Startup Programs: Should I Incubate or Accelerate?

When first starting out, many entrepreneurs ask themselves whether being part of an incubator or accelerator program would be good for their business.  But what exactly are they and what's the difference?  Accelerators are meant to be fast and furious, 3-6 month programs to help you get your business up and running in short space of time.  They will take a small bit of equity in return for small investment and mentorship.  Incubators, on the other hand, involve a longer term involvement, where the company receives ongoing support and mentorship on-site, for a larger piece of the company.   Here in Oxfordshire, the VIEW program offered by the Said Business School is a smaller example of an accelerator, while the Oxford University Innovation Startup Incubator is well, an incubator.

Is an accelerator or incubator right for your venture?  Depends on how you are doing and what you want to get out of it. If you have a nice business, that is progressing steadily, you may not need to get involved in these programs.  However, they are also good for fine-tuning, and fast-tracking ideas.  Working in a collaborative environment is very good for idea generation, and working through problems.  They are also good for getting business going quickly, and often for finding funding a lot easier (the selection process to be accepted into one of these programs is quite tight).

Take a look at the UK accelerators list to see if you would like to apply.