Group photo of the 2023-2024 Starting Gate students standing in front of a large presentation screen.

Starting Gate is a student business accelerator program that gives students rich and valuable resources to develop their startup companies. Under the guidance of the Department of Management within the Haworth College of Business, the accelerator is open to all WMU students through a competitive application process in which students must demonstrate a promising idea for a product or service, which can be launched within a short period of time. Starting Gate provides a fast track to business launch.

Companies completing the accelerator program for the 2023-2024 academic year will have the opportunity to apply for a number of funding opportunities to advance the growth of their business.

Resources and benefits

The mentor-based accelerator offers an array of resources and just the right amount of structure for highly motivated and creative students.

Student entrepreneurs:

  • Participate in regular update nights to help define the scope of their companies, adjusting business models and plans and gaining feedback.
  • May request independent study of up to three credits for their work in Starting Gate.
  • Interact with several key mentors, including faculty members, successful entrepreneurs from the local community, investors and experts in areas of interest such as commercial law, venture capital and others.
  • Have access to the full complement of resources available through WMU and the Haworth College of Business via industry experts and faculty from across campus.
  • Develop a robust network of contacts and connections within the local business community to aid in the success of their ventures.


  • Group photo of Starting Gate students.

    Starting Gate serves 100th student company

  • Crypto-mining student business honored with $10,000 award

Accelerator alumni

  • Fall 2022 cohort

    Breaking Crucial Boundaries

    Breaking Crucial Boundaries is a podcast that focuses on stories about people from all walks of life. Mani Williams, a senior digital marketing and eCommerce major, is founder and host.


    CryptoShovel operates a consumer-focused, cloud-based crypto-mining service. The company, started by senior finance major Payton Walker, allows customers to start mining cryptocurrencies with no technical knowledge.

    Efficient and Autonomous Vehicles Lab at WMU

    Efficient and Autonomous Vehicles Lab at WMU is developing a commercialization strategy for a product that allows automated vehicles to safely drive in snow. Bryan Hagenbarth, a junior integrated supply management major, is focused on the effort on behalf of WMU.

    Happy Horn

    Happy Horn is the brainchild of Joseph Schwarz, a junior entrepreneurship major, and allows cars to have multiple horn sounds: normal horn, happy horn and cheerful horn.

    Hidden Gallery

    Hidden Gallery, founded by senior digital marketing and eCommerce major Dior Rouseau, is a clothing company on a mission to inspire progress.

    The Polish Express

    The Polish Express is an Instagram page where instructional food and beverage videos, peppered with humor, are curated by founder Bartek Scheibe, a senior entrepreneurship major. Included with each dish is a recipe name, ingredient list and instructions.

    Viva Travel Lernen

    Viva Travel Lernen is a travel community, founded by senior personal financial planning major Alexia Gomez, which hosts group trips to different countries, exploring cultures and promoting language learning.

  • Fall 2021 cohort

    Crypto Shovel

    CryptoShovel is a cryptocurrency-mining, computer-building company founded by finance major, Payton Walker. The company develops and operates mining systems for various clients through an equipment leasing structure. The company creates a user-friendly ecosystem that allows strategic partners to purchase crypto equipment leases.


    LifeSaver is a social media app with a focus on peer counseling. LifeSaver, founded by finance and accounting major, Dennivan Brunt, aims to bridge connections between users by allowing users to talk about their different life experiences with each other—including problems and questions that they may have regarding situations they are experiencing. The goal is to build a sense of understanding with one another, offer mentorship and guidance, and create connections.


    SheMakings is a sustainable clothing line that aims to create a more accessible option for sustainable clothing. The world's second largest pollutant is the fashion industry, and in order to make substantial change, environmentally friendly fashion needs to be more accessible. SheMakings, founded by entrepreneurship major, Siera Gunnett, saves articles of clothing and textile waste from hitting landfills, giving them a new life by screen printing original designs by hand onto them. Through this, SheMakings clothing has the ability to have an original style at a lower price point that benefits both the consumer and planet.

