How to Get Your Startup Up and Running with a Business Incubator

Written by Dan Tyre

Source:https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/business-incubator

Starting a company can be a lonely process for a first-time entrepreneur. There’s a lot of hard work, self-discipline, limited feedback on priorities, and process fraught with potholes — some critical to the success of the enterprise itself.

Over the last decade, founders and startups have turned to business incubators and accelerators to scale their business. The concept makes a lot of sense for entrepreneurs or early-stage founding teams that want to leverage a defined process for success and transition to a sustainable enterprise. But what is a business incubator?

Business Incubator Definition

A business incubator is a company that helps startups and new businesses accelerate their growth and success. Incubators do this by providing support in a variety of areas including management training, office space, capital, mentorship, and networking connections.

Incubators can be sponsored by different types of organizations including venture funds or private companies, municipal economic development organizations, and even colleges or universities.

Business Incubator Models

Some incubators are focused on different types of companies (i.e., fintech startups), vertical markets (i.e., the energy market), or geographic locations (i.e., companies in Arizona).

In fact, the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) categorizes incubators into five models:

  1. Academic institutions
  2. Nonprofit development corporations
  3. For-profit property development ventures
  4. Venture capital firms
  5. A combination of the above

Companies usually spend one to two years in a business incubator — a span determined by need and/or obligation. A benefit of the business incubator model is that it creates a shared learning experience and supports collaboration.

The ability to receive quick, accurate information from incubator executives, mentors, instructors, or fellow entrepreneurs can have a significant impact on your ability to focus on the right priorities and make the right decisions to grow your business.

What is a Small Business Incubator?

Many business incubators support small businesses or startups. So, if you’re looking for a “small business incubator,” you’re likely simply looking for a “business incubator” that provides support for business infrastructure, training, and capital.

Note that business incubators are different than business accelerators. While incubators exist to nurture the growth of a new business, accelerators are generally geared towards helping entrepreneurs transform their ideas into products or services that are ready for market quickly — in as little as a few months.

It’s important to know the difference between these two models and to discern which is right for your company or idea.

What Does a Business Incubator Do?

An incubator should provide diverse benefits to startup entrepreneurs. These benefits can include:

  1. Office space – Some incubators offer office space for free or below-market rates to their portfolio companies. This solves several problems for startups. Mainly, it allows them to find a professional space for their employees to work without having to sign a lease — especially helpful when the company is unsure how quickly they’ll scale production or headcount.
  2. Specialized equipment – Some incubators invest in specialized equipment, like modeling software, 3D printers, prototyping equipment, or software development labs. This is a huge advantage for scaling companies in their infancy. Access to costly equipment and simulation programs can be crucial.
  3. Experienced mentors – It’s important for startups to limit critical mistakes while scaling. Most incubators offer an experienced staff of savvy industry executives to help the core team stay focused and avoid mistakes. Incubators usually employ mentors with specific startup experience that can help explain the process, planning, and decision criteria — all while steering new entrepreneurs away from costly mistakes they made or witnessed.
  4. Group training and education – Many business incubators offer an array of important business training spanning from legal advice on startup documents, incorporation terms, or IP issues to general business challenges like how to ship a product, establish a quality culture, or establish sales and marketing processes.
  5. Software discounts – From accounting to project management, incubators typically offer business software that helps their startups scale. Pricing and education are typically vetted and negotiated for a standard rate allowing portfolio companies to get right to work. HubSpot offers this type of arrangement to more than 1000 startup partners worldwide.
  6. Shared business services – Much like leveraging software availability and selection, many incubators offer accounting, banking, marketing, and manufacturing services to help companies scale.
  7. Community – One of the best attributes of business incubators are intangibles. Working with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs, using connections for connecting with prospects or customers, and learning from others in your cohort are invaluable parts of incubator life.

Is My Startup a Good Fit for a Business Incubator?

According to HubSpot for Startups’ Christian Mongillo, “The most important criteria is fit. Find a business incubator that works economically and allows you to expand as your team expands.

