NextWave incubator welcomes start-ups

The start-ups are coming soon to the NextWave incubator in Troy. And they’re bringing more than a little creativity to the suburban business-class suburb.

The exterior of the small business incubator at 950 Stephenson Highway looks like your typical suburban office building, measuring three stories in height with a big corporate logo on the side (DuPont is on the third floor). The interior is shaping up to be something much different. Office walls are coming down and bright, vibrant colors are going up on whatever walls are left. Stale cubicles are leaving, making room for office furniture that looks like it was taken directly out of a cutting edge, new economy firm in Ann Arbor or Royal Oak.

“We want to create a culture here,” says Jeff Sloan, director of early stage portfolio at NextWave. “This isn’t just a place to work. This is a place to be successful. We believe that creative space fosters creative thinking.”

Creative is the right word for what Sloan, of StartupNation fame, and his partners are doing at NextWave. They are turning old offices into white-wall rooms where teams can lock themselves in and brainstorm in dry erase marker wherever they want. A small auditorium is being turned into a media center so companies on the verge of making an announcement can invite TV crews for press conferences or one-on-one interviews and broadcast directly from the building, hassle free.

NextWave controls two floors of the 80,000-square-foot building. It will host first-stage start-ups just getting on their feet and second-stage firms looking to take the next big step. All of these firms will have access to business mentoring, coaching, networking, and investment resources in exchange for a stake in their firm or technology.

So far, seven first-stage companies and five second-stage firms have signed on, with some already moved in. Sloan hopes to finish building out the space by this fall and be at capacity (30 companies) by the end of the year. The incubator is focusing on firms based in the new economy but is open to all ideas.

“We tried to keep it high-tech but we have seen some great consumer companies that we’re going to invite in,” Sloan says.

Source: Jeff Sloan, director of early stage portfolio at NextWave
Writer: Jon Zemke