About Build Institute
Great ideas start with Build.
We help people turn their business ideas into reality by providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and support network in Detroit. To date, we have graduated over 1400 aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs from our classes, many of whom have gone on to start successful businesses in the city. In addition to classes, we offer networking events, mentorship, connections to resources and a nurturing community that allows ideas to develop and flourish over time. With a little support, a lot of hard work, and a friendly nudge, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
Do you have an idea? Want to be your own boss? Dream of starting a business? Join us and get Building!
Build was started in January 2012 as a program of D:hive, a welcome center and resource hub located downtown. The classes, called Build Basics, are based on national standards for entrepreneurship education. The first class in Detroit was offered in the spring of 2012 and since then demand has grown tremendously. Classes are now offered every season and have expanded beyond the core curriculum to include Build Social, a class focused solely on social entrepreneurship, as well as satellite classes offered in Hamtramck, Livernois, and Grandmont Rosedale.
We empower people to launch ideas and grow businesses by providing access to education, resources, and a supportive engaged community.
Be a nurturing organization that delivers programs to support Detroit as the global leader in equitable entrepreneurship.
Meet the Team
April Jones Boyle – Founder and Executive Director
April was a founding team member of D:hive, where she was Director of Small Business Initiatives and helped launch the Build program. She is also the co-creator of a number of small-scale ventures including the award-winning family Hootenanny kids concert series and CD, the critically acclaimed Indonesian pop-up restaurant Komodo Kitchen and the all mom rock band The Mydols- featured on the Cable television series Gene Simmons Family Jewels. She sits on the board of Kiva Detroit and the advisory board for Ponyride. She is also co-owner and investor in Gold Cash Gold, building and restaurant, in Corktown. April is married to Model D Co-founder Brian Boyle and is the mother of three amazing boys – Carter, Gram Henry and Rowen.
Yolanda Curry – Registration Director
Yolanda is a proud Build grad and owner of The D. The Jewelry, which is featured at local boutiques such as The Peacock Room and City Bird. She earned dual degrees in Industrial and Jewelry Design at the University of Michigan in 2001. Yolanda has facilitated Build’s Etsy Entrepreneurship Class. For many years, Yolanda also taught youth art classes at non-profit organizations and several metro Detroit schools. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs build sustainable organizations, as well as exposing youth to business ownership. She also sits on the board at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. Yolanda loves travelling, biking, gardening, and reading with her two very energetic children.
Christianne Sims – Deputy Director
Christianne is founder and CEO of urbanize(D), an urban marketing and design consultancy based in Detroit. The company works with local organizations to plan, design and market their brands and programs through the complexities and opportunities of the urban environment. Christianne has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Marketing and International Business from Xavier University in Ohio. She sits on the board of Metro Museum of Design Detroit, the Michigan Chapter of US Lacrosse, and is a member of the Detroit Recreation Advisory Commission. Her community leadership and involvement also includes serving as a volunteer leader for Impact Detroit as well as co-founding and directing the cities’ first lacrosse program, Detroit City Lacrosse.
Jessica Scherr – Digital Communications Coordinator
Jessica is a Detroit transplant originally from Los Angeles, California. After graduating from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Technical Communications with a minor in Global Environmental Sustainability. After graduating Jessica worked in various digital media positions within the publication industry. She is a member of the Professional Photographers of America and Public Relations Society of America.
Dina Bankole – Market Manager/Office Administrator
Dina is a founding member and acting President of Michigan-based nonprofit, and Allied Media Projects sponsored project, Seraphine Collective, an inclusive, supportive and active community of feminists designed to foster creative expression and camaraderie among underrepresented musicians and artists in Detroit. She is the lead project manager of Seraphine Collective’s annual music and art festival BFF FEST (Best Fest Forever Fest) which is now it its fourth year. As an active member of Detroit’s music scene, Dina plays in several bands and books shows and festivals around the city. Dina earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Japanese from Yale University in Connecticut.
Cassie Coravos – Capital Programs Manager
Cassie is passionate about creating change through building community. She is the founder of Jiang China Design, a human-centered design and entrepreneurship summer bootcamp for college students in China. Before joining the Build team, she worked with The Empowerment Plan as a Venture for America fellow. Through these experiences she became a “jack of all trades” working in many areas including storytelling and marketing, data and impact tracking, and graphic design. She is involved in the community as a founding member of Open IDEO Detroit, a community design organization, and a collaborator of The Forge Detroit, an artist residency in Northwest Detroit. Cassie has a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing and Design Engineering from Northwestern University.
Our sponsors include the New Economy Initiative and Knight Foundation.
Our partners include Downtown Detroit Partnership, Kiva Detroit, Patronicity, Detroit SOUP, Wayne State Law Clinic, Hatch Detroit, TechTown, Bizdom, Opportunity Detroit, Google, Twitter, WEDGE Marketing, Adcraft, Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, MSU Product Center, Fifth Third Bank, ProsperUS, DDF, Invest Detroit, and countless community professionals.