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Where To Begin?

A variety of incubators nationwide help fledgling businesses take flight.
May 1, 2000
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/26750

A number of new incubators have hatched to help entrepreneurs involved in everything from technology to consumer-oriented products. Five programs are reviewed here; for information on others, contact the National Business Incubation Association at (740) 593-4331.

New York

The Business Incubation Group (BIG) in New York City is an incubator with a twist: It's looking for friendly, smart and dedicated entrepreneurs who want a hands-on approach to assistance.

Instead of charging, BIG takes equity positions in the companies it assists. BIG's clients can get help by renting space at the incubator's facility at a reduced rate.

Besides connecting eligible businesses with investors, BIG's strength lies in working with companies that are producing or selling consumer products. BIG will consider firms in all stages of development, but expects to work intensely with only 10 entrepreneurs at any one time for up to two years before opening its doors to other fledgling companies.

For more details, call (212) 966-2500, or visit BIG's Web site (www.bizincu.com) to complete the BIG intake form.

Hawaii

The Aloha State is home to the Maui Research and Technology Center, which targets start-up technology companies. In order to qualify for the incubator, you must have a business plan. Services provided include a receptionist, videoconferencing capabilities, meeting space, data archiving and month-to-month rents at fair market price. Currently, clients are incubated for three to five years. Call (808) 875-2300 for more information on accessing the incubator.

Pennsylvania

The Enterprise Center has hit the Web with a virtual incubator targeting small businesses in West Philadelphia. Among the programs offered are classes on operating a business, increasing and sustaining a business in a competitive environment, and the technology skills needed to run specific businesses. In addition to the instruction, the online incubator will also feature a cybermall. For information, call (215) 895-4000.

California

The First African Methodist Episcopal Church (FAME) Renaissance program in Los Angeles will open an incubator in August under a license with The Enterprise Center. The facility, which expects to house up to 25 businesses, will feature shared business services, management assistance and a computer lab. Entrepreneurs in multimedia, print, the visual arts and business services, who've been in business at least one year and who are based in South Central Los Angeles, are eligible to apply.

In addition to the incubator services, FAME has several venture capital funds to help eligible entrepreneurs. The FAME Renaissance Equity Fund targets minority-owned businesses located in the neglected areas of Los Angeles. To date, FAME has raised $15 million and is seeking additional investments. The FAME Renaissance Venture Group, a $10 million fund, mainly targets entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles Empowerment zone.

Both funds aim to help entrepreneurs who've been unable to access traditional venture funds. For more information, call (323) 730-9194.

National

Net Value Holdings Inc. is a virtual incubator that offers business assistance and financing to Netpreneurs in the earliest stage of developing their companies. In addition to helping with recruiting, marketing, accounting, legalities and other business-development issues, the company plans to invest between $300,000 and $1 million in each company. The investment ranges from 12 to 90 percent, and eligible firms can be either business-to-business or business-to-consumer e-commerce companies. The ideal entrepreneur should have Web experience with a strong e-commerce business plan, a clear sales path and an exit strategy.

The goal at Net Value Holdings is to help Internet businesses grow and then create a network of connected, yet independent, companies.