Startup incubators are popping up like meerkats in all of the major (and a bunch of minor) cities across the world. Here at KillerStartups, we’ve profiled companies that have incubated in Canada, Germany, Chile, New York, California, to name just a few.
But what can you and your company really get out of a startup incubator? The reality is, there are good reasons and bad reasons to throw yourself into the startup stew. Some incubators are startup factories, churning out one business after another after another, while others are intensive, deeply personal experiences. Regardless of which experience you’re aiming for, here are six tips for getting the most out of your incubation.
Didn’t get in? Maybe it’s for the better.
One thing that incubators are getting better and better at as we move past the initial wave of this trend is sussing out who’s got the entrepreneurial spirit and who doesn’t. As we all know, creating a successful startup is hard. There are certain qualities that you that just can’t be taught, no matter how many classes you take on elevator pitches and social media marketing.
With that in mind, maybe that rejection email you’re staring at doesn’t sting quite as much. Maybe you’ve got 200% more entrepreneurial spirit than Steve Jobs ever did and your idea just isn’t fleshed out enough, or maybe they saw something in you (or rather, something not in you) that you can’t see yourself.
If they’re wrong and you do have the entrepreneurial spirit, you’ll try again. If not, you won’t. Pretty simple.
Some dollars to get you started…
Nearly everyone is on the lean startup bandwagon these days, but there’s lean and then there’s starving. You need some cash to get things moving in the beginning and most incubators provide a small amount at the beginning, in return for some equity.
If giving up equity isn’t part of your game plan, make sure you find an incubator that doesn’t want a piece of the pie or forgo the whole incubator thing all together.
On that same note, incubators provide meeting and office space, administrative help, and technology that your fledgling startup might not be able to swing all on your lonesome. Take advantage of the resources they provide so you can focus your time and energy on the things that really matter.
It takes a village
The communities that are created within an incubator are the absolute most valuable part of the experience and the number one reason you should consider being a part of one. Any incubator worth i’s salt will have a strong network of mentors that you can turn to for help and guidance.
In addition, your peers will all be doing the same thing you’re doing. That means you can turn to them for advice, support, and a wealth of new ideas and strategies that you might not have come up with on your own.
Creating the network
That leads me right into the next advantage: networking. Not only will an incubator hook you up with mentors and peers who will prove to be valuable resources now and later, they’ll also connect you with VCs and other investors.
Those investors are more likely to trust you and your product if you come out of an incubator they already know and trust. If funding is one of your goals, take a look at what investors are associated with your startup incubator and decide whether or not they’d be interested in what you have to offer.
Now that you’ve got some things to think about, get going on your research! Which city do you want to be in? What networks do you want to be a part of? Do you need intense mentoring or a more hands-off approach? There’s an incubator for almost everyone: go find yours.
Tim Seed | anankkml | Sujin Jetkasettakorn | Victor Habbick | Ambro | africa
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