    Sportwatch LLC

    Although many coaches preach the adage “practice like you play,” most track and cross country coaches aren’t recording data during practices. Sportwatch LLC is an app-based business that offers coaches a digital stopwatch with an integrated team roster to facilitate the effortless capture of practice-based performance. The app, created by biochemistry major, Seth Byrne, is also accessible to athletes, so they can view their progress over the season and receive personalized metrics in their workouts.

    The mission of Sportwatch is to improve the way teams practice by bringing simple and accessible tools to power data-driven performance analytics. The company strives to show athletes where they’ve been, where they are now and the potential that lies ahead.

  • Fall 2020 cohort

    AgraGeospatial LLC

    The world is facing an increasingly dire climate crisis—people, plants and the environment are suffering. AgraGeospatial LLC works with organic farmers and cultivators to solve this problem. We provide insights on the health of crops and effectiveness of their organization. Using the latest geospatial technologies, AG LLC shows cultivators what their plants need to thrive. We teach organizations how to keep their personnel safe, happy and effective. In the next three to five years, AgraGeospatial aims to use maps and the science of behavior to solve the world’s biggest problems. The company was founded by geography major, Graeme Timmeney, and industrial/organizational behavior management major, Juan Lopez.

    Chlo's Clothing

    Chlo's Clothing is an online clothing shop that offers custom made crochet apparel, custom embroidered tops and other designed items all sustainably and ethically handmade by digital marketing and eCommerce major, Chloe LePine. Chlo’s Clothing offers a wide variety of fashion styles such as vintage, retro, festival/rave and loungewear styles. Chlo’s Clothing takes great pride in creating colorful, unique and one-of-a-kind custom pieces that can be ordered in any size and made for any fit. Chlo’s Clothing’s mission is to create fashionably fun handmade items that are made sustainably, are body inclusive and of the most stylish design.

    Impak Marketing & Promotions LLC 

    Impak Marketing & Promotions LLC is a promotional products distributor based in Southwest Michigan and founded by entrepreneurship major, Frederick Myles. The sole purpose of our business is to provide companies and organizations with custom print materials, promotional products and apparel to help create lasting impressions and brand awareness. We also provide help in product recommendation for events and industry specific products to market to your target audience. A few of the capabilities Impak can offer is the ability to provide small businesses and start-ups smaller quantities and fast turnaround times, with no rush charges on most items.

    Peak Development

    Peak Development is a brand, ideology and mentality to embrace throughout daily life. The core of Peak Development is found through public YouTube content created by finance and leadership and business strategy major, Jake Myers, that focuses on physical, mental and financial development.

    Transparent Beauty Co.

    Transparent Beauty Co. is an eCommerce beauty retailer, founded by management major, Irene Roberts, that focuses on helping customers determine the ingredients that irritate their sensitive skin. On our website, customers can input products that have caused irritation in the past and we will help identify the specific problematic ingredient to ensure consumers never have to guess what skincare products will work for their skin again. All products and brands sold on our site are cruelty-free, because we believe nobody should have to choose between finding products that work and doing the best thing for animals and the environment.

    Entrepreneur-in-residence: Kiaer Research

    Kiaer Research is a firm that conducts applied social research studies to provide new knowledge, tailored solutions and program, policy and product evaluation for businesses, nonprofits and public entities. Founded by Nathan Browning, M.S.'20, the insight-gathering tools include quantitative and qualitative methods like survey research, focus group sessions, in-depth interviews, data scraping and statistical analysis.

  • Fall 2019 cohort

    Ethereal Motion, LLC

    Ethereal Motion, LLC is a motorcycle technology-based company focused on creating innovative products to enhance the riding experience. The company, founded by mechanical engineering major, Tyler Skibicki, is backed by a highly knowledgeable team that is constantly working to develop new technology for the motorcycle industry. As we grow we will continue to release new lines of products, our specialty being in sportbikes and supersports. Whether you ride on the road or track, our products are designed to give you a more comfortable and superior experience.

