The know hows of a startup incubator and what to look out for before joining one.
In the competitive startup panorama, founders are constantly on the hunt for any kind of differentiating fringe. At the root of it all, it is the business and operational approach that helps a startup stand out. As a fast track to a strong business foundation, startups look for this edge in the mentor and investor relationships that can be discovered in incubators.
But what are incubators, and is such an environment appropriate to help you grow your startup?
Startup incubators are configured to help entrepreneurs launch their businesses and ventures, the programs generally provide support to early stage entrepreneurs through workspace, resources, mentoring and training.
The collective and collaborative environment found in incubators keeps founders moving forward. Building a venture alongside a community of founders in the same journey fosters opportunities for supporting each other, partnering or collaborating. Additionally, incubators often provide the best ways for founders to create a strong and efficient network with other leaders and entrepreneurs in their realm.
Incubators are catalysts for mentors and consultants of all kinds. When startups partner with an incubator, they gain access to veteran advice enabled by expert mentors and advisors with years of industry leading experience.
Funding can be a crucial lifeline for some ventures, and incubators have the ability to facilitate that through investor connections. Membership in a business incubator not only enables connections to venture capitalist and/or angel investment groups, but also makes the startup a more attractive investment opportunity for such groups.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE JOINING A STARTUP INCUBATOR
- Choose the Right Program
Before joining an incubator, one can visit the workspace or attend an organised event to experience the vibe of the program and its team. Founders can look out for overall traction of the program resources for its startup clientele, and analyze the companies that have benefitted from the incubator programs to consult with them about their experiences. It can also help to look at the experiences and networks of the mentors associated with the program.
- Be Committed to Your Venture
Joining an incubator, founders must be ready to fully commit to their entrepreneurial ventures and justify the time and resources invested over the program length by both the incubator team and the founders themselves. It is advisable to be fully sure of investing one’s time before looping in more mentors and advisors for a venture.
- Self-Discipline is Key
Joining an incubator is not the end-goal, but a milestone. Incubator programs enable the conditions for internal networking and cooperation among the entrepreneurs. They also create a formal mechanism for embedding companies with entrepreneurial networks. But, at the end of the day, founders joining such programs must proactively leverage these resources and connections on their own.
- Prepare your Team
Truly utilising the resources and support from an incubation program is a time consuming task. From mentor meetings to attending workshops, it is important that founders prepare their teams for regular meetups and time-taking (yet worthwhile) activities.
- Ask for Help
Incubators are built to insulate founders from market risks and support them in their journeys of building strong, scalable products. Even after going through the program curriculum and other resources, if you feel the need for any personalized information, it is always advisable to simply ask.
Summing up, incubator programs are built as microcosms of startup ecosystems, to provide ventures with the tools, insights and the networks to become stable and self-sufficient. Being accepted to a business incubator is only a starting point- joining at the right time and using the resources rightly can truly turn out as a growth opportunity for any startup founder!
Source: Business World