All events are held at the Western Michigan University Starting Gate facility in downtown Kalamazoo (510 E. Butler Ct. Kalamazoo, 49007 corner of E. Ransom and Walbridge). Contact Lara Hobson to register. 

  • Business Planning Workshop I: October 5, 4 to 6 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.  Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: John Schmitt, Small Business Development Center.
  • Business Planning Workshop II: October 12, 4 to 6 p.m.—This is a continuation of the first workshop, digging deeper into the financial analysis and management and operations of the business plan. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: John Schmitt, Small Business Development Center.
  • Website Development using WordPress: 6-week class on Tuesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., October 13 to November 17—Building your business website with WordPress has never been easier!  We will form a plan around your business's needs, decide upon website goals and needs to create content that helps deliver your message effectively to your visitors. Once everything is planned out, you will pick out a theme and some essential plugins and then start the building process of the website. The course will cover everything from home pages, contact forms, newsletter signups, blogs and more! You will also learn what to do beyond the six-week course on how to maintain and update the website and track the different statistics. Cost is $165 (free for Starting Gate participants), please bring your own laptop. Instructor: Andrew Kaser,
  • Customer Discovery Workshop: October 19, 4 to 6 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. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Bob Armbrister, WMU executive director of administration-information technology and services, and entrepreneur.
  • Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Design Workshop: October 21, 3:30 to 5:30 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. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Sandra Cochrane, Small Business Development Center.
  • Entrepreneurial Business Research Workshop: November 2, 4 to 6 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. Free to all WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: LuMarie Guth, business librarian, Western Michigan University Waldo Library.
  • Basics of Startup Financials Workshop: November 9, 4 to 6 p.m. —This workshop will give participants the basic framework for running the financial numbers for their startups. It will also go into identifying costs and areas for additional investigation.  Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Matt Ross, assistant professor of finance, Western Michigan University.
  • Legal Issues for Startups: November 16, 4 to 5:30 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. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Dan Girdwood, patent attorney and founder of Grand Rapids Investors Network.
  • Marketing and Social Media: November 30, 4 to 6 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 businesses. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Karen Buczek, marketing and branding consultant, Buczek Consulting.
  • Insurance and Liability Basics: December 7, 4 to 6 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. Free to WMU and KVCC students, all others $35. Guest speaker: Stewart Nelson, senior risk advisor, Kapnick Insurance Group.
  • Investor Day: March 28, 3:30 to 6 p.m.—Student entrepreneurs will make formal presentations about their businesses to members of the investor community to receive feedback and, possibly, future funding.