All events are held at the Western Michigan University Starting Gate facility in downtown Kalamazoo - Park Trades Center (326 W. Kalamazoo Ave.  Suite #321. Kalamazoo, 49007). Contact Lara Hobson to register.

  • Business Planning Workshop I: October 8, 4 to 5:00 p.m.—This workshop will start with the basics of writing the key components of a meaningful business plan including the business description, legal structure and market analysis.  Guest speaker: John Schmitt, Small Business Development Center.
  • Business Planning Workshop II: October 15, 4 to 5:00 p.m.—This is a continuation of the first workshop, digging deeper into the financial analysis and management and operations of the business plan.  Guest speaker: John Schmitt, Small Business Development Center.
  • Customer Discovery Workshop: October 16, 4 to 5:00 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, CIO at CSM Group and entrepreneur.
  • Intellectual Property for Startups Workshop:  October 22, 4 to 5:00 p.m. —Learn the process of applying for patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.  The speaker will also go into the licensing issues that startups face along with information on various business agreements.  Guest speaker: James Leonard, Patent Attorney at Price Heneveld. 
  • Business Model Canvas Workshop: October 29, 4 to 5:00 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’s 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: Lara Hobson, WMU instructor and Starting Gate operations director.
  • Insurance and Liability Basics: November 5, 4 to 5:00 p.m. —Startups have varying degrees of insurance needs, and this workshop will go through the basics of what is needed according to the specific industry or service that is provided. Guest speaker: Stewart Nelson, entrepreneur, investor and insurance expert.
  • Entrepreneurial Business Research Workshop: November 12, 4 to 5:00 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.
  • Digital Marketing Tools for Entrepreneurs: November 27, 4 to 5:00 p.m.—This workshop will provide strategic marketing guidance and help participants create profitable, market-leading brands.  The speaker will also provide information on effective social media marketing tools for new business owners. Guest speaker: Scott Cowley, assistant professor of marketing, Western Michigan University.
  • Motivation: Even When the Critics Get You Down: December 3, 4 to 5:00 - The goal of this workshop is to teach strategies to keep you motivated as a business owner as well as to keep your team engaged.  You’ll also learn valuable goal setting tools that every small business owner, in any stage of the business life cycle, needs to keep them motivated to do more and maintain the success of their business.  Guest speaker: Karen Smoots, inventor and entrepreneur
  • WMU Pitch Competition: February 15, 2019 - WMU students compete for over $5000 in prizes. Location- WMU Haworth College of Business
  • Demo Day: March 18, 2019 3:30-5:30 p.m.—Student entrepreneurs in the 6-month long Starting Gate program will make formal presentations about their businesses to members of the investor community to receive feedback and, possibly, future funding.  Location- WMU Haworth College of Business