Look for one that has a selection process and is searching for similar types of companies. It’s not just a coworking space. The best incubators have a great mentor network and produce good results. They also have free wifi.”

Are all companies good fits for incubators? “Not necessarily,” says Mongillo. “If you’re a lifestyle company, a second-time entrepreneur, have access to office space, or want to build your own company culture, it might not be a good fit.

Some incubators require companies to give them an equity stake. So, if you don’t need the special services, you might be better off on your own.”

How Do I Get into a Business Incubator?

Being accepted into a business incubator can and should be a process. Most incubators have an admissions process and require companies to apply for acceptance.

Criteria for acceptance into an incubator varies, but most require you to present a feasible business idea and professional business plan. Here are a few steps to get started finding an incubator that’s right for your business.

  1. Review your options geographically or vertically – Because of the sheer volume of available incubators, you might have more than one option to choose from. By doing a quick regional search, you can understand and rank the incubators that might be a good fit. Always review the website and ask for references from successful companies they’ve helped as well as a few from companies that have dropped out to get an overall view of fit.
  2. Review criteria for admission – Most incubators have defined criteria for which types of companies they’re prepared to help. Some require certain milestones or criteria, like headcount, capital, entrepreneurial experience, background, revenue, or product fit. Others require contractual obligations from the accepted companies, so reviewing the application and understanding what’s is crucial to ascertaining fit.
  3. Prepare a business plan – A business plan might not be required during the application process, but it’s helpful in determining whether the incubator is a good match. I’m a big fan of the three-page business plan rather than an unabridged version. A simple overview of business name, team build, value proposition, competitive advantage, addressable market, go to market strategy, product or service, and a 12-month forecast can help you differentiate your company.
  4. Be prepared to work with a screening committee – In most cases, incubators will accept initial applications for companies meeting basic criteria. Some incubators require a video submission to explain the basic business model, vision, and mission of the company. The second stage is usually to meet and discuss your goals, plans, strengths, and weaknesses with a screening committee. This might take the form of an application, pitch or interview, and a series of meetings to set expectations for each side.

Dr. Manisha Acharya, CEO, indigramlabs Foundation, received the Chevening Research Science and Innovation Programme Fellowship award

Best Agri & Food Incubator of the year 2019

We are awarded#BestAgri & #FoodIncubator of the year 2019 at Agriculture Growth Summit, Mumbai.

This incubation programme is giving a boost to agri startups cropping up in the Northeast

While agri startups in India have made headway in the states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and even Odisha, the agri startup boom is yet to proliferate in the Northeast region of the country. The area is blessed with the bounty of nature, and the region is largely rural, with horticultural production dominating the agri landscape. But despite several development schemes being launched by the government, largely focusing on the farm and rural sector in the area, there remains a gap.

Manisha Acharya, CEO of Indigram Lab Foundation, a technology business incubator, says,

“There is a need for partnerships for training and competence building, investments, marketing, processing, projects, and infrastructure development to accelerate growth and economic activities, leading to more jobs, incomes and opportunities for the people belonging to these eight States – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.”

Intello Labs is India’s Most Awarded Agritech Venture

Intello Labs started it’s journey in May 2016 to investigate markets where AI adoption will be welcomed in the early stages of its technology life. We began with use cases where we could build, test and deploy AI solutions rapidly before launching into chosen markets with confidence. Intello labs is recognized as a de-facto business for expert AI capability in solutions that satisfy real world challenges in near real time..

