Livable City Year

Viability Research for a Small Business Incubator in Richards Valley

2018-2019 Livable City Year – Bellevue

City Project Leads:  Nicholas Matz, Community Development
UW Instructor: Michael Ervick, UW Bothell School of Business
Course: BUS 491 Business Consulting

Project description:

Over the last several months, our team of four students came together to address whether there is a way to encourage development in Bellevue’s Richards Valley Light Industrial Zone, through a messy space or some other type of facility. After researching various small business development tactics, we found that an incubator is the appropriate solution to promote development in the area. An incubator in its most basic form provides startups with mentoring, facilities, and an environment where entrepreneurs can congregate and exchange ideas.

Our next task was to create a rough framework that outlines how to implement an incubator in Richards Valley. First, we looked at which industries our incubator would need to serve. After examining data on Bellevue’s growing industries, and cross-referencing this with existing incubators, we found that providing a tech and retail hybrid incubator would capture and serve the most people. Next, we defined the services that the incubator would provide. To do so, we began performing competitive analyses of other incubators in the area as well as on a national scale. At first, we explored all types of incubators, but as time passed, our search filtered to only tech and retail incubators.

After completing our research, we conducted surveys and interviews, which provided us with a key list of services that the incubator would need to provide. These services are: event and workshop hosting, online courses, and a shared workspace. Last, our team needed to determine a physical location for the incubator. Richards Valley’s real estate proved difficult to investigate, due to complexities between business owners and building owners, but nonetheless, four real options were found. We highly recommend two of these options for consideration or further investigation: the Bellevue Honda Support building, and a development project in which a makeshift campus would be created with portables. Although the incubator’s actual formation and oversight remains in question, creating an incubator in Richards Valley would help to increase development in the area and support local startups and small businesses.

Part of the 2018-2019 Livable City Year partnership between the University of Washington and the City of Bellevue.

See all Livable City Year projects in Bellevue that UW students and faculty worked on during the year-long partnership.

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