Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of incubators is being part of what is essentially an entire entrepreneurial community, says Joel Wiggins, assistant director for the Austin Technology Incubator in Austin, Texas. "There's a synergy that develops within incubators. Everyone celebrates when someone gets a contract."
Barrios-Jordan has found the camaraderie at her incubator priceless. "Being with other minority business owners is wonderful, because we feed off each other and help each other through similar experiences," she explains. "We have monthly roundtable meetings, and we've even formed our own informal board of directors. We meet once a month to brainstorm."
It's this type of "doorway consulting" that makes incubators so valuable, says Sam Pruett, executive director of the Genesis Technology Incubator in Fayetteville, Arkansas. "Our experience has been that there is a huge feeling of isolation for many start-up businesses," he says. "The incubator keeps them connected to other entrepreneurs in similar situations."