AgriPulse’18 Demo Day

On 20th August 2018, Indigram Labs Foundation (ILF) launched Agripulse’18 North-East Accelerate programme with the vision to support Startups from North-East India. The six months long Accelerate Program was supported by reputed bodies including NABARD, DST, North Eastern Council, ISAP, NEDFi, Startup Assam, Aavishkaar Ventures, Omnivore Partners, Ankur Capital, etc. The program consisted of five successive roadshows held in the month of August 2018 which attracted 550+ attendees, 110+ applications & 250+ queries. The program identified Best 20 Startups for Cohort selection presentation in Guwahati on 10th October 2018, of which ‘Top 10’ were selected and invited for Boot Camp at Delhi. The program concluded with the ‘Demo Day’ event at Indian International Centre, Delhi on 16th January 2019. The event was graced with the presence of distinguished guests including:

o Dr. Anita Gupta, Scientist G, NSTEDB, DST, GoI

o Dr. M. Premjit Singh, VC, CAU, Imphal

o Shri. H.B. Songadkar, CGM, OFDD, NABARD

o Mr. Hemendra Mathur, Managing Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund

o Mr. Subhadeep Sanyal, Principal, Omnivore Partners

o Mr. Sandro Stephen, Regional Head, Indian Angel Network

o Mr. Neeraj Tyagi, Managing Partner & Head Global Alliances, Venture Catalysts

o Mr. Vivek Kumar, CEO at VENTURE GARAGE

The programme was appreciated for helping the Startups to network well with Government representatives and investors besides gaining visibility in the Indian ecosystem.

Boot Camp for NE Startups-AgriPulse’18

The AgriPulse’18 is an Accelerator Program started with an aim to recognize potentially game changing early-stage entrepreneurs from North-East India and creating a supportive ecosystem to help them scale up their businesses. This unique initiative would bring together the key stakeholders in the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem including startups, investors, mentors, and subject matter experts and help unlock the huge potential of the North Eastern states by unleashing the innovative energy of the emerging entrepreneurs of the region. The AgriPulse’18 is organized by Indigram Labs Foundation with the support of National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD), Dept. of Science & Technology, North Eastern Council, Govt. of India. This program will provide the Top 10 identified start-ups an opportunity of intensive mentoring and training from the pool of experts on various aspects of business and help them mature and establish not only in the region but also beyond. The objective of the Boot Camp is to provide the AgriPulse’18 cohort exposure to the thriving entrepreneurial culture in Agri & Food sectors of India and give access to: 

  • Quality Networks: Visits and meetings with key stakeholders in the ecosystem such as leading startups, investors, officials, incubators, accelerators, academic institutes and so on. 
  • Expert Guidance: Sessions and workshops on important business functions, technology trends and growth strategies from industry veterans, mentors, entrepreneurs, and experienced professionals. 
  • Great Inspiration: A credible and high-visibility platform to showcase their business, during close interactions and hearing directly from role models.

The Boot Camp will be a well-rounded experiential learning program. Partners that support this program contribute towards strengthening and developing a dynamic ecosystem for Agri & Food entrepreneurs in India. There is also significant knowledge sharing between the partners and Top 10 winners during all interactions. This platform will also help the startups to connect to the market and investors and gain visibility in the ecosystem.

AgriPulse’18- North East Accelerator Program Inauguration

Indigram Labs Foundation, Supported by Department of Science Technology, GoI has announced a six-month accelerator program AgriPulse’18 to identify & support innovative, sustainable and scalable early-stage Agri & Food entrepreneurs from North East India.

AgriPulse- 2018 is aimed at recognizing potentially game-changing early-stage entrepreneurs from North-East India and creating a supportive ecosystem to help them scale up their businesses. This unique initiative would bring together the key stakeholders in the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem including startups, investors, mentors and subject matter experts and help unlock the huge potential of the North Eastern states by unleashing the innovative energy of the emerging entrepreneurs of the region.

This program is supported by Department of Science & Technology, GoI, North Eastern Council,

NEDFi, NERAMAC, Startup Assam, NRDC, Inc42, Tripurainfo and many more

The program will be launched on 20 th August at NEDFi House from 11:00 AM onwards in the presence of dignitaries from North Eastern Council, NEDFi, Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship, NERAMAC, FINER, ICCO & Startup Assam. Interested candidates may also join us by attending the AgriPulse Roadshows at:

Shillong on 21 st Aug at Sri Aurobindo Institute culture, Bivar, Shillong, Meghalaya

