WCC Start-Up Incubator offers two years of mentorship and support for new businesses

Washtenaw Community College (WCC) has opened applications for its 2024 Start-Up Incubator Program, with cohorts planned for March, June, and October. The two-year program is open to future and current business owners seeking business development education and coaching to “turn their business ideas into successful ventures,” according to a statement from WCC.

WCC Entrepreneurship Center Director Michelle Julet says this is WCC’s second year offering the program, which had a cohort of 20 entrepreneurs last year. She says the program “follows the entrepreneur’s journey” and that cohort participants should expect a very supportive learning environment.

“We wanted to create a space that would support people from a business perspective, but a whole person perspective as well,” Julet says. “The number one thing that entrepreneurs need is a sense of community and belonging, and we want people to feel welcome and that they belong.”

Since the program’s start last year, Julet says it has evolved to better meet participants’ needs by focusing on building leadership skills and peer support through the cohort. She says this year’s program will emphasize peer accountability groups and other elements that allow cohort members to uplift one another on their path to business ownership.

“Things like book clubs or goals groups have been really important in ways that we didn’t even know,” she says. “They’re really important in addition to all the training, networking, and mentors that the program is attracting.”

Julet says WCC’s program stands out in comparison to similar efforts because of its “long-term nature,” its focus on “whole person skills,” and its volunteers and mentors from the greater Washtenaw County community.

“Our program is designed to reflect the mission and greatness of WCC by helping people realize their dreams by creating their businesses,” Julet says. “The support we’ve been given has been overwhelming.”

Though the application deadline for March’s cohort has passed, those interested can apply for June’s cohort between March 1 and May 15, or October’s cohort between June 1 and Sept. 15. For more information or to apply, visit the Entrepreneurship Center’s website.

Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.

Photo courtesy of WCC.

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