To Incubate, or to Accelerate: That is the question.

To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer. Hamlet

What’s a quote from Hamlet got to do with business and startups?  His only business was to kill and take revenge against some dude.

Well, as Hamlet was over thinking and wavering between two different extremes: life and death.

Your business idea can also live or die through the decisions you make. Every decision, every twist and turns will eventually shape the business you create in the future.

So how do you make the right decisions? The right choice for your startup, cause if you don’t, your business is going to die; just like everyone in Hamlet.

A startup messed up at its foundation cannot be fixed Peter Thiel

As a startup founder, you need to look at starting off on the right foot. Often in a form of a startup incubator or a startup accelerator. The terms “incubator” and “accelerator” are often assumed to represent the same concept.

So let us get the [highlight color=”yellow”]definitions[/highlight] out the way.

[one_half]In a nutshell, incubators help very early-stage startups by providing a controlled, slow and protective environment for their idea to grow. They assist startups to lay the foundation while figuring out their team, market fit and getting their first perspective. Ideal for entrepreneurs who are in their pre-launch/infancy stage[/one_half][one_half_last]On the other hand, accelerators are like rocket ships with only a specific amount of fuel on board. Often short and intense programs that support startups grow fast. 25fifteen, Slingshot and Lightning Labs are some of the well-known accelerators in Australia and New Zealand.[/one_half_last]


To oversimplify:

You put a seed in the soil and nurture it. This is incubation.

You already have a flower or a little tree, and you try to make it stronger, bigger. This is acceleration.

Another important difference between incubators and accelerators is also their legal status. Incubators are in general non-profit organizations, while most accelerators are for-profit organizations designed to bring a return on investment for their sponsors by providing fast-test validation of business ideas.

So, how can entrepreneurs choose whether or not to join an incubator or an accelerator, and which one meets their needs best?

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Startups go roughly through three stages:

  1. Customer understanding stage
  2. Product development, validation stage
  3. Raising funds stage

The best place to start is to look at what stage your business is in the business cycle. If you are at a stage whereby you need help to get your business off the ground and get momentum going, yet want to retain control of your business, then an incubator programme is likely to be the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you are preparing for growth; particularly rapid growth or scaling, then an accelerator programme is more likely to fit your startup business. This usually happens when your startup reaches the funding stage.

After choosing to pursue one of these programs, you need to decide whether you’ll benefit more from the quick growth offered by an accelerator or the unstructured progress of an incubator.

In the end, only you and your team know what’s best for the future of your startup.

A fork in a footpath in the middle of a forest

Photo by Jens Lelie on Unsplash.

These are the tough questions you have to ask yourself in order for your startup to succeed; those answers and the decisions you make can either kill your business or make it. So choose wisely and question carefully.

To Incubate, or to Accelerate: That indeed is the question.

WeWork is acquiring Meetup, a collaboration for community sake
To Incubate, or to Accelerate: That is the question.
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WeWork is acquiring Meetup, a collaboration for community sake