Incubes shifts focus to business-to-business startups

Welcome back to Incubes.

You remember this downtown Toronto business incubator. We visited just last summer to meet the entrepreneurs creating Internet businesses here. But this downtown hub already has a new cohort of businesses under its roof. Plus, it’s a new roof.

Incubes has moved to a new office, but it’s not just the space that’s grown. The incubator now counts nine alumni startups and dozens of mentors in its network. Those mentors help their new cohort find their business legs, coming to work with them on a regular basis.

A visit to the new office at Incubes, an Internet startup incubator.

Incubes offers the same three month incubation program as when it started. But now the program has a more established network of mentors to draw upon. And it’s more experienced in providing the assistance that early-stage entrepreneurs need.

“We have a structured curriculum that we then customize to each company,” says A. Traviss Corry, co-founder and business development at Incubes. “So the more we do this, the better we get at that customization. And we bring in outside mentors to assist with whatever the business is building.”

It’s a straight-forward but busy curriculum. The first month is all about building the business model. The second month is about honing the product. The third and final month is about raising funds. It’s all capped off with a big event – the demo day. Incubes hosted its last demo day at the TSX.

The trio of firms have a distinctly business-to-business focus. One targets the education sector, another the non-profit sector, and the third is a marketing tool for businesses.

“It’s a little bit pushing away from the consumer Internet,” says co-founder and CEO Ben Zlotnick. “We’re taking traditional things already taking place… and really moving them into Web and mobile applications. There’s been a strong shift in the global economy to many of these types of startups.”

Incubes is already accepting applications for its next cohort. Successful startups will be looking to provide unique I.P., an integrated revenue model, and of course, an Internet-based business. Firms aren’t given direct funding, but many often find it thanks to investor networking opportunities. Incubes takes a 7.5 per cent equity stake in its startups.

It’s just one of many opportunities startups will find in Toronto these days. Canada’s largest city has seen a sudden boom in the number of incubators, accelerators, and other programs looking to help entrepreneurs.

For now, Incubes and its startups are focused on being ready for the big event. Demo day is at the end of February.

For ITBusiness.ca, I’m Brian Jackson.

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