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Entrepreneurial Journey Leads to New Dental Laboratory

UTICA (WWJ) -- When Armando Doku celebrates the grand opening of Avaneer Dental Studio on Sept. 26, he'll mark the cumulation of a decade-long journey acquiring the education and expertise necessary to launch a successful dental laboratory.

Located at 44840 Utica Road in Utica, Doku's dental laboratory will provide dentists with a complete line of cosmetically pleasing ceramic restorations including crowns, bridges and veneers.

"We will be featuring high-tech ceramic materials characterized by outstanding stability and biocompatibility as well as strength levels that are significantly higher than competing all-ceramic materials," Doku said. "In addition to strength, our all-ceramic system restorations display excellent aesthetics and precise fit characteristics."

Coincidence was the pivotal circumstance igniting Armando Doku's vision of becoming an entrepreneur. Although he spent 10 years working and learning the technical aspects of a dental laboratory, he needed assistance learning business operations.

"While I was attending Walsh College I stumbled upon the Blackstone LaunchPad office," said Doku, who is pursuing his bachelor of science degree in business information technology at Walsh. "I was surprised and in awe the first time I met with the LaunchPad staff and realized there was a team of people that cared about my progress."

Doku turned to Blackstone LaunchPad for mentoring and advice on building a solid business plan, marketing strategy, brochure development, website creation and general business practices.

"I wanted to ensure the business idea was feasible and needed the opinions of industry leaders," Doku said.

Included in his mentoring process was an intense presentation breakfast at Automation Alley where he detailed and defended his business plan before volunteer coaches comprised of attorneys, entrepreneurial experts, and leading business leaders.

"It was like the television show Shark Tank," Doku said. "The experience gave me the confidence of knowing I had the technical and business knowledge necessary to build my business and a great team of energetic employees who were up to the challenge of making it a success."

The 29-year-old entrepreneur envisions careful and controlled expansion of his dental studio, which includes providing orthodontics and opening additional locations as business grows.

"The most exciting part of becoming an entrepreneur is realizing your ideas come to fruition," Doku said.

The Blackstone LaunchPad is funded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, in partnership with New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, Automation Alley, Walsh College and Wayne State University. The program helps aspiring entrepreneurs develop and launch their businesses. As the first of its kind in Michigan, it offers fully enrolled Walsh students, 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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