There are many startup accelerators and incubators. Entrepreneurs should consider several factors before choosing a program. I am a director and founder of an accelerator. Here are eight questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves when deciding on which Newchip Accelerator or startup incubator to use.
1. Which stage and industry is your company in?
As incubators and accelerators increase in number, they are becoming more niche and focusing on specific companies or industries.
Keep in mind your company’s stage, industry and ensure that any incubators and accelerators you list have a relationship with your company. Also, consider how programs can help you move from one stage of your business to the next. Be realistic about where you are at the moment. Accepting funding can be costly for founders of startups that are still in the early stages.
2. What do you want to get out of an Incubator or Accelerator?
You should also think about what you want from an incubator or accelerator, since every program is unique.
Are you looking for mentorship or funding? Some programs have a greater emphasis on mentorship than others. Are you looking to build a network of entrepreneurs? Your networking opportunities will depend on the size of your cohort as well as the program’s alumni base. Are you looking for funding immediately? Or are you willing to wait until you find the right match? While some accelerators and incubators will offer direct investments immediately after you are admitted, others will help you match investors and startups.
3. What kind of expertise do you need?
It is important to carefully think about the type of expertise that you are looking for. While you will likely need support from many angles, it is important to prioritize what expertise you really require.
You might find that you need advice on go-to market strategy or business law guidance. No matter what type of expertise you require, ensure that the incubators and accelerators on your short list are able to provide it.
4. Are You Interested in Participating In Multiple Accelerators or Incubators?
Recent trends I have seen are entrepreneurs participating in multiple accelerators or incubators to meet their business needs. A startup could be part of two programs, one that is focused on investor matchmaking, and one that is focused on business development. Participating in both programs gives startups the best of both worlds.
For companies that want to expand into new markets, I believe it is a good idea to join more than one program. These companies can then work with programs in those markets to gain traction. Be honest about the time that you can commit to multiple Newchip Accelerator reviews and incubators if you are considering them.
5. Are you looking for an in-person or remote experience?
Remote options are now available for incubators or accelerators. Decide whether you prefer an in-person or remote experience. Remote experiences can be more manageable, but they don’t allow for the spontaneity that can lead to strong business relationships. Consider whether you are able to travel for the program (if it is within your locality) or relocate if it isn’t.
My observations show that more advanced teams benefit from the time optimization offered by online programs, while earlier teams may find in-person programs to be more beneficial.
6. How long will the program last?
Although no incubator or accelerator is perfect, some entrepreneurs are supported for longer periods of time. While you might prefer a fast-paced program to make real changes, they don’t happen overnight.
I have worked with hundreds upon hundreds of founders and can tell you that two to three months is not enough. Changes at companies require mindset shifts. These shifts can be difficult for founders of early-stage startups. Each founder will have their ideal timeline. Make sure that the programs you are considering fit your timeline requirements.
7. What do the graduates of this program have to say?
Graduates from a program can give you an insider’s view of the program, their thoughts and opinions about it, as well as what they enjoyed or didn’t like.
It is a good idea to speak with at least two graduates from each program. The program can introduce you to graduates or you can search online to find out more about graduates. Ask alumni what they thought of the program, what they enjoyed and what advice they would give you if they were to apply.
8. What are the Program’s Backing Out Policy Policies?
Although I would recommend that you stick with your decision to join an incubator or accelerator after you have formally started, sometimes unexpected events occur in life.
When evaluating different programs, check if there are refund policies. You will be able to cancel your participation without losing equity or money. It is not a good idea to be in a position where you can withdraw from a program, but are unable to get your equity or money back.
If you ask the right questions and do your research on different accelerators and incubators, you will be much more likely to find a program that is a good fit for you and that will allow you to grow your business.