The entrepreneurship landscape has changed drastically over the last ten years. As a result, programs designed to take founders from ideation to successful startup are multiplying. Bootcamps, incubators, and accelerators are terms every entrepreneur should know; if these aren’t familiar to you yet, check out our glossary of common terms you’ll want to know. There can be a lot of confusion about which type of program to apply to, but you can determine this by evaluating your business knowledge and startup stage. So let’s take a look at what each type of program involves and how they can better prepare you for startup success.
Bootcamps are essential for people with little to no experience in entrepreneurship. Most people who apply to a Bootcamp start with an idea and end with a clear understanding of what starting a business requires. Many Bootcamps feature workshops, lectures, networking, mentorship, and access to limited resources for the would-be entrepreneur. Bootcamps are a great stepping stone for anyone who wants to learn more about the startup ecosystem and business basics like marketing, accounting, financing, and company formation. Bootcamp programs are also a common precursor to incubators.
Incubators are programs for founders to grow their startups. Incubators look for startups that can demonstrate traction or growth potential. Founders that are further along in their startup journey join incubators to research, test, validate, and pivot their business. Incubators also offer many resources like workshops, mentorship, coaching, networking, and seed funding. An incubator is where entrepreneurs start to move their business from ideation to a functioning startup. These programs are an excellent way to connect with other founders going through the same process as you. In addition, incubators often offer a space where a community of entrepreneurs helps to keep you grounded, accountable, and supported.
Accelerators are for startups further along in their development. The average accelerator runs for about 12 weeks and often requires the founder to be on location during that time. An accelerator program focuses on strategy, team, marketing, and preparing the venture for outside investment. Accelerator programs tend to accept startups that have already validated their product or service. These companies are often at a later stage and looking for an extra infusion of capital and resources. In exchange for their investment, resources, expertise, and network of investors, most accelerators will require a percentage of equity in the company up to 10%.
As you can see, there are so many opportunities available to entrepreneurs, no matter the stage of your startup. Bootcamps are meant for people who are brand new to entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem. Incubators are for founders forming their companies, growing their customer base, testing their product offerings, and pivoting. Accelerators are for entrepreneurs who are further along. These startups have demonstrated product market fit (read up on product market fit), demonstrated considerable traction, and are looking for capital investment and mentorship to scale and grow their businesses. Whichever category your startup falls into, we hope you find resources available to your specific startup’s needs. At Future Founders, we strive to break down barriers to entrepreneurship. We believe that every youth can become an entrepreneur. Be sure to apply to one of our zero equity programs, where you will find an invaluable amount of resources and support for your startup!
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