NEI Story Quick Facts
Grant: Launch Pad Student Entrepreneurial Training, WSU Launch Pad Entrepreneurial Trainging
Grant Amount Total: $300,000
- Support entrepreneurial education and training for students.
Launchpad was able to get me resources faster, and it really allowed me to excel.
- Brian Royster, AskSupportNow
Blackstone Launchpad – WSU
In 2010, the Blackstone Charitable Foundation partnered with the New Economy Initiative to bring its entrepreneurial incubator, the Blackstone Launchpad, to the campuses of Wayne State University and Walsh College in the Detroit area. Originally launched at the University of Miami to promote entrepreneurial thinking and activity among undergraduate, graduate students and new alumni, the Blackstone Launchpad was expanded to new regions like Detroit, where aspiring entrepreneurs can transform untested ideas into vital businesses that lead to economic revitalization.
Since opening in 2010, WSU’s Blackstone Launchpad has connected over 400 student entrepreneurs with mentors. 88 of those students have formed companies, 44 of which are currently profitable. NEI is excited to work with the Blackstone Launchpad to help shape Detroit’s next generation of entrepreneurs.
In addition to working a nine-to-five job, going to school full time at Wayne State, and raising three young children with his wife, Brian Royster is an entrepreneur. Having long been interested in computer programming and hardware, Brian once owned a shop selling refurbished PCs. But he realized that his business was not scalable. Now, he and a partner have launched a business they believe can be scaled. AskSupportNow provides small and mid size companies with software that proactively scans computers for performance issues. When issues are identified, Brian and his team will take action to fix the problem.
With the assistance of the Blackstone Launchpad at WSU, Brian was able to secure seed funding for AskSupportNow, as well as get needed guidance from mentors. “The Launchpad was able to get me those resources faster, and it really allowed me to excel.”
Elias Majid wants to revolutionize the way Americans brew, drink, and think about tea. While working on a degree in Nutrition & Food Science at Wayne State University, Elias started Eli Tea in February, selling his tea blends at farmers markets, online, and in his dorm. Since then, he’s worked on perfecting his blends while looking for opportunities to expand his market. His goal? Turn Eli Tea into the number one tea seller and tea educator in Detroit.
To reach that goal, Elias turned to Wayne State’s Blackstone Launchpad. The results have been outstanding. Since joining Blackstone Launchpad, Eli Tea has moved operations into a commercial packaging kitchen, and can be found in stores and cafes around Detroit. Elias’s next goal? To see Eli Tea in every Metro Detroit store within five years and make the Motor City synonymous with great tea.