    Feeding the Sheep

    Hungry people aren't just people who need their stomach fed. Many are physically filled, but their soul still craves for a different type of food. Feeding the Sheep's mission is to design a more effective and impactful Bible application that gives users a better understanding of the scriptures and also a feature that allows users to take notes during sermons. Users will have the ability to incorporate scriptures in these notes. The application, created by integrated supply management major, Joshua Olatunde, also includes gospel rap and other types of gospel music.

    Gel Sleeves

    Gel Sleeves is a company dedicated to restoring confidence in the elderly and those on blood thinners, founded by industrial engineering majors, Megan Gesler, Anthony Mastro and Conor Mulhearn. Our cutting-edge design incorporates gel pockets into a soft cotton/lycra material, strategically placed over high impact areas. This design prevents bruising before it happens, rather than curing the bruising after the fact.

    Kiaer Research

    Kiaer Research is a firm that conducts applied social research studies to provide new knowledge, tailored solutions, and program/policy/product evaluation for businesses, nonprofits, and public entities. Founded by evaluation, measurement and research major, Nathan Browning, the insight-gathering tools include quantitative and qualitative methods like survey research, focus group sessions, in-depth interviews, data scraping, and statistical analysis.


    Quantabella Sustainable Furniture is a design-centered brand that utilizes local, repurposed, or upcycled materials and turns them into minimal contemporary furniture. Founded by product design majors, Carl Anderson and Scott Bridges, Quantabella aims to provide the utmost quality in craftsmanship, sustainable awareness, and an authentic piece of furniture to our customers.


    Replicators is a design company that aims to enhance user experience with outdoor activities as they record videos and take photos. By using interlocking mini blocks that can be assembled into wearable connectors such as wristbands and headbands, users can easily attach their electronic devices to the assembled blocks as they activate their device to take pictures and videos. Replicators was founded by chemical engineering major, Shaoan Xi, electrical engineering major, Li Jie Kim, finance major, I-Min Chen and mechanical engineering major, Lisheng Kim.

    Viral News Network

    Viral News Network is the news of the future. VNN, founded by entrepreneurship major, Grant Fiema, is a social media news page for the millennial audience. The way VNN will achieve this is by getting its content from viral videos that are surfacing the internet. The reason VNN will report on this content is because of the general lack of context in these videos. The demand of context for viral videos is shown in the comment section. Also, since these videos are getting millions of views, shares, and likes, we understand that this is the content that viewers want to see on the VNN pages.

  • Fall 2018 cohort

    ABB Enterprises

    ABB Enterprises LLC is a supply chain distribution company, founded by integrated supply management major, Alex Bettis. This minority owned company distributes car accessory products to retailers and potentially manufacturers. The sole purpose of this company is to distribute new innovative products where demand for it can be proven so that they can be sold in stores. ABB Enterprises LLC is doing business as The Great Utopia.™ The Great Utopia™ sells and provides the data that will be utilized to prove demand for a product.

    Aria Décor

    Aira, founded by MBA students Nikshep Ramesh and Smita Somani, aims to offer furniture to rent to students and other temporary residents in college towns. It will help students make a hassle-free transition from their homes to their college towns without having to worry about a comfortable lifestyle. The concept of garage sales in the country also is at its peak—where households sell their goods at extremely lower prices, and then end up not selling much of their goods. Aira Décor would bridge this gap by procuring the furniture from garage sales across college towns and cater to the demands of the students by either selling the furniture or renting out the furniture.


    BeOfficial is an online business propelled by the BeOfficial Movement, encouraging young adults and teenagers to get involved with officiating sporting events. By providing high-caliber interactive online training to our users, BeOfficial prepares officials for in-game situations on and off the floor. BeOfficial, founded by integrated supply management major, Vernon Crump, promotes a lifestyle of a tailored professional personal image, healthy nutrition habits and money management.

