TROY — Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad has announced the winners of its “Make it Better” competition.

Designed to encourage participants to think outside the box — the competition challenged individuals to describe how they would redesign an existing product or service or develop a new one — to help improve the quality of people’s lives, or to make the state of Michigan or their community a better place to live.
Made possible through a grant from the Charles M. Bauervic Foundation, the competition was open to Michigan high school students, college students residing in Michigan and Walsh College alumni. Nine students from Frankenmuth High School were among the winners along with a graduate from Walsh College.
The Frankenmuth High School winners are students of the school’s business department chair Tamara Ley. Prizes were awarded to the students during a visit by Carol Glynn, director of Walsh College’s Blackstone LaunchPad program. 
Kirsten Gendron took first place and was awarded $500 for her idea of a chewing gum that filters harmful toxins of second-hand smoke. Second place winner Rebecca List took home $250 for her entry of a Wi-Fi Lifesaver Wristband and third place winner Hannah Beller won $250 for her “Wake Me Up Blanket” — an electric blanket that gradually circulates chilling temperatures as encouragement to get sleepy owners out of bed.
Other winners from the high school receiving $100 cash for their entries included; Sandra Lamarche, Molly Kostus, Calley Roche, Serena Dietrick and Rachel Williams.
Nicholas Volk and Kirsten Gendron both received $100 Apple Gift Cards for excellence in the marketing portion of their submissions. The optional marketing exercise instructed participants to create a one-page flyer to promote their product or service in a creative manner. Marketing honorable mention awards of $25 Apple Gift Cards went to Sandra Lamarche, Hannah Beller, Molly Kostus and Calley Roche.
“I’m excited that Blackstone LaunchPad is reaching out to students like mine, so they can see what they can do in the future,” said Ley, who credited the competition with stimulating creativity among her students. 
Walsh College alumnus Jason Beale of Warren tied for second place overall in the Walsh College Blackstone LaunchPad Make it Better Competition. The 2008 graduate was awarded $250 for his concept of a virtual yard sign that provides geolocation of home contractors working in neighborhoods, before and after photos of contractor work performed inside homes, and links to customer reviews.
“Our goal is to promote creative thinking at all ages and offer exposure to the entrepreneurial community,” said Glynn. Walsh College’s Blackstone LaunchPad program encourages entrepreneurism as a viable career path and helps individuals start new companies and take untested ideas to market. Paramount to the program’s priorities is its efforts to keep created jobs here in the state. 
Funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, and in partnership with New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, Automation Alley, University of Miami, Walsh College and Wayne State University, the Blackstone program helps aspiring entrepreneurs develop and launch their businesses. As the first of its kind in Michigan, it offers fully enrolled Walsh students and degreed Walsh alumni; and Wayne State University students – the opportunity to assess the feasibility of their ideas for starting and growing for-profit and non-profit ventures.


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