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MEDC Seeks Business Incubator Proposals For Start-Up Support
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit ideas from high-performance business incubators or accelerators in Michigan to support entrepreneurs in launching and growing start-up technology companies throughout the state.
The Michigan Strategic Fund has approved a total amount of $8.5 million through the 2013 Business Incubator Program. This funding may be used to support up to three years of services for each incubator or accelerator award made by the MSF. Maximum amounts allowed under this RFP vary depending on the location of the incubator or accelerator.
In order to be considered for a grant, applicants must submit a comprehensive business plan for delivering entrepreneurial services to start-up technology businesses, such as marketing assistance, legal services, and training. Applicants must develop a dashboard of indicators to measure the effectiveness of the business incubator and accelerator programs that also ties to the state’s strategic goals.
Proposals will be accepted through Monday, November 26th by 5pm.
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Business Plan or Business Model: What's the Difference?
I often hear entrepreneurs say, “I don’t have time to write a business plan.” Sometimes they even trot out the words of business experts like Guy Kawasaki or Rob Adams or Steve Blank who likewise don’t advocate creating business plans. However, I think the intent of Kawasaki and Adams and Blank gets twisted because many first-time entrepreneurs don’t understand the difference between a business plan and a business model. Is there a difference? You bet there is!
In essence, a business model is the description of how a business is going to make money. It takes the basic moving pieces of a business, like the product offering, the target market, the revenue streams, the distribution channels, the available resources, etc., and puts them together in a combination that results in a profit for the company. Sometimes a company puts together a business model that places a particular product in a particular market at a particular price and the model won’t work—maybe the price point is too high for the target market or the distribution channel chosen requires a partner that cannot be recruited. Whatever the reason, the model may have to be tweaked (a “pivot”) in order to find another way for the company to make money.
So why would an entrepreneur ever bother writing a business plan? Isn’t a business model good enough? All anyone cares about is how the company is going to make money, right? Wrong!
When Is An Incubator Not An Incubator?
I attended a workshop a few weeks ago and was immediately impressed by the facility when I walked in. I looked around at the cool, hip space full of passionate entrepreneurs clustered on designer couches discussing business models or helping themselves to free refreshments in the open kitchen as they debated the pros and cons of crowdfunding. I admired the high-tech computers and projectors and flat-screen TVs while enjoying the free wireless Internet in the cozy classroom filled with rolling desks that looked like they had come straight out of some college in the future. The workshop itself was BYOB (bring-your-own-brownbag) and it quickly filled to capacity with people of various ages, ethnicities, and personal styles interested in learning about the latest lean startup method and how to launch a company. It was exhilarating and exciting and I loved it. I complimented the director, a friend of mine, on creating such a great incubation program. “Oh, no,” she replied, “This isn’t an incubator.” Which made me think….what, exactly, is an incubator? And how is an incubator different from, or the same as, other types of entrepreneurial support programs that have been popping up lately?