Funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, the Blackstone LaunchPad opened in September 2010 offering career guidance, resources, and advice to entrepreneurs, innovators, and inventors at Wayne State University. Our primary mission is to show Wayne State University students that starting a new venture is a legitimate career path and attainable reality. The secondary mission is to encourage every Wayne State University student who wants to start a new venture - either for-profit or not for profit - to do so in Metro Detroit and thereby contribute to the economic and social growth of our region.
Through regular individual and group consultative sessions, workshops, and networking events the Blackstone LaunchPad is strengthening the entrepreneurial culture at Wayne State University and helping students and from every school, college, and campus transform innovative ideas into successful Southeast Michigan start-ups. Through partnerships with Automation Alley, the University of Miami (the original LaunchPad), and Walsh College (Blackstone LaunchPad@Walsh) we are committed to fostering the entrepreneurial community and revitalizing the economies of Midtown, Detroit and Michigan.
The Blackstone LaunchPad Team is comprised of entrepreneurs, inventors, business professionals, and students who are committed to helping you at every stage of your entrepreneurial journey. If you would like to join The Blackstone LaunchPad team, please contact us!
University Oversight and Administration
AHMAD EZZEDDINE, Ph.D. - Dr. Ahmad Ezzeddine is the Associate Vice President for Educational Outreach and International Programs at Wayne State University. In this capacity, he leads the university’s academic, global, and corporate educational outreach programs, including the university’s expansion in Macomb County.
In addition to his role as Associate VP, he was appointed Senior Associate to the President for Special Initiatives. A firm proponent of the crucial role that universities play in driving economic development, he is aggressively forging linkages with organizations in the City of Detroit and the Region and supporting community engagement and economic development initiatives. Dr. Ezzeddine brings an entrepreneurial approach to his work at the University. He shepherded new programs to Wayne State, including the Blackstone LaunchPad and the Detroit Revitalization Fellows Program.
Prior to his current position, he served as the Assistant Dean for Executive and Professional Development in the School of Business Administration. Under his leadership, the Professional Development Division experienced record activities and growth, surpassing levels from its entire 15-year history and becoming a self-funded operation. He has extensive experience in business development, change management and strategic planning, and has consulted with a diverse list of corporate clients including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, UAW-Ford, Compuware, and the City of Detroit.
Named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 40 Under 40 Class of 2007, Ezzeddine is committed to serving the community since his arrival to the Detroit area more than 20 years ago. He is the current Chairman of the International Visitors Council of Metropolitan Detroit. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Detroit YMCA, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and the Generation of Promise. Ezzeddine has a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Information Systems, a Master of Business Administration and a doctorate in Business and Industrial Engineering.
WILLIAM H. VOLZ, Executive Director of BLP@WSU – William H. Volz, Professor of Business Law and Ethics, teaches and writes in the areas of business ethics, commercial law, and taxation. Born into a farming family in Michigan’s Thumb, Bill joined the Wayne State University faculty in 1978. He is currently the executive director of the Blackstone LaunchPad at Wayne State University developing student entrepreneurs and assisting them in starting and growing new ventures. He was interim dean and, then, dean of the School of Business Administration from 1985 to 1995. Professor Volz also served as director of the Center for Legal Studies in the Wayne State University Law School, chair of the Department of Accounting and Associate Vice President for Academic Personnel. Professor Volz earned a bachelor’s degree with High Honor from the Honors College at Michigan State University. Following service in the United States Army during the war in Vietnam, he continued his graduate studies. He holds master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration and a law degree from Wayne State University. He is the author of a book on trial procedure and numerous articles on business ethics, international business, commercial law and taxation.
AUBREY C. AGEE II, Senior Program Administrator of BLP@WSU – Aubrey is the co-founder and CEO of former start-up venture, V-Power, Inc. V-Power, Inc. was a collaboration between Dr. Yong Xu, Professor of Electrical Engineering at Wayne State University and Aubrey Agee, Engineer and then MBA student of WSU. The Venture was granted a first option agreement by the Wayne State University Office of Commercialization and Technology Transfer of Dr. Xu’s PZT vibration energy harvesting device, dubbed the “AirSpacePZT”. The “AirSpacePZT” is a long life (indefinite) green energy device that will replace the Lithium Battery in Tire Pressure Monitor Sensors. Aubrey also spent two years as the General Electric Site Manager of Michigan Wind 1 - wind farm in the Thumb of Michigan. The Michigan Wind 1 wind farm is powered by 46 GE 1.5MW wind turbines. Aubrey spent 10 years as a Global Engineer with General Motors designing releasing (owner) side door components for new product and for service. Aubrey received his Masters in Business Administration from Wayne State in 2007 and his Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Wayne State in 2000.
CYNTHIA (CINDY) HOFFMAN, Program Administrator of BLP@WSU - Cynthia Finger-Hoffman is a serial entrepreneur who completed her MBA at Wayne State University in 2011. She was the managing partner of ie; (ideas & exhibits) llc, owner of Just Like Home 24/7 Child Care, partner in Bounce 3 Inflatable Rentals and managing partner of Chicago Coffee Co. Most recently she served at General Manager for Clean Emission Fluids, a local Green Technology Manufacturing company. As an entrepreneur, Cindy started each company from the ground up, creating business plans, conducting marketing research, building locations, hiring and training staff, supervising and coordinating all daily operations, and ultimately selling or closing the business. As General Manager she assisted the owner with organizing the company, creating procedures and processes, hiring and training staff, marketing and sales, basically handling all daily tasks of managing a small manufacturing firm.