What Tech Incubators Are Missing

Author: Notre Dame ESTEEM

Tech incubators accept applications from hundreds of new or serial entrepreneurs every year. Of these, only a handful are accepted. These lucky few are then given the resources they need to refine their business idea. Ultimately, they proceed to the next phase - the opportunity to receive funding from angel investors or venture capital. Because of the exclusivity and awards, it is easy to forget that the process is ultimately a contract.

On a high level, the incubation process is a simple exchange. The entrepreneur provides partial ownership of the business concept, while the incubator gives the startup access to experienced entrepreneurs, as well as extensive data and funding.

For entrepreneurs who have a solid foundation in business concepts and a great idea, the incubator model works exceedingly well. In less than six months, programs like TechStars and Y Combinator give entrepreneurs a crucial boost. However, many great entrepreneurs do not receive funding, either due to a lack of business acumen or experience.

A New Breed of Incubator

When we devised ESTEEM, our goal was to power the first stage of the entrepreneurial process. We asked: how can we help the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who might have the seed of a great idea but do not have the business training, experience, or blind luck required to differentiate the successful ideas from the flops?

The ESTEEM program disrupts the traditional incubator process. We turn the tables, giving our students the experience and training of a prospective investor. You are given access to new research and technology that was discovered at the University of Notre Dame, and you choose the discovery that matches your technical training and which you believe has the most potential.

Then we teach you all the business acumen necessary to refine your chosen invention into a presentable business plan. The training requires more time (11 months), but it also provides a meaningful educational background, which carries weight with prospective employers.