Business Innovation and Technology (BIT) Program

The Business Innovation Technology (BIT) program launched in 2017 to assist entrepreneurs in exploring innovative ideas to incorporate technology into their new or existing business. On the campus of Bethel New Life, the BIT program provides access to maker lab, co-working space and a robust network of tech industry resources to educate entrepreneurs on new and emerging technology.

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 Fall 2018 BIT Cohort. Please read below for more detail about the process before you complete the link for the application, which can be found here.

NOTE: The application cycle opens in February and August of 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.

Click here to apply for the BIT Program now. 


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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 application cycle for cohort #2 of the BIT Program is now open. Cohort meets September – December 2018 on Thursday evenings from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

  • Application link open August 1- September 5 at 12:00 pm
  • Written concept submission including target market, price point, value proposition, stage of development, and analysis of competition and funding needed.
  • Shark BITE presentations will take place September 4-12, 2018 with selected applicants after applications  submissions are reviewed.
  • The presentations are the last step in determining who is selected for the second BIT cohort scheduled to start September 20, 2018.


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 criterion-

  1. Work with the instructor to develop and execute a 90 day action plan
  2. Attend a minimum of 5 of 6 cohort sessions/workshops (Every other week for 3 months)
  • September 20, 2018    6:00-8:00pm
  • October 4, 2018          6:00-8:00pm
  • October 18, 2018        6:00-8:00pm
  • November 1, 2018      6:00-8:00pm
  • November 15, 2018    6:00-8:00pm
  • November 29, 2018    6:00-8:00pm
  1. Sessions will include topics such as:
    • Design thinking
    • Preparing to pitch
    • What venture capital investors look for
    • Tech resources in Chicago
    • Plugging into the Internet of Things
    • Data Analytics and your business
    • Go to market strategies
    • Crowd Sourcing/funding
  2. 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
  3. Must complete a minimum of 75% of all tasks developed in the 90 day action plan
  4. Must pitch their product in front of a select panel at the final “pitch out” event as their capstone project.
  5. Must participate in at least one pitch event in Chicago outside of Bethel


Students will participate in a graduation commencement ceremony along with the Entrepreneurship Training Program students  at the conclusion of the program on Tuesday, December 11, 2018.


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