Are Single Theme Incubators a Better Approach?

The Vienna-based Legal Tech Hub Europe incubator has launched its fifth cohort, this time with a strong focus on Know Your Customer (KYC) tools, rather than selecting a wide range of product types, which is more often the approach.

The programme, backed by several leading Austrian law firms, has brought in three companies:

Clearly the first two are KYC providers, but Legl, which as well as offering operational and practice management capabilities, also provides KYC and client due diligence functionality.

Programme board member, Stefan Artner, of local law firm Dorda, said: ‘KYC is an important topic for lawyers, and we look forward to working with them and helping them develop their products further.’

And this raises an interesting idea: having incubators that focus on just one or two key themes each year. That could have several benefits:

  • The incubator knows exactly what they are looking for and so need to sift through far less applications.
  • The lawyers and tech teams involved in the programme can focus on just one set of similar product owner needs.
  • The firm(s) involved will also be able to focus their attention on the pros and cons of the companies that join, rather than seeing one type of application in isolation that could be hard to assess without comparators.

The flipside is that although it may not be intended, it could turn an incubator into something of a competition, as the programme is clearly run by potential clients – and they can’t necessarily use more than one of each type of application. So, as with all things it’s a trade-off. Also, that said, some firms are happy to see a competitive element in their incubators – and to some degree that will self-select the companies that want to be part of that way of doing things.

Plus, maybe this approach is more suitable when you have multiple law firms or inhouse teams involved? This is the case with the Vienna project, which has several local firms as well as some corporates supporting it. I.e. even if you only have tech companies of one variety, if you have several potential clients involved then it balances out.

This site can see the pros and cons of doing both a single focus and a multi-focus incubator. Perhaps one compromise is to do several smaller incubator cohorts across a year, each with a very specific product focus? Would be interested to hear your views.