Business Innovation and Technology (BIT) Program

A first of its kind initiative, funded in part by the Blackstone Inclusive Entrepreneurship Challenge and the Coleman Foundation, to drive technology innovations of diverse entrepreneurs and scale tech startups emanating from the West Side of Chicago. BIT training over the course of 15 weeks assists entrepreneurs in exploring innovative technology ideas to incorporate into their new or existing business. Since inception in 2017 BIT has provided personalized coaching, counseling and a robust network of tech industry resources within Chicago’s tech ecosystem and beyond to support entrepreneurs in product and app development, go to market strategies and building sustainable TECH business models.

BIT offers a free 15 week technology oriented entrepreneurship training cohort twice a year connecting participants to mentors, capital sources, exclusive networking opportunities and technology workshops.

Applications are now being accepted for the Winter 2019 BIT Cohort. Please read below for more detail about the process before you complete the link for the application.  Ready to apply now? Click here to access the BIT program application.  

NOTE: The application cycle opens in twice a each year, however, access to the maker lab, co-working space and tech workshops are available year round. Please make sure you are on our mailing list to be informed of application cycles and upcoming workshops.



More Workshops



The Business Innovation and Technology Program (BIT) provides free access to technological resources to help aspiring entrepreneurs develop new products to bring to market, and incorporate technology into their existing business.  Participants will have access to a maker lab, hands-on workshops in 3D printing, app development, big data and other topics, and skillsets that usher entrepreneurs into participating in the 21st-century tech economy.  Graduates of BIT become members of  an alumni network granting free access to a plethora on ongoing support and resources. Customized entrepreneurship training and collaborative resources within Chicago’s tech ecosystem supports participants product development and go to market strategies to build sustainable business models.


The Technology Elevation Center – TEC 4950, on the campus of Bethel New Life, is the tech space on the West Side of Chicago built for makers, techies and everyone that wants access to innovative technologies to accelerate their businesses and careers.  Click here to learn more. 

Maker Lab & Co-Working Space at TEC 4950

  1. A private video conference room with a capacity for 12 people to meet, video conference or participate in distance learning.
  2. 3D printers for prototyping and small run production
  3. Open space for up to 30 people to work as individuals or groups with dry erase boards for planning and free Wi-Fi for research and other online business related activities.
  4. Computer Lab with 3D digital design capabilities, graphic design, app development, general office functions, and free Wi-Fi.

For more information on the BIT Program or the Maker Space please contact Philip Fairweather,  Business Innovation and Technology Manager at



The application cycle for cohort #3 of the BIT Program is now open. Cohort meets February – May 2019 on Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

To apply candidates must:

  • Complete online application by 12 pm, February 7, 2019.  Click here to access link.
  • Attend orientation session on February 6, 2019 6:00-8:00 pm at Bethel 
  • Submit written concept submission including target market, price point, value proposition, stage of development, and analysis of competition and funding needed with 5 days of your application.
  • Schedule an interview (by phone or in-person) after full application submission before February 19, 2019.
  • Candidate interviews are the the last step in the selection process for the BIT cohort scheduled to start February 21, 2019.


Upon review of application, candidates that are not ready for engage in a BIT cohort and may be referred for consideration to the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) for mastery of business fundamentals and then join BIT when they have a deeper understanding of these principles.  In rare cases applicants will be allowed to participate in the BIT program simultaneously with the ETP program.

Applicants from the West Side  of Chicago will given priority consideration,  however the overall quality of the business and leadership will be heavily weight. Candidates will be evaluated and selected during the Shark BITE presentation portion of the application process.  A panel of judges with expertise in various areas of business, will evaluate applicant’s presentations to select the next cohort of the BIT program. Each candidate is evaluated on their presentation, understanding of their competition and marketplace, complexity of their product as it relates to our network and ability to help them, business acumen, background, experience and commitment to follow through.

Each candidate who applies to the program enters in one of the five following buckets. The objective of the program is to move each student through each bucket successfully until their product is brought to market.



Upon acceptance into the program each applicant must meet the following criteria:

  1. Work with the instructor to develop and execute a 90 day action plan
  2. Attend a minimum of 5 of 7 sessions and workshops (bi-weekly for 3 months)
  • February 21, 2019    6:00-8:00pm
  • March 7, 2019          6:00-8:00pm
  • March 21, 2019        6:00-8:00pm
  • April 4, 2019             6:00-8:00pm
  • May 2, 2019             6:00-8:00pm
  • May 23, 2019           6:00-8:00pm

Sessions will include topics such as:

  • Design Thinking
  • Access to emerging technologies
  • What venture capital investors look for
  • Tech resources in Chicago
  • Revenue Modeling
  • Data Analytics and your business
  • Go to market strategies
  • Crowd sourcing/funding
  1. Must be able to commit to 12 hours of classroom  training (six 2 hour class sessions every other Thursday evening) for a total of at least 45 hours of participation (training, counseling, and related preparation) over a 90 day period
  2. Must complete a minimum of 75% of all tasks developed in the 90 day action plan
  3. Must complete a revenue model, break-even point and budget for tech development, launch and sustainability.
  4. Must participate in at least one pitch event in Chicago outside of BIT program.


Students will participate in a graduation commencement ceremony concluding the program in June 2019.


Upon graduation, students become members of the alumni network entering into a larger entrepreneurial tech network.  Students have lifetime access to Bethel resources, workshops and counseling as long as their membership is in good standing.  Membership can fall out of good standing for any one of the following reasons:

  • Failure to adhere to maker space usage policies and guidelines.
  • Theft of materials or property
  • Failure to participate in Bethel events, workshops or free activities for more than 2 years
  • No show at two or more scheduled appointments within 12 month period

Click on this link to apply for the BIT Program