I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of incubators and shared office space. Having attempted the entreprenurial route (unsucessfully, it’s another story) for 7 years, the feeling of independence and wide-openness is still fresh in my mind. Since I live in a rather technologically scarce area, much of the vibrant dot com community activity has taken some time to migrate here. It’s only been since 2008 that a shared office space has opened up in the nearest major city.
I’d be very interested in spending some time there, but since I already have a full-time job, and the place is around $100/month, it’s just not been a high priority. I long for the shared developer community, because I have ideas and I can contribute, but I wish there was something closer and cheaper I could participate in.
Or manage, even.
The new Polaris incubator – “Dog Patch Labs Cambridge” – got me thinking again about the possibility of starting an incubator. I toyed with the idea years ago when a local elementary school went up for sale – opening up the possibility of living in part, and renting out part. Never worked out . The price was too high, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that it was within a half-mile of a major university.
Now I find myself in a village of only 5000 people, and the nearest university is a half-hour away. Decidedly Mennonite community. No tech at all. More of a tourist/antiques type of place. There are a number of small facilities that could work well with a bit of work. But I have a few questions.
Doesn’t the money need to come first – to buy the place and prep it – before I can promote it to the greater community? How would a potential mortgage lender view a business plan of this type? Can I get some small piece fo real estate in a local business, like Red Gate did? With lunch? Would people be willing to relocate in order to work in my village? Are there enough suburban commuters from the local cities to draw from that would be interested in (1) starting a low-capital-investment or software/web-based business, and (2) willing to do it from my incubator location? Is there enough geeky infrastructure in the community to support these kind of people?