For startup founders, it is important to understand the distinction between startup incubators and a startup accelerators. The key characteristics of each are discussed below.
Incubators are appropriate for new startups that need help figuring out their value proposition. They operate on a flexible timeline. Businesses entering such programs are often in their earlier days, still fleshing out ideas, creating business plans, and networking. The incubating period is flexible and can last for various lengths of time depending on a business’ needs. Sometimes the process ends with a presentation to the incubator community and investors.
Accelerators, on the other hand, are designed to expedite the growth of existing companies who have a minimum viable product and demonstrated growth. They are often given a small seed investment and are then introduced to a large mentor network. The goal of their several months with the accelerator is to skyrocket success of a proven business idea. The program ends and the progress, growth, and milestones hit are highlighted. There is sometimes a presentation to investors and the media.
The decision to apply to accelerators or incubators should consider several key things. If a business is in its early days and it still figuring out basic elements of their processes, then an incubator is a stronger fit. If a startup has a minimum viable product and is looking for help increasing success, an accelerator is the way to go.
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