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Let's Incubate - Ways to Lend a Helping Hand

Let's look at the various models of business incubation and compare their relative advantages and limitations. The traditional incubator, the coworking startup environment, the emerging model of social incubation, and others all attempt to achieve the same goal - bringing great ideas to life - through different means. Ultimately, entrepreneurs must decide into which incubation methods to dedicate their time and resources, so what are the best options for a given startup?
Some in the incubation community, including Paul Graham of YCombinator, believe that an online incubator would not work because personal relationships are paramount to the value incubators provide. Proponents of social incubation believe this takes a limited view as to what an incubator is or could be.
Finally, certain elements of the traditional incubator have given rise to the coworking model. The approaches to coworking are as diverse as they are popular, and some take a more active role more than others.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. Social incubation is a model based on the idea that by connecting people who share passions and possess diverse expertise, you can make it much more likely for an idea to become a reality. However, the traditional business incubator model relies on strong personal relationships between the incubator and its startups. As a result, it has been stated by some in the incubator community that an online incubator would not work. Is it possible to foster personal relationships in an online setting?
  2. How successful have business incubators been compared to other investment models? Why has it been so popular lately, and why didn't it happen sooner?
  3. What do business incubators and venture capitalists share in common, and how do they differ? Is the incubator an evolution (or revolution) of venture capitalism, or are they independent models appropriate in different situations?
  4. What types of ideas are best suited for each model of incubation? Is there a reason that so many business incubators are focused on tech companies?
  5. What are the advantages and limitations to each model of incubation?



Dan Pernik, Cofounder and COO, Zaplings

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