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October 16, 2017

Business Basics

Embrace Technology and Innovation

Technology Tools • Incubators • Tech Transfer • Licensing

| 4/21/2017

Beyond Incubators

Startup companies looking to share space in a venue other than an incubator should consider these options:

share the same goal as incubators — improving a fledgling business’s odds of success — but use a different method and take less time. Accelerators focus on small teams, a single project and a deadline that’s usually within three months. Most end their programs with a “demo day” in which participants present to potential investors in hopes of securing a seed investment in exchange for equity.

is an office or other type of workspace shared by people who are self-employed or working for different employers with the goal of creating an environment to foster connections and creativity. Participants pay monthly rent for shared space and equipment.

are property-based ventures consisting of R&D facilities for technology- and science-based companies. Sometimes called science or technology parks, these larger-scale projects generally do not offer comprehensive programs of business assistance; their focus is more toward economic development and technology transfer.

 

Is a business incubator right for you?

Joining a business incubator doesn’t guarantee financial success. You can, however, anticipate these benefits:

  • Successful incubators offer strong leadership and staff with solid business and investment credentials; look for one that is more than simply a place to park your laptop.
  • At startup incubators, you’ll be working alongside peers who can provide both emotional support and expertise in areas you may be unfamiliar with.
  • Ready access to affordable office and meeting space, administrative services and advanced technology is a huge plus for struggling entrepreneurs; don’t be willing to settle for simply vacant space and cheap rent.
  • There’s no teacher quite like experience. In an incubator, you can test ideas in the real world within an atmosphere of structure and discipline without spending significant amounts of time or money.
  • Affiliating your firm with an incubator doesn’t guarantee you will receive funding. But, like an MBA from the “right” school, this experience could open doors, providing connections to influential people and easier access to venture capital.

 

Incubator Helps Vets Leverage Entrepreneurial Skills

The University of Central Florida’s Business Incubation Program (BIP) has a long tradition of helping military veterans become entrepreneurs. And thanks to a grant from Veterans Florida, BIP was able to offer an intensive, 15-week curriculum specifically aimed at turning the dreams of owning a business into reality for 40 former warriors in spring 2017.

“Veterans bring a powerful set of skills,” says Ricardo Garcia, program manager for the Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program at UCF and a U.S. Air Force veteran himself, “such as leadership, attention to detail, striving for excellence and teamwork. Our mission is to help them leverage those skills to an entrepreneurial advantage.”

Using a combination of online and classroom training, participants in the Veterans Florida program at UCF practice the application of lean strategies as they design, pivot and build their businesses. “The goal,” says Garcia, “is for them to have a solid business model and pitch ready for launch at the conclusion of 15 weeks.”

Following successful completion of the program’s educational phase, participants receive ongoing mentorship from Florida SBDC consultants, faculty and local business leaders and develop an actual business plan for delivery to potential investors.

Training opportunity also is available to vets at Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Hillsborough Community College, University of North Florida and University of West Florida.

Tags: Florida Small Business, Business Basics

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