Incubator and accelerator organizations have become an increasingly important part of the tech startup scene in recent years. If you are an upcoming startup then you need to reach out to one of these organizations for potential funding and mentorship.
A number of hot enterprises like Airbnb have emerged from these programs, encouraging more new entrepreneurs to apply for funding.
This article explores the differences between incubators and accelerators.
Incubators – They have existed for decades. Many online companies during the internet boom of late 1990’s were born at an incubation center. They are mostly funded by Government organizations as a part of overall economic development strategy. The organizations are focused on various industries like biotech, health care, retail etc. They take the idea and see how its founders can turn a startup into a viable business and see how it is going to be sustainable. Entrepreneurs can also get advice and guidance from professionals such as lawyers, marketing consultants and business advisers who are associated with the incubation center and act as mentors. Entrepreneurs typically stay in an incubation center for three to five years, although there is no maximum period. Some incubators take equity stake in companies.
Accelerators – Venture accelerators are more hands-on and intense, making use of a kind of boot camp approach to venture creation. They may take companies who come out of incubation and help them accelerate growth. They help you connect to Angel Investors and VCs, mentor the founders and work on building the revenue based model. As the name suggests they accelerate the launch of a product, service or a web based company. They are generally shortened into a three to four month program at the end of which the start-ups ‘graduate’. A startup will be mentored during this period before the demo day to pitch for funding.
If you’re interested in getting your start-up into an accelerator or incubator there’s no shortage of options in the region.
Oasis500 is an early stage seed investment company. This is a Jordan based company aiming to provide startups with investment, training and mentorship in an effort to accelerate the transformation of their business ideas.
Seeqnce – This Lebanese startup catalyst has a network of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, advisors, consultants, and partners. It adopts practices of seed-stage enablers like Y Combinator to ensure successful launch of startups.
SeedStartup – This is a UAE based startup accelerator + seed venture fund. Their focus is on digital media (web, mobile, software) startups. Entrepreneurs can apply for the program through the website. Successful applicants get mentorship, seed investment networking & introductions to sources of follow on funding.
Tenmou – This is Bahrain´s first Business Angels Company, which provides both mentorship and capital to high-potential, innovative Bahraini entrepreneurs from