Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of columns about UpStart, a free entrepreneurship program for women and people of color supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF.

“I like to be the cheerleader and send them to Michelle for a reality check.”

These are the words program manager Katie Rice emailed to me after I shared my business idea for UpStart, the popular 10-week entrepreneurship immersion program for women and people of color.

Rice really liked the idea — owning and operating a dog-friendly co-working space where I can also conduct my future freelance writing and editing business — and encouraged me to run it by Michelle Somes-Booher, aka “the reality check.” Somes-Booher also is the director of the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, which runs the curriculum for UpStart.

“She is the expert on what would actually work to make money and be successful,” Rice says of Somes-Booher.

And so began my journey — part journalist, part budding entrepreneur. For the next few months, I’ll be writing this column about my experience as a student in UpStart, as well as sharing stories about some of the other 30 students in the class, the instructors and guest speakers, graduates (there are more than 250 to date) and UpStart’s impact on the Madison startup ecosystem.

The entrepreneur’s journey, according to UpStart speaker Megan Watt, is “all about persevering.” Watt, a 2015 graduate of UpStart and founder of Dream Catalyst Labs, kicked off the first session with a sobering statistic: more than 90 percent of startups fail in their first three years.

Read the full article here.