Just as incubators screen prospective clients, so too should entrepreneurs screen prospective incubators. Here are some questions to ask when considering entering an incubation program.
Qualifications of manager and staff
Does the incubation program offer the services and contacts you need?
What services do you need to make your venture successful? Business plan development, legal and accounting advice, marketing, Internet access, or specialized manufacturing facilities? Is access to a particular market critical? Then consider finding an incubator that specializes in that market. Special focus incubators are programs that work with companies within a particular niche, such as gourmet foods, biotechnology, the arts and software. Be sure the program offers what you need or can connect you to service providers who can meet those needs.
Do you meet the incubator's criteria?
Find out the incubator's qualifications for accepting clients before applying. For example, some incubators expect prospective clients to have fully developed business plans, whereas others require a less developed idea and offer business plan development assistance.
Is the program's fee structure right for you?
Most for-profit incubators exchange space and services for an equity share in their client companies, whereas most nonprofits charge fees for space and services. If a large cash infusion and speed to market are essential for your business success, then giving up equity in your company in order to secure quick cash may be right for you. But if you believe you have the skills to raise your own funding (with some assistance), don't want to give up any equity in your venture and are willing to build your company more slowly, then paying fees for services and space may be a better choice.
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Athens, OH 45701-1565