Friday, December 21, 2007

Start Up Incubators (1/3)

If you find yourself in the situation where you need to look for incubation space, you actually have a few choices these days. You used to be limited to the option of sharing office space with companies that had spare space. That's what we did back in 2000. But now, you can share office space with a variety of different types of companies, offering different types of services or opportunities. It's become quite a business in itself.

I'll talk about a few of the more popular incubators (in the following few posts) - since a great deal of incubators are very hard to get into, hard to approach, and hard to find.

Y Combinator is geared towards tech heavy startups. While their interests are on web based software offerings, like many other incubators, they want teams that bring the technology with them. They care less about your idea and business strategy - that's where they offer their expertise. The give advice and training in regards to growing your business and raising capital.

The invest in very early stage companies, generally taking a 2-10% stake in exchange for up to $20,000. It's not much money - for a lot of equity, but it's an option if you have no business experience. For us, it was never really an option. Engineers were the thing we needed, not more business people.

They have an application process that's much like applying to school. They have two application periods per year and bring a bunch of teams on at each time. It's probably a great environment to work in - you're around a bunch of people, and probably some pretty smart engineers. But I'm not sure it's a good option for anyone but young entrepreneurs. I'd seek out different options since most incubators give advice on growing your business - it's in their best interest since they most likely have, or will have, a stake in your company.

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