March 2014

NBIA Pre-Conference Institute Offers Workshops for NBIA Incubator Management Certificate Program

Michelle Armbruster

An incentive to arrive early for the May 18-21 NBIA Entrepreneurship Energizing Economies Conference is the opportunity to attend in-depth workshops. At the pre-conference event there will be presentations on topics such as developing an incubator, securing program funding, helping clients identify revenue streams, and trends in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. There will also be workshops that satisfy requirements of the NBIA Incubator Management Certificate Program which is a comprehensive and practical overview of the tasks and responsibilities of incubator management created for NBIA members. Developed with input from experienced industry professionals, the program provides a real-world view into the best practices of incubator management. In addition to valuable career-building experience, participants develop skills and gather tools to enhance the success of their programs.

Certificate program content includes incubator funding and client funding, mission and strategic planning, facilities management, selecting and serving clients, encouraging local and global entrepreneurial activity, and more. Earning an NBIA Incubator Management Certificate requires 24 hours of training in total from four full-day workshops. Certificate candidates have an unlimited amount of time to complete the workshop requirements. For more information about the certificate program, e-mail or call (740) 593-4331. 

The Entrepreneurship Certificate workshop at the pre-conference will be led by MBIA Vice-President Sandra Cochrane who will provide greater understanding of the business creation process by examining the concept of entrepreneurship and the start-up company life cycle. Discover the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, how to encourage entrepreneurial activity, current and alternative start-up models, and more.

Success at Fiesta by Blanca Salsa Supported by Kalamazoo Can-Do Kitchen Food Incubator

Michelle Armbruster

Congratulations go out to salsa creator Blanca Cardoza, the most successful grant recipient of the Can-Do Kitchen Incubator in Kalamazoo to date. An $8,500 grant she received in October through the Can-Do Kitchen operated by the nonprofit Fair Food Matters helped Cardoze launch her business, Fiesta by Blanca. Her three varieties of salsa are now being carried by Tiffany's Wine & Spirt Shoppe, The Natural Health Center, and Harding's Marketplace on Kalamazoo's west side.
Learn more about Blanca at:

Training Program Available in May and June for Early-Stage Technology Developers and Researchers

Kyle Mills

I-Corps Energy and Transportation is a commercialization training program for early-stage technology developers, university, and national lab researchers hosted by NextEnergy and the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. The program will give participant teams one on one exposure to industry, investors, and the federal government. The following organizations have already signed up to suppor this effort: GM Ventures, The Department of Energy, ARPA-E, Navitas Systems, DTE Energy, Arsenal Venture Partners, Huron River Ventures, Invest Detroit, and Denso Corp. Teams will become masters of the customer discovery process, which will help them find the commercial potential of their technology and build the right business model. 

If you are interested in partnering or having teams from your region apply to participate, contact Todd Nelson at, 313.833.0100 x155 and Norm Rapino,, 734.647.7459 for more details, or see our webpage:


What and Why of Incubators

Ron Steiner

The incubator approach to entrepreneurial development is radically different from traditional academic, or “by the book” approaches. The latter advises a “study-plan-finance-produce-market” sequence, in that order. The incubator approach is one of dream-start producing & marketing a minimum viable product, right away-validate the product and customer-THEN chase financing, with a real world business plan and actual track record. AFTER A TIME, AT AN INCUBATOR, YOU’RE NO LONGER A START-UP! 

• Incubators are firm believers that potential entrepreneurs are everywhere, but few ever start, because of “monsters under the bed” intimidating their dreams. The greatest “monster” is fear of failure, and loss of any investment (loans, equity, etc.). 

• Actually starting a business, in an incubator, knocks that fear-monster down to size. There is no capital investment, any “failures” are small, fast, early, often, cheap, and FIXABLE. These failures are all learning opportunities to change the product/service, market, partners, etc., before being “frozen” into a firm plan and or burdensome financial commitment. 

• All incubators share the same philosophy – start on a “shoestring, with what you have, get to market with a minimum viable product, embrace the support and “collegiality” of other clients and staff of the incubator. 

• An incubator becomes a community “magnet,” which starts to draw potential entrepreneurs out of “woodwork," and converts their thinking from “I’d like to do this, someday” to “ Just Do It.” 

• Resources for further investigation: 
o Your closest incubator – first and foremost 
o National Business Incubator Association – 
o The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki (Amazon) 
o Nail It then Scale It by Furr and Ahlstrom (Amazon)

The Starting Block, Inc., Hartland, MI,
MBIA Template 1 - March 2014