Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Wayne State alumni take care of business at Blackstone LaunchPad

Wayne State alumni take care of business at Blackstone LaunchPad

Aubrey Agee and Cindy Hoffman work in the quintessential fishbowl: the airy, sleek space tucked inside David Adamany Undergraduate Library's main lobby, where tomorrow's business leaders - students in suits and in hoodies - can be seen lounging, working and laughing.

That openness defines the atmosphere Agee and Hoffman foster in the office of Blackstone LaunchPad, the Wayne State business laboratory where they help student entrepreneurs hone their ideas, craft business plans, court funding and forge networks throughout greater Detroit.

Under their coordination, Blackstone LaunchPad has been a steady source of venture-tailored coaching and campuswide programming, giving success-hungry students an audience with corporate and nonprofit luminaries happy to pass on their wisdom.

Drawing from their Wayne State M.B.A.s and hard-earned knocks from the business world, Agee and Hoffman teach students to be open-minded, hard-working and confident.

"I'm amazed at how much some of our students are willing to devote to an idea, even to the point of giving up their social lives and jobs in pursuit of their goal," Hoffman says.

Agee appreciates these young visionaries' maturity and realism. "Their success comes in understanding that no idea is a bad idea - just an idea that must be researched and refined to become a reality."