Incubators are growing in popularity in recent years due to the many benefits that they provide to startups and businesses with a growth mindset. Whether you just don't currently have the proper resources or are unsure of how to effectively grow your business, incubators often provide you with everything you require at a much lower cost than you would typically need to spend figuring it out on your own.
Startups are in a unique position where they can reach success on a massive scale when provided with the right direction and support. Many highly successful and well known companies began as startups that used incubators to spur growth including current industry giants such as Reddit, Dropbox, and AirBNB, all of which have current valuations greater than $1 billion.
If you're searching for ways to grow your business or expand into other markets, incubators provide you with the means of doing so while eliminating many of the inherent risks that come with such a venture. Below is a list of some of the reasons why a startup may want to consider partnering with an incubator.
9. Networking Opportunities
When you've created a new business with a product or service that you know people want, it's likely that you feel very confident about the success that you've obtained so far. However, there's a difference between the initial success that you have as a startup and the scale of growth that you want to achieve for your business. If you want to grow, it may not be enough to have a good product or service.
Networking is absolutely essential if you want to see both short-term and long-term growth. Networking is the act of exchanging information and building relationships with other professionals, leaders, and startup entrepreneurs within your industry. If you've never started a company before, you'll likely find it difficult to develop a strong network without a solid foundation of professional relationships and connections in the industry.
If you want to build a strong and effective network among other leaders and entrepreneurs in your industry, incubators often provide you with the perfect method of doing so. Most incubators have enough office or lab space to accommodate dozens of different startups and companies that are looking to grow their business. When you join an incubator, you'll have access to all of these companies and individuals as you go about your work day, which makes networking simple and accessible. Before you start networking, it's important to understand just how beneficial this tool can be to success. When you build your network, you'll gain contacts, referrals, new business opportunities, and often exposure in the very industry that you're attempting to grow in.
Some of the business opportunities that can spring forward from your networking efforts include joint ventures, speaking opportunities, asset sales, and strategic partnerships!
8. Access to Professional Resources
When you partner with an incubator, you'll gain access to professional resources that may have previously been unavailable to you, which include everything from education to software and business tools. While the professional resources that a startup is provided with vary from incubator to incubator, you'll likely be able to obtain certain must-haves in the office like administrative support and internet access.
Many of these incubators also host regular workshops for the numerous startup partners at the incubator. These workshops often focus on topics such as future forecasting, business fundamentals, how to obtain funding, legal structures, and quick prototyping. All of these workshops are typically provided in one location, which means that you won't need to travel every time you think a workshop will be beneficial for your company or team.
A key aspect of growing any business is with the formation of partnerships. While entering into a partnership may not always be in the best interests of your company, doing so can create many new opportunities for you while also raising your exposure within the industry. When working out of an incubator, there's a high potential for you to meet other startups that are in a unique position to partner with your team.
Incubators are oftentimes narrowed to a single industry or a cluster of similar industries, which means that the other startups at your incubator will likely be working in a similar field. It's also possible that you will be able to form partnerships with industry leaders or influencers who may be just what your startup needs to reach massive success.
6. Low Cost Access to Expensive & Sophisticated Equipment
Among the most beneficial aspects of joining an incubator is that you'll gain access to expensive equipment that your startup with limited funds otherwise would be unable to afford, which may be essential for growth depending on your industry. Whether your business is in a tech industry or life science industry, the modern and sophisticated equipment that you can obtain through a wet lab incubator will be available at a fraction of the cost. You may also receive professional training and supplies for the equipment you expect to use during your time at the incubator.
This equipment is often hard to find and expensive to maintain, but may be just what you need to help your business take the next step. For example, if you work in a life science industry such as biotech or medtech technologies, the equipment available to you in a wet lab incubator can be invaluable towards assisting you with research and product development.
The equipment and resources of a wet lab incubator can include a freezer farm, fume hoods, and a tissue culture lab, all of which would typically be far too expensive when you're looking to maximize your limited funds.
5. Low Cost Space & Flexibility
Much like a coworking space, incubators offer a range of different types of spaces at a fraction of the cost that it would take for you to purchase or lease your own space. Renting office space is usually going to be one of the largest expenses that a business has, which you likely can't afford when just starting out.
