By Alex Gladu, Independent We Stand team
It used to be that if you wanted to start your own business, be your own boss or test out your million-dollar idea, you had to go at it alone. You’d probably have to quit your job, risk your life’s savings and cold-call investors for months just to consider your business a potential start-up. Fortunately for today’s entrepreneurs; the rules have changed. Start-ups can launch anywhere, from dorm rooms to skyscrapers, and investors can become helpful mentors thanks to rise of business incubators.
Incubators are organizations, often sponsored by nonprofits and universities, that nurture start-ups to help them become successful businesses. They offer entrepreneurs resources like rent-free office space, IT services, accounting services and networking opportunities in exchange for a small stake in the start-up. It’s a concept that’s been around since the 1950s, according to the National Business Incubation Association, but it’s a growing trend that is revolutionizing the current market for entrepreneurs.
One such incubator is Denver-based Galvanize, which caters to tech start-ups. Like most incubators, Galvanize offers workspace and valuable networking opportunities to its start-ups. It works with Google, IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers to bring much-needed resources and services to its members, which include Pandora and Skype. Galvanize also invests in its entrepreneurs’ education. The incubator’s gSchool program offers courses in web developing, graphic design, programming and more so that entrepreneurs can stay up-to-date on the latest technology.
In addition to the tangible benefits that they offer start-ups, incubators can lend serious credibility to the greenest of entrepreneurs. Most incubators have a rigorous application process, and getting accepted can show venture capitalists that your start-up is worth the investment. What’s more, incubator-based start-ups can benefit from the reputation of success stories like Dropbox and Airbnb, both of which grew out of prestigious incubators.
Ultimately, the rise of business incubators means more opportunities for start-ups. Incubators bring all of the steps to starting a business, from renting an office to securing investors, together under one roof, and they provide teams of experts to help entrepreneurs along the way. Although nothing can guarantee success for an infant start-up, incubators are getting pretty close.
To find a business incubator near you and your million-dollar idea, search the National Business Incubation Association’s database here.
About the Author
Alex is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is double-majoring in Public Relations and Spanish. Since becoming a writer for Independent We Stand, she has fully adopted the ‘buy local’ lifestyle. Her favorite indie business is Sugarland, a bakery in Chapel Hill, N.C, where she has been known to go a little cupcake crazy. She hopes to attend law school and pursue a career in nonprofit or political communication.