The Quest for a Startup Incubator or Accelerator and Where to Begin (Part I)

Incubators and accelerators are a good way of helping your business. In order to know which incubator or accelerator to choose from, we’ve put together pieces of information to help you understand more about these two types of programs. Let’s get started!

What are the differences between incubators and accelerators?

Incubators are the go-to place for any early stage startup. Startup companies enrol in this type of programs for a period of 2-3 years and also receive support prior to product or service launch.

Accelerators run new companies through a structured 3-6 months program. Usually their purpose is to strengthen the value proposition and calibrate the business model of the startups enrolled in the program.

Types of accelerators and incubators

On one hand, we have accelerators, which can be divided in two blocks: vertical and13938292_1095099037248777_4676493239264325682_o horizontal.

Vertical accelerators focus on startups that target a specific industry in the same market.

These accelerators build a network of mentors around that particular market.

Horizontal accelerators, though, are made for startups who target a specific product or technology that finds customers in more than one market.

On the other side of the table there are incubators which are grouped on industry sectors. Some examples of incubators are: technology business incubators with focus on technology-based business startups, agro-industrial incubators, which transform know-how into activities in the food-sector, and social incubators with a strong focus on social businesses. It’s best to choose the incubator that has experience in your niche.

How to choose an incubator or an accelerator

When looking for incubators and accelerators, you need to think on the long term right from the start. Structure your vision and be precise about your business objectives before considering any alternatives.

  1. Make a list of what your company does and what it needs

The first thing to do is to analyze your current business situation. Evaluate your options for its future development. In order to help your business start or accelerate its growth, you need to understand its needs and actual position on the market. Which are your most urgent and important needs? Do you need to learn from a startup community, find a co-founder, or seek for help on marketing and sales? Sort out your priorities and make a checklist.

  1. Ask other people

An important step, in any business, is to ask the right people how they succeeded. Who did they follow for advice and where did they begin? Asking for recommendations will help you reach out to mentors and investors and give you the chance to network. Go out and connect with communities that have regular meetups, hackathons and maybe attend trainings or bootcamps. Online forums can also work.

  1. Determine your funding opportunities

The next step is to calculate your budget needs. Make sure you don’t select an accelerator mainly for the seed money when you’re looking for funding programs. Instead, check that the program you pick offers the support you need in growing your business. While you attend community events, you can also find investors lurking for young potential that needs support.

  1. Consider the audience your brand will be exposed to

After you’ve marked the journey of your business, you need to examine the audience you will be exposed to. Knowing which publications will talk about your brand can open many doors for you. It will also give you great insight about the network of the incubator or accelerator.

In the second part of this article we’ll talk about the ups and downs of opting for these two types of programs and we’ll also make a list with some of the most popular programs around the globe. Stay tuned!

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Anna Maria RaduThe Quest for a Startup Incubator or Accelerator and Where to Begin (Part I)

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