Any would-be entrepreneur’s dream is to put up their best in front of potential investors. But how can you make yourself a competitive candidate? An entrepreneur is not born but made. To face the competition in real-time, you must first be able to convince your company’s value proposition to your family, friends or well-wishers. If you succeed in the attempt, it results in the evolution of a great pitch that would certainly pronounce your vision to your potential investors and customers. Having said this, how would you prepare yourself for generating that “wow” pitch?
That totally depends on selecting the ideal business or startup incubator that best fits your vision. What is a business incubator? A startup/ business incubator or accelerator is an organization that supports startups or novice companies by providing a variety of resources and services that will help them in boosting their development. Today, business incubators are growing fast in terms of number, reach, and effectiveness. As the accelerators grow, competition also increases, making the application process even more stringent. With thousands of applications piling up in front of an incubator services provider, they will only bother to cherry-pick the companies which they can best afford to.
So, the challenge ahead of a fledgling entrepreneur will be these:
- Selecting the right startup incubator so that their dreams come true
- The criteria you need to meet to get shortlisted by the desired incubator
Choosing the right startup incubator
Prior to selecting the incubator, look at the program’s track record and the output they have delivered so far. You also should verify whether they package the services that you are looking for. Analyze the companies that you admire that have benefitted from the incubator programs and also see how these programs support such companies after they have completed their graduation. If you are thinking of joining an incubator, execute the following groundworks:
Perform an end-to-end Research
Startup incubators vary from each other based on the services and resources they provide. Consider if the whole package suits the requirements of your company. Capital alone is not the priority for choosing an incubator. Beyond money, incubators can offer more resources and you should be judicious enough to defend yourself from wasting time and money on unqualified incubators. Specifically look at the experiences and networks of the mentors and also be sure about the location of the incubator. Certain incubators demand you to relocate for gaining more experience. But you and your business should enjoy the fruits of relocation in future. Ask yourself if your business can prosper with the resources available in the city. If your business is already in action and if it needs regular management, you must be careful while picking up the curriculum (training, sessions etc.) offered by incubators.
Consulting the alumni
Go through the list of companies that have benefitted from incubators and consult with them. Ask them about their former experiences of the incubator. You can also conduct a survey among such incubator beneficiaries and make them rate the services and expertise of incubators.
Gathering a strong team
Rather than business ideas, incubators look for strong founders with robust teams that can support them. Having an idea is not enough because an incubator may churn out you and your team to a more refined business and even change your directions towards a more feasible and economic business model. It is the original entrepreneur who executes your end business strategy. You should have the right resources who are skilled and flexible to welcome the change.
Make your pitch unique
Incubators look for companies that will ultimately succeed not just because of the equity stake, but also for investing more capital in future. While scrutinizing the applicants, they look for those who are doers or founders; who are promising and exhibit the ability to execute. The first impression is always the best impression. So prepare a unique pitch that will distinguish you from other applicants and rehearse it well so that you deliver the best on stage.
How much can you pay
It’s probably a known fact that the fee you need to pay for being admitted into an incubator is typically an exchange of equity in your company. Determine how much you are ready to spend for being in an incubator and also see if it is worth. Consult a legal expert who can help you with the final agreement.
Preparing yourself to get incubated
Decide what you can do yourself and what you expect from incubators
Today, most of the incubators provide you not just physical spaces or shared services for you to grow, but a range of value-added services from infrastructure assistance, security and regulatory compliance, helping with borrowing loans, networking with mentors, advisors and investors, attaining strategic partnerships and more. Consider all these options, filter and narrow down your choices to identify the exact help you need from incubators. Can you avail these services for an affordable rate through your own network? Do you need tax breaks along with economic physical workspaces? Ask such questions and decide what you can do yourself and what you exactly want the incubators to do for you.
Access to government subsidies
A government granted subsidy, a tax exemption, or the supply of resources- any budding entrepreneur would definitely look for such perks when they plan to give shape to their business. Even before getting incubated in a business accelerator it is advisable to look for such potential encouragement that one could gain from government. Survival is the most pertinent question faced by businesses and you need ample support and encouragement from the administration to take your businesses and ideas to the next level.
Watch your time
The application to join an incubator should be submitted at the right time and right place. Applying too early can also turn down the incubator’s interest in your vision, if your startup doesn’t have enough traction for the incubator to partner with. You must establish a strong network and should have the substantial revenue to get on to an incubator. You need to regularly follow up with the incubator’s policies and see if joining is viable and fruitful for you.
Checking for proper referrals, creating a strong narrative and company story, showing examples with supportive facts, leveraging social media and other online platforms, creation of a sound social profile- all these are the must-do tasks that you need to perform during the pre-incubation stage.
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