Agartala on 25 th Aug at College of Fisheries, Lembucherra, Agartala, Tripura

Imphal on 29 th Aug at Central Agricultural University, Imphal, Manipur

Aizwal on 31 st Aug at Mizoram University, Aizawl, Mizoram

For more details: http://indigramlabs.org/agripulse/

Healthon’18- Hack 2 Rural Health conducted at NASSCOM, Gurugram

The Grand Finale of Healthon 2018- Hack 2 Rural Health for problem statements based on Rural

Focused Health & Wellness was organized during 26-27th July 2018 at Centre of Excellence-IoT,

NASSCOM, Gurugram, Haryana. The event was jointly hosted by Department of Science & Technology, GoI, Indigram Labs Foundation, Indian Society of Healthcare Professionals and Centre of Excellence-IoT, NASSCOM.

At Healthon2018, the first round was virtual idea submission the top 10 teams were invited for the 24 hours Hackathon. Here they exposed to rounds of mentoring and judging by the team of judges consisting of Healthcare professionals and industry experts. Wherein all the teams presented their software and top three teams were awarded with the cash prize of INR 50K, 30K & 20K to the Team MedBlocks, Team MedSaaman and Team Arogyam Medisoft Solution respectively.

Valedictory session graced by Shri Harkesh Mittal, Dr. V.K.Singh, Mr. Sushanto Mitra.

Mentoring Session for Startups at Headstart Mentor on “How to make an elevator pitch

Indigramlabs is glad to be a part of Headstart Mentor || April’18 Edition, New Delhi, which was held on 28th April. Mr. Ashish Khetan, Chief Mentor & Investment Officer, Indigram Labs Foundation mentored start-ups on “How to make an elevator pitch”. Indigram Labs is committed towards its mission to encourage young talent and ideas by nurturing them through proper guidance.

A Team of Startup Founders from South Korea visited Indigram Labs with the support of AICTE, New Delhi

The Centre for Creative Economy & Innovation (CCEI), Daegu, Republic of Korea and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), India has conducted one day visit of Indigramlabs Labs Foundation- a Delhi based Agriculture Incubator for selected Team of Startups/ Entrepreneurs. It aims to offer these Innovators an international linkage opportunities and exposure to Indian Startup Ecosystem. On this occasion, South Korean Innovators interacted with Indian Startups and explore the possible synergies for business expansion.

Workshop on “Attracting the Venture Investment to Your Startup

A wonderful workshop held on 26th April “Attracting the Venture Investment to Your Startup” for incubatees of Indigramlabs. By Mr. Vijay Bijlani, Director, Stories & Ideas Corp. and Mr. Amit Sinha, Strategy Consultant.

Indigram Labs Co-organized with ICFA “All India Agri Startups Convention and Agri Startups Awards, 21-22 Feb 2018

Indigram Labs Foundation proudly co-organized with ICFA “All India Agri Startups Convention and Agri Startups Awards, 21-22 Feb 2018 at Constitution Club, New Delhi, with the aim to bring all the startups in food and Agri space on single platform for sharing of success stories and exploring business and marketing linkages, technology and financial tie-ups and partnership opportunities. Selected achievements of excellence in the field was duly recognized and awarded at the convention to serve as motivation. Dr. Manisha Nanda Acharya, CEO of Indigram Labs enlighted young entrepreneurs on various pro-Strat-up Schemes launched by Government of India at #AllIndiaAgriStartupsConvention-2018. We believe such events provide a platform for potential entrepreneurs to connect with the Government schemes, technology bodies, industry, financial institutions, venture capitals, marketing agencies etc to unleash potentials for Start-ups in India.

