It’s Getting Hot in Here…
Corporate Incubators are Heating up the Competition
So you want to start a business. Maybe you have the best new app idea or a product that could make life easier. You’ve received funding, finalized your business plan and now need an office. Looking for a place to set up shop can be as frustrating as house hunting; too expensive, too outdated, bad location, no parking, etc. Luckily for small business owners, there’s an easier way – Corporate Incubators.
Our company was founded in 2013 as a subsidiary, and initially we piggybacked on the headquarters of our parent company. It soon came time to flee the nest and look for a space of our own. We had to stay local to the Howard County, MD area but didn’t exactly have the budget for $35/sq. ft., which seemed to be the going rate. Our CEO, Kirk Couser, was involved in a local program for established leaders of the community where he met Larry Twele, who oversees the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA). After a few conversations, an application, and a pitch, it was clear that the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship (MCE) Incubator was the perfect place for NextLOGiK.
Reasons to Join an Incubator
Access to Valuable Resources
This was the number one reason we decided to join the MCE. Corporate incubators exist not only to provide an affordable place to work, but to help grow your company, act as a mentor, and provide the resources needed to establish your business. Being affiliated with a county-run incubator means we are eligible to apply for state grants and investment funds available to stimulate the economy. The MCE is part of a larger network under the HCEDA which further supports existing businesses through funding programs, resource centers and business facilities.
They are affordable
From a financial standpoint, the MCE offered reasonable rent for a young company trying to save every penny. Kirk has witnessed too many companies go bankrupt after getting that dream office. “High overhead can be detrimental to small businesses, at the MCE you get affordable office space with room to grow.” Most incubators are set up to accommodate all sizes of companies, whether you need one cubicle or an office for many. Here at NextLOGiK we began with one room and four employees, two years later we have taken over three offices and have 12 full-time employees.
Sharing a building with likeminded, ambitious business men and women means the chance to network on a day-to-day basis. Sharing a kitchen and rec room gives you ample time to get to know your entrepreneurial counterparts. Maybe you offer a service that their business needs, like website design or event planning. Creating relationships and connections with other small businesses can pay off in the future, most notably through word of mouth marketing, leading to potential business for all parties.
Incubators are as much a business as the start-ups who reside in them. They need to show their value to the community and local small businesses by touting the successes of their residents. It’s a win-win. Most recently, we were recognized as a Quarterly Celebration Honoree by our incubator and got to meet the County Executive, Allan Kittleman. Nominations and awards highlight company’s successes and offer a form of validation for potential customers. Upper management in a corporate incubator can also act as great references.
Finally, there are the benefits that are not always initially realized. Our incubator offers plenty of conference rooms to hold meetings, free WiFi for guests, a kitchen, receptionists, clean facilities, a mail room, printers, and a secure building. These luxuries are rarely affordable for small businesses just getting started. It offers a professional environment that customers come to expect when meeting with potential clients.
Since joining the incubator, our company has tripled in size and space. We are the largest company at the MCE and are now beginning the search for our own office space. I encourage small businesses and start-ups to consider local incubators and if you are close to Howard County, MD, check out the MCE. “We bring together the right people and resources. With a technology business incubation program, technology council, and other programs all under one roof, MCE delivers opportunities for everyone.” Stated Tracy Turner, Director of the Howard Tech Council.
Have any reasons to add or success stories from an incubator? Feel free to drop me a line and share.