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El blog de Mikel Niño
Industria 4.0, Big Data Analytics, emprendimiento digital y nuevos modelos de negocio

Online models for "virtual" startup incubators

In a very similar way to the creation and organization of distributed working teams for a common project, the model for a startup incubator is following the same trend and many initiatives have arisen to transfer the model to an online environment, giving birth to "virtual incubators" where entrepreneurs, mentors and investors are geographically dispersed and their communication is based on online platforms designed for that purpose. In this entry I will compile some examples of incubators that share this approach but with important differences in their origins and the way they manage their services.

The project "1 Million by 1 Million" was born in Silicon Valley as a virtual incubator leaded by Sramana Mitra. The project is based in a Freemium approach where the free service includes an open participation in "strategy roundtables", scheduled on a weekly basis, where anybody from anywhere in the world can take part to present and gather feedback on their entrepreneurial idea (all these sessions are recorded and published here, with the first ones dating back to 2010). As a part of the Premium program, for a $1000 annual fee entrepreneurs have access to private roundtables, personalized advice and direct contact with mentors and investors in the founder's professional network. Even the model for a virtual incubator is offered "in a box", ready to be deployed in other places around the world. In the following video (duration 5:37) Sramana Mitra explains the differences between this program's approach and the most popular incubator in Silicon Valley, Y Combinator:

On the opposite end (due to its origin across the pond as well as having a more open and participative philosophy for mentors and investors) we can find the initiative Babele, launched in 2013 by Emanuele Musa and Ruxanda Creosteanu with a crowdsourding-based approach. The platform provides us with a methodology to develop our business ideas and its proposal is focused on opening collaboration and innovation processes (to the extent that entrepreneurs consider appropriate for their ideas) to form teams with people in this platform from all over the world and gather feedback or financial support. This video (duration 2:49) summarizes the spirit of the initiative:

Last but not least, it is remarkable how entrepreneurial support from public institutions is also paying attention to these online approaches, as it is evidenced by the recent announcement by European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes about the launch of the initiative Startup Europe Partnership. The spirit of this initiative reinforces some of the action lines present in the "Startup Manifesto" published in 2013, highlighting digital entrepreneurship as one of the drivers with higher potential to make European economy grow in the future years. Quoting directly from its web site:
"The Startup Europe Partnership (SEP) is an online platform where young startups will get access to resources, connections and expertise. SEP will also provide support to the development and networking of web entrepreneurs within regions/hubs across Europe with special focus on the Member States with higher unemployment youth rates. The focus is on web entrepreneurs because any unemployed youngster with a laptop can become a web entrepreneur, grow and create jobs provided that they receive the adequate support in terms of expertise, services, talent, customers and capital."

[Haz clic aquí para la versión en español de esta entrada]

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