What happens when an accelerator and incubator collide?
ABQid and WESST launch a hybrid accelerator/incubator program
By T.J. Cook, ABQid | July 17, 2018
It takes a lot to create a successful business: capital, relationships, talent, connections and guidance. Some people have this knowledge and these connections right out of the gate. But most don’t—and this often keeps them from going all-in on their idea.
ABQid and WESST have served thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs by providing training, mentoring, connectivity, and capital through a variety of programs. And just a few months ago, we started an interesting conversation: What would happen if we combined ABQid’s accelerator model with WESST’s incubator support to create a new, integrated program?
Both of our organizations have helped hundreds of entrepreneurs since we got started (WESST in 1989 and ABQid in 2014), but when leadership began to talk about how we could better support entrepreneurs, we realized that integrating ABQid’s program (Lean Startup curriculum, cohort model, mentor network and seed fund) and WESST’s incubator (space, infrastructure, staff experts in accounting, branding and marketing) was going to be a win-win for local startups.
Incubators vs. Accelerators
You could say that incubators are like slow cookers while accelerators are pressure cookers.
Incubators combine office space and wrap-around services for early stage businesses that need time to figure out their business model and help building their business infrastructure. Startup accelerators, on the other hand, are a more recent innovation for businesses with promising customer segments or an initial product. Accelerators help these businesses quickly find the right product and model with which to enter the market.
Introducing Activate NM
Activate, a new program powered by ABQid and WESST, accelerates an inclusive cohort of early-stage New Mexico businesses with high growth potential through a rigorous eight-week Lean Startup training and mentorship program, followed by the ongoing wraparound support entrepreneurs need to build a prosperous and sustainable economic future for our community.
The program puts a ton of business value into the hands of entrepreneurs who stand to benefit the most. We’re eliminating the question of accelerator vs incubator for these founders and instead providing operational support so that they can stay focused on the essential questions: Who is my customer? What is my product and business model? How can I get to market efficiently and sustainably?
The program design is based on three key pillars:
- Build. Everything about the program will be designed to help founders build valuable businesses. We’ll measure program success based on participant successes: New revenue, new funding, or both!
- Disrupt. Innovative, transformative ideas are what we’re after. We know that big ideas must start small, but we know that big vision is what differentiates high-growth companies from those that end up staying small.
- Community. We believe that as all kinds of entrepreneurs build and disrupt the status quo together, a strong community is built that leads to a force multiplier effect. As some businesses fail, talent from that company jumps on board with a company that’s finding success. We’ll keep the big picture in mind one company at a time: prosperity in New Mexico.
Build, Measure, Learn
Applications are now open for Activate NM, powered by ABQid and WESST. As a new hybrid model we’re looking at this first cohort as a pilot from which we’ll learn a ton and apply to the next cycle. After all, launching something, measuring how it performs and learning from that data to inform the next build--that’s the heart of the Lean Startup methodology and what we aspire to practice even as we teach it to the most promising company founders.
To learn more and apply, visit www.abqid.com/activatenm.