Incubator new stylee….

Posted: January 20, 2009 in angel, business, center, equity, evert bop, funding, funding angel seed investor profit, Uncategorized

incubator

Last August I blogged about my ideas for a Co-working/techhub/start-up center.
Since then I have had lots of discussions on this topic with a wide variety of people. People who I hardly knew would come up to me at conferences, tweet-ups etc. and mention the blogpost. All feedback has been positive so far. Not a single person thought that it was a bad idea. Off course there were differences of opinion on how to build o center like this and how to run it but everybody thought that it was a great idea and that it would help start-up companies a great deal if they had a center like this available. However work pressure has prevented me from exploring the idea any further.

Then Dell in Limerick, Ireland announced that they were making 1900 employees redundant over the next 12 months. After discussing the news at our local Open Coffee Club meeting I posted an offer of help to these (soon to be ex-) Dell employees. An offer to assist them with advice and guidance if they were interested in starting their own business. The blogpost was picked up by the media and resulted in an interview on The Last Word show on Today FM radio. Since the radio-show I have received numerous calls and emails. A lot were from businesses & people offering help either for free or by offering discounts. But what I also got was a lot of calls from people from all over the country who were thinking about starting their own business but did not know what or how to take the first step.  All this made it obvious to me that in spite of all the funding provided and work done by the various state-owned development bodies that it is still too difficult for someone to start their own business (or even examine the feasibility of their business idea).

It has become apparent to me that there is an inherent conflict in expecting a public sector body to stimulate private sector enterprise. The involvement of a public sector body in a private enterprise (a start-up in this case) brings along a large amount of bureaucracy and red tape. It’s simply a fact of life and not a negative reflection on the public sector. However the last thing a start-up entrepreneur needs if to become entangled in paperwork & red tape and any other activity that does not directly lead to product/service development or revenue.

So here’s my idea:

I would like to take one of the many vacant office buildings in this region and set up an business incubator. However this one would be an incubator with a difference

  • Start-ups would have the option to pay rent like a “normal” tenant or if they are short on cash to agree to pay equity in lieu of rent for the first 12 months.
  • Tenants will have to go through a “vetting” process similar to Seedcamp, Dragons Den etc. They will be vetted on the strength of their business plan and management team NOT on how well they can fill out forms.
  • The primary goal of the incubator would be to let the entrepreneurs and start-ups concentrate on developing their business by removing all “non-essential” activities from their workload and offering them not only work space but also advice, guidance and hands-on participation if needed. We will not only tell you how to do it, we will also show you how to do it.
  • The center will have ALL facilities neccessary. Not just a shared reception and meeting room but also good canteen facilities (real coffee),  in-house postal service, courier drop-off & collection, storage facilities etc.
  • IT services will be second to none.
  • There will be in-house legal, accounting and investment services.
  • There will be short term leases and hot-desking facilities available.
  • Sufficient (free) parking for you, your employees and your customers.
  • 24-hour access.
  • Daily or weekly “Open Coffee Club” type meetings in a shared room in the center. This is an essential part of the center. You meet, you discuss and you share. No hiding away in your office and not talking to anyone.

Obviously there is a lot more but the above gives an good outline of the idea. There are some similar ideas floating around here & here.

So what do I need? Well I need you to contact me if you think that you can help me or want to become involved in some shape or form.

I also need a property developer with a vacant office building and a forward looking vision. If you know one point them in my direction.

I will be posting regular updates on my blog but also keep an eye out here for more info.

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Comments
  1. Great stuff Evert, deligthed to see this idea progressing. Let me know how I can help to get this off the ground. Blog post coming for starters.

  2. […] Evert Bopp writes: “Dell in Limerick, Ireland announced that they were making 1900 employees redundant over the next 12 months. After discussing the news at our local Open Coffee Club meeting I posted an offer of help to these (soon to be ex-) Dell employees. An offer to assist them with advice and guidance if they were interested in starting their own business. … I would like to take one of the many vacant office buildings in this region and set up an business incubator … I also need a property developer with a vacant office building and a forward looking vision. If you know one point them in my direction.“ […]

  3. simon says:

    great idea well worth persueing

  4. Mark Cahill says:

    Evert, Count me in aswell, I shall help where I can. I think this is a great idea. Mark

  5. Nice one Evert…

    There’s lots of vacant office space available, and heretofore most “Incubation” centres were in industrial parks and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Taking clues from silicon valley, the reason why start-ups are attractive to young people is that they locate their offices in the centre of towns – take Palo Alto as an example – ideal town, just outside of Stanford Uni and if you walk down the street, you’ll find in amongst the coffee shops and book shops, companies such as FaceBook, Ning and Socialtext to name but a few.

