The Starting Gate accelerator program is a two semester program (one semester in the summer) with a mission to help Western Michigan University students (sophomore and above) achieve success in their business endeavors. Starting and developing a new business is hard work and takes a significant amount of time. Students will be required to participate in programs designed to increase their chances for success. These include weekly attendance commitments, multiple meetings with mentors, attending entrepreneurial speaker events, training and workshops. Please consider the time commitment before submitting your application.

At least one owner of the business must be enrolled at WMU. Both undergraduate and graduate students are welcome to participate. Students will be admitted on a semester basis and must demonstrate adequate progress in order to retain their membership in the program. All student participants must be in good academic standing prior to admittance to, and while participating in, the program. 

Application timeline

  • September 25, 2016: Applications must be submitted by midnight.
  • September 26-27, 2016: Applicants may be interviewed via phone, in person, Skype or Google Hangout.
  • September 28, 2016: Selected companies notified.
  • October 3, 2016: Introduction to Starting Gate kickoff meeting.

Weekly meetings throughout the academic year Fall 2016/Spring 2017) program will be held from 3 until 6 p.m on Mondays. Accepted companies must be available during this time.

Application instructions

Before beginning the application, please gather all materials and review the complete application.

  • Names and information about team members.
  • Social network addresses for startup, if available.
  • Names and information about mentors, if available.  It is strongly recommended that at least one mentor be a WMU faculty member.
  • 140-character description of the startup.
  • Description of your business model, including how your business creates and delivers value, earns profits and generates income.
  • Target customers.
  • Major accomplishments.
  • Full description (up to 500 words).
  • Business pitch video or a product demonstration video, if available.
  • Goals.

Apply to Starting Gate