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All good things come to an end. ☺️

BWSE has ceased operations. Please read our story below.



Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs started in 2016 as a result of discussions between new and existing entrepreneurs located in Michigan’s Blue Water Area / Thumb Coast.

During those discussions, several common needs became apparent. Common needs ranged from the difficulties in finding appropriate resources like funding or consultation to the inherent isolation and loneliness that each of us have experienced at the beginning of our business adventure.

As these common themes were identified, we began to brainstorm ways that we could better address those difficulties for ourselves. “Be the change!” And so began the formation of Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs.



Over the past six years, we have hosted monthly meetups, hosted two regional Startup School conferences, held workshops, organized field trips, collaborated with local and regional organizations and corporate partners/sponsors, and brought together hundreds of people that may not have otherwise connected.



Reflecting on the startup founders’ needs that led to the creation of this organization, we are satisfied that the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this community has grown and matured.



With smiling faces and joy in our hearts, our founding Leadership Team thanks you for your support and participation over the years. Each of us continue to work and grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in our own pursuits, while remaining teammates in that common goal.

We’d like to recognize and thank Theresa Winters, Dr. Ramica Pesta, and Dylan Alexander for stepping up as leaders as well.

Kanchan Wankhede


Kanchan earned her Masters in Human Resource Management and has worked with Engineering, Automotive, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Retail and Non-Profit Organizations. She has extensive experience working across cultures, including the US, UK, China, Spain, Italy, and India.

She is driven by strong ethical values, focused on making businesses more efficient and effective through sustainable people strategies and solutions, behavioral development and advocating the value of diversity and inclusion.

After working nearly 20 years in corporate HR and community development projects in India and other countries, Kanchan moved to the Blue Water Area. At that time, she knew nobody besides her husband and two kids. Since then, she has started three business.

Today, Kanchan serves as Director of Entrepreneurial Services for the Economic Development Alliance (EDA) of St. Clair County. She is responsible for managing the region’s SmartZone business incubator, The Underground. At The Underground, Kanchan provides entrepreneurial support and services to the entire St. Clair County region.


Matt Brooks


Matt is a lifelong resident of Michigan’s “Thumb Coast.” 

He spent the past 20 years building small businesses, a handful of which he started and grew over the past decade. With a passion for helping entrepreneurs get their start and reach their next level, he founded Blue Water Startups & Entrepreneurs as an informal community/club, which became a 501c3 non-profit working to cultivate an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in this community.

Matt continues to inspire and steer entrepreneurs by coaching through stimulating Dream-Building Sessions.

He currently serves on various Boards:

Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC)

Huntington National Bank

Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce

Blue Water Prosperity Fund

“Blue Meets Green” Leadership Council


Shannon Schwabe


Shannon is a photographer, hop farmer, wedding specialist and owner of Hoppily Ever After Farms. Simply put, she says, “I shoot people and I grow beer and help others as crazy as I am to be on this entrepreneurial journey.

As a business consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Shannon has a passion for working with small business owners in the areas of start-up assistance, marketing, management, and operations.