Events

All events are held at the Western Michigan University Starting Gate facility in downtown Kalamazoo (161 E. Michigan Ave. 4th floor of the Haymarket Building). Contact Lara Hobson to register. Workshops are free to WMU students. All others, please bring payment of $35 per workshop (cash or check).

  • Business Model Canvas/Value Proposition Design Workshop: May 26, 3 to 5 p.m.—The Business Model Canvas is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool. It allows you to describe, design, challenge, invent and pivot your business model. It is a simple graphical template describing nine essential components: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, resources, activities, partnerships and costs. The individual elements prompt consideration of a business’ full scope, while the layout encourages thought about how the pieces fit together. Learn how to create products and services that customers want. Guest speaker: Sandra Cochrane, Small Business Development Center.
  • 7 Truths of Sales and Negotiation: June 2, 3 to 5 p.m.—Great ideas and passion are a strong start. But successful entrepreneurs know that they are going to have to get others to buy into those ideas and feel that passion. This session will offer seven practical ideas for being a more sales and negotiation driven entrepreneur. Guest speaker: Jim Eckert, associate professor sales and negotiation, Western Michigan University.
  • Art Hop: June 5, 5 to 8 p.m.—Starting Gate will be hosting various works of art from Western Michigan University student artists.
  • Customer Discovery Workshop: June 9, 3 to 4:30 p.m.—This workshop will show how to quickly get feedback on an idea without spending a lot of time or money. The participants will also learn how to find talent to help them execute their idea and stay lean. How to create specification documents and manage a team to execute them will also be discussed. Guest speaker: Bob Armbrister, executive director of administration-information technology and services, and entrepreneur.
  • Entrepreneurial Business Research Workshop: June 16, 3 to 5 p.m.—This workshop will encourage awareness of information resources available to Western Michigan University students developing business ideas including business plans, funding sources and company, industry and market research. Guest speaker: LuMarie Guth, business librarian, Western Michigan University Waldo Library.
  • Business Survival for Startups: June 23, 3 to 4:30 p.m.—Startup companies focus on strategies and actions to run the day-to-day operations, growing the business and earning a profit.  Another strategic area of focus is how to respond to and plan for a disruptive event.  Learning how to implement an effective business continuity program will be discussed. Guest speaker: Thomas Reaume, president, Southwest Michigan Granite/West Michigan Quartz.
  • Networking Workshop: June 30, 4 to 5 p.m.—It's 5 p.m. somewhere and the people you meet at "after hours" may be the people that take you to that next step forward in your career. Learn networking tips and tricks from Kalamazoo's mistress of ceremonies. Guest speaker; Janis Clark, director of business engagement, Western Michigan University.
  • Marketing and Social Media Workshop: July 14, 3 to 4:30 p.m.—This workshop will focus on how to develop a marketing strategy with emphasis on finding advertisers for mobile applications. Guest speaker; Heather Isch, president, LKF Marketing.
  • Pitching to Angels: July 28, 4 to 4:30 p.m.—This is a dialogue-centric block of time during which the participants will be introduced to the intricacies of a variety of capital investment structures and their related terms and conditions. In addition, the participants will be presented with how networking becomes a way of life that advances both professional and personal objectives while actually building communities of interest. Guest speaker: Pat Morand, president, Open Prairie Ventures.
  • Financial Forecasting Workshop: July 28, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.—Learn the fundamentals of what investors look for in financial projections as well as the documentation and presentation materials needed for Investor Day. Guest speaker: Nino Garofola, owner, Garofola Financial LLC.
  • Demo Day: August 18, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.—Student entrepreneurs will make formal presentations about their businesses to members of the investor community to receive feedback and, possibly, future funding.
  • 2015-16 Academic year program applications due: September 21
  • 2015-16 Academic year program: September 28, 2015 through April 1, 2016