For any startup or a first time entrepreneur, the first and the most important step which could ensure its survival, future growth and success, would be incubation.
Very logically, incubation is the time taken from inception of an idea to a definite form of, a ready- to- take-off business / startup. It puts the startup much ahead of its competitors in terms of survival and clarity in terms of the direction that the startup would take in the future.
Typically, it’s a space and a period of time, offered by private and public organisations, like VC firms, government entities, and major corporations, for ideas, to be nurtured, mentored, seed funded, trained and led, upto a point, when the baby bird is ready to flap its wings and fly the nest. Or what is called “demo day” in business parlance.
The incubators offer all sorts of services to support startups, ranging from giving access to infrastructure like high-speed internet, inculcating soft skills like presentation skills and business etiquette to managing accounting, fund raising, networking opportunities to higher education resources, strategic partners, advisory boards and mentors, assistance in marketing, intellectual property management and legal counselling.
They could be all purpose or focused on a particular domain eg. Fashion, gaming, technology or mobile banking, or even a social enterprise like healthcare and education.
Some examples of good incubators would be, the recently inaugurated T-Hub, India’s biggest technology incubation centre in IIIT-H campus, supporting about 800 startups in the first phase and set to support totally 5 thousand startups by 2018. With its mantra of innovate, incubate and incorporate, Telangana is set to become the startup capital of the world. This is a PPP (PublicPrivatePartnership) between the GoT, ISB, IIIT- Hyderabad, and NALSAR for its management, technological and legal aspects, with funding from Tata capital.
In an extension of similar services, the Telangana government along-with STPI launched an incubation facility in Hyderabad for supporting about 232 startups in gaming and animation called IMAGE-Innovation in multimedia, animation, gaming and entertainment.
A very reputed incubation centre is the CIIE Centre for Innovation, Incubation and Entrepreneurship in IIM-A. This is an incubation centre in the areas of internet, mobile technology, clean technology, social sector and healthcare.
Corporates are also doing their bit, like, for example, Mphasis along with IIIT-B, have an incubation centre which supports worthy social enterprises, in fields of education, healthcare and energy through mentoring, logistics and business networking.
In October 2014, Myntra of Flipkart, the online fashion retailer, launched a Designer-in-Residence program, with a duration of one year, under its Myntra Fashion Incubator initiative.
This is a sterling program aimed at budding designers and entrepreneurs in the country. The goal is to primarily mentor and coach them in various ways from finance to showcasing their own unique fashion brands in different platforms and also invest about $1 million in the best performing brands.
Not just corporates and the government but leading consulting firms like Hay India and PricewaterhouseCoopers, are offering incubating services of mentoring and coaching, to startups completely free of charge. PricewaterhouseCoopers has decided to incubate 10 startups to mentor through their growth cycle, on matters of taxation, regulation, investments, risk advisory, fund raising, PR, auditing, hiring and overseas expansion.
Internet companies Microsoft and Infosys, Intel, Snapdeal, PayPal, are all into this race, to incubate startups, which seems to be an extremely good sign of things to come.
Not surprisingly, this particular arm of startups, also, seems to have spun off as an added business opportunity!!
“The more the merrier”, seems to be the name of the startup game!!
To conclude, I was tempted to end with some quotes.
Here’s what, I thought, suited the occasion to the “T”!!
Dreams take time, patience, sustained effort, and a willingness to fail, if they are ever to be anything more than dreams Anonymous
.. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. Nolan Bushnell