National Business Incubation Association; Your source for knowledge and networks in business incubation


An entrepreneur-in-residence serves as an on-site advisor at an incubator, providing clients with insights based on real-world experience. Here's how an EIR can benefit your program.

Entrepreneurs-in-residence bring street cred to client counseling

by Corinne Colbert

February 2007

Her obstetrician may have lots of good advice, but when an expectant mother wants guidance from someone who truly understands her feelings, she probably doesn’t talk to her doctor. She talks to her mother, her sisters, her friends – anyone who’s actually had a baby.

The same thing can happen in business incubation. When it comes right down to it, sometimes what the head of a start-up company needs is to talk to someone who’s done the same thing. “They want to see successful entrepreneurs,” says Walter Schulz, director of techcenter@umbc in Baltimore. “That’s who they’re going to listen to.”

While many incubator managers have had firsthand experience in leading a company, sometimes a client needs particular expertise you don’t have. One way to give clients that “been-there” touch is through an entrepreneur-in-residence program, which not only can bring gravitas to client advising, but also offer you an insider’s feedback on your clients’ progress and add to your value proposition.

NBIA talked to four incubator executives whose programs include an entrepreneur-in-residence. Read on to see how they do it – and how you can make it work for your program, too.

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This article also is available as a PDF Quick Reference document through the NBIA Bookstore.

Keywords: business assistance provider, coaching clients, incubator management -- general, leadership development, mentoring program

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