of MichBusiness Honors

Seven ventures from the Blackstone LaunchPad business development initiative at Walsh College in Troy, MI, have been recognized as up-and-coming startups by the Michigan Business and Professional Association (MBPA). As part of the MBPA’s Best of MichBusiness awards program, companies that make Michigan a good place to do business are honored.

The LaunchPad program was created at the University of Miami as a way to integrate the values of entrepreneurship campus-wide and turn students into CEOs of startups—which the program believes is integral to America’s economic recovery. The LaunchPad model was recognized by the Harvard Business Review for its success and, starting in 2012, has been replicated as the Blackstone LaunchPad program at Walsh College and Wayne State University in Detroit.

Blackstone LaunchPad has two goals, according to its creators: education and economic development. The program at Walsh College helps students develop business plans, and to that end it offers workshops, networking events, and coaching, as well as brick-and-mortar locations on campus for like-minded young innovators to gather and hash out ideas.

The seven Blackstone LaunchPad ventures and founders receiving Best of MichBusiness honors are:

—Motor City Brew Tours (Steve Johnson), which offers educational bus, bike, and walking tours of Michigan-based breweries in order to showcase the intricate process of beer production.

Read With Max (Anthony Majewski), a children’s music, book, and animation series designed to help children cope with emotional milestones through the adventures of a golden Labrador retriever.

Ruma Organics (Sylvia Ruma), an e-commerce startup selling a line of personal care products focused on natural ingredients.

The Work (Jesse Ford), a television and video production company drawing on the latest digital technology.

Avaneer Dental Studio (Armando Doku), a dental laboratory specializing in innovative restorations.

Picasso’s Grapevine (Leanna Haun), which offers group painting lessons accompanied by wine.

Other Fun Stuff (Denise Kulak), a gift shop featuring products selected to be fun, functional, and unique.

The winners were honored at a dinner ceremony on Nov. 18 in Detroit.

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