Which Incubator or Accelerator to Choose for Your Startup?

For the entrepreneur who has just set up his startup, joining an accelerator or an incubator is often perceived as a necessary step, whether to find a place to work or to benefit from sound advice and support. However, the choice of one or the other structure is not insignificant and must be carefully considered.

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Incubators and accelerators, what are the differences?

As surprising as it may seem, defining and characterizing an incubator and an accelerator is not always easy – and moreover, there is not, strictly speaking, a uniform definition. Overall, an incubator will designate a public or private structure involved in business creation and which generally accompanies the entrepreneur on his reflection around his project, the writing of first basis points, and meetings with early adopters.

Also, an incubator provides a place for startups to work alongside other entrepreneurs. Accelerators are private organizations that will become more involved in the business aspects of start-ups by validating the value proposition, supporting the preparation of growth phases and large-scale fundraising.

Questions to ask yourself before joining an incubator

Joining an incubator may already be enough for many entrepreneurs who want to work in a place that exudes entrepreneurial dynamics and allows the sharing of good practices. Not all entrepreneurs need support to start their businesses.

Going through an incubator is not inevitable! The first question is whether you need and want such support.

Questions to ask yourself before joining an incubator:

  • What do I really need to start my business?
  • How long have I planned before signing a 1st client?
  • Is this incubator well placed (in terms of location in relation to your potential customers)?
  • How much does it cost me? Can it help me find money for my launch? Or even better, does it give me access to financing solutions?
  • Who are the mentors?

It is important to make your own mistakes to learn and progress. The advantage of an incubator is to know how to warn you when you are facing a wall and to turn on the headlights before it is too late.

Questions to ask yourself before joining an accelerator

Why call yourself an accelerator if the structure does not have an employee dedicated to operational support for start-ups (6 start-ups maximum per guide)? Acceleration requires fairly strong operational support for a limited period (2 to 18 months).

If the accelerator is simply there to make connections, know that it has little or no value. For this, there are Facebook and LinkedIn, which work and are cheaper!

Questions to ask yourself before joining an accelerator:

  • Do they have experience accelerating startups? Do not hesitate to ask for references… and to contact them.
  • What are the specialties of this accelerator (B2B, B2C, software, hardware, etc.)?
  • What are the accelerator’s commitments?
  • Will they connect me with prospects?
  • How do they fund this support? A good “free” accelerator is almost impossible.
  • Am I ready to open my capital to them?
  • Who are the mentors?

Therefore, confirming whether your expectations as an entrepreneur align with the offer proposed by the incubator/accelerator you are discussing is essential. You have to contact the startups that have gone through these support structures. There’s nothing better than a chat at the end of the day to get “real” feedback.

Moreover, sometimes the main benefit will be found in the quality of the interactions with the other accelerator startups more than in the support.

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