Incubators seem to have a growing bad rap. A good example is the hearty article Read Write Startup recently posted about the subject
As much as we can point the finger at incubators, it’s just as important to point the finger of blame at the peeps behind the startups for picking them.
I wrote a few months ago about why it’s super important to choose your incubator very carefully, and I think it’s important to reinforce this so we don’t all go around hating on incubators unfairly.
An incubator is eerily similar to choosing which college you want to go to. It also involves the same kind of excitement, mixed with the prospect of big money.
What do you want to major in?
For wannabe successful businesses, this question directly relates to what do you need out of an incubator. If it’s more fame than business management, then maybe you should give Dave McClure’s team a call. If it’s hands-on assistance from all different types of business experts, then something more personal is probably going to float your startup boat, like Hamilton’s Silicon Halton or Toronto’s very own INcubes.
What are your options?
Develop a list of criteria for what you’re looking for. This literally means do your homework. It’s up to you to do your own research and due diligence first. What incubators and professional business services are in your area? Will any virtual options suffice? Do you have the funds to relocate? Take all things into account so you can choose the right incubator for your personal and business life. If all fails, pretend you’re on Dragon’s Den. Which Dragon would you prefer to work with and why? Translate this into a list of what type of professionals (aka incubator) you’re looking to work with.
Set a Date
How will you know if you’re a good fit personally and professionally if you don’t speak and meet with the folks beforehand? You won’t. Don’t let other people’s expectations (media or otherwise) of an incubator set your standard and sway your decision. Meet and greet them in person. Like in relationship dating, you’ll just know when it’s right. If not, next!
Also, they should be just as excited about you and your business. This is an integral ingredient of the equation to finding a perfect fit. Time is all too precious in the life of a business. There’s always someone out there ready to take your idea to new heights; in geek terms this is like Microsoft’s new Surface tablet compared to Apple’s new iPad.
Yes, we could sit around and point fingers at who is crap and not, but just like the nature of being a human being, every one and thing is created for a purpose. It just may or may not be for you and your company.