Business Incubators Don’t Need To Fail
Sramana Mitra has another interesting discussion on entrepreneurship going on in her often excellent blog – but it starts from an unsupportable precept. Sramana asks: “Why do business incubators fail”I co-founded and ran a successful incubation company for many years. We started in west Belfast (Northern Ireland), and by all external measurements we were set up to fail – extremely high local unemployment, an unskilled workforce and next to no sources of capital, all in the context of what was in effect a war zone.
Five years later the program was an outstanding success, had won the European Union Job Challenge Award and we were replicating it throughout the UK and beyond.
I believe there were three main success factors:
1. The program was conceived and delivered by hardened entrepreneurs who were compensated for success;
2. The local government agencies pump-primed initial start-up costs then got out of the way, and
3. We made the first few cohorts exceptionally competitive to get into, carefully selected only high potential participants, and delivered early, headline-grabbing successes – this drove the program virally and produced a great pipeline of motivated applicants for future cohorts, as well as enthusiastic partners and sponsors who wanted to become associated with the program for their own PR purposes.
Short version: business incubators don’t have to fail.