If you have an ISV start-up, you know first-hand how hard it can be to get a new business off the ground. ISV accelerators, incubators or other start-up support programs can help your ISV company cross those hurdles and advance toward building a successful business.
According to InBIA, a global non-profit organization serving entrepreneurial support programs, many start-ups don’t last the first year because they don’t have the support and guidance they need to create a sustainable business. ISV accelerators, incubators, and coworking spaces can provide you with the resources you need to make ends meet and close resource gaps to give your business a chance to grow.
What’s the Difference between an Incubator, Accelerator and Coworking Space?
Entrepreneurial support programs can follow several different models. For example:
- Incubators: These organizations may offer office/work space, services such as branding and marketing support, and possibly arrange for some start-up funding from investors. In return, the incubator may receive some equity in your company—any proceeds from which could be used to help other start-ups.
- Accelerators: While sometimes the line between an incubator and an accelerator can be blurred, ISV accelerators often accept businesses that have made some progress toward success and show promise for rapid growth (hence “accelerator”) with the right mentorship and guidance.
- Coworking Space: A start-up may struggle with the overhead associated with an office space. Coworking spaces relieves that pressure by minimizing those expenses by sharing space with other entrepreneurs. The benefit to the support organization is keeping talent in their communities with the goal of boosting the local economy. Professionals who work in the space can build a support community, collaborate, and network.
A simple web search (e.g., Google “blockchain incubator” or “AI accelerator”) can kick off your search for a support program. You can also look into programs at local universities or search association, such as InBIA’s online organization directory.
Caution: ISV Accelerators and Incubators Are Choosy
If you find a program that would suit your needs, prepare to answer questions and persuasively explain why your ISV start-up is worth investing in. Openings in entrepreneurial support programs are far outnumbered by the number of start-ups each year, so programs are selective, screening candidates and choosing to invest their time and resources in those with the greatest potential.
Learn all you can about the program you want your start-up to be considered for and take your time completing the application. This is not the time for one-word answers or simply providing links to your website. As completely, honestly, and eloquently as you can, complete the application with answers that demonstrate that your start-up is the perfect candidate for the program—from why your solution is unique and in demand to the KPIs you will use to measure success. If you don’t have an answer or if you need help to produce the best possible application, get it.
The Rewards Will Be Great
On your own, you have your talent, skill and perhaps some investment money behind your start-up. Once in an entrepreneurial support program, however, your ISV company will have an array of resources at your disposal to assist you with legal issues, finances, human resources, customer relationship management, etc. When you choose a program specifically tailored to ISVs, you can benefit from tools that help you get your products to market faster and test more efficiently. The program may also pave the way for networking and partnerships that can lead to lucrative business opportunities in the future.
Ask for Help
Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start 2.0, says, “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” Don’t let pride stand in your way of your start-up’s success. When you realize you need help, whether to master the basics of business, find ways to bring your products to market more quickly and efficiently, or just to find a way to reduce overhead, help is available. ISV accelerators, incubators or coworking programs may be just what you need to take your start-up to the next level.