A Growth Industry
Incubators around the East Bay provide support and space to a variety of start-ups.
Whether you are a chef creating a new line of food products or an entrepreneur with the next big idea, starting a business—especially in the Bay Area—has its challenges. Prohibitive rents, complex regulations, and financing can be barriers to success. Enter the incubator, a nurturing environment that provides space, services, connections, and other assistance to fledgling ventures. In recent years, these local start-up supporters have flourished by specializing in certain industries. Here are a few East Bay incubators making a big impact.
The legalization of recreational marijuana has ignited new opportunities for entrepreneurs, and The Hood Incubator hopes to increase black and Latino representation within that industry. Building community and business acumen through mixers and workshops, the Oakland organization also advocates for progressive marijuana policy and promotes industry alliances. hoodincubator.org.
Flipping the Switch
Tri-Valley innovators mingle at The Switch in Livermore. The incubator offers its entrepreneurs networking opportunities, cloud computing services, and coworking space—as well as an entire level
of industrial lab space for companies conducting R&D and commercializing technologies. theswitch.io.
Focus on Food
Located in Uptown Oakland, Forage Kitchen supports chefs and food producers by guiding them through the basics of insurance, licensing, permits, and more, as well as providing a well-organized cooking area. Participants can also sell food at incubator-organized events and take advantage of networking opportunities and copacking services, in which Forage handles the product preparation so chefs can concentrate on other aspects of their business. foragekitchen.com.
Life Science Force
With five affiliated locations, including two in Berkeley, the state-funded QB3 incubators push life science start-ups to the next level. Researchers in the fields of therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, and consumer health (among others) have access to QB3’s workspace; specialized high-tech equipment; and vast network of legal, scientific, and entrepreneurial advisors. qb3.org.
The Bothwell Arts Center offers a haven for visual and performing artists seeking a welcoming, affordable, and dynamic setting. The Livermore arts incubator currently hosts 22 visual artists in working studios and offers rehearsal and performance space for dance, theater, and music performers, as well as instructional classrooms. bothwell.lvpac.org.
Oakland-based nonprofit Zoo Labs helps musicians become commercially viable while sustaining their craft. Its flagship Music Residency is a two-week live-in program that provides artists with workshops on business, technology, and marketing—plus recording sessions in state-of-the-art studios. zoolabs.org.