Business accelerator launched to help student entrepreneurs

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News

Starting Gate will help student entrepreneurs grow their business ideas.

KALAMAZOO—Aspiring student entrepreneurs are being sought to take part in a new business accelerator at Western Michigan University that will help them grow their innovative business ideas.

Starting Gate is a new student business accelerator that will test students' business ideas and models, provide mentorship from faculty and members of the business community, and help them build a network of contacts to support their burgeoning businesses.

The student business accelerator is located in WMU's Business Technology and Research Park and operated by the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in partnership with the Western Michigan University Office of Community Outreach. 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.

Business advice and more

Open 24 hours a day, the mentor-based accelerator offers an array of resources. Student entrepreneurs will:

  • Participate in regular update nights to help define the scope of their companies, adjusting business models and plans and gaining feedback.
  • Interact with 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, such as the Small Business and Technology Development Center, WMU Business Connection, Haworth College of Business experts and WMU faculty expertise from across campus.
  • Develop a robust network of contacts and connections within the local business community to aid in the success of their ventures.

"Starting Gate is an exciting opportunity for WMU students," says Dr. Kay Palan, dean of the Haworth College of Business. "Western students are very entrepreneurial in nature, and we see many students begin businesses while they are here. We are excited to provide yet another avenue to support and nourish our students' passion for entrepreneurship."

Students interested in applying for Starting Gate's fall cohort should visit and submit applications by Sept. 6. Four student companies presented their products Tuesday, Aug. 20. Student entrepreneurs will be onsite at the accelerator to talk about their products.

Members of the business community who are interested in serving as mentors to the students in the accelerator should email or contact Dr. Robert Landeros, chair of the Department of Management and interim director of the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at (269) 387-5802 or Bob Miller, associate vice president, WMU Office of Community Outreach, at (269) 387-2073.