Super angels create incubator for incubators

Ronny Kerr · April 1, 2011 · Short URL:

Paul Graham (Y Combinator) and Dave McClure (500 Startups) want to help new incubators incubate

Angel investors Paul Graham and Dave McClure announced Friday the launch of 25 Incubators, the first-ever intensive program dedicated entirely to teaching ex-entrepreneurs and investors the art of training the next wave of startups. Think of it as an incubator for incubators.

The first Silicon Valley session for 25 Incubators, which commences in mid-June and carries on for two months, will host founders from up to 25 incubators to learn the ins and outs of incubating startups. Both Graham and McClure will hand-select mentors, like Thomas Korte of AngelPad, Jeff Clavier of SoftTechVC, Mike Mapes of Floodgate, Aydin Senkut of Felicis Ventures, and Brad Feld of TechStars and Foundry Group, to share their wisdom and advice with up and coming incubator founders.

All incubators participating in the 25 Incubators program will receive $200,000 to invest in their startups. In exchange, 25 Incubators receives a stake in the incubator, which in turn receives a stake in its student startups.

“While the seed funding is nice, the real value is the advice, mentoring, and connections provided by 25 Incubators,” said Graham. “When I started my first incubator – Y Combinator – in 2005, I had a few mentors which I’ve written about in the past. However, the notion of having three months full of concentrated mentors, surrounded by 20+ other founders starting up their own incubators, in one of the best and most fun cities on the planet, blows my mind.”

The “25” in the new organization’s name is an homage to both the “Y” in Y Combinator, since its the 25th letter, and to the “500” in 500 startups because they’re both multiples of five.

Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator, and McClure, founder of 500 Startups, joined forces because they saw a real lack of education and business sense in the growing number of incubators across the country.

Take New York City, for example. There are at least five New York-based incubators planning on teaching startups this summer, but only two--TechStars and NYC Seed--can possibly have any idea what they’re doing. And look at Imagine K12, a new incubator for education startups. The company literally copy-pasted the entire Y Combinator website, changed the logo and a couple colors, and called it a day. That’s not the kind of organization Graham and McClure want mentoring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

As well-meaning as Graham and McClure are, however, the emergence of 25 Incubators has ignited concerns over whether the industry may have entered its first-ever “incubator bubble.” Still, at this stage it’s not easy to tell whether it’s a true bubble or just a boom. We’ll likely have to wait for more incubator incubators to be created before we can make some more guesses in the dark.

Yuri Milner of Digital Sky Technologies (DST), who probably had something to do with this, could not be reached for comment.

Happy April Fools Day.

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AngelPad is a mentorship program founded by a team of ex-Googlers to help web-technology startups build better products, attract additional funding and ultimately grow more successful businesses.


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