Early in the stories of successful entrepreneurs, pluck and luck (the formula popularized by Horatio Alger’s “rags-to-riches” novels of the latter 19th century) sometimes combine to ignite a catalytic spark. For most entrepreneurs, though, crafting a sustainable new venture also demands learning to apply the right incubation skills and tools at the right times.
Founders nurturing their startups through incubation shouldn’t confuse social intelligence, also known as emotional intelligence (EI), for charisma—a trait often associated with storytellers like Virgin Group’s Sir Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs of Apple. Mustering persistence and patience, byproducts of emotional maturity, helps more than charm.
Audiences quickly forgave the young Romani guitarist’s frequent late arrival at concerts. His arpeggios, decomposed chords performed at breakneck speed, fluttered with the grace of hummingbirds. Phrasing, tempos, melodic variations and a stream of chromatic ornaments varied each time the virtuoso “Django” strummed a tune.
An incubation platform mitigates risk by favoring learning. It allows the founding team to spin the startup’s learning loop, delivering intelligence about the offering and market. And it facilitates co-creation with customers and partners, helping to converge their shared understanding of the venture’s mission.