I have been (after a 40-year business career) assisting a handful of ideators, incubators, and accelerators as a mentor and sitting on their investment committees and selection bodies for a decade.
I am often asked to sit in with the band more times than I can actually accommodate, but I try to keep a hand in the game. It is a wonderful learning experience and, honestly, I am amazed how often my knowledge can be a huge assist to a young entrepreneur (none of whom have ever read Drucker).
There is a lot of confusion as to the difference and purpose of each of these approaches to encouraging entrepreneurship.
Here is the way I view them:
Ideator. An ideator is where entrepreneurs go to create and test an investable idea. They consider and formulate an idea that is either:
1. an aspirin (an antidote to the world’s pain in some meaningful fashion) or,
2. a vitamin (an improvement in society’s health in some meaningful fashion).
The journey through the ideator ends when the entrepreneur can get knowledgeable folks to say, “Yeah, I can see that working.”
In evaluating the idea, the entrepreneur has to pick an industry, understand the size of the addressable market, have a sense of pricing, have a sense of the financial potential for the idea, and know what it takes to turn the idea into reality in a very broad stroke sort of way.
This is work that can be done at the beach or in the mountains, but not whilst skiing fast. It requires quiet reflection.
It is all about the quality of the idea and other real world startup considerations can just wait on the idea taking shape.
If an entrepreneur entered with a wisp of an idea and exits with a firm idea for a product or service, then they have hit a good lick.Do not be overly ambitious. The idea is the thing.
Incubator. An entrepreneur goes to an incubator to flesh out the idea. He/she takes a shallow dive into Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, and Culture. While all of this is completely speculative at this instant in time, it is nonetheless taking on some form from the ether.
In an incubator, the entrepreneur will have access to subject matter expertise that will reveal the intricacies of each element of a successful company — founding, leadership, talent, technology, marketing, finance, and the practical realities of forming a company.
While this is a complex environment — the founding of companies — it is not rocket science and when you can access talent that has made the journey several times it is very efficient.
It is always cheaper to rent experience than it is to buy or stumble through it.
Photo credit: Ashes Sitoula on Unsplash