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All systems go: From day one, incubator managers fuel clients for takeoff after graduation

by Ellen Gerl

February 2002

The Maverick Corp., a recent graduate of the Hamilton County Business Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, began thinking about its move almost two years before it left the incubator. The maker of high-temperature polymer materials had expanded its market niche and needed more space to add equipment and people. "I knew from the get-go that the goal was to spend five years — plus or minus some — and to launch out of here," says founder and CEO Eric Collins. Incubator staff maintained gentle pressure, from working with the firm to set realistic goals to helping the firm access reduced-rate financing to buy a 12,000-square-foot building. "The incubator forces you to plan for success," Collins says.

Incubator managers who've watched dozens of young companies come — and go — admit they don't have a month-by-month wedding-planner strategy for getting clients to the graduation altar. But they do know that business assistance needs evolve as clients move from defining goals to financing growth and finally shopping for new space.

Here's how the conversation changes as the graduation date nears.

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Keywords: benchmarking clients, exit policy, graduation policy, relocation assistance

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