Whats the difference between an Incubator and Accelerator?
In the world of start up there are two types of set up you are likely to come across. The first as an Incubator, and second an Accelerator. While some people use these words interchangeably, and sometimes confuse them, the two are very different both in the type of company to be found within, and in how they operator.
As its name implies an incubator is actually to do with taking a business in its earliest form and nurturing it. These companies can often be in the very earliest stages of planning, sometimes without a clear product roadmap or strategy. Incubators provide guidance, contacts and networks to help the founding members of a company find their way through the early days. During this time a company is very vulnerable, so an incubator helps to reduce the risk by providing some early stage funding, often referred to as Seed funding. An example of an incubator is Y Combinator.
While in an Incubator a company can literally disappear overnight, or pivot, which is the act of changing your business idea.
An Accelerator is often the stage a company proceeds to after an incubator. Companies in Accelerators will usually have a clear idea of their product or service. Most importantly they will have developed a process to sell or market their product, something which is repeatable and (very importantly!) scalable. Accelerators are literally about accelerating a company to escape velocity or tipping point, the stage at which the company's future is more secure.
Companies in an accelerator will usually have several employees.