Incubators once came in a single flavor. Mostly, they housed technology companies. Mostly, they were in places like Silicon Valley and Boston.
But as more success stories emerge from incubators, more funders have taken an interest in applying the incubator model to their own industry.
Niche incubators are springing up all over the country, covering a range of business types that once would have stood no chance of getting an incubator to accept them. In some cases, the new incubators are specifically aimed at growing products a sponsor might acquire. Here’s a look at X recently opened incubators and the types of startups they help:
- Afloat. Looking to take your technology global and make the world a better place? The Unreasonable Institute set sail in January with 11 incubator startups on a world cruise aboard the MV Explorer, to learn about global markets and make connections. Unreasonable At Sea is scheduled to wrap the first incubator-afloat, 14-country tour April 25 in Barcelona.
- All comers. The socially conscious incubator Fledge has spun off a new program, Kick, that accepts companies and nonprofits of all types. The summertime program is just 8-weeks, focusing on fast ramp-up, and applicants must create a crowdfunding campaign to pay for their course fee. There’s post-graduation assistance and coaching on pitching business-plan competitions, too.
- Colorado. Backed by the Telluride Foundation, Telluride Venture Accelerator recently graduated its first class of four local startups, who receive $30,000 apiece and six months of mentoring in the scenic Colorado town. Business types the Accelerator accepts include outdoor gear, natural/organic food and beverage, tourism, healthy living, energy, water, and education. Companies in the first group included a local snack-food maker, and a mobile-reservations firm.
- Consumer packaged goods. Austin, Texas-based Incubation Station boasts mentors such as Sweet Leaf tea founder Clayton Christopher, who built his company to $53 million and sold it to a division of Nestle. Incubation is on its second round of mentoring companies — the first five startups through the program all found additional venture funding after graduating last year. The incubator is a program of a local law firm, Moster Wynne Resler. Chosen participants get up to $20,000 in seed funding, as well as a bit of free legal help.
- Miami. Endeavor is a 15-year-old international nonprofit incubator program with successes around the world. Now, the Knight Foundation is funding the first Endeavor office in the U.S. Endeavor Miami will select entrepreneurs with “high potential” for the program, which plans to award $2 million of funding through 2017. Tech and “community engagement” are two key areas of emphasis.
- Sports tech. Nike launched its Nike+ Accelerator program in December, aimed at encouraging startups to use the company’s Nike+ technology to create innovative sports apps. The first 10 companies to participate in the program were announced earlier this month, and in June they’ll present to investors. The Accelerator is powered by the established TechStars incubator program. We’ll see if Nike gets anything it wants to snap up out of this process.
- Young. Go-celerator invites entrepreneurs born before 1983 to spend a year in St. Louis learning how to grow your innovative startup. You need sales — pre-revenue companies don’t qualify. The first audition cycle just closed (winners will be announced in June), so if you’re interested in the next round, start prepping your 60-second audition video now.
Despite the growth spurt of new incubators, competition to get in is still tough. One example: Telluride Venture Accelerator reported it got over 100 applications for its first round.
Seen any other new niche incubators? If so, leave a comment and add to my list.
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