IncubateHER is a free, competitive year-long business incubation program for early-stage women entrepreneurs with product or service-based businesses. IncubateHER participants will receive $1,000 at the successful completion of the program to grow their businesses, industry-specific mentors, entrepreneurial education and training through Chatham's Women's Business Center, a tailored growth curriculum, peer-to-peer mentoring through cohort meetups, and a year-long membership to the Center for immersive networking opportunities.
The Center for Women's Entrepreneurship at Chatham University is a member of the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). IncubateHER is coordinated by Nazli Saka, who holds the InBIA Business Incubation Management Certificate, the premier industry credential for the staff of incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, small business development centers and other entrepreneurship programs.
Applications are now CLOSED. Please consider applying next fall.
+Eligibility Criteria and Timeline
- A woman entrepreneur who owns a majority stake in a qualifying business and manages it on a day-to-day basis
- 21 years or older as of application due date
- Proficient in English
- A legal resident of the United States, located in Western PA and both committed and able to attend in-person events and programs.
- For-profit, from any industry
- High-growth potential
- Early stage (two to five years of operations)
- Established prototype or products (preferred)
- Generating revenues (preferred)
- Formed under United States law and operating in the United States
- Nonprofit organizations
- Idea stage businesses
- Subsidiary businesses
- September 29, 2017 - Applications open
- November 30, 2017 - Applications close, finalists are announced, & interviews begin
- December 2017 - IncubateHER participants revealed
- January 2018 - IncubateHER program starts
- December 2018 - IncubateHER program ends
Q: What is the IncubateHER program?
IncubateHER is a free, competitive year-long business incubation program for early-stage women entrepreneurs with product-focused businesses. IncubateHER participants will receive industry-specific mentors; business education and training through Chatham's Women's Business Center, a tailored growth curriculum, peer-to-peer mentoring through cohort meetups, and a year-long membership to the Center for immersive networking opportunities. This innovative approach provides women entrepreneurs with fast-tracked mentoring and business development support to assist them in developing best practices for long-term strategic growth.
Q: Is the program free to attend if I'm selected?
Yes. We ask that you make a commitment of 5-10 hours per week to work on your business for twelve months.
Q: Is there an application fee?
Q: What if I don't have a business plan?
You must have a business plan to apply. If you do not have a business plan, please use a one or two-page business plan. Templates are available here.
Q: What if I have a business plan, but have not launched my business?
You must already be in operation to apply. We are focusing on early stage businesses - between two to five years in operation.
Q: What if I am a part-owner in a business?
You must own at least 51% of the business and be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the the business.
Q: What if my partner is another woman entrepreneur and we own the business 50/50?
We will consider partnership businesses on a case-by-case basis if both partners commit to participating, but preference will be given to women entrepreneurs with 51% ownership.
Q: Can both my business partner, who is another woman entrepreneur, and I apply?
We will consider partnership businesses on a case-by-case basis if both partners commit to participating (the business will be eligible for only one $1,000 award), but preference will be given to women entrepreneurs with 51% ownership.
Q: If my company does not operate in the United States can I apply?
No, your company must be registered and operate in the United States.
Q: If my company is based in the U.S. but sells products abroad, can I apply?
Q: Can I send the Center samples of my product or prototype?
No, we will not accept products for consideration with the application. However, we encourage you to photograph your product or prototype and send it as part of the application.
Q: Can you give me feedback as to why I wasn't selected?
We are unable to discuss applications before, during or after the application period.
Q: Will I have an in-person interview?
We will announce 10 finalists after the application period has closed and will interview all finalists in-person.
Q: I'm having technical problems submitting the application.
For technical support, please contact our operations manager Patricia Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-365-2779.
Q: Do you accept software as a product?
Yes, we accept entrepreneurs with e-commerce websites and apps into the program and view software as a product.
+Become a Mentor
The Center's IncubateHER program offers opportunities for experienced business owners and professionals to engage with and enhance the work of women entrepreneurs in our community. Please contact Nazli Saka at 412-365-1384 or at email@example.com if you have any questions about becoming a mentor, or apply below!
IncubateHER 2018 Inaugural Cohort
The inaugural cohort consists of five high-potential women business owners including Katie Lang, co-founder of BioDog Nutrition, a company that provides organic and natural dog food; Dina Colangelo, founder of Centerpisa, intricately designed and eco-friendly centerpieces rented for special events; Jo Ana Vaz, founder of PIT Shop, a healthy snack delivery service; Mary Jayne McCullough, founder of Global Wordsmiths, a social enterprise dedicated to improving language access for immigrants and refugees in Western PA and Alyssa Kail, co-founder of Camp Copeland Studio, which sells and manufactures handcrafted modern, functional home goods in wool and glass.