Three-day Bootcamps to kick off Accelerators – one in IT, another in Cleantech and the third in Life Sciences will aim to help participants to develop their ideas for a business into a fundable proposal that might enable them to take space in an Incubator for developing their business.
A natural sequence for a budding entrepreneur with the opportunity for a hi-growth new business might be to kick off in a 3-7 day Bootcamp, followed by participation in a 3-9 month Accelerator programme, leading on to a period in an Incubator – a pathway being explored in Nottingham.
The three different incubators in Nottingham plan each to run Bootcamps, starting this summer – with supporting funding for two years from Nottingham City Council.
Biocity, the city’s well-established incubator in Life Sciences and healthcare has run Bootcamps for entrepreneurs with new businesses for several years. The one-year-old CleanTech Centre incubator, which specialises in recycling and green technologies, is running its fourth in May. And Biocity, Cleantech and Antenna, Nottingham’s incubator for Digital and web-based businesses are aiming to come together to run an Accelerator Programme later in the year, with Bootcamps as a kick-off.
Each is likely to have a different emphasis from the others: while all will deal with finance, IP and marketing, each field operates under a different regulatory regime, with different technologies, different markets and different business models. While Accelerators have attracted IT startups because of their low start-up costs, easy proto-typing and testing on customers, startups in other fields, most notoriously in Life Sciences, have a much longer and more arduous life cycle.
These low-cost, three-day Bootcamps, also supported with finance by local services and by industry, and economically hosted in local incubators, are a crash course for people up to a year before or after they start new businesses. They aim to help to develop an idea into a full-blown and marketable business concept and one that might find an appropriate place in an incubator.
For up to fifteen people, they combine workshops, exercises, and interaction; starting with a pitch, they also culminate in a Dragon’s Den-type session. The participants meet mentors, advisers and experts who have ‘done it before’ or seen it before, and there is a lot of ‘pointing where to go for help’.
Once incubatees have a fundable proposition, at Biocity they can then pitch for a further period of structured support – on a one-to-one basis for a fixed period of 6-9 months (http://wp.me/p3beJt-i). Their mentor provides guidance and challenge, offering different perspectives, getting the participants to challenge the market, to look for revenue sources, to make a business plan, and to iterate that plan; teaching about investors and shareholdings, helping them to pull together a package for potential investors, and to handle possible due diligence; and then possibly taking a board seat.
Evaluating processes for developing young businesses is virtually impossible – because there are so many elements involved in success or failure; and because it cannot be done until several years later. So signs and signals from experiments like these are the stuff of evolution – to be watched with great interest.