Tweaking the Start-Up Incubator

Mike Isaac reported in yesterday’s New York Times that, “Throw a rock in any direction in Silicon Valley and it may strike a start-up incubator, one of the now-ubiquitous programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs nurture their ideas into full-fledged businesses with funding and advice.

“Garrett Camp, a co-founder of Uber, and a few of his partners think that model may need tweaking.

“On Wednesday, Mr. Camp and his colleagues took the wraps off Expa, a start-up studio in San Francisco that claims to take a smaller-scale, more hands-on approach to helping new companies grow from idea to prototype to marketable product.”

The Times article noted that, “Expa has been operating since 2013, but the group announced that it was opening up Expa Labs, a new six-month program for start-ups based in New York and San Francisco wherein the companies receive $500,000 in backing, office space and mentoring from a five-person team. Expa also said it had raised $100 million from investors to put into new start-ups and expand the firm.”

Mr. Isaac explained that, “The timing for Expa’s grand unveiling is hardly fortunate. Over the last six months, there has been a sharp pullback in venture deals in the United States, according to CB Insights, a firm that tracks venture capital. Some pockets of start-ups — namely the youngest companies — are still raising money, but those trying to drum up investor interest in later rounds of funding are facing a tougher time, according to data from the National Venture Capital Association.

“Expa said the shift in the funding environment would actually help because the thinner the crowd of start-ups, the easier it was for the most successful ones to shine.”

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