Skills into business
The Tallinn Business Incubator is charged by the city to help startup business grow up. After 10 years of working one way, we helped redesign their incubation process. We researched the competition, interviewed former and current incubants and intensively trained the incubator staff.
The incubator’s target businesses can be anything from hair-dressers to technology start-ups in the fashion business. The incubation period was for up to 3 years and involved many forms of business training, all which made perfect sense for professional managers.
However, these 2-4 people firms were not professional managers. They were a specialists at something, whether it was video animation or high-quality on-demand printing. For them, the greatest value offered by the incubator, as it turned out, was cheap office space in the center of the city. Secondly came the serendipity of being in a building with like-minded, entrepreneurial people. The mentoring and training programs provided by the incubator were considered, at best, necessary evils and at worst, a waste of time. The motivation for the people was to become better at what they do, not become managers.
Subsequently, we helped re-design the entire incubation process, with the expressed focus on “improving the professional skills of the people in the incubator”. This approach has greatly improved satisfaction with the incubator, created a natural mentor flow of former incubants and increased the word-of-mouth about the value of the process.