How to choose: Business Accelerator or Business Incubator?

In a world of business strategy, marketing plans and so many different approaches for success, it can be difficult to decipher what information is edifying and what’s just unnecessary. One of the most challenging misunderstandings to clarify is the purpose between business incubators and business accelerators.

To understand their differences, though, it’s crucial to find their similarities.

Both prepare companies for growth through guidance, mentorship and support, but they have slightly different approaches to this goal. Accelerators "accelerate" – to oversimplify – the growth of an existing company. Accelerators focus on scaling a business to a greater stature. In contrast, incubators develop fresh ideas with the hope of building a business model and company from an original path.



One of the big differences between accelerators and incubators is in how the individual programs are structured. Accelerator programs usually have a set timeframe in which individual companies spend anywhere from a few weeks to a few months working with a group of mentors to build out their business and test-run problems or situations that may stunt their growth. Accelerators start with an application process, but the top programs are typically very selective.

Accelerators make small investments in companies and give them access to a network of other professionals in exchange for a percentage of equity. The mentor network, typically composed of startup executives, experts in the field and outside investors, is often the biggest value for prospective companies.



Startup incubators begin with companies that are still closer to the beginning stages of establishing rather than trying to propagate. For the most part, these businesses do not operate on a set schedule, and while independent incubators exist, they can also be sponsored or run by venture capital firms, government entities and major corporations.

Some incubators have an application process, but others only work with companies and ideas that they come in contact with through trusted partners. A typical incubator has shared space in a coworking environment, a month-to-month lease program and some connection to the local community. 

Coworking and community are two major big components of the incubator experience. In these features, the incubator differentiates its main accommodations from those of an accelerator.

Choosing whether to pursue the mentorship of an accelerator or incubator is an extensive decision. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to match the best fit for your company and community. SpringBoard is an incubator in Bellefonte that offers the professional atmosphere and support network of which so many startups are in search.

SpringBoard includes amenities like professional office space, high-speed Internet, a conference room and access to professional networks and entrepreneurs. Priced affordably for startups and entrepreneurs, this work environment is built to accomplish goals in a cost-efficient and community-oriented manner.

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Author: Alexandria Mansfield, Hello Social Co.