A startup incubator is basically a company, organization, or even an individual that supplies startup companies with resources, mentors, and even seed capital to get their new business off the ground. Good incubator programs combine a little of everything including a deep level of education, mentors, guest speakers, trainging on how to pitch investors, and of course funding. The funding from incubators usually comes in very small amounts (under $20,000) but incubators usually work with very early stage businesses. Here is a list of some great incubators:
- NYU Poly Incubator: This is part of New York City’s program to help keep the business climate active and new privately owned businesses growing. This 16,000 square foot space houses startups for only $200 per month and offers other resources.
- Techstars: This is one of my personal favorites and provides great resources, training and networking for the young entrepreneurs who make it into the 3 month long program. At the end of the program they get to pitch investors on “Investor Day” and some earn seed capital of up to $18,000. The program creates a very tight bond in each class. They have some great information on their site at www.techstars.org.
- Environmental Business Cluster: This company was rated the nation’s top business incubator in 2008 by the NBIA (National Business Incubator Association). They specialize in young clean-tch startups – based in San Jose, CA.
- La Cocina: This non-profit based in San Francisco supports low income and immigrant women starting food businesses.
- TechColumbus: This incubator does more funding than most, they pumped $4.3 million into 32 companies last year and attracted more VC funding for themselves so they can grow and fund more companies. Well done!
- Slingshot Labs: Many of us have probably heard of this one as it was started last year by the creators of MySpace, Josh Berman and Colin Digiaro. They focus on four or five new media startups each year.
- Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator: This incubator came out of the University of Toledo and focuses on alternative energy companies.
- STAR Technology Enterprise Center: This non-profit has a 30,000 square foot space in Tampa, FL and supports the growth of manufacturing and technology based startups.
- Nidus Center for Scientific Enterprise: This company resides in St. Louis and helps life-science companies. Nidus is home to 20 companies that have attracted over $150 million in capital investments.
- Ben Franklin TechVentures: This high-tech workspace helps all kinds of early stage startups grow and provide 11,000 square feet of work space.
The economy has of course changed how companies get off the ground. Bootstrapping is taking on a whole new meaning and entrepreneurs are working harder than ever to grow and show value to potential investors. Advances in technology have provided many new free resources, especially for Internet based startups. Internet marketing is taking on a more “do it yourself” feel to with the growth of social media. However you plan to grow your company, remember that working hard and providing a product or service that helps improve the lives of your customers is a must. Now get back to work!