Incubators: the Entrepreneur’s Alternative to Government-Supported Programs.

The Canadian government has established many programs to help high-tech entrepreneurs. These programs, while useful in providing information and support to some entrepreneurs, they are still bureaucratic in nature. Entrepreneurs who have tried to get money from the government or from government-funded organizations know this first hand. From the amount of paper work to fill out to the time and effort it takes, these programs discourage many first-time entrepreneurs from even trying to start the process. I do not blame them because we live in the Internet age where the execution plan has be implemented very quickly or competition will take these entrepreneurs by surprise.

Luckily, entrepreneurs now have more effective alternatives. Incubators such as Bootup Labs in Vancouver, Extreme Venture Partners (EVP) in Toronto and Montreal Start Up in Montreal are doing a very good job in filling out this gap. These incubators provide seed money and mentorship during the incubation period (which ranges from 3 to 9 months after which entrepreneurs can seek follow up financing or continue to bootstrap their newly-born venture).

It is extremely encouraging to see that these incubators, while they are less than two years old, have already made a noticeable impact. Consider, for example, the fact that two out of five companies that won the Facebook Fund were part of EVP’s portfolio. I can almost sense that the success of these incubators can also be attributed to the fact they talk the E-generation language to whom the new entrepreneurs belong

I have no doubt that more incubators will emerge as time goes by (I am involved in establishing one in Ottawa) . The future of our economy and prosperity very much depends on how quickly we adapt to rapid changes and the establishment of such ventures is only the first step in the right direction.