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Accelerators can give your business a jump start

| Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The classic image of the would-be entrepreneur hoping to start the next Apple or Google is someone working on a fledgling enterprise in a garage or dorm room.

But working from home can be awfully lonely. And if Mom, the kids or hubby keep interrupting, it's hard to create the next big thing.

Now, entrepreneurs have an alternative — spaces dedicated to early stage and novice business owners.

Rocket Space, in a very cool building in San Francisco, is one of the premiere accelerators.

Founded two years ago by tech entrepreneur Duncan Logan, Rocket Space quickly has become the location of choice for entrepreneurs beginning high-growth technology companies in the Bay Area.

Rocket Space is considered an accelerator, and it helps to understand the options for new businesses, keeping in mind that these definitions are not strict.

• Incubators — for very early stage companies. Typically high competition to be accepted. They have no out-of-pocket rent. In fact, expect to receive money and hands-on guidance as well as space in return for equity in your company. This equity costs dearly in the long run, so make sure you are working with people who have a proven track record of success.

• Accelerators — for high-growth companies after incubation stage. The best help high-potential companies grow quickly through introductions to customers, financiers or key employees. They may charge rent and/or take equity. True accelerators are highly selective.

• Co-working spaces — straight-forward, turn-key rental space. You get a desk — either assigned or drop in — Internet access, conference rooms included or for an extra fee, and often some kind of coffee service or even a cafe. You do not give up equity and no lease typically is required. They are not very selective.

• Hacker houses — sort of hostels for techies with a partylike atmosphere for coders, who are typically young, male and foreign. They often are incredibly expensive, upward of $1,500 a month for a bunk bed in a shared room.

Rhonda Abrams is president of The Planning Shop. Twitter: @RhondaAbrams. Facebook: facebook.com/RhondaAbramsSmallBusiness.

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