What is a startup incubator?

Photo: Stocksnap.io

Photo: Stocksnap.io

by Zach Johnson

So here’s the thing. Sometimes you embrace a name you know isn’t wholly representative of what you’re trying to do in order to increase the understanding and support of the community you’re hoping will embrace what you’re trying to do. This is the case at SPARK BUREAU.

We’re currently running our second incubator intake, comprised of five tech startups. These companies get full-time coworking membership, weekly check-in meetings, monthly milestone reviews, mentoring from our extensive network of successful executives and entrepreneurs, investor introductions, access to workshops and guest speakers and training from experts in lean startup principles, design thinking, agile methodology, digital marketing, funding and IP protection.

Incubators are generally less formally structured offerings of no finite duration. Accelerators are generally more structured programs lasting 3–6 months. Many incubators are housed within and supported by public institutions including local government or universities. Many accelerators are for-profit and provide opportunities for private organisations and individuals to offer seed funding in exchange for equity. Some incubators take startups at the earliest stages — still in ideation, and provide support including, strategy, development and marketing to get those companies to launch. Many accelerators prefer to wait until the startup has demonstrated some “traction” as indicated by things like signups, downloads, subscriptions or contracts.

SPARK BUREAU is both of these things and neither of these things at the same time. We are a not-for-profit. Technically, this is a tax designation rather than a business model. Specifically, we established SPARK BUREAU to be aligned with our regional economic development strategy and are very much about helping create and attract more digital technology companies that represent higher wage employment opportunities thereby lifting the economic base of the Sunshine Coast.

We’re also dedicated to helping foster and support our community of creatives, technologists, marketers and business people in aid of developing a stronger pool of resources from which our tech entrepreneurs — and indeed established companies — can draw to enhance efficiencies, further innovation, and increase our regional competitive advantage.

Ultimately, we’re less about nailing the exact marketing term or finding the most highly refined monetisation strategy than iterating to find what works for our local tech startups, our region and our partners. We will continue to iterate and use our unique model to expand our offering to those outside of our immediate geography and attract startups at various stages to start and grow their tech business on the Sunshine Coast.

For more in the differences between incubators and accelerators:

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/accelerators-vs-incubators-what-startups-need-to-know/

http://www.inc.com/christina-desmarais/difference-between-startup-accelerator-and-incubator.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgedeeb/2014/08/28/is-a-startup-incubator-or-accelerator-right-for-you/#58f895ab3386

This article was originally posted on Medium