Incubator, accelerator, and coworking space are three common terms in the startup community. However, if you’ve ever felt you don’t really understand the difference between them, you’re not alone. The difference isn’t always clear. Because of this swirling confusion around definitions, it can be challenging to know which option offers your organization the best chance for success.
While the definition of “programmer” hasn’t changed significantly, many other terms can experience shifts in meaning over time.
A simple search reveals that many “experts” feel incubators are nothing more than office space in exchange for equity. Some Silicon Valley companies brand themselves as offering incubator, accelerator, and coworking space at the same time. Clearly, this is a case of some real vocabulary confusion.
Coworking spaces, accelerators and incubators are all vying for the attention of startups. Each option offers real advantages for a fledgling business, but it can seem impossible to decide which one is the right choice.
So, you may decide to stay in your home office or fork out for a traditional office space. These options also bring pros (and cons) to your startup. For example, the home office is free to use (but may not be the professional space your clients expect) and a traditional office will provide the facilities and space you need (while tying you into an expensive rental agreement).
But coworking spaces, accelerators and incubators offer viable alternatives. All three have seen a surge in popularity as startups crave the flexibility and opportunities each one offers.
Coworking spaces come in all shapes and sizes, with an estimated 14,000 spaces around the world. NYC-based The Farm Coworking defines the coworking ethos as: “a community of like-minded individuals who work together in the same space to collaborate and grow.”
A coworking space will give you a desk or a dedicated office that you can rent as and when you essential to. You don’t need to offer any equality in your business and you can rent more space as your startup grows.
Many coworking spaces also offer advice and mentorship to startups through dedicated services, events and networking sessions.
Accelerators and incubators are very like programs that will help you grow your business through mentorship and funding opportunities.
Incubators are for startups in the early phases of setting up. They focus more on mentorship, do not operate on a set schedule and are generally run by industry-specific companies and groups.
Simply joining an accelerator isn’t a guarantee your startup will succeed. Why? Well, we see it largely depends on the “depth” of the mentor network offered. Anyone can knock up to be a startup mentor, as there is simply no barrier to declaring yourself to be one. However, commercial experience and success, must combine with the ability to have empathy, direct and live the moment with the startup team. Entrepreneurs also need to make sure the mentoring community at a prospective incubator can offer specific domain expertise, not just general skills.