Is Membership With A Startup Incubator Right For My Washington DC Business? Posted on June 22, 2015August 25, 2015 by Abhi Vk Starting up a small business is hard work. It takes a huge investment — financial and personal — to succeed, and you won’t be able to do it alone. You’ve heard, and heeded our advice regarding outsourcing your software development for mobile and Web application projects (to Innolance, of course). But have you considered the risks and rewards of partnering with a business accelerator like the popular, growing, Washington DC-based global incubator and seed funding organization, 1776? It might be in your best interest to do so. Read on. What is a startup business incubator? 1776 and other such business incubators make it their mission to spur the growth and success of startup and burgeoning early stage companies. They help to pave a path to capital from angel investors, state governments, economic-development coalitions and other investors that might otherwise be out of reach for a small business owner such as yourself. At present, the National Business Incubation Association boasts more than 1400 members in the United States, and 1900 worldwide. How does a startup business incubator work? Each individual incubator works a little differently. Some (e.g., 1776, as well as We Work in Washington DC’s Shaw neighborhood) occupy physical space designed to inspire creativity and networking among entrepreneurs and small business owners, while others offer mentorship and support on a strictly virtual basis. When you, as a small business owner, decide to seek out, and collaborate with a startup incubator, you’ll be linked not only to potential funding sources but also to professional service providers that include accountants and lawyers. What are the benefits to working with a startup incubator in DC? Exactly what you think: By working with 1776 or We Work or any other of the host of startup incubators in Washington DC, your business will benefit from a wider range of funding options, as well as professional mentorship, business expertise, and camaraderie in knowing that you’re working toward your goal with a solid support system in tow. Are there any downsides to working with a startup incubator? Only if you let there be. What do we mean by that? Startup incubators — especially those that provide on-site workspace — can be a lot of fun. Like-minded individuals surround small business owners with the same entrepreneurial spirit, and this general excitement about your mission, when combined with constant networking and mentorship can be detrimental to your focus during those crucial business-building stages. Is a startup incubator in Washington DC right for me? Maybe. But you should take the time to think long and hard about whether your startup is at a stage where it will be boosted, or hindered by a membership with an incubator such as 1776.