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WMU Starting Gate

Starting Gate is a student business accelerator that gives students rich and valuable resources to develop their startup companies. Located in the Park Trades Center in downtown Kalamazoo and operated by the Haworth College of Business Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the accelerator is open 24/7. Any WMU student can apply 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. Open 24 hours per day, the mentor-based accelerator offers an array of resources and just the right amount of structure for these highly motivated and creative students.

Student entrepreneurs:

  • Participate in regular update nights to help define the scope of their companies, adjusting business models and plans and gaining feedback.
  • Interact with several 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 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.

Contact Information

  • Laurel Ofstein
  • Associate Professor of Management; Director, Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
  • (269) 387-5417
  • laurel.ofstein@wmich.edu
  • WMU Starting Gate
    4779 Campus Dr
    Kalamazoo, MI 49008

I appreciate your ears for listening, your eyes that see my vision and your heart that makes you who you are.  I thank you for your time. You are making a difference.

—Shawntel Lindsey, Director, The Artbor Community Connections Center

The WMed Innovation Center is a perfect environment for innovation to grow and become a successful commercial enterprise.

—Client

WMU Business Connection logo

Whether you are seeking a research partner or want to enlist the help of student groups in developing business plans, or just looking for ways to engage with WMU, the Business Connection office can find the resource to help move your business forward.

—Mentor

A loan (from Local Initiatives Support Corporation) helped expand our cafe to triple our seating, add a kids space, increase much needed staff work areas, and make other improvements to the space.

—Krystal

MEL logo

The Michigan eLibrary (MeL) is the State of Michigan’s digital library. It has excellent resources available to Michigan residents at no cost.

—Owner

Western Michigan University’s Starting Gate helped me take an idea and transform it into a much more attainable reality. Whether providing talks with investors and business owners or accountability, the ultimate goal is helping your business succeed.

—Peter Shutt

Kalamazoo County Land Bank logo

The Kalamazoo Land Bank did robust community engagement around the vision and gave us something to work with that was solidly desired by people in the neighborhood. Having a vision meant we had to protect it. That’s something I thank the Land Bank for. It was difficult. It didn’t make anything faster or easier, but we got a better project in the end as a result of it.

—Matt Hollander

Buy Local logo

Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo is a hard working grassroots group focused on the greater Kalamazoo community and its small businesses. Their events and networking opportunities are the best!

—Cheri Bales

SBDC logo

Michigan SBDC is a great company providing top notch service to local businesses all over Michigan. The consultants are professional and the student workers contribute with excellent work!

—Martin Herman Sorensen

Score Kalamazoo logos

If you have any questions about starting, growing, or anything business related SCORE Kalamazoo/SW Michigan is a great resource.

—Taylor Kallio

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