Is Your Start-Up Ready for a Biz Incubator?

Is your tech startup ready for an incubator? 

Excelerate Labs, a Chicago-based tech company incubator, recently picked its 10 final tech startups for its summer boot camp. Read on to find out what its founders hope to see from applicants.

First of all, here’s what you get: last year's class raised $7.2 million and created 65 jobs. Excelerate gets its money from angel investors and two venture capital firms, The I2A Fund and Sandbox Industries. The companies will receive $25,000 from Excelerate in exchange for 6 percent ownership, after they complete a 90-day boot camp that grooms them for expansion. At the end of the camp, Excelerate gathers investors at the House of Blues to listen to eight-minute pitches from each company.

Excelerate founders Troy Henikoff, co-founder of SurePayroll, and Sam Yagan, CEO of OKCupid, ask in about 50 companies from over 250 pitches. They’re asked provide more information, like founders' resumes and a list of summer goals. 

Henikoff and Luerssen said they want to learn three things: 

Does the company have a plan to acquire customers? In the worst interviews, entrepreneurs say they're going to use Facebook or Twitter, or buy a few ads to generate business, Luerssen said. Henikoff described this as the "if you build it they will come" attitude.
Do the founders have the skills to make the idea work? If the answer is unclear, the team is not ready.
How stubborn are they? Stubbornness is a good trait in an entrepreneur, but so is being open to suggestion.
A few examples of the 10 chosen this year: the Exchangery, which helps people create exchanges for unusual commodities; and FoodGenius, a Pandora for restaurant dishes. The full list can be found at
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