An incubator in business is just what it sounds like–a place that grows and supports startups and new businesses. They provide the startup with a low-cost workplace, access to experienced mentors and entrepreneurs, and resources to assemble a company team.
Building a business was not a new concept to us at Communication APPtitude; we both have successful private practices in Maryland. We aren’t the typical startup, either, and have been told we did some things backwards. Our apps were developed by bootstrapping.
We were hard at work developing our iPad apps, when we finally came up for air and realized we were in a great ed-tech hub–Baltimore. It was time to pay attention to scaling our business and creating new products.
Choosing an Incubator
Baltimore has some great incubators, so how did we choose? First, we needed to find an incubator whose captain was significant in the industry. In our case this meant the ed-tech industry. We found that Frank Bonsal III had a great reputation in the education technology community, and he had experience in investing and venture capitalism. His passion for ed-tech and his guidance through all matters of business were necessary for us to accelerate our startup.
Do Your Research and Pitch
We asked for a meeting and worked on crafting our pitch. First, we practiced by entering a Meetup pitch contest and took second place giving a two-minute elevator pitch. Next, we used Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start as our template for what to include in our pitch. We sent our pitch deck out via email to respected business people for input. Practicing the pitch in front of others gave us valuable feedback and confidence in the process. Looking back, our pitch was a little rough, but anyone experienced in listening to pitches can read between the lines and find the “meat.”
Benefits of an Incubator
Our learning and growth curves have sped up significantly since joining the Towson University Incubator in May of 2015. We spent time in business bootcamp learning about finances, sales and leading a company. We were given access to amazing mentors in fields including ed tech, marketing, finance, technology and sales. We’ve won a few business plan competitions and secured Maryland TEDCO funds to build our new product.
Our incubator leaders let us know when we are ready for the next hurdle each step of the way. There is no doubt in our minds that joining the right incubator propelled our business forward and increased our business acumen so we are ready for the growth phase.
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