For many startups, joining an incubator can make good sense. Yet, incubators are not all alike; this requires the startup to do some homework and ask some basic questions.
The first question to address is for the startup itself. What type of help does your startup need? Most startups will answer this question saying that they need help finding investor capital. An infusion of cash may well help the fledgling business, but the “ask” of the investor can be a waste of time if the startup is not prepared for the “due diligence” process. Many seed investors have very specific requirements for their prospective startup investments. The list can include proof of concept, intellectual property, a full management team, documented customer development, prototypes, etc. My experience is that few startups have these essentials.
Readiness for funding is a key criterion for the startup looking for funding. The investors also want to see a “pitch” via PowerPoint, an executive summary, a business model canvas, and a business plan. Thus, this is how the incubator can help.
You need to ask the prospective incubator to describe what they do. Some incubators specialize by industry or category such as food, biotech, clean-tech, or even agriculture. Other incubators may be non-profit in nature and may focus on a geographic region with the hopes of local economic development and job creation. Still other incubators may have a decidedly aggressive investment posture with a trade of cash for a significant equity slice.
CSUF’s Startup Incubator is adjacent to the University in downtown Placentia. The Incubator provides promising and coach-able startups access to technical advice, assistance in the hunt for seed capital, a place to meet and work, a large network of veteran entrepreneurs, and expert guidance concerning patents, technology transfer, licensing, royalties, contracts, and new venture formation.
The CSUF Startup Incubator will function as a “hatchery” for innovation; the goal would be to commercialize resident startups within 180 days. Many traditional business incubators coddle new ventures and make money from renting the facility and providing professional services to them. In contrast, the CSUF Startup Incubator will aggressively challenge its residents to “succeed quickly or fail fast.” The Incubator will achieve this through stringent feasibility testing, thorough market research, verified proof of concept, and rigorous beta testing of products and services. An experienced team of content experts, innovators and entrepreneurs will optimize the commercialization process by helping innovators avoid mistakes and lost time.
Are you ready for this challenge? If so, you can learn more at http://business.fullerton.edu/centers/cfe/StartupIncubator.htm. Better yet, apply now!
John Bradley Jackson
Director, Center for Entrepreneurship