Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What’s the Difference Between a Business Incubator and a Business Accelerator?

The terms “business incubator” and “business accelerator” are often used synonymously, but the two entrepreneur initiatives are extremely different.  So what distinguishes one from the other?  How do you choose which option is right for you and your business venture?  And where can you find the right incubator or accelerator for you? 

As their names suggest, the key difference between an incubator and an accelerator is the timeline and discipline on which they operate.  Business incubators provide new companies with a nurturing environment where they can grow at their own pace.  Companies are allowed to stay within the incubator for an extended period of time until they get too big or eventually fail.  According to the National Business Incubation Association, the average incubated company spends 33 months inside an incubator.  By incorporating entrepreneurial insight and guidance, incubators save entrepreneurs a lot of valuable time and money.

On the other hand, accelerators operate more like an entrepreneurial bootcamp.  Business accelerator programs are short and intense.  The goal of an accelerator is to take a business idea and launch a company at an accelerated speed.  Business accelerator programs have become very popular among emerging technology companies.  Accelerator speed is especially attractive to companies creating mobile apps, cloud based software, and tech-based applications because a business accelerator’s speed is complimentary to the pace of web.   

Think Big Partners has taken the best parts of each and combined them by providing business incubator services at a business accelerator speed.  Specializing in tech-oriented companies, TBP combines incubation and acceleration initiatives in order to offer “fast test” validation of ideas and stellar support services to small businesses including marketing, consulting, legal, web, copywriting, and PR.  Through their Launch and Learn events the business aims to help tech startups and entrepreneurs launch stronger, faster.  Think Big Partners will also hosts Entrepreneur Bootcamps for Kansas City startup businesses, which attributes to the fast pace of business and startup accelerators around the globe. 

Think Big Partners operates within bizperc, a flexible coworking space dedicated to entrepreneurs.  The space is set up to provide both an open and collaborative environment conducive for companies preparing to launch and an executive office space for those companies who are already launched and running.  Whether tenants want to utilize the incubator services from Think Big Partners within the coworking space or simply use bizperc as a collaborative environment is entirely up to them. 

If you are debating between a business incubator, an accelerator or a combination of the two, there are a few important things to look out for when choosing the proper work environment for you, your idea and your business. 

Do you need mentoring and support services?
You may be an expert in your industry market or niche, but very few entrepreneurs can claim expertise in everything involved with starting a business.  Look for expert mentors with a proven track record and an environment with readily available legal, financial and technical services.  Know your strengths and weaknesses and choose a place that can supplement areas that you may be uncomfortable with such as social media or marketing.  Business incubators provide more long-term services in comparison to business accelerators.  If your business is looking for services that they can stick to for a longer period of time, an incubator may be the right choice.   

Will the space be compatible with your startup?
Look for a place that can meet the growing needs of your company.  The space should enhance your company’s professional image and contribute to its productivity.  Unlimited free coffee is always a plus!  But most importantly ask yourself, “Does the synergy of the space mesh with your company culture?”

What speed are you looking for?
Do you want to launch right away or do you have more time to invest when starting up your business?  This is the main factor when it comes to deciding between an incubator and an accelerator: how fast do you want and need to move?  If you are a tech company, your answer is most likely fast!  An accelerator is a good choice for those companies and startups that are looking to launch in the tech industry. 

Rejoice, entrepreneurs.  The time for business incubator and startup accelerators is here!  Whatever path you chose to take in your entrepreneurial career, we encourage you to remember one thing: both accelerators and incubators have the potential to benefit you and your startup greatly.  Choose wisely and Think Big! 

Written by Laura Goede

No comments:

Post a Comment