Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

A free entrepreneurship program for women and people of color

Upstart Extras

For Fall 2020, in light of the constantly changing environment surrounding COVID-19, we are offering UpStart Extras – a virtual four-part series of classes with timely and valuable topics to help entrepreneurs explore starting new ventures or re-imagine existing businesses as a result of these evolving times.

The application period for Fall 2020 UpStart Extras is closed.

People sitting at table listening to a speaker

Whatever your background, UpStart welcomes you

People with interests ranging from farming to real estate, personal services, mobile apps and more have benefited from WARF’s UpStart program.

Each cohort includes motivated individuals from diverse professional and educational backgrounds. Participants with GEDs to Ph.Ds learn from each other and share their own ideas and experiences.


Contact us at [email protected] or 608.960.9817.

Woman sitting at a table smiling

Fall 2020 UpStart Extras Information

  • Unique four-part series of classes different from the typical several-week UpStart curriculum, focusing on starting or pivoting a business in this evolving timeClasses are online instruction via virtual (zoom) platform
  • Four Tuesday evenings – September through November (see specific dates/times below)
  • Applicants must attend all four classes
  • Applicants reside in or near Madison, WI and surrounding communities
  • Business ideas considered a legal business in Wisconsin
  • Applicants self-identify as a woman and/or person of color
  • Applicants supportive of an inclusive learning environment

UpStart Extras Class Schedule

NIGHT 1: SEPTEMBER 29, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Michelle Somes-Booher, SBDC at UW-Madison
Starting a Business in a Time of COVID

Disruption creates opportunity. This class will help you navigate the uncertainty as you look to build and grow your business. We’ll introduce you to the concept of the Business Model Canvas and you’ll create your own as a key business planning tool, whether you are just starting out or considering how you can pivot your business.

NIGHT 2: OCTOBER 20, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Brian Lee, Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

Starting a Business Online Part I

Facebook and other social media platforms are important tools for communicating with your current customers as well as reaching new ones. Brian Lee will provide best practices for managing your social media accounts, and he will demonstrate how to advertise on Facebook and LinkedIn.

NIGHT 3: OCTOBER 27, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Brian Lee, Revelation PR, Advertising & Social Media

Starting a Business Online Part II

Description: Building a website is not as hard as it may seem. Brian Lee will cover step-by-step instructions for building your own website from scratch, including finding an available website name, setting up web hosting, setting up email accounts and creating a mobile-friendly website.

NIGHT 4: NOVEMBER 10,  6:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Anne Inman, SBDC at UW-Madison

Key Financial Indicators for Starting your Business

Good financial record keeping can make or break a business. We’ll define key terms, walk through cash flow statements and discuss various sources of funding for small businesses.


Full traditional UpStart program

We will provide information on when our complete UpStart curriculum will return as circumstances evolve.

Why UpStart?

It takes more than a good idea to start a successful business. Issues like accounting, financing and marketing may seem overwhelming and connecting with the right resources can be challenging. WARF’s free UpStart program can help.


  • Connects you with area professionals and other aspiring entrepreneurs
  • Helps you gain the skills you need to launch your business
  • Works with you to establish strategic goals and identify next steps

Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants should reside in or near Madison, WI and surrounding communities
  • Business ideas should be considered a legal business in Wisconsin
  • Applicants should self-identify as a woman and/or person of color
  • Applicants should be supportive of an inclusive learning environment

Woman sitting and thinking

“The blend of robust resources and knowledgeable guest speakers was invaluable. I would highly recommend UpStart to anyone looking to turn an awesome business idea into an authentic business plan.”

  – Roxie Hentz, UpStart participant

Partner with UpStart

We invite local groups to partner with UpStart to help your community and foster new business.

Current Partners


Interested in supporting entrepreneurship?

Contact us at [email protected] or 608.960.9850 for information about becoming a partner.