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Incubator, Accelerator or Bootstrap: Which is best to Grow your Startup?

Wondering how best to launch and grow your start-up?

Launching a start-up is no less than launching a rocket ship because you have no idea how it will land. You don’t know whether the system you’ve built is going to fail or fly.

It’s impossible to start any business on your own without any direction. This is where programs like incubators and accelerators can really help you find your feet. These are the legit programs to help people prepare a strategic business plan and roadmap for success.

But what’s the difference between these programs? And should you consider joining one?

Let’s talk about them in detail.

Incubator programs: what are they?

Is your start-up in need of a kick-start to get going? Start-up incubators provide closed support means for start-up owners and entrepreneurs. They can help you rapidly launch your initiatives with the contribution of skilled mentors and consultants.

A start-up incubator refers to a joint association that helps new businesses to flourish. Incubators administer entrepreneurs by crushing some of the challenges of beginning any business. This could be providing you with capital, offering mentorship sessions, networking opportunities, and seed funding. A start-up incubator’s sole purpose is to help new business owners flourish in their business.

Start-up incubators are often non-profit organizations managed by both government and private institutions.

Incubators help start-ups to flourish, but how?

Here is the list of services Incubator organizations provide:

  • Help in understanding the basics of business
  • Provide an opportunity to network with different entrepreneurs
  • Assistance with accounting and finance
  • Provide accessibility to take loans and funds.
  • Assist you in building business and presentation skills
  • Provide essential higher education resources for your business
  • During the program, you can get involved with various strategic partners
  • Enable you to access venture capital or angel investors
  • A detailed program on business development
  • Interaction with multiple investors and advisory members
  • Gives you an in-depth understanding of all legal aspects of running a business

What are accelerator programs?

Accelorator programs help start-ups accelerate early by offering marketing strategy, guidance, and a space to work.

Now you might be wondering if these are the same things that an incubator does. How are accelerator programs different from start-up incubators?

Both start-up incubators and accelerators help businesses get started. But they are different in many ways.

Governments and universities mostly fund start-up incubators as they are independent organizations, whereas accelerators run on the funding of existing companies. 

The primary function of accelerators is to scale up the growth of your business; on the other hand, incubators focus more on innovative and disruptive ideas.

Since accelerators are privately owned and have a proper course and certification process to grow your business, there are high chances that your peers will show interest in your business and will often buy equity stakes and shares of your company.

Major industries that typically seek help from accelerator programs include; biotechnology, hardware, fintech, and IT. Start-up accelerators have gained popularity in Silicon Valley too. 

An accelerator in Silicon Valley named Plug and Play Tech Center has even aided big brands like Paypal, Google, and Zoosk to refine their business ideas.

Y Combinator was the first-ever independent start-up accelerator. It has helped brands like Dropbox, Techstars, Airbnb, and Reddit stand out in the market by transforming their business ideas into successfully running businesses.       

What about simply bootstrapping in your business?

Bootstrapping your start-up is when you don’t take any outside funds or venture capital to start your own business. Instead, you survive on your savings and the revenue you’ve generated from your business.

A bootstrapped business requires you to concentrate heavily on business ideas. Successful bootstrapped businesses have a business model that generates income rapidly. Without consistent cashflow, a bootstrapped business wouldn’t be able to gain traction. This is critical to know from the start.

So which strategy should you go for?

Whether you decide to bootstrap your business, join an incubator or accelerator program is entirely up to you.

There are pros and cons to all of them.

Incubators and accelerator programs allow you to network and meet investors to develop knowledge and skills to run a business.

If you have enough capital and savings and an understanding of running a business, there is no harm in bootstrapping your business. You will become your own boss, and in such a situation, you will be more creative in making decisions and generating revenue.

Take time to analyze your situation and choose the best way to move forward and grow your start-up!

Guest Author Bio: Emily is an Academic Researcher who specializes in working with other educators to find innovative and sustainable ways to transform learning. Her area of expertise includes online learning, academic research, assisting, and professional learning.

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