From a white-label grocery delivery service to an engagement platform for international students, Boston-area startups are coming up with increasingly creative ways to solve real-world problems for consumers.
One company I'm directly involved in mentoring, ThriveHive, is trying to make marketing infinitely easier for small businesses by automating some of the marketing channel recommendations, measurement and more, as well as guiding them in actually getting the work done.
It's all very cool and useful-for me personally and professionally as much as for the companies we mentor! Exposure to all of these different types of businesses I would not have otherwise had exposure to is incredibly valuable. Working alongside other business leaders, who have accomplished amazing things in their own entrepreneurial efforts, is really motivational, as well.
If you're considering applying to a startup incubator (or maybe hadn't thought of it but are considering it now!), here are a few reasons to give it a go:
1. You get to pick the brains of experts.
Participants in startup programs like Techstars get to ask very specific questions of their advisors and mentors, like "How will we know when we have the right product/market fit?" They can get expert advice on a wide range of topics and disciplines, eg.: structuring a sales commission plan, increasing customer engagement, scaling their marketing, etc.
2. You can avoid unforced errors.
I mean, you can't avoid them entirely, but one of the biggest forms of leverage in growing a business is making fewer mistakes. Unforced errors in business strategy and operations are incredibly costly -- sometimes the cost is as high as the failure of that business.
When I first started WordStream, I made a ton of mistakes that might have been avoided if I'd had advisors with the experience to navigate the specific issues I was facing. I later created a board of advisors, which has been hugely beneficial. The thing about advisors though, is that they're only as good as the advisors you bring on. It can be incredibly difficult to find the best experts if you're just getting started on you own. Belonging to a startup incubator gives you this edge right out of the gate.
3. You may be able to access huge benefits.
On top of seed funding and mentoring, startup incubators can offer some very real, tangible benefits for entrepreneurs and fledgling businesses. For example, Techstars offers their startups things (in exchange for an equity stake in your company) like:
- a $100,000 convertible debt note, provided by top venture capital firms, Techstars Alumni and several individuals.
- opportunities to spend time on site with relevant corporate partners, engaging with larger corporations in their focus area.
- up to $10,000 in hourly fee discounts for legal services.
- free banking and financial consultation services.
- credits for hosting services, email marketing platforms, etc.
All in all, the Techstars Boston class of 2015 are eligible for $457,500 in resources and funding to help them get off the ground and succeed.
It's been really surreal to me -- to think that just six years ago, I was in the same position the class of 2015 are in! It really puts things in perspective.
Participating in a program like this in Boston is super exciting, because we have such a vibrant startup scene here. In addition to the top schools we have here, like MIT, BU and Harvard, we have thousands of great companies like WayFair, HubSpot, Acquia and more. All of the ingredients you need for a successful startup are right here.
I can tell you from experience that starting your own business is an incredibly journey, but it's not at all what you're expecting! To give yourself the best chance possible and accelerate your growth, seriously think about applying to a startup incubator.
Are you wondering if startup life is for you? Share your questions in the comments.