Part 2: Business Incubators Vs. Business Accelerators? Which One Is Best For You?

Last month we rolled out Part 1 of our business series focused on the pros and cons of Business Incubators  which was filled with great insight on how entrepreneurs can use these programs. This month, we bring to you the alternative, Business Accelerators with the goal of getting you all to use this information as tools for your success.

Incubator vs. Accelerator: this conundrum is one that many entrepreneurs face fretfully due to their similarities. It can be difficult to discern the differences and values of the two. To help provide some insight and help entrepreneurs make informed decisions, The Culture Bazaar Group has put together some tips and resources to help globally-focused entrepreneurs make the correct decision for their business

But first, let’s take it back to the basics, starting with the meaning of the root word:

question mark signs painted on a asphalt road surface
question mark signs painted on a asphalt road surface

According to the Merriam-Webster English dictionary to accelerate as meaning the following:

  1. (a) to cause to move faster (acceleratedhis steps); (b) to cause to undergo acceleration
  2. (a) to hasten the progress or development of (accelerateour efforts); (bincrease (accelerate food production)

This definitions help to point out the key nuance between the two program types, time and space. Business incubators cater to businesses in the hatchling stage and provide services in a particular space filled with the necessities for growth for an extended period of time. More vividly, an incubator is to a startup what a mothering chicken would be to an egg.

Accelerators conversely are designed to help push businesses/business ideas that have already been cultivated (or incubated) to the next level. As hinted in the definition, individuals participate in accelerator programs for shorter (or accelerated) periods of time. The key purpose of accelerators is access to capital.

Business Incubators vs. Business Accelerators? Which one is best for you?

Business Accelerators

  1. What is it? Business Accelerators are programs designed to help speed up a company’s development and provide a central place for existing companies to access venture capital. Unlike incubators, companies participating in accelerator programs typically have a developed business idea, and in some cases may be a functioning company looking for an extra push.
  2. What services can I expect as part of the program? The main attraction to business accelerators is the capital component. Most accelerator programs promise capital, typically in the form of equity investments, from donors, e.g. venture capitalists associated with the organization. Like incubators though, accelerator programs do also provide entrepreneurs with mentorship, business education, and networking opportunities, as well as working space.
  3. How long would I participate in the program? Application and entry into accelerators typically occur in batches, with accepted members starting and then graduating together typically after three to four months participation.

The Accelerator Guide

For the Tastemaker

  1. Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator at the Pratt Institute

From the Site: The BF+DA is a new initiative launched by Pratt Institute that provides designers with the resources they need to transform their ideas into successful businesses. With over $2,000,000 in initial funding pledged by Pratt Institute, the State of New York, New York City, and the borough of Brooklyn, the BF+DA brings high-potential fashion designers, industrial designers and technologists together under one roof. Located between Bed-Stuy and South Williamsburg, the BF+DA provides over 21,000 square feet of 21st century production and work space where NYC designers/makers grow their start-ups into viable businesses, integrating local manufacturing and an ethical supply chain into their bottom line.

Processed with VSCOcam
Processed with VSCOcam

The BF+DA is a hub for ethical fashion and design. The BF+DA provides its Venture Fellows and Members access to on-site business mentorship, small-run apparel production, no minimum knitting services, digital fabrication services, showroom space and retail sites. The BF+DA offers sustainable strategies consulting, materials sourcing and links to existing NYC manufacturers. The BF+DA Research Fellows explore production, materiality and wearable technology, connecting technology to a 21st century vision that seeks to redefine the fashion industry. The BF+DA provides educational programs and hosts inspiring and provocative events. The BF+DA coordinates sponsored industry projects and strategic partnerships that will ensure the success of our vision.

  1. Factory 45

From the Site: The program is six months, consisting of three two-month modules. Each module focuses on a different part of the process from sourcing & manufacturing, to branding & marketing, to eventually going to market with a Kickstarter campaign. Through weekly group calls, bi-monthly one-on-one calls, mentorship, expert interviews and an entrepreneurial community, Factory45 supports the entire process of starting a business for designer entrepreneurs. The ideal applicant is a designer or maker with an idea for a consumer goods product. Maybe you have an idea for a baby blanket collection, or a versatile dress, or small-batch women’s apparel. You might only have an idea right now or maybe you’ve already made some traction with an Etsy store and want to scale production. If you need support setting up your supply chain, building an audience and brand presence, and creating a Kickstarter campaign, then you’re the perfect applicant.

For the Artist

  1. The Design Accelerator Pasadena

From the Site: We pull a large number of the earliest-stage entrepreneurs from the region; work closely with each of these entrepreneurs over an extended period, focusing on customer discovery and concept validation; and, invest in a select few. By employing a focused and disciplined approach we can maximize the possibility of successfully leveraging the pre-existing investments in intellectual property.  The Design Accelerator is a farmer as much as an investor; we grow great companies. Success for The Design Accelerator is defined as funded companies (follow-on to our investment). By making investment decisions based on a long pre-investment period, we’re able to see the entrepreneurs in action long before we put significant
capital at risk.

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For the Connoisseur

  1. Food – X

From the Site: Food-X is the #1 Food Innovation Accelerator in the World. We help food entrepreneurs to bring their products and services to market at super speed.


Food-X partners with early stage companies from across the food supply chain, from agriculture through consumer packaged goods, and helps these companies grow fast through:

  • Startup Capital:$20K at acceptance; $30K CLN at successful completion
  • Mentorship:Access and workshops with food industry thought and business leaders
  • Network:Access to a world class network of leading food companies, investors and press
  • Curriculum:based on years of learnings from SOSV’s accelerators & experts
  • Co-working Space:Collaborative co-working with likeminded food entrepreneurs
  • Alumni Network:A powerful alumni network of over 1000 SOSV startup founders

For the Social Entrepreneur

  1. Fast Forward

From the Site: Technology has the power and reach to be a force for good. Fast Forward unlocks the power of the tech community to tackle social issues. From poverty, to education access, to improving health, to environmental degradation—technology can impact lives at scale unmatched in human history. But there’s a gap in support for tech nonprofits who, in the early stages, need to build their product and prove their model. We look for product­-driven nonprofits that leverage open source software, always connected mobile devices, open APIs, and inexpensive variable cost web infrastructure to solve education, environmental, health, and human rights issues. Fast Forward then provides financial and human capital to help scale these technology solutions and maximize impact.

The organization is supported by financial services firm Black Rock and Google

For the Global Entrepreneur

  1. Global Accelerator Network

From the Site: The Global Accelerator Network exists to help seed-stage accelerators around the world maximize their potential. Are you a managing director who wants to take your accelerator to the next level? A startup founder who wants to join a great accelerator? Or an investor interested in vetted, hand-selected companies? You came to the right place.



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