New Businesses Get Leg Up From Incubators | Tech Parks Arizona

New Businesses Get Leg Up From Incubators

Arizona Public Media 

Zach Ziegler 

June 18, 2015 

Brian Cornelius has spent the past several weeks in a sort of business bootcamp– an incubator. 

He has learned, among other things, how to sell his company's product. 

Now, he's putting his product pitch to the test in front of a few hundred people.

"So the problem we face in the energy bar world is that a lot of products look as bad as they taste," he said.

Cornelius' company, RBar, makes an energy bar that Cornelius says is made with fewer ingredients than competitors.

The mentors at the Thryve Next business incubator helped Cornelius identify the bar's simplicity as something that sets his product apart, what they call a point of differentiation.

"You can actually have [points of differentiation] and not know what they are," Cornelius said. "This program pushed us to identify them and speak to them."

That's among the many lessons Thryve Next taught to its first class of 12 entrepreneurs. Most new businesses fail within ten years, but those that go through programs like Thryve Next might have a better chance of survival.

“One of the things that we think is critical is to be able to work individually with companies and identify both entrepreneurs and concepts, business ideas, that have the ability to scale,” said Justin Williams, CEO of Startup Tucson, which runs Thryve Next.

The goal of Thryve Next and many other business incubators is to help entrepreneurs get their companies up and running by offering mentorship, education, and access to equipment and business space.

“The pay-off is then as a company grows, creates employment opportunities for the graduates of the University [of Arizona] or people in the community, and creates wealth and taxes and all the good things that happen in a growing economy,” said Bruce Wright, Associate Vice President of Tech Park Arizona, which runs the Arizona Center for Innovation business incubator.

That incubator has helped launch businesses for the past 20 years.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about half of all startups fold within five years, and one-third make it to ten years.

“What [an incubator] does for new business starts is provide them the mentored opportunity to avoid costly mistakes that entrepreneurs often make when launching a new business,” said Arizona Tech Council's Alex Rodriguez.

Arizona Tech Council's Tucson office is based in the Arizona Center for Innovation. He said that center offers more than education. It houses the startups it's fostering, and allow access to specialized spaces such as wet labs and equipment like 3-D printers.

Whether it's equipment or education, business incubators are helping build Southern Arizona's economy by teaching its entrepreneurs how to get the most out of their businesses.

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