When to apply for an Incubator or Accelerator?
Both "Incubator" and "Accelerator" are programs in which startup founders are offered opportunities to get mentorship and connection at a very early stage of their startup journey.
As a startup founder or simply a startup enthusiast, the terms "Incubator" and "Accelerator" may confuse you some time. So as to help you and startups who are thinking of applying for one, yet don't really know whether the two are the same thing or not, to help you differentiate between Incubator and Accelerator, below are some clarifications:
1. Startup's stage
Incubators are designed primarily for startups at their very early stage. Incubators help them validate their idea, build their prototype, do research on their customer segments, plan out the business, and so on. This will help set the foundation for any startups to build their minimum viable products (MVP).
Accelerators, on the other hand, are ideal for startups who already have MVPs. Joining an accelerator will help startups in building sustainable business models, and focus on developing go-to-market strategies and scale-up. Some early tractions are also considered for startups to get accepted to Accelerators.
Incubation programs tend to be long-term, normally from 6-12 months, or even 2 years or open-ended depends on different incubators. Acceleration programs, however, are fixed-term, cohort-based programs that last for 3-6 months only.
3. Program structure
Incubators often offer startups a flexible schedule depending on each process of refining the idea and working on their business plan.
Startups in Accelerators, adversely, will have to go through intensive training, and weekly/bi-weekly update on business performance with startups in the cohort. At the end of the program, there will be a demonstration day where startups pitch in front of the investors to raise funds.
There are a lot of incubators and accelerators for startups to apply to. However, each incubator/accelerator set their own criteria for their applications due to their strengths and risk appetite. And it is each startup's job to do their homework on which incubator/accelerator can bring the most values for their business.
See below for some references:
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