Office Space Options: Startup Space and Business Incubators

The following is the second in our series focusing on providing information on the various types of office space available, from business parks to hot desking, conventional office accommodation to shared coworking options.

What is a startup?

Before discussing the qualities of a startup space or incubator, it is worth determining exactly what a startup is.

Theoretically, any new business whose market is not defined by location could be considered a startup. (For example, a newly opened restaurant is indeed a small business, but, because the market is location based, it is not a startup.)

In terms of use in today’s economy, a startup is a small business, usually technology oriented; startups generally provide service to a worldwide market. Tech startups are not confined by location or operating hours only by how many consumers or clients they can reach.


In the non business world, an incubator is a warm safe place for a baby or a baby chick to get a nice healthy start to life. In the business world, an incubator is much the same. Incubators provide services that help startups get through those trials faced by new businesses.


Some of the services provided by incubators are:

  • Legal: things like proprietary guidelines, creating bylaws or business plans, and navigating the regulations of your industry.
  • Business management: basic accounting services, business organization tips, company setup, and help with building and framing the identity of your startup.
  • Marketing: market research and networking.
  • Funding: access to angel investors or venture capitalists and help in locating other sources of funding for your startup.
  • Networking: introduction to others in your industry, networking with mentors, investors, and industry specialists.
  • Site services: an office or team workspace, access to high-speed internet, copying and faxing, and other clerical or administrative services.


Incubators are typically selective about the startups they accept. Many have an application process, requiring that startups meet a set of qualifications specific to that incubator. Or your company could be referred to the incubator by a trusted partner. Incubators might maintain a focus on a specific market or have a geographic preference, or they may have a general scope.  Not all incubators provide the same services, so shop around to find an incubator that will work best for you.


The cost of joining an incubator will vary. Some incubators provide services for an upfront fee; others require a small, 3 to 5%, equity stake. Again, do the research to find the best incubator for you.


Incubators typically provide services for a limited time. As the goal of the incubator is to incubate and launch companies, they usually expect the company to be ready to “fly from the nest” within about two years. Some incubators will continue to offer support services beyond the incubation period.

Once your startup has “flown the coop,” graduated from incubation to self sufficiency, it is likely that you will join the group of companies providing mentorship and advice to fledgling startups at your alumni incubator.

Click here for information on office space options throughout the US.