There is no shame in asking for help, especially if you don’t exactly know what it is that you’re supposed to be doing.
For start-ups, incubators seem to be on the rise as places new entrepreneurs can turn to when in need of answers. As companies look to take their ideas to the next level and prepare for real world expansion, these centers have the resources necessary to accelerate your business. Keep in mind though; while you may be looking towards them, they are certainly looking right back at you.
One of the first attributes that incubators consider when deciding to onboard a company is whether or not they believe that your idea is scalable. Much like investors, there needs to be some indication that your company has the potential to grow. As Rick Turoczy, co-founder of the Portland Incubator Experiment, stated, “We look to see if there is room to expand the size and scope of their work into a business.”
But business isn’t the bottom line. Incubators are very much a social enterprise and believe that the people who make up the company often determine how successful they will be in an incubator. With meetings from mentors and industry leaders accounting for much of the experience, company members need to be open to advice, and willing to learn, as they will often hear from others how to best move forward with their business. Though at the end of the day the entrepreneurs are ultimately the boss, trust that these opinions are from experienced individuals who are there to help companies succeed.
The company team is critically important to the incubators as well. Candidly, Steve Morris, Executive Director at Oregon Technology Business Center, commented that, “If you haven’t at least convinced one of your friends to do this with you, it throws up a red flag for us.” Incubators often look to see that they are working with a well-balanced and experienced team, with good knowledge of the industry that they are entering. Though incubators can get the entrepreneur where they need to be going, they only take you so far, as the rest is up to the team in leveraging existing skills to make things happen.
Ultimately though it comes down to a commitment. With interest in incubators increasing they expect companies to dedicate their full time and effort to the business. As Greg Rau, Founder of Upstart Labs, stated, “ If you haven’t quit your day job, you need to.”
Originally posted by Keegan Reedy on May 2, 2012