Should You Join a Technology Incubator?

Business incubators can offer valuable help to technology start-ups.

Anyone pursuing a career in information technology that has a bit of an entrepreneurial streak may want to put their degree to use helping start-up companies by working for a technology incubator.

As the number of start-ups continues to increase at a rapid pace thanks to the proliferation of funding programs like Kickstarter, business incubators are becoming more important than ever before.

"The startup phase of a company is the riskiest phase and the incubator helps eliminate some of those pitfalls by being able to focus of their business as opposed to some of the details," John Denise, who provides information technology consulting services in South Carolina, told Columbia CBS affiliate WLTX.

Incubators are most critical when it comes to getting technology start-ups off the ground. Working for a technology incubator means helping fledgling companies establish sustainable business models.

Incubators can give practical advice about fundraising and offer technical training to help entrepreneurs grow a successful business. They also provide lab and office space, mentorship programs and a wide network of resources.

Aside from working for a business incubator, college graduates with an IT degree can also take their entrepreneurial ideas to a technology incubator to increase the chances that their business will become a success.

As with any business decision, there are both pros and cons to getting involved with a business incubator. One great perk of joining an incubator is having a built-in support system of experienced business people and seasoned entrepreneurs who can give quality advice.

"It has provided us access to mentors in various industries, expert panel discussions, guest speakers and a curriculum that outlines everything from how to balance a budget to finding investors," Mario Ochoa, who is participating in a one-year incubator program, told the National Federation of Independent Business. "We are still in the first phase, but we have already felt a positive impact."

However, for some startups the incubation environment may feel a bit restrictive. Some may not allow for flexibility with office space and could require entrepreneurs to take on added responsibilities within the group.

What it all comes down to is finding the incubator that's the best fit for the business. Technology-industry specific groups may be more competitive, but the wealth of knowledge that comes along with is well worth it when it comes to turning a startup into a success.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers online bachelor's and master's degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit our website at www.wgu.edu.

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