In 2016 Kathie Callahan Brady, CEO of Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. (FITCI), received a basket of fuzzy baby chicks as a present. This was the gift her friends gave her when she joined the business incubator; she stared at the basket, puzzled. Noticing her expression, Kathie’s friends said, “you work for an incubator, right?” She paused and then laughed as she explained that her business did not relate to incubating baby chickens. It was at that moment it became apparent to Kathie that business incubators are not a well-known concept.
However, from that misunderstanding came the best analogy Kathie could have asked for: Business incubators provide support for companies to strengthen and mature—much like those heated incubators (but without the chickens).
A business incubator is “an organization designed to accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services that could include physical space, capital, coaching, common services, and networking connections,” according to Entrepreuner.com.
“We provide a variety of resources for entrepreneurs with startups. If you would ask any entrepreneur off the street, they may not even know such resources exists,” said Kathie Callahan Brady. Many entrepreneurs believe their idea is not even developed enough to qualify and were excited when they learned they were wrong. Business incubators give them the “YES” they have been waiting for, they take their idea and give them the resources to flourish. They are looking for entrepreneurs that are willing to grow and accept their help.
During an interview with Business News Daily, Tracy Kitts, COO of The National Business Incubation Association, stated that “there is a significant increase in the rate of success for businesses in incubators. After five years of businesses, those nurtured in an incubator have a survival rate of 87 percent versus the survival rate of a [non-incubated] business which is only 44 percent.” This shows that business incubators really do make a significant difference for startups and they are a great resource for entrepreneurs.
Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc. is one of those places. FITCI provides the office space as a platform for the collaboration entrepreneurs need and desire without always the need for the office space, as well as coaching and mentoring to help get their business out of the trenches. Throughout the process of growing in the incubator the company’s progress is tracked through data collection and assessments to gauge where they are and give them guidance to help them improve. Recently, FITCI was recognized by the Baltimore Business Journal as one of the state’s largest incubators and accelerators. FITCI has two central locations; one location focuses on biotechnology and provides labs for research and experimental development and the other focuses on technology. This ensures that the clients are provided with essential equipment for their specific type of company. Additionally, FITCI has programs and classes that provide assistance to the companies; one such program is their accelerator program, “The Edge”.
An accelerator is “the process of intense, rapid and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young companies into just a few a months,” according to the Harvard Business Review. Community Growth Accelerator Program, The Edge, which is a newly launched 12-week program, will feature highly educated advisors sharing their success and wisdom, guiding entrepreneurs through the struggles of start-ups through a series of classes, mentorship and focus groups. The Edge has the goal of driving start-up formation, development, and expansion in Frederick County. Entrepreneurs involved in the program will receive access to weekly in-person classes, mentorship from business leaders throughout the community, focus groups, and an online portal with additional educational resources.
The classes, led by local business leaders and university instructors, will cover important business skills, including pitching, creating a solid business model, understanding customer segmentation, and go-to-market strategy. The young companies will be given the opportunity to practice their pitches each week, and the program will culminate in a pitch competition in front of venture capitalists and investors. The winner will go on to represent Frederick in the global Startup of the Year Contest.
“A bit more than 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first four-years, and less than 3 percent make it to the fifth year mark. 30% of small businesses report the leading cause for failing as lack of managerial experience or lack of experiences in goods or services,” Small Business Trends reports. An accelerator program gives entrepreneurs access to experienced advisors to help them overcome this statistic and help them navigate being down in the trenches. The Frederick Innovative Technology Center, Inc., want entrepreneurs to know they are not alone in the process and we are here to help them with our best resources and assistant available to them. Whether they are in the idea stage or developing their product, FITCI can help entrepreneurs grow until the entrepreneur is ready to fly the coop.
Join us for The Edge Open House:
6:00 – 7:00, ROOT building, Frederick MD
APPLY TODAY: https://www.fitci.org/the-edge.html
Written by Stephanie Enders
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