In Midland, Michigan, a city filled with innovation and invention, Katryn Shick Johnson ’11 helps people make their business dreams a reality—especially as one who tailor-made her degree at Calvin to combine vastly different interests.
Johnson earned an interdisciplinary degree in engineering, math and physics; a studio art degree with a concentration in photography and sculpture; and an architecture minor at Calvin.
Once she graduated, Johnson began studying various architectural materials and styles at the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio in Midland. She then decided to pursue a master’s for another interest: business. However, while earning her MBA at Northwood University, she was met by an opportunity to test all of her degrees.
“I learned how to become humble at Calvin. … We have a five- and 10-year plan with incuba8LABS, but we’re ultimately leaving the plan up to God.”Katryn Shick Johnson '11
In 2013, Johnson’s sister, Caryn, had been working in her self-started consulting business, incuba8, which she created in 2009. However, Caryn had been praying to take incuba8 to the next level: incuba8LABS, an idea accelerator mixed with a makerspace to test and create business ideas. She asked Johnson to bring this dream to life with her and become a co-founder. Although Johnson was working full time and still earning her MBA, she felt a very clear push from God in that direction.
Thus, Johnson quit her job, became the cofounder of incuba8LABS in 2013 and finished her master’s in business administration from Northwood University in 2014.
Johnson, Caryn and Erica Simonetti all earned their MBAs from Northwood University and are the only three employees of incuba8LABS. Johnson meets with consulting clients, strategizes in marketing, creates prototypes and handles the legal aspects of the business. They assist an average of 180 businesses a year for everything between a quick consult and a business launch. Some of their clients are international businesses but most come from Michigan.
As a Calvin student, Johnson took risks fueled by faith and learned to surrender her future to God. “I learned how to become humble at Calvin,” Johnson said. “I made the decision to try engineering and then decided to try art and architecture, too (I worked very hard with a few all-nighters). I also learned how to let go of control, which has been the theme of the business. We have a five- and 10-year plan with incuba8LABS, but we’re ultimately leaving the plan up to God.”