RUN & GO: Incubators & Accelerators

If you are interested in getting your start-up into an accelerator or incubator there is no shortage of options. But these terms sometimes get thrown around interchangeably. Here you can find the difference between the two.

An accelerator takes single-digit chunks of equity in externally developed ideas in return for small amounts of capital and mentorship. They are generally truncated into a three to four month program at the end of which the start-ups graduate

An incubator brings in an external management team to manage an idea that was developed internally. Those ideas can gestate for much longer periods of time and the incubator takes a much larger amount of equity, compared to accelerators. According to the National Business Incubator Association (NBIA), an incubator is “a business support process that accelerates the successful development of startup and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services. These services are usually developed or orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the business incubator and through its network of contacts.”

In short, these programs exist to help improve the odds of success for startups.

Those programs improve the odds of success by offering things like office space, professional services and business advice. Generally, businesses pay a small monthly fee to participate in the program. Those fees can range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

Incubators do not generally have a strict focus on the amount of time a business will spend in the program. For example, companies at the NYU Poly incubators generally spend 18 months in the program, but other incubators may have a longer time frame.

Thanks to the recent interest in incubators, programs are now offered for companies from all different industries, ranging from tech and retail to restaurants and media, among many others.

Find a list of incubators and accelerators in the United States.

INCUBATORS AND ACCELERATORS LIST (PDF)