Ahoy! A Look at Startup Incubators and Excursions for Globetrotting Entrepreneurs
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Now here's an idea that'll really get your entrepreneurial juices flowing: a business-brainstorming session in… Thailand.
While not every wide-eyed aspiring or existing entrepreneur would agree that putting hundreds or thousands of miles between you and your startup can help make a business grow faster, some suggest that that distance -- as well as some pointed mentorship -- is precisely what they needed to take their business to the next level.
"I was comforted yet challenged, vulnerable, yet extremely empowered," says Lindsay Amerault, owner of Wined & Designed who last December joined joined a small group of entrepreneurs for The Ignition Lab's brainstorming excursion to Nicaragua. "Without the push of The Ignition Lab, I don't think I would have had the courage and support to move forward with this process and certainly not with such confidence."
With the goal of pulling entrepreneurs out of their routines -- and away from the everyday stresses of running a startup -- business-brainstorming excursions and traveling accelerators targeted towards founders have been sprouting in recent years. Some vary in offerings and the time allotted to bask in the sun, but all are focused on helping your startup get to the next level.
In April, Project Getaway launched its 2013 excursion, and it just happens to be in the beautiful country of Thailand. If founders are lucky enough to get accepted, the event will allow entrepreneurs to schmooze with other like-minded individuals, as well as present their area of expertise, also known as "PG Talks," to their cohorts. They'll also listen to guest speakers and take in unique events like whale shark watching.
Michael Bodekaer is the man behind Project Getaway. He created the events after his past entrepreneurial endeavors put a damper on his social life, especially travel. While the month-long incubator will set you back a few grand -- anywhere between $2,700 and $5,000 depending on the package -- many would view the opportunity to mix business with pleasure as priceless. While the Thailand event is already underway, Bodekaer just announced his next Project Getaway: a Bali event in October.
If you don't have the chance to escape for a month-long event, The Ignition Lab may be better suited for your needs. The four-day trip is typically set in serene San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and only has room for six entrepreneurs.
With startup activities including idea evaluation, workshops, brainstorming sessions and other "breakthrough" techniques, The Ignition Lab also provides luxuries like meals prepared by a private chef, yoga and surfing. While those activities sound like amazing perks, in the eyes of co-founder Antonio Neves -- who is also a contributor at YoungEntrepreneur.com -- the biggest advantage of travel incubators is being immersed in a collaborative environment.
"One of the major benefits of getting away from a startup and attending a traveling incubator is immersion with a supportive community of individuals minus major distractions," says Neves. "It's an amazing opportunity to get perspective while taking action and making progress on your startup."
Still, all this fun in the sun will cost you $2,500, without airfare.
Similarly, Unreasonable at Sea is a 100-day cruise-based accelerator program focused on recruiting tech startups looking to tackle social and environmental issues. The latest tour, which set sail from Ensenada, Mexico in January, attracted 26 entrepreneurs from all around the world.
While traversing the globe, young entrepreneurs aboard boast access to mentors like WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg and Pascal Finette of Mozilla. They also get to pitch to venture capitalists and participate in entrepreneurial events in each country. If accepted into the program, nearly all expenses are covered but the startup does need to give up equity amounting to the lesser of 6 percent or $100,000.
Cesar Harada of sailing drone startup Protei, in the current class, who along with the rest of his cohorts will finish their voyage at the end of April in Spain, told Young Entrepreneur the best thing about the program was connecting startups with serial entrepreneurs to "reinvent how technology can connect us back with the environment in a meaningful and sustainable way."
While, naturally, hanging out in an exotic location and escaping the everyday drudge work sounds like a fine way to spend a day, it can be problematic for some entrepreneurs. For one, not everyone can get up and leave their company.
For those whose responsibilities are deeply engrained in the day-to-day activities, steeling away for a month or even a week can be challenging, if not impossible.
Also, can you afford it? Not everyone has the financial resources to skirt off to a tropical island.
If you're just starting up and have zero revenue, you may want to wait before taking the plunge. And while these travel programs are legitimate, you are still in a foreign country where unpredictable issues can arise, like servers crashing, theft and language barriers.
Have you experienced one of these travel incubators? If so, please share your experience below.