Starting an Incubator, in a stagnant area?


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For a couple of months now, myself and a couple of contacts of mine have been pondering ways to develop an incubator to bridge the entrepreneurial resources of NYC (Silicon Alley) with Long Island (it's right next door) and while the idea has attracted a warm reception, I've been at a stand still because when it comes to meetups and groups on Long Island, typically many of the tech events have 10 people at most.

Because of this I'm having trouble figuring out the logistics of my incubator, so I wanted to reach out and ask if anyone out there could provide advice on rallying activity or even just gaining momentum to get a cause going in areas which normally aren't packed by default (e.g. cities).

Thanks very much to everyone in advance for any insights,

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asked Aug 21 '11 at 04:24
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Theonlylos
397 points
  • Doesn't Long Island, NY have over 7.5 million people? – Jeff O 9 years ago
  • Population alone doesn't indicate the talent pool. There are plenty of factors impacting why LI is far from a startup haven -- most of which cannot be explained in the size of a comment, but again population says nothing in the scheme of things – Theonlylos 9 years ago
  • There is an incubator based out of Stony Brook University -but it really does very little. I looked into the program and was not too impressed. Tech Stars also has an NYC event if I am not mistaken. Other than Stony Brook there is no high tech university or hub. There was plenty of manufacturing here from WWII to the late 80s, but most of that left. There are plenty of high-tech jobs, but yes, you are correct, not much in the way of a startup culture like Silicon Valley or Boston. – Tim J 9 years ago
  • What are you trying to do with your "incubator"? – Tim J 9 years ago
  • Yes, with Stony Brook I'm familiar with the incubator and I've had nothing but bad experiences, even when I attended school there because they are very exclusiv to heavy duty R&D. For my incubator (a term I'm using loosely I want to fovus on web startups and ventures because while there's lots of potential, I want to form a solid group of professionals rather than a bunch of yuppies trying to pass off their Facebook clones as viable ventures.for the goals, I really want to have more professional events and functions along with mentoring on LI. – Theonlylos 9 years ago
  • For what it's worth, I recall a couple months ago speaking to a contact and we were discussing gov't programs to promote innovation on LI and how it will be a flop because Sillicon Valley has a unique/liberal culture which changes rapidly vs NY which is more conventional, so that might be a key consideration. Not sure however if that's a valid question to be posted on the forim (I'll ask on the Meta site) – Theonlylos 9 years ago

3 Answers


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In my area in Michigan there has been a very impressive movement lately to get some IT incubators going.

What you essentially need to do is start pulling in the people who are interested in doing this together, and start connecting them with each other.

  • Entrepreneurial events, start a monthly club that brings in business speakers
  • Start an Ignite in your area or something to bring people together socially and bring people together who are interested in being active in the community
  • Identify people who are currently running successful start-ups and enlist them as 'mentors' for events and to get them to come to events to share some of their experience and knowledge

What you are ultimately looking to do is getting some space together that can be divided up for cheap rent and sharing some resources like conference rooms, kitchen spaces, phone, internet maybe a shared secretary.

I think you would then be looking to do something like this:

  • Get in touch with chamber of commerce and generate some interest in the idea, talk to them and see what they suggest and who you should talk to
  • Discuss the idea with any other organizations designed to grow an area (eg: downtown development authority)
  • Talk with the actual city and see if there are any subsidies or property they have that could be utilized to start something like this. Is there a developer that has property un-leased that would be willing to rent it out cheap initially, with the expectation it would be filled in 2 years.
  • Find a spot that you can get for cheap, with a landlord that will work with you and you'll need to figure out what you need to charge per office / room and advertise it.

The first one in our area filled up in 6 months, then the second 6 months after that.

Most were people working out of their homes that decided it would be worth a few hundred bucks a month for a cubicle at a co-working space. Then some college students started getting spots. Then companies that were 5 - 10 people started renting larger portions of it because they could be around talented inspired people.

But, this has been successful in Mid-Michigan which doesn't have a huge population and is by no means a Silicon Valley. However, we are working on it!

Link to one of our areas incubators: TIC The city fronted the initial money for this, and I'm sure they are now in the black.

answered Aug 22 '11 at 10:14
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Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • Excellent answer and it defiantly makes sense as I've been trying to tackle most of those steps, but it's great to have such a solid answer in a concise format! You also sparked quite a few ideas, so thanks very much! I'm glad to see I'm not alone, because today tech is so widespread, I really think that aside from regional incubators, there should also be blanket incubator organizations to help even the smallest areas get the ball rolling. – Theonlylos 9 years ago
  • The good thing is I think communities that have successfully done it would be happy to share their stories and help you out. You could find more places like this TIC incubator and contact them. I imagine most would be happy to make suggestions and point you in the right direction. – Ryan Doom 9 years ago

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For an incubator on Long Island, there is much need. As the founder and CEO of www.babysittingbarter.com, I am amazed at the lack of opportunities in Long Island.

We have just launched and are in over 5 states and 2 continents. We are looking to revolutionize the way we do babysitting. Contact me at mannix[email protected] if you are interested. I have a great deal of experience and was recently named Tech & Learning's 2010 Educator Leader of the Year.

I want to take my tech knowledge, my experience as a parent and my leadership qualities and launch and idea that corners a very sought after market, both mom's aged 21-54 and teenaged girls aged 15-18.

NYC may be our answer, but it would be nice to have options in Long Island.

answered Aug 23 '11 at 15:35
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Brian
1 point

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If you are really serious about this then contact the people running such organizations as

Techstars
Ycombinator
CapitalFactory
etc

and ask them directly about their experiences and how you might be able to make a better chance for success

All you really heed is

space to host the events/offices
some capital
some expert consultants (attorneys, accountants, banks) - perhaps speaking with a number of them who would agree to discount or waive the fee with the expectation that they would generate some long-term business with growing companies

Or just start small and start some informal meetings to find out what can be done.

There is also an Angel group on Long Island

you might want to contact them as well.

answered Aug 23 '11 at 22:07
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Tim J
8,346 points

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