    GoPoint Technology

    GoPoint Technology provides consumers with a safer way to travel with a small USB plug-in device that disables your phone while your vehicle is in motion. GoPoint, founded by sales and business marketing major, Devin Hamilton, plans on making the road a more enjoyable and less frustrating place to travel. Our device is smaller, more convenient, and more affordable than similar products in the market. The GoPoint NIX wants people to feel confident while driving around others in what would have been an unsafe driving environment.

    Grill Hanger

    GrillHanger is an early-stage product idea that provides barbecuers with a vertical roasting option for their chicken, ribs or steak that hangs over the grill. GrillHanger plans to sell to barbecuers, outdoor chefs, grilling enthusiasts, restaurant, and potentially grill accessory manufacturers through the channels of direct to consumer and distributors for B2B. A few immediate goals we have for the company include refining the prototypes/MVP, applying for a patent, establishing relationships with the early evangelists, and developing digital marketing strategies. Founded by sales and business marketing major, Brennan Vaughn, our vision is to provide all barbecuers with new, innovative products to enhance the barbecuing experience.


    Grue is an online platform that matches you with pet funeral parlors to ensure a pleasant journey for your furry friend. Grue, founded by computer science and entrepreneurship major, Justin Lee, provides personalized pet funeral services to assure the best fit for your furry loved ones. As your pet approaches their golden age, Grue allows you to pre-plan in a transparent, digital way, in order to curb any surprises that may come down the road if you were less prepared. Grue provides you with a service that allows you to compare different services, allowing you to make an informed decision without burning a hole in your pocket.

    Leaving our Footprints

    Leaving Our Footprints is an intentional tourism company focused on improving the lives of those who travel with us and the communities we travel to. Our business, founded by environmental studies and sustainability and travel and tourism major, Jenna Otten, is self-improvement and service-oriented, impacting the world in the most positive way we can. Each trip is focused on one aspect of self that travelers may wish to improve upon. We are changing the language around tourism and taking it from just lying on a beach to really impacting and connecting with the world around us.

    Motley Measurements

    Motley Measurements is a startup company founded by industrial and entrepreneurial engineering majors, Alex Berardelli, Charles Motley and Anna Ryan, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, that seeks to find profit by engineering innovative solutions to both household and industrial measurement needs. Motley Measurements demands a higher standard of precision in daily tasks requiring measurements and aims to introduce new methods of convenience to compete with current products. With their batch-manufacturing business model, Motley Measurements will serve the industrial and residential atmospheres alike, impacting any specific measurement procedure with efficient solutions.

    Nonstop Music Live

    Nonstop Music Live is a website for the streaming of live music, founded by sales and business marketing student, Gino Faris. The purpose of our service is to give musicians the ability to market themselves to a global audience. Music enthusiasts receive the benefit of discovering new music with all the excitement of listening live. Nonstop Music Live is a vehicle of opportunity that will promote change in the music industry, giving everyone an equal opportunity to grow and learn.

    Turtle Jump Technology

    Turtle Jump Technology LLC is a software development company founded by psychology major, George Joshua, focused on building software applications for the fields of behavior analysis and behavioral psychology. Our products will enable clinicians to provide more accurate, timely, and efficient services to their clients. Our first product is a mobile application for business analysts to collect and track continuing education credits at conferences. CE Lock is a mobile app available on Google Play and the Apple App store. Conference administrators use CE Lock to reduce the time spent on logging and producing paper certificates of attendance. Conference attendees use CE Lock to check in and check out of each session from the comfort of their seat rather than waiting in a line.

    Under Dawg Visuals

    UnderDAWG Visuals is a professional media company geared towards building the brand of the modern artist and entrepreneur. Started by film major, Nick Dimas, in 2016 out of Chicago, the company has spent the last two years building up the skills necessary for the craft as well as a steady client base coming from the Chicago, Detroit and Kalamazoo areas. Our services offer videography, photography and graphic design, all shaped around building a fully original media presence around a client’s professional brand. We specialize in music videos for artists and are well known for our use of special effects in a similar style to the editing process of Cole Bennet. On several occasions have created our own original special effects.