For product-oriented businesses, launching a new item can be intimidating. In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, the pressure is high to be as innovative as possible. Businesses are competing with not only existing products on the market but the many other new pieces of merchandise being created by creative startup founders.
For some startups, an incubator or accelerator has made all the difference. Although admission is competitive, startups that are accepted into an accelerator usually find they have access to support and resources that they wouldn't have had otherwise. But these programs aren’t just for brand new businesses – established businesses can also benefit from using accelerators to launch new products, move into new markets and launch new ideas.
What Are Incubators and Accelerators?
Business incubators are a relatively new concept, having emerged in response to the rapid growth of startups around the country. As word has gotten out about the work of incubators like Y Combinator and Techstars, startup founders have learned the benefits these programs bring to new business. As a result, competition for participation has rapidly grown. Accepted businesses must have a winning concept with broad market appeal to be chosen over hundreds of other applicants.
Large companies also want to get in on the act. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) partnered with Torque Studio to create an immersive Entrepreneur in Residence program. This startup studio connects the entrepreneurs to some of the top performing companies in Silicon Valley, resulting in potential partnerships and better chances for success.
Other niche startup studios like this have emerged as well to accommodate the increasing number of these businesses. There are accelerators that focus specifically on female founders, people of color founders, or a specific industry – the options are endless when it comes to finding an accelerator that best fits your business.
Devising New Ideas
No matter how much experience a startup founder gains, creating new products always brings new challenges that you may not be prepared for. It can be easy for a business’s employees to get so caught up in day-to-day operations that they lose sight of the bigger picture. When it’s time to add a product to its suite of offerings, the business’s leadership will remain stuck in the small niche they’ve already carved out for themselves.
An incubator can help out with those new ideas, helping static entrepreneurs reclaim their creativity. Incubators are filled with new entrepreneurs who think outside the box. Using an incubator, even as an established business owner, could inspire you to try a new approach or rethink a stale concept.
The Right Space
The one basic necessity that incubators bring their members is office space. During their formative years, startups often lack access to affordable office space and administrative support – incubators help with that. While this is by no means the biggest benefit an incubator brings, it does free entrepreneurs up from worrying about basic administrative issues and to focus instead on building and growing their concepts.
Established entrepreneurs can enjoy these same perks while working on a new product design. Instead of working in an office where distraction is everywhere, an entrepreneur can either relocate or spend part of the week working at an incubator, where this administrative support is provided. Simply being in a new environment can be all a professional needs to recharge and brainstorm new ideas.
Access to Funding
While a solo business owner couldn’t convince a potential business partner or investor to schedule a meeting, an incubator could help that same business owner get the introduction necessary to make it happen. Ahead of the meeting, that same incubator also can offer the guidance an entrepreneur needs to make a winning pitch.
For established entrepreneurs interested in developing a new concept, funding can provide a great deal of relief. An injection of cash can give an entrepreneur the support to develop prototypes, conduct customer testing, and ramp up manufacturing and shipping processes. An incubator can help business owners locate and pitch to compatible investors.
Incubators and accelerators offer vital support and access to resources that are so vital to businesses in every stage. While an incubator might not be the best choice for everyone, considering the many features it offers. It could be a great, and unconventional, way for you to bring your next product to life.