Incubation in the Clusters
2012/06/06 Leave a comment
Once again, Silicon Valley is showing the rest of us how its done (see “Incubation” for the data). Robotics only feels like it is poorly incubated in the Valley, because it doesn’t have incubators with multiple branches in the Valley like biotech and software do. At least traffic sucks so bad in the Valley that when robotics gets going in the Valley it will need multi-branch robotics incubators just so people won’t have to drive.
All jealousy of California’s good fortune aside, robotics businesses are hard to start. Not only do they have all the complexities of a software business (with a much more challenging test cycle), but they also have other parts that are equally challenging. They are a hardware business, a manufacturer, and often a distribution or operations company as well. I don’t see too many 22 year old college drop-outs running manufacturing and distribution businesses–they are too complex and require too much capital to just let them fail like a VC can do with a mobile app company. Hence these kinds of companies are run by people who know what they are doing. How do we create more entrepreneurs who ‘know what they are doing?’
For robotics to take off, we are going to have to find models that produce profitable companies with much less wasted capital than software venture capital does. Incubation and mentorship are probably going to be really key to making this happen–good job to the Bay Area for getting on this. If community leaders want to lay the foundation for something really extraordinary in their community, get a robotics incubator going in your community.