Cost & Requirements in setting up a Startup Incubator Center Like TechStars, FounderInstitute


I'm in the middle of starting a Tech Incubator Center like TechStars and Founders Institute here in Africa. I am a web developer and IT Business Analyst. Please i need your input on these areas

  1. Do i need to have a web startup running successfully before i can start. I know this can be a plus.
  2. Is it compulsory that mentors that will facilitate the courses must share in an equity from startups like that of Founders Institute. If not, what benefit do i tell potential mentors in my proposal to them.
  3. How do i go about partnership with existing world class incubators center like Founder Institute. If you know of any institute that wants to partner, please kindly provide a url or name.
  4. Who should be my target audience or students.
  5. How do i structure the company or no of employees and roles before starting

Thank you for your input.


asked Feb 20 '11 at 10:17
59 points

1 Answer


The term 'incubator' can mean a whole bunch of different things, and there's no single accepted formula. I guess I'd characterise incubators in general as

  • Objective-led - where investment is being channelled to startups, often in a particular technology area, in the form of (say) subsidised space with access to expertise, funding etc
  • Facility-led - where a (public or commercial) owner of office space decides to create a 'startup-friendly' environment (sometimes with discounted terms in exchange for equity)
  • Investor-led - where one or more prospective investors create programmes to talent-spot startups and push them through acceleration into investment
  • Skills-led - where what's on offer is essentially hands-on learning with access to resources or people with relevant experience
  • Mentor-led - where a single mentor or group 'adopts' a location and supports (all or selected) founders and projects

I have direct personal experience of all but the 'skills-led' type, in both commercial and academic (targeted investment and IP commercialisation) contexts.

So first, you should think about what resources you have available (cash, space, connections), what existing communities there are in your area (tech groups, funding sources, seasoned entrepreneurs etc) and what objectives you have.

It sounds to me as though you're describing something you'd like to be part of. That's a valid starting point, and I have some suggestions for you.

First, find a location that's set up as both a social and working hub. That could be just a coffee shop with WiFi. If somewhere is already functioning in this way informally, start there.

Second, socialise your idea with as many people as possible who are interested, and flesh out what would be great, and what you would need. Start with existing groups, and if there isn't one that covers startups, band together with like-minded people and found one.

(I co-founded the Pitch & Mix format in Cambridge, and we'd be happy to help you use this in your area - it's essentially a re-think of the OpenCoffee idea with just a little more structure, and we are helping other groups get going around the world.)

And then treat this as a startup situation. You need a co-founding team, who share the vision and are ready to commit. And you need to find people who'll want to access the proposition you create, in a way that is financially viable.

Good luck! Start small and build up gradually. Beware just copy-catting a formula that may not work in your context. And accept that some of your questions will be answered one way to start with, and may develop another way over time.

answered Feb 21 '11 at 21:47
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • Thank you Jeremy. You reply is very much appreciate and will take them into consideration – Stanley 13 years ago

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