Many incubators offer flexible options to accommodate your needs and budget. For instance, many of these incubators provide options like shared office space, a private office, and a single cubicle, which ensures that you're able to obtain the type of office space you require at a low cost. While you're searching for the right incubator, make sure that they offer some office amenities such as central printing and access to conference rooms.
4. Exposure to Industry Leaders & Mentorship
When you work in an incubator, you will almost certainly obtain exposure to industry leaders in a manner that may allow for a mentoring relationship. Being provided with advice from individuals who have already built successful businesses can prove to be invaluable when you're looking to grow your own company. Learning from the experiences that other successful entrepreneurs have had will help you avoid some of the more common mistakes that a startup can make.
Many incubators will provide startups with access to business and industry leaders, which is another key business opportunity for your startup that would have been difficult to otherwise obtain.
The reason that incubators provide access to these industry leaders is because a large number of businesses sponsor incubators and provide exclusive insight and access to industry information. These mentors will also challenge you in a manner that should assist your startup in refining your business goals, vision, and future roadmap. While you'll certainly be required to learn some things on your own while working in an incubator, the insight provided by entrepreneurs who have already gained success can make this process much simpler and far more rewarding.
3. Access to Funding
A large number of incubators provide startups with access to funding opportunities through investor relations or programs that facilitate a transfer of funds. Incubators typically have numerous partners that they work with to assist the startups that are using the incubator. These partners will oftentimes provide startups with funding and other invaluable resources. The individuals and companies that oversee the incubator almost always have the ability to facilitate a transfer of funds by helping startups discover funding opportunities and assisting them with filling out any necessary applications for the funding.
If additional funding is essential for the growth of your startup, make sure that you look for incubators that offer investing programs, which are commonly referred to as angel networks. These programs bring together investors from the surrounding area in which the incubator is located. These individual investors are typically looking to provide funding to startups that they believe can succeed.
Different incubators have different areas of focus for funding and investment. For instance, some of these programs focus primarily on life sciences, medical technology, and biotech. The staff at your incubator of choice should help you find potential investors within your specific industry.
2. Structure to Maintain Business Focus
Whether you're just starting out or have managed your business for a couple of years, incubators can offer some much needed structure that will help you maintain business focus at a critical juncture when you're trying to grow your business. In the early stages of a business, the main focus is almost always on making sure that you just stay afloat. This razor sharp focus can make it difficult to take your business to the next level when the time comes to do so.
Because the infrastructure of running a business is already in place when you arrive at an incubator, you'll be able to focus solely on the core of your business without needing to worry about all of the distractions that typically occur while doing so. You'll finally have the time necessary to complete all of the business goals and objectives that you've set for growth, which should facilitate your continued success now and in the future.
1. Accelerate the Growth of your Startup
When you want to accelerate the growth of your startup and avoid the pitfalls that commonly occur when attempting to expand, incubators offer resources and benefits for startups like yours that will allow you to succeed and grow at an exponential rate. The networking, funding, and mentorship opportunities that you can gain access to through an incubator can pay dividends when you're attempting to expand into a crowded industry. The connections you gain when working at an incubator may help you take your company to the next level. Because of the low costs and expenses associated with incubators, you won't need to take a substantial number of risks when trying to accelerate the growth of your startup. With modern and state-of-the-art equipment in hand, the business opportunities that you thought were only possible with large corporations will now be available to you.
When determining if joining an incubator is right for you, keep in mind that the five-year survival rate of incubator clients has been estimated at being anywhere around an impressive 75-87 percent -- which is especially impressive in the high risk high reward industry of entrepreneurship!
Being an entrepreneur is not for the feint of heart, luckily there are many opportunities for startups to improve their chances at success through incubators and other modern growth organizations and technologies. If you are located in Southern California and you are looking for an incubator to facilitate the growth of your business, contact us for more information or apply today for a spot at the brand new medtech and biotech wet lab incubator, University Lab Partners at the University of California, Irvine Research Park founded in partnership with the Beall Family Foundation and UCI Applied Innovation!