The difference between a start-up incubator and an accelerator
December 1, 2020

The elementary school experience of hatching chicken eggs is always a toss-up. Hopefully, you end up with some healthy chicks, instead of a bunch of eggs that never hatch. (It’s not a good time seeing a group of disappointed kids). When the experiment begins, the eggs are placed in an incubator. The incubator keeps the eggs at the correct temperature and humidity so they can hatch. It gives the eggs the time and environment needed to grow.

Now, let’s change the pace and think about a car accelerator. We know why cars have them: so they can speed up and help us get to our destination faster. The car is already built and ready to go; the accelerator gives it that push to get moving.

But let’s think about it from a start-up perspective. A start-up incubator helps an idea become a reality. Incubators give companies access to a physical space to work in. Incubators can work with their clients from anywhere between one to five years. It allows more time for the idea to grow. It’s more about learning and getting started than getting out on the market immediately.

UNeTech is an incubator, giving more accessibility to research new technology. With the help of that research, the ideas can become a tangible product.

David Arnold, who used to run a start-up accelerator called Straight Shot, shared some of his expertise on the subject. “It’s more about the network and just absorbing advice and doing so around like-minded people and companies.”

Start-up accelerators work with already existing companies to help give them the final push. It’s fast paced, typically three to six months. Most accelerators are funded by sponsors, investors and partners from the community, while incubators tend to be nonprofits funded by grants.

“An accelerator is more stage-based. They try to get companies at a certain stage where they’re ready to grow and try to accelerate that development and growth,” Arnold said. “Similar ingredients, different recipe.”

Both are great ways for companies to get their start. It really just comes down to what is best for the company. An incubator tends to be more accessible, since it’s not time sensitive. An accelerator gives you that extra push and boost of specific mentorship to get on the market.

The path a company decides to take just comes down to what phase it’s in. Maybe it’s an egg that needs the environment of an incubator to take it’s time and grow. Maybe it’s a car that just needs an accelerator for the final push. No matter the situation, there’s an option that will allow it to thrive.



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