Target entrepreneurs are 18 years or older; live, work, worship or provide valued products and services in the Evanston community; currently operating or planning to launch a micro business; and are committed to attend every program session.

Start:ME entrepreneur qualifications:

  • 100% committed to the success of their business. Have an 'All In' Attitude.
  • Live, work, worship or provide valued products and services in the Evanston community.
  • Currently operating or planning to launch a micro business (1-4 employees).
    • If currently operating, the business should be in its initial stages (0-2 years in business).
    • Current sales and/or sales contracts are highly desirable but not required.
  • Able to speak and work in English (learning sessions and mentoring are in English).
  • Possess basic computer skills.
  • Committed and willing to:
    • Attend every program session.
    • Invest additional time in business preparation activities between scheduled sessions.
    • Share experiences, teaching and learning with other participating entrepreneurs.
How Are Entrepreneurs Selected?


Applications are reviewed by a selection committee composed of community leaders and business professionals. Selection into the program is based on the perceived quality of the business ideas, the amount of thought and preparation that has gone into developing these ideas, and on the efforts the entrepreneur has made to date. We also consider all relevant life and business experiences that might improve the chance of a successful business launch.

What Does the Start:ME Program Cost?

The program is FREE to participants. The program is funded and run by dedicated, experienced community leaders and business professionals.

What Can I Expect From the Weekly Sessions?

Entrepreneurs are required to attend all 14 sessions. Sessions are once a week for 3 hours. Each week we start with entrepreneurs updating the group on progress they have made on their business plan. Next we spend time learning about the business topic for the evening; and then finish the evening working with mentors.

Weekly sessions will be held primarily at the Evanston Recreation Center with occasional sessions on the Xavier University campus. View the tentative schedule.

How Do I Learn More?

For questions or to apply to the program, please contact Dawn M. Tolonen, Program Director, at tolonend@xavier.edu or 513.667.4288.