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

  • Fall program kickoff meeting: September 18, 5-6 p.m.  Student teams accepted into the fall program will meet to discuss goals and objectives.
  • Business Model Canvas Workshop: September 25, 5-6 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. The Business Model Canvas is simple enough to sketch on paper and powerful enough to refocus the way you view your business. Guest speaker; Sandra Cochrane, Small Business Development Center
  • Writing your Business Plan Workshop: September 29, 5-7:30 p.m. - Participants will learn how to write a comprehensive business plan.  Business plans are important to help you set goals, determine resources needed to carry out your plan, and foresee problems.  Guest speaker; John Schmitt, Small Business Development Center
  • Mentor Meetup: October 9, 5-6 p.m. Student teams will be matched to mentors with various areas of expertise.
  • Customer Discovery Workshop: October 10, 2-3 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.
  • Building your Team Workshop: October 24, 2-3 p.m. The majority of entrepreneurial businesses are started by teams, but if you're a lone entrepreneur with an idea and a dream, how do you find, grow, and manage a team that shares your passion?  This workshop will discuss this question, as well as ways to professionalize an entrepreneurial business with a team structure that can grow and change over time. Guest speaker; Laurel Ofstein, assistant professor of management
  • Impromptu Selling: November 1, 11-12 a.m. This Improv class will teach you the basics of how to form a winning sales pitch and the improv practice to hone your ability for "Impromptu speaking." You'll be prepared to sell to anyone no mater what they throw at you.  Guest speaker; Christina Williams, Talented Audio Productions
  • New Venture Financing Workshop: November 3, 4:30-6 p.m. In this workshop, we will discuss financing a new venture.  Debt and equity structure options will be discussed, as will the different sources; founder, family, friends (and fools), angel investors, venture capital investors, bootstraping, and crowdfunding.  This information isimportant for you to know so you provide the necessary info to your investor audiences, ask pertinent questions to investors, and possibly improve your company’s capital structure as the company matures. Guest speaker; John Mueller, assistant professor of management
  • Update Night and Mentor Meetup #2 with Starting Gate alumni: November 6, 5–6 p.m.
  • Are You Ready for an Angel Investor? and Taking your Professional Network to the Next Level Workshop: November 13, 5-6 p.m.  Guest speaker; Pat Morand, Open Prairie Ventures
  • Marketing and Social Media Workshop: November 14, 2-3:30 p.m. Guest speaker, Tamara Davis, Small Business Development Center
  • Demo Day: November 20, 3:30-5:30 p.m.—Prototypes and business concepts from the student teams will be demonstrated to members of the University and business communities.
  • Pitching Workshop: December 4, 5-6 p.m.  Guest speaker; Sandra Cochrane, Small Business Development Center
  • Investor Day: December 18, 3:30-5:30 p.m.—Student entrepreneurs will make formal presentations about their businesses to members of the investor community to receive feedback and, possibly, future funding. 
  • Spring program applications due: December 1, 2014
  • Spring program: January 13, 2015–April 22, 2015 (please note that there will be weekly team meetings held every Tuesday from 3-6 p.m.)