To Incubate or Not To Incubate: Kicklabs Incubator Launches in San Francisco

So you have a couple of people, a decent idea and that’s about it – what next? If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, then the answer might be Kicklabs, a new startup incubator launching today for very early-stage technology and online media startups. That answer, then again, might simply be investment by a venture capitalist, but the pros and cons of incubation should be evaluated first.

Kicklabs is a 23,000-square-foot space in the heart of San Francisco that hopes to help launch up to 20 startups in 2010, and already there are a number of companies on the roster. Focused primarily on early-stage companies consisting of two to eight members, Kicklabs will offer not only office space on a six to 12 month lease, but advisers (such as Blippy co-founder Phil Kaplan), investors and other entrepreneurs.

Why Incubate?

As Paul Graham, one of the partners in venture firm

Y Combinator

discusses in his article “

How To Fund a Startup

“, there are ups and downs to getting incubator investment instead of venture funding that should be taken into consideration.

First, getting involved in an incubator can come at a higher cost, but offer value beyond that cost. As with Kicklabs, there are a number of other companies going through the same trials at the same time and there are a number of advisers who have been there before to guide you along the way. In return for the environment, office space, advice and investment, you give the incubator, Kicklabs in this case, a share of your company in either equity or stocks.

As Jordan Krechtmer, CEO of Livefyre, said in the Kicklabs press release, “Being around other startups who we can grow with is really important. The moment we walked into KickLabs we could feel the energy of the space.”

On the other hand, operating under the same roof as your investors can come at a cost – your freedom. Graham argues that he thinks “it’s better if startups operate out of their own premises, however crappy, than the offices of their investors.” So, while the incubator may foster a creative environment, it may also foster a spirit of control. Perhaps it isn’t the worst type of control, though, to have the advice of entrepreneurs who have helped grow companies like Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Digg, Monster and more.

In the end, whether or not to get your startup going with the help of an incubator is a personal question, but for our money, having the opportunity to grow a startup in the heart of Silicon Valley with the Kicklabs advisory team is one we couldn’t see passing up.

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