Accelerators and incubators – Quick 101

Starting up can be a very gruelling journey and having a support system in place can greatly increase odds of success. Institutions such as startup accelerators and incubators are environments that are conducive to startup growth. The March edition of Startup Saturday saw a panel with an interesting mix of speakers. Rahul Gupta from India’s leading tech accelerator TLabs, Aakarsh Naidu from IIMB’s academic incubator NSRCEL, Madhurima Agarwal from corporate business accelerator Kyron, and  Nikesh GareraEventsHigh (Axilor) were part of the panel that was moderated by Headstart Bangalore City Lead Atish Udayashankar.

As a quick 101, the speakers drew different analogies to paint the description of what the difference between a startup accelerator and incubator is, since most people don’t know the difference between the two. Startup incubators are for idea stage startups that have no traction while startup accelerators serve as launchpads for startups to scale.

The discussion proceeded to debating the right time to join an accelerator/incubator. The response was unanimous: There is no thumb rule and it’s completely subjective. Kyron, for example, is a corporate accelerator and would be an excellent choice for B2B startups looking to sell to Fortune 500 companies. Kyron provides business mentors and product mentors. Business mentors tend to be from corporate customers while product mentors tend to be from the startup ecosystem.

The brand and credibility that an accelerator offers can matter in some cases. However, in most cases, it’s the powerful combination of strategy, mentorship and a network that takes a startup far. In the case of EventsHigh, at the time of their joining Axilor (An accelerator mainly for B2B startups), their user base mainly comprised consumers and it made a whole lot of sense for them to join Axilor to get businesses on their platform. “We had 3 lakh monthly active users when we joined Axilor and made it directly to the Early Stage Fund wing of Axilor. Today, we have around 1 million MAUs”, recounts Nikesh. A combination of complementary strengths can often prove extremely effective.

Parallel learning is also a huge plus in accelerators and incubators. This is one of the reasons why cohorts are preferred over a free-rolling entry. The confluence of talent and ideas fuels serendipity and a lot of synergy is observed. Powerful things happen when like minded people share experiences and connect. In the case of idea stage entrants, incubators can also help with figuring out the type of incorporation, their business model canvas, go to market strategy and more.

All the speakers stressed emphatically on the power of hustling. “People are willing to stalk the hell out of their Tinder matches on Google, but are super-lazy when it comes to doing some self-directed research”, quips Rahul. EventsHigh participated in close to 16 competitions as it was a way to get a lot of valuable feedback (And goodies like AWS Credits!) Knowing what advice to filter is also an important thing to keep in mind.

Pumped up about starting up? Can’t decide if you should? Don’t hurt yourself by sitting on the fence, join a startup and find out for yourself! We’re having a fresh edition of our hiring initiative pretty soon. Drop a mail to for more.