What began as a Michigan State senior project for business major Stefan Ahee, has become one of the latest entreprenurial ventures sponsored by Detroit billionaire, Dan Gilbert. Three 2007 Grosse Pointe North graduates and long-time friends, Stefan and Andre Ahee and Jessica Malouf, have hung out their online shingle and are open for business with their company, Brys and Edgewood Cake Company.
Brys and Edgewood, or B & E for short, is named for the two streets that the young entrepreneurs grew up on in Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores.
B & E has capitalized on a need in a new niche market - creating gourmet fondant cake kits for the amateur, at-home baker. The kits, which make confections like those seen on the Food Network's cooking show, "Ace of Cakes," can be purchased from B & E and shipped for free to a customer's home at a fraction of what a similar creation would cost from a professional baker. And they are easy to make, assured Malouf.
"If we can make them, anyone can!" Andre Ahee laughed.
Top quality ingredients like Fondarific fondant - a company that was started by two soccer moms in Georgia that now has national appeal - and step-by-step instructions make the beautiful designs by B & E equally delicious and easy to create.
It might seem a little unusual that the twin brothers, business and history majors at Michigan State, and Malouf, an economics major at Michigan, would choose cakes as the vehicle for their first business venture - especially when none of three claim to be accomplished bakers.
"It started out as my senior business project," Stefan Ahee explained. "My professor really encouraged me to keep going with it."
Stefan Ahee said he saw a need in the industry for his concept and approached his brother Andre and childhood friend Malouf to join him after the three graduated from college.
First, the three posted a business proposal on a website that helps creative projects like theirs find start-up funding. Through Kickstarter.com, the fledgling company, Brys and Edgewood, raised vital capital. In fact, they were so successful that they exceeded their goal of $3,400 with pledges totalling $10,000 in just 30 days. Bloomberg Business took notice and featured the young company as one of the most successful on Kickstarter.com.
The three spent many late nights in the kitchen, developing their recipes and kit combinations. Brys and Edgewood was born and its products were now available online.
Now enter self-made Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert's "Bizdom", an entrepreneurship accelerator program that provides up to $25k in seed funding, intense mentoring and business space in Gilbert's beautifully renovated M@dison Building in downtown Detroit. If accepted to the program, new companies agree that an eight percent equity in their company will go to the Bizdom nonprofit fund.
Eager to take their company to the next level, with retail stores being the eventual goal, Brys and Edgewood was accepted to the Bizdom program and is now conducting business in a really cool and collaborative space in the M@dison Building with other start-up companies like Texts from Last Night (Detroit office) - incidentally also started by another Grosse Pointer, Lauren Leto.
It's clear that the Ahee brothers, Andre and Stefan, and Jessica Malouf are no strangers to hard work and the rewards of being self-employed. All have entrepreneurs in their family trees, notably the Ahee brothers' grandfather, Edmund T. Ahee, who founded the family's world-renowned jewelry company of the same name.
All three live in Grosse Pointe with their parents as they work long hours to make their company a success. They all acknowledge the support and encouragement they've received to reach for their dreams.
"Anyone can do this as long as you think you can," Stefan Ahee said.
"You have to be willing to make this your life, not just a job," Malouf continued. "There's a lot of risk, but a lot of reward too."
For more information about Brys and Edgewood Cake Company, visit their website or call 1 888 839 6640.