Investors Meet for Agriculture & Clean Energy Tech Startups-2018

On 15th February 2018, Indigram labs Foundation in association with Women Innovation Entrepreneurship Foundation (WIEF) witnessed its first ever organized Investor’s Meet for Agriculture & Clean Energy Tech Start-ups at Indigram House, New Delhi. In spite of such a niche theme of the event; ILF got overwhelmed response from Investors across India. The intention of the event is to bring Investee & Investors on a common platform & provide financial access to Enterprise to meet their needs and cope up with business environment factors. It was organized for the Incubatees of Indigram so as to adhere to the commitment of ILF in providing holistic support to its Incubated Companies. Out of 15 incubated Companies; 9 companies have presented before the Investors.  The Investors consisted of seasoned scholars, eminent personalities like:

Mr. Anirudh Damani, Artha Ventures

Mr. Anil Joshi, Unicorn Ventures

Mr. Akshay Mittal, Mumbai Angels

Mr. Rohit Singh, Dexter Capital

Mr. Sandeep Jain, Angel Investor

Mr. Vikas Verma, Angel Investor

Mr. Bipin, GVFL

Indigram Labs organized its first ever B-plan Competition in Agri-IOT & AI-2018

On 5th January 2018, Indigram labs Foundation witnessed its first ever organized B-Plan Competition in Agri-IOT & AI at American Center, New Delhi. In spite of niche theme of competition; ILF got overwhelmed response from Innovators across India. The intention of the competition is to provide innovators a platform to initiate their own
Enterprise on different Challenge Areas focused on Sustainable Agriculture & Technology. It was organized for innovators/students from the pan India so as to enable the momentum of Entrepreneurship development and Enterprise creation in Agriculture & allied sector. The judging panel consisted of seasoned scholars, eminent personalities from the field of agriculture, Banking & Finance, Rural Development, IPR, Management, and Engineering like:
a) Dr. K.K. Singh, Director, CIAE-ICAR, Bhopal;
b) Dr. V.M. Chariar, Professor at IIT-Delhi;
c) Dr. Sreyash Satpathy, Head & SVP of Central Ministry, Institutions & PSU, Axis
Bank, Delhi;
d) Dr. Shweta Singh, Founder & Director at Ennoble IP;
e) Mr. Rajneesh Kumar, Director, Nexus @ American Centre, New Delhi.

Team FarmAgain has won the first prize for their business model, Team FarmTree won the second prize and Satyam Raj & T.S. Pavan Prasad won the third prize. Awards to the winners were distributed by our Chief Guest, Mr. Harkesh Mittal, Adviser, Member Secretary, National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology, and Government of India and respected dignitaries of Jury Panel.

New Leaf Dynamic one of the top 50 innovations by Department of Science & Technology (DST) Govt. Of India

New Leaf Dynamic Technologies acknowledged as one of the Top 50 innovations in India by Department of Science & Technology (DST) Govt. of India, Lockheed Martin, FICCI, Stanford Business School, and TiE Network.

Intello labs among top 50 Start-ups at NASSCOM Product Conclave 2017

Intello labs featured among top 50 Start-ups at NASSCOM Product Conclave 2017. It was held at Bengaluru from 2-3 November 2017. This prestigious event witnessed 2000+ participants, 75+ Investors and many more. Congratulations to Intello labs for adding another feather of success in their achievements.

Intello Labs won the First runner-up award in recently held three-day World Food Summit -2017

Indigram labs Foundation is very glad to share that one of its Startups won the First runner-up award in recently held three-day World Food Summit -2017. The World Food Summit’17was organized by Ministry of Food processing industries in Pragati Maidan, New Delhi from 3-5 November 2017 drew unique innovative works in Food and Agri sector. The prestigious event was participated by representatives from 30+ countries. On a concluding day on Monday, the awards were given by Hon’ble President of India, Shri Ramnath Kovind.

Congratulations to the winner. All the best and a long way to go. Thanks to the World Food Summit and the Ministry of Food Processing Industries for recognizing the entrepreneurs.

AgriPulse- Accelerator Program

Fast paced six months Accelerator program involves intensive mentoring, networking & investors connect

3I- Idea Innovation Impact

Apply for Incubation on monthly themes for the entire year to access the networks of ILF

Zero2One : Idea to Prototype

Grant up to 4 Lakhs for prototype development under ASPIRE scheme of Min. of MSME