The word “incubator” pops up in some discussions with leaders of consulting firms’ innovation hubs. The idea is for the hub to attract a broader range of participants, including start-up companies with offerings that may add value when integrated into consulting services. In some cases, firms have
invested in start-ups that work within the facility.
By nurturing startups they have a stake in, some innovation center leaders want to use that experience
to help teach clients how to invest in and groom start-ups on their own.
That’s easier said than done, says Jonathan Kestenbaum, managing director of Talent Tech Labs, a New
York-based innovation hub that evaluates and promotes technological developments in emerging talent
acquisition technology. Most of the consulting innovation centers he has seen tend to “focus on building
a small number of companies rather than investing in a sector,” he notes. “They will never be able to stay
ahead of innovation this way.”
Expanding that focus, Kestenbaum says, requires a stout research capability. He identifies a num-
ber of enablers of operating a successful incubator, including the following:
How to Nurture
• Meeting: Talent Tech Labs’ business operators meet with as
many companies as possible. They do so to get past the marketing language while getting a feel for the start-up’s founding
team, employee morale, the revenue model, the five-year roadmap and the financials.
• Modelling and Manipulating: All of that information
is fed into a success model Talent Tech Labs developed to help
determine if a new company’s concept is sufficiently unique
(i.e., innovative and influential) to make an impact it its market.
“All the information that we extract gets stored in our proprietary database,” Kestenbaum says. “We structure it and analyze
it … we’ve created this taxonomy that allows us to see what’s
working and what’s not.”
• Measuring: The organization carefully tracks its performance. Key metrics include purchases of the firm’s research
as well as the number of individuals engaging with its content (i.e., reading, downloading, quoting and sharing those