Peers, Mentors and Angels: 3 Whys to Develop Your Venture in an Incubator

From January to May this year, I was lucky to be part of the JCC Chicago’s social entrepreneurship program Seed613 where I was working on my start-up ‘creative: for good’, which connects millennial artists with non-profit organizations for meaningful advertising. Just like with most things in life, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone and this holds for start-up incubators as well.

For many (social) entrepreneurs, being part of a group of like-minded individuals helps them get their ventures off the ground more smoothly and quickly. This is especially true when you are at the very beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. An incubator can be the perfect bridge to move forward with your idea to execution – just like it was in my case.

Here’s why:

Resources, mentors & angels

Incubators will connect you with the right people, provide you with resources and give you guidance. Incubators are home to mentors, venture capitalists and angel investors. Many of them also provide tangible resources such as legal advice, accounting assistance or office space. Having all this in place allows the founders to focus on their startup and its core business and forget about the red tape at least for some time. As a fellow of the Seed613 Bootcamp at JCC Chicago, I too reaped many benefits. I was given guidance regarding the legal forms that I can consider for my start-up as well as advice on financial planning and budget – the scariest piece of my venture adventure.

Networking, networking, networking

One of the biggest benefits of developing your venture in an incubator is the access to a strong network of business partners, investors, venture capitalists, mentors and other entrepreneurs and founders – simply community. The community you will build while in the incubator will stay with you and you will realize that it is probably the most valuable thing you will take away from the entire experience. An incubator also gives you credibility and I can say with certainty that, without having been part of Seed613, I would have not had access to certain media outlets and business partners. A network can be extremely beneficial from a marketing and PR perspective, as well, because there is only so much you can do as a startup with a tiny budget.

Peer Support & Environment

For me, the most unexpected element of being part of a start-up boot camp was actually the environment and peer support. Every time I came for our session, I left energized and full of determination and commitment to bring my venture into life. Being in a group of like-minded individuals is extremely helpful especially at times when your motivation falters or when you feel a lack of energy or strength. Incubators are FULL of dynamic, creative, and smart people who want to make things happen. Their energy is contagious.

Being part of an incubator, accelerator or a start-up boot camp can play a defining role in bringing your idea to life and growing your startup. For me, it narrowed down the idea and brought it to its early stage execution including a business plan, website, social media presence and a first project. The value of the mentorship, the resources, and the network that Seed613 have brought to me have been instrumental to my determination to bring world-class advertising to non-profit organizations.