The BIG Idea Lab is Bellingham’s new tech startup incubator. For those of you not familiar with incubators, they are businesses comprised of a group of tenured entrepreneurs, professionals, and investors, who gather together other, more inexperienced entrepreneurs, giving them resources and guidance in their journey towards creating a successful company, receiving in return a small equity stake in each individual company spawned out of the lab. Incubators are often the birth place of many successful startups, giving inexperienced entrepreneurs extremely valuable support, and investors a good chunk of equity in young companies with bright futures.
I’ve had the pleasure of speaking at length with the founders and partners in the BIG Idea Lab about its creation and goals for young entrepreneurs in our area. Investing in our local economy is a major priority for the lab and it’s founders, and it’s already showing in the steps they’ve taken thus far. Forming a partnership with WWU’s business & technology departments, holding informational and explorative meetings for young entrepreneurs, and taking a very low equity in each venture, the BIG Idea Lab has stepped forward not only as a group of experienced investors, but also as a group of individuals interested in supporting local innovation and entrepreneurship in our community.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see our community’s response. Will more and more businesses, professionals, and entrepreneurs come out in support of the lab? Are there enough ambitious and capable young entrepreneurs out there to fill the lab with worthy ventures? I think the most important question is whether or not there is enough money flowing through our community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to attract and keep new ventures here in Bellingham. Only time will tell… but my hope is that the BIG Idea Lab grows to become not only a successful technology incubator, but also a reason to put WWU and Bellingham on the map as entrepreneurial and tech hotspots.