Incubator: Get Started


Idea development


For entrepreneurs with a business idea who need help on what to do next.

Are you brimming with innovative ideas but uncertain about their potential? Our Explore program is tailor-made for visionary entrepreneurs like you. Gain the confidence and clarity you need to move forward with your idea. Our expert mentors and industry veterans will provide you with personalized guidance, market insights, and rigorous feedback, helping you refine your concept into a viable business proposition. Don’t let doubt hold you back; join us and turn your vision into your venture!

The 10-week program is designed to prepare early-stage entrepreneurs to launch new businesses with the ability to scale regionally, nationally or globally. The curriculum focuses on the Ideation, Discovery, Competitive Analysis and Customer/User Validation stages.

While each Explore cohort may have a customized curriculum based on founder needs, a sample outline of topics covered is shown below:

Week 1: Startup Basics

Week 2: Understanding Customers and Their Problems
Week 3: Creating Value and Solutions
Week 4: Reaching Customers Effectively
Week 5: Money Matters. Funding Your Business
Week 6: Measuring Success and Improving
Week 7: Finding Your Edge and Building Prototypes
Week 8: Testing and Tweaking
Week 9: Going to Market and Growing
Week 10: Summing It Up

Program delivery: in-person at Winston Starts offices and online self-learning


$999 per participant.

Fees cover access to our online learning platform, expert facilitator workshops, expert mentor sessions and all materials.

Scholarships up to 50% of the program fee are available for BIPOC and female entrepreneurs.


Our Explore program is offered two times a year:

1Jan 15 – Mar 5Apr 8Jun 14
2Jun 17 – Aug 12Sep 16Nov 22

Applications open soon.

We use the following criteria to evaluate Explore applicants:

  • Desire: A passion for entrepreneurship, innovation and building something that will make a difference
  • Potential: An idea about how to uniquely solve a real problem using a regionally or nationally scalable business model
  • Experience: Relevant experience and/or knowledge
  • Commercialization: A reasonable path to sales and profitability
  • Local Presence: demonstrate a commitment to the Winston-Salem ecosystem
  • Participatory: willingness to lean into Winston Starts and ecosystem resources
  • Coachable: open to mentor, advisor and potential investor feedback on how to iterate and build the business
  • Attendance: participants must attend instructional modules in person at Winston Starts

Program Leadership Team

Ready to Get Started?