BLP Warrior Fund Wraps Up 2013-Awards $7,000 to Student Entrepreneurs

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Dec, 19 2013

Warrior Fund 2013 ends as student entrepreneurs snag $7,000 in start-up capital

Blackstone LaunchPad last month wrapped up its 2013 Warrior Fund competition by dividing its remaining $7,000 in funding from the Michigan Initiative on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MIIE) among three Wayne State student ventures.

The annual competition concluded on Nov. 22 with its third and final round of pitches in the Law School’s Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium. MSquared Financial, which provides managerial accounting and financial analysis for businesses on a consultative basis, was awarded $3,000 to expand its operations. In its pitch, the venture had requested funding for a website and for office space and furniture in the Detroit area. College Tour, which is developing a web-based service that provides videographed college tours to prospective students and their parents on a subscription basis, will receive $2,000 if it develops a satisfactory strategic marketing plan. The venture requested funding to develop a mobile app and to furnish prizes that will induce college students across the country to provide video footage for its online tours.

Finally, Born Free Financial, a financial planning service aimed at young professionals with limited money to invest, will also receive $2,000 on a contingency basis. Specifically, it must conduct 30 interviews within its targeted customer base and provide pro bono service to two customers in exchange for thorough feedback that can help refine its business model. The start-up requested funding for website development, legal and regulatory fees, marketing and research and development.

Blackstone LaunchPad is the Wayne State business laboratory funded out of New York City by The Blackstone Group’s Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Each year through its Warrior Fund, it awards thousands of dollars to Wayne State student ventures that successfully pitch ideas for scalable businesses to a panel of Detroit-area business experts.

The competition began in March with the first round of pitches, during which Blackstone LaunchPad gave $17,000 to four contestants: $5,000 each to SIB Medical, Girls-With-Guts, and AskSupportNow, and $2,000 to Signal Techtronics. During the competition’s second round of pitches in July, Blackstone LaunchPad gave $4,000 to Ashur Collective and $3,000 to Eli Tea. The $7,000 awarded last month brings the competition’s total 2013 payout to $31,000

Aubrey Agee, senior program administrator for Blackstone LaunchPad, praised this year’s competitors, saying they have “set the bar very high.”

“These students are presenting their ventures before savvy, experienced judges who are scouring their business plans for weak spots,” Agee said. “That so many survived this scrutiny and received awards is a tribute to their hard work and demonstrates the important advantage they’ve given themselves by using Blackstone LaunchPad’s resources to refine their ventures.”

The judges who participated on Nov. 22 were Lou Ann Counihan, CPA/MBA senior financial executive; Antonio Luck, director business acceleration at Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Lori A. Mazurek, vice president of business banking at Comerica Bank; Andrew Olson, vice president for business development at Advaita; Gary Shields, adjunct professor at Wayne State’s School of Business Administration; and Monica Wheat, founder and executive director at Digerati Girls.