An incubator and in the biological sense is a shelter that fosters the growth of organisms. The example I remember most from my childhood was the one used for chicken eggs. My sister obtained the incubator and eggs from 4-H. She incubated them until tiny chicks pecked through their shell. Once they were born, my sister sheltered them in blankets and fed them appropriate meals until they could scratch the ground to find food on their own. They eventually became full grown hens and roosters.
With a single egg in someone’s hand there are many options. It could be thrown against the wall and destroyed. The egg can be cooked and eaten. Another option is to put it in an incubator or under a hen until it births into a chicken. Then, depending on the sex, it might lay its own eggs. Sometimes on a daily basis for many years to come. The one egg can become thousands.
Startup incubators and business accelerators work on the same multiplying principles. They were started in the late 1950’s in abandon warehouses. They formed because of the lack of low cost office spaces for young businesses to start and grow. They then spread across the UK and Europe. There are currently over one thousand such organizations in the U.S. and an equal number in the E.U. My theory will go on to explain that this number is nowhere near enough.
If a majority of the world’s new jobs are derived from small businesses we must do more to incubate and accelerate those who have innovative ideas in our communities. This is not a choice. It is a necessity.
Recently, I attended a national summit for rural entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C. I spoke with Maria Contreras Sweet who is the head of the Small Business Administration. We spoke about areas like mine and why innovation and job growth is non existent. She sees a real need to create jobs through incubator and accelerators. It is well understood that the largest job growths for the next decade will come from companies that do not exist yet. This is why every community needs a place for entrepreneurial eggs to grow.
Most people already wonder why endless dollars are spent on worthless programs to make our children average. Our leaders and teachers should focus more resources on the ones who have innovative ideas that could bring new jobs through the nurturing of these individuals.
The future of incubators and accelerators has recently trended away from brick and mortar locations to virtual hubs online. I feel face-to-face interactions in the beginning cycles of a business are still paramount. I will encourage any new incubator and accelerator owners to adopt this approach as well. This book focuses on startup centers where people in communities can interact on a daily basis. They will sharpen their skills and abilities through a proven method of learning presented in this guide.
The purpose of incubators and accelerators are simple. Someone who can sing is quickly put into the choir. A good athlete will find his way into sports. Students who excel in class will go to college. What about the kid that has great business ideas? Where does he go? Would the best use of his skills be in the church choir or the football field? Maybe, but what if the kid who is always trying new ideas to make a profit was put with other likeminded individuals. Better yet, what if he was paired with the communities strongest entrepreneurial minds?
A quarterback gets to practice throwing the deep ball with a group of receivers everyday at practice. In a local business incubator and accelerator, an entrepreneurial child is able to sharpen his communication, networking, and business skills beginning at a young age. They are working with the communities greatest entrepreneurs.
Then like the quarterback who goes on to greatness, he gives back to his high school and college. The entrepreneur then becomes a successful CEO and gives back to the community who incubated him and his business. He does this by creating jobs, supporting other new businesses, and buying materials from the local businesses that helped him.