Michigan Alternative & Renewable Energy Center
Business Incubator Program
Business Incubator Program
Our program assists aspiring alternative and renewable energy entrepreneurs and business startups throughout the business development cycle. We’ll help you to gain the knowledge, expertise and strategies you need to be ready for the risks and rewards of the marketplace.
MAREC services are offered to its onsite Tenants and its Virtual Tenants; both groups are also referred to as MAREC Incubator Members. Other individuals or firms may make use of MAREC services or programs on a contractual or ad hoc basis; please contact our Incubator Manager Joe Graczyk (616-331-6914) for details.
MAREC’s Business Development Program will provide education and training in business subjects tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs and other business operators whose backgrounds are primarily scientific or technical.
MAREC will regularly plan, schedule, publicize and conduct training workshops and seminars tailored to the needs of the tenants located within MAREC. Workshops will be open to off-site tenants and small technology-based businesses if space is available. The program will address business planning and management, business finances, taxation, proposal development, marketing, and other similar business subjects.
Training workshops will normally be offered in one of the MAREC conference rooms. On a scheduled basis, daytime and evening workshops, distance learning and other seminars and lecturers on selected subjects and individual mentoring services will be provided. Other than occasional minor charges to cover the cost of materials issued to attendees, no fees are expected to be assessed for workshop or seminar attendance. Most workshop sessions last between two and five hours. Presentation times will be scheduled to accommodate attendee schedules with minimum disruption to ordinary business operations.
Workshops will include guest lecturers, live televised presentations from distance learning sources, videotape presentations and exercises led by MAREC staff. Instructional materials will also be provided to attendees to facilitate the application of the training received to their particular business situation.
Small Business Technology & Development Center
Counselors from the Small Business Technology & Development Center (SBTDC) will be available upon request for consultations and will provide training in business issues, including business planning and marketing.
Business Plan Review
Experienced counsel is available for development of new business plans, as well as analysis and revision of completed plans. MAREC staff will provide recommendations in the following areas:
- Purpose of the business plan
- Components of the business plan
- Information-gathering strategies
- Sources of information
- Plan outlines
- Format for financial projections
- Review of drafts of component parts
- Critique of completed plans
General Business Counsel
MAREC staff will provide direction to the principals of early-stage businesses on a variety of topics:
- Growth strategies
- Market identification
- Marketing channels
- Business advisors
- Professional advisors/mentors
In some cases, MAREC may refer tenants to entrepreneurs or other agencies in its resource network with the appropriate expertise. Some are volunteers and provide services free of charge while others may charge for services. (See the “MAREC Advisors” section for more information.)
Professional assistance may be available to tenants for preparation of press releases and other media contact. Tenants will be asked to review and sign off on any information pertaining to their business before it is sent to the local media and all press releases will be reviewed by MAREC’s Executive Director prior to media submission.
MAREC will issue press releases at various times to publicize tenants’ activities. Tenant activities prompting press releases include:
- Newly signed lease agreements
Achievement of significant milestones:
- Major product sale
- Major contract secured
- New products introduced
- New funding secured
- Graduation from MAREC
In addition to the services above, MAREC offers assistance (directly or through referral) in the following areas:
- Grant proposal writing
- Market plan development
- Product development
- Business plan development
- Sourcing business financing
- Marketing materials/brochures
MAREC maintains a standing group of business mentors who are called upon to work with tenant businesses. The mentor group consists, most importantly, of professionals from a range of industries and with a variety of business experiences through the MI-SBTDC. As such, mentors possess a broad range of business experience, which can be matched to address individual tenant needs. These individuals have a “real world” appreciation of the problems that businesses face and the experience to assist new entrepreneurs in minimizing or overcoming obstacles to future development.
For each tenant company, staff draws from the mentor pool those who have the background and experience appropriate for the individual firm’s needs. Creating and matching a mentor team with a tenant firm is an evolutionary process: mentors may drop out or be replaced as tenants’ needs change in order to ensure a solid and productive working relationship between the team and the tenant. The mentor team works in conjunction with the MAREC director and Incubator Manager in counseling tenant firms. Team members are expected to meet on an as requested basis with the tenant businesses.
Mentors will also offer tenant companies networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, business people, professionals and organizations in the community.
MAREC has numerous affiliations who may from time to time be introduced to tenants to serve as business “advisors.” These advisors supplement the mentor services, typically consulting with tenants on individual projects or issues. The “advisor pool” includes professionals from a variety of disciplines, e.g., accounting, banking, legal, etc.
While in most instances, advisors are asked to consult on specific needs of tenant firms, it is possible that a mentor – an entrepreneur or executive – may work on individual issues as well. It is important to note that while business counseling and guidance are included as part of the program’s advising component, projects requiring substantive professional services may involve additional discounted professional fees. Advisors may agree to offer their services to MAREC tenants at one of the following three levels:
- Level One Advisors offer their services on a pro-bono basis to each active MAREC tenant. Should the MAREC tenant require services beyond the time offered, those services shall be offered at a discounted rate. Once MAREC tenants “graduate” from MAREC, continued services are to be negotiated between the advisor and graduate.
- Level Two Advisors offer their services on discounted basis to each active MAREC tenant. Should the MAREC tenant require services beyond the outlined offered, those services shall be offered at a standard rate. Once MAREC tenants “graduate” from MAREC, continued services are to be negotiated between the advisor and graduate.
- Level Three Advisors offer their services at a standard rate to all active MAREC tenants. Once MAREC tenants “graduate” from MAREC, continued services to be negotiated between the advisor and graduate.
Advisors will also offer tenant companies networking opportunities with other entrepreneurs, business people, professionals and organizations in the community. Advisors themselves may expect to benefit from their affiliation with MAREC as members of a highly selective, dynamic and well-respected business development initiative. Further, serving as an advisor may prove an excellent means of generating future tenants and contacts in the business community. Advisors may also invest personally in tenant companies.
MAREC will make every effort to assist tenants in identifying mentors and advisors that offer their services at little to no cost. In some cases, and always before accepting services, when a provider is not available for free, tenants will be notified prior to accepting assistance with any cost.
It shall also be known that mentors and advisors are independent of MAREC and any decision to implement advice is solely at the discretion of the tenant’s management and MAREC and its staff assume no responsibility or liability for the outcome of any implementation.
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Page last modified July 22, 2012