    Here in Limerick, particularly along O’Connell st and O’Connell ave if you look at the basements or the top floors of the Georgian buildings that line these street, these floors are empty. I’m sure the building owners or councils would get behind creating a “tech/start-up quarter” and would rather see these buildings being utilised then lying idle – perhaps there is even a tax break for using them. Start-ups don’t need a walk-in setting, just somewhere social, where networking, coffee and great thoughts happen freely.

    BTW – The old LIT Art and Design building down beside the Locke bar George’s Quay is vacant…a great open plan building.

  6. I think Shane is bang on here in capturing a critical success factor for coworking spaces. If I was to take up residence somewhere in Limerick it would definitely have way more appeal if it was in the middle of town.

  7. […] posted yet another post yesterday following ideas from New York incubators and the ones in London, Ottawa, Waterloo. […]

  8. […] Evert Bopp over on his “Blitzkrieg Bopp” blog writes about his ideas for a start-up incubator new style. […]

  9. Great initiative Evert. Shane is right about Limerick, there’s a lot of potential and many empty buildings. A few start ups/ entrepreneurs getting together to rent an office space (with the potential/vision to transform in hub) could be a good starting point. It might also be easier to get traction/support/investment and demonstrate that there is a market for such a facility. It is definitely good timing!

  10. […] support, utilities, vc and venture Just over a week ago I wrote about my ideas for an start-up incubator facility in the Mid-West. Since then things have moved ahead rapidly. The biggest development is that I have […]

  11. […] things around & Offering DELL employees a fresh start via […]

  12. Janet Cavanagh says:

    Evert,
    brilliant idea – I have been saying for years that there is not enough of the RIGHT support given to new start-ups. Being a market researcher and analyst, I find too little is done at the early stages, a la Dragon’s Den, to test companies’ understanding of the target market for their product/service. Then loads of time and money is spent developing the product/service only to find that there is no viable market for it, and then you’re back to square one. Count me in if you need any assistance in this area. I am aiming to be at the next Open Coffee in Limerick
    Janet

  13. I think you’ve the right idea on a centre city location but you probably know that might put you in direct conflict with State-subsidised incubators attached to third level institutions. Those institutions (and the property managers of State-serviced office space) derive a regular rental income from incubators located miles away from some of the creative energy that helps sustain people in long hours nurturing their start-up ideas.

  14. evertb says:

    @Bernie That is exactly my point. I am well aware that this might put me in direct conflict with those people and the organisations that employ them. However I have been around the block often enough to realise that it is time for function over form for a change.
    Most of the feedback that I have received so far (and it has been plentiful) has been primarily and extremely positive about the fact that this will be a project run as a private sector initiative.
    Saying that, state funding is welcome but will be on the condition that it us without direct involvement with how the start-ups are run.
    We will focus on creating an environment that will select those companies that have an above average chance of becoming successful and giving them all support they need to reach this success. In a sense we will emulate the “feasibility study stage” out of the Enterprise Ireland development program and run in it a more productive environment. Once the start-ups have reached a stage where there is product & revenue they have outgrown the incubator and can seamlessly slot into any of the further EI support programs. So in a sense we will be taking some of the headache of dealing with very early stage start-ups away from Enterprise Ireland (or any of the other public sector development bodies)…

  15. […] then reality set in. I have been preaching this for over two years myself. See here & here. And I am certainly not the only one. With the Greenhouse I have set out to create an […]

  16. Allister says:

    Hi there,
    I’m contracting for a cleantech startup and we need some deskspace in Limerick. Do you know if any coworking space exists yet?
    Thanks
    Al

  17. […] least attempt to maximise the use of their assets. A start-up incubator along the lines of what is discussed here would cost very little and have substantial realistic […]

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