New Generation Incubation Acceleration Program: Başakşehir Living Lab

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In the entrepreneurship ecosystem, an “acceleration program” is defined as a time-limited and mostly periodical incubation program that provides support to entrepreneurs such as counseling, mentoring, technical mentorship, investment or venture capital, networking, promotion, and so on. These programs, which aim to help startups receive investment, usually last for 1-3 months and offer intensive technical mentorship and training support.

Paul Graham, who founded Y Combinator in the United States in 2005, is known as the founder who introduced this model to the world. In these acceleration programs, entrepreneurs work intensively on their products and especially on the technical aspect during the program period. In programs, mentors and investors participate and manage the process by discussing the accepted ventures. The aim at the end of the program is for the entrepreneurs to receive investment.

Reycan Çetin from @techsign has provided a great explanation of how these things work globally and examples of them. https://www.techsign.com.tr/blog/start-uplar-icin-en-iyi-kulucka-merkezleri-ve-basvuru-sartlari

Failure to Accelerate

The design and operation of acceleration programs, most of which are run by incubation centers in Turkey, are slightly different.

The literature states that “Incubation Centers encourage entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into products during their most vulnerable first years and help them mature and transform into commercial firms.It provides significant support, especially for ensuring the survival of early-stage startups.” However, the result of the application is a failure to accelerate, as a general outcome.

According to a research conducted by a telecommunications company and an investment fund in Korea, the most important support element that entrepreneurs see as support, apart from financial support, is mentorship, with a rate of 25%.

“Quick testing” verification of ideas, opportunities to find “first customers,” “promotion” support, “mobile or web” support, and especially support for investing in those who successfully complete the program should be the most expected results of acceleration programs by entrepreneurs. In order to be able to do all of these, there must be good technical and business mentors from various fields within the acceleration program.

Especially in new business models where profit-driven incubation centers have replaced old models that aim to break even with rental income, it is unthinkable that these mechanisms are not established or that external support is not sought.

Business Incubation Centers that cannot accelerate, cannot provide seed investment to startups through acceleration programs or general acceleration programs, and require shares or options, or view easily accessible entrepreneurial education as an investment. The inflexibility of programs, the long durations, the call-based nature, and the cumbersome paperwork processes cause significant shortcomings such as prolonging the time for startups to encounter market selection mechanisms, increasing the cost of failures, and failing to direct investors and smart investments to entrepreneurs.

Inability to Accelerate

The structuring of incubation centers, the lack of sufficient and competent personnel, and many other factors slow down the process, and the identification and direction of startups that cannot accelerate is also crucial at this point. Especially in many studies conducted in several countries, the long duration of incubation is a positive factor that increases the entrepreneur’s sense of belonging to the institution, but it should not be forgotten that it also slows down and makes the entrepreneur lazy.

Failure to receive mentor feedback, failure to revise the foundational building blocks of the business model in startup analyses, spending too much time on the technical side, joining the ecosystem with valuations that the market will not accept, presenting to investors before being ready for investment, selecting the wrong acceleration program or incubation center, constantly participating in different acceleration programs without commercializing, focusing on the joy of award income rather than the customer, neglecting the business side by focusing too much on the technical side can be listed as the most basic reasons for slowdown.

As a result and recommendation, follow the BLL acceleration programs that have specific program content for each startup after thoroughly screening each startup with startup analyses, with a focus on sustainability and smart cities, as well as being open to general applications, having a global focus with Living Lab support abroad, providing support for being the first customer or finding customers within the scope of municipality facilities, making seed investments through subsidiaries and network connections, and matching the widest and most competent mentors with startups using the in4startups mentor pool (https://in4startups.com/tr/mentorlar), providing application area support for products, etc.

Başakşehir Living Lab, which celebrates its 10th year this year with a new incubation center structure, will attract attention with its new business models and applications to give positive momentum to the ecosystem. https://basaksehir-livinglab.com/BLL/anasayfa/

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