Incubators vs. Accelerators… What the heck is the difference?

Incubators vs. Accelerators… What the heck is the difference?

With increasing ambiguity and difficulty in understanding the difference between incubators and accelerators, we wanted to clarify the differing definitions, and tell you how we define them.

The lines that divide incubators and accelerators are highly blurred. Do a quick Google search of ?incubators vs. accelerators? and you?ll get over 350,000 results and little consensus over what it means to be one of these two establishments.

Some people say that incubators are for startups, and accelerators are for scale-ups; others say that incubators are long-term programs, while accelerators are for a limited period; others even differentiate between the two by saying incubators are supposed to be non-profit and publicly funded, while accelerators are instruments used to invest in early-stage start-ups. This ambiguity causes issues for many entrepreneurs. Here are the main issues that feed the incubator vs. accelerator debates :

Based on Project Maturity

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There are those who differentiate incubators and accelerators based on the project?s maturity. Incubators are seen as aimed towards startups, while accelerators are seen as aimed at scale-ups. While both options provide guidance and mentorship, the stage of the product alters the focus of that guidance.

Incubators are meant to nurture startups through the beginning phases of their project. They provide mentorship that allows these start-ups to perform customer discovery, to prototype and develop their product, and to plan out their business. It is really in incubators where businesses set the foundations for their ventures.

Incubators help entrepreneurs discover and strengthen their Minimum Viable Product. Accelerators, on the other hand, focus their guidance towards scale-ups, which are ventures that have already developed a prototype, done project development, planned out their business, and completed customer discovery. These ventures have a strong foundation and are looking for greater business traction as well as seed investment.

Accelerators provide tailored mentorship that helps these ventures grow. Both of these entities can provide entrepreneurs with coworking spaces, legal advice, and connections, but what differentiates them is the stage of the ventures they accept.

Based on Duration of Services

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Others differentiate between incubators and accelerators based on the duration of the program. Those who use this differentiation believe that incubators tend to be long-term projects, while accelerators are bounded by time. Incubators work based on the entrepreneurs? need and have no time limit to the duration of the incubation services provided. Entrepreneurs can be incubated for as long as they think is necessary.

Accelerators, on the other hand, are bound by time. This means that accelerators tend to take entrepreneurs in cohorts and provide intensive training for a limited period of time (3?6 months typically). Accelerators are meant to give entrepreneurs the extra boost needed to successfully launch their venture.

Based on the Business Model

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These definitions of incubator and accelerator are less typically seen; however, they are still referenced by some as the true distinction between incubators and accelerators. Those who make this distinction believe that incubators should be nonprofit, and should not take equity. Incubators should be publicly funded with the aim of boosting local businesses. Accelerators, on the other hand, take equity in the companies that they accelerate. They are also instruments for entrepreneurs to find investments for their start-ups.

At Bridge for Billions we believe that the differentiation should be based on the project maturity. We believe that by focusing on the kind of ventures that they serve makes the difference between incubators and accelerators clear, and assure that entrepreneurs receive the guidance necessary.

Who are we? We?re an incubator. We provide our early-stage entrepreneurs with the tools to develop a strong business plan, with or without prior business knowledge, while connecting them with personal mentors who impart their knowledge and aid these entrepreneurs to succeed. We believe that no worthy idea should fail because of a lack of support, and our platform provides entrepreneurs with the necessary support to get their ideas off the ground.

Looking to join an incubator that allows you to connect online with industry professional mentors from all over the globe and get your ideas off the ground? Apply to our incubator for budding entrepreneurs at


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