What Are Startup Incubators?
Startup incubators are put on this planet to help more startups succeed. There's no one recipe for how to build an incubator, but for the most part, incubators are collaborative programs offering support to early-stage startups, by providing workspaces, valuable ressources, mentoring, coaching and training. While some incubators offer seed funding with our without taking equity in return, most incubators don't invest or take ownership in the startups they work with. Incubators can be private or public organisations, and you'll often find incubator programs on university campuses, promoting and supporting student entrepreneurship.
How Do Startup Incubators Make Money?
For the most part, startup incubators are non-profit organizations. They either provide their services free of charge for their startups, or they require a small monthly membership fee that gives access to their services and resources.
How Do Startup Incubators Work?
Most incubators have well-designed time-limited programs, usually lasting somewhere between 2-6 months. The programs will often be industry specific, and while you'll most likely find an overload of tech incubators, there are also organizations that incubate other types of startups. You can either join an incubator by going through an application process or by becoming a paying member, depending on how they work.
Once you're in, these are some of the resources and services you can expect:
- Support in validating your idea
- Guidance in business planning
- Marketing assistance
- Networking opportunities
- Access to startup workshops
- Office space, supplies (and unlimited coffee)
- Financial management assistance
- Discounts on a wide variety of useful tools
- Hiring assistance
- Pitch training
- Access to advisors, mentors and coaches
So, Why Whould You Join an Incubator?
Starting a business from scratch is hard, demanding and often a lonely process. Joining an incubator first and foremost gives you support in all aspects of starting up, so you don't have to figure everything out on your own. It will also put you in a setting of like-minded people, which can improve your motivation and keep you inspired, when your entrepreneurial life kind of sucks. Last, but not least, joining an incubator gives you access to a network of other entrepreneurs, experienced mentors, investors and potential customers. You never know, who will open the next door for you, but joining an incubator definitely increases the number of options you have to build and grow your startup.
We've gathered a list of geography specific incubators for you to help you find and choose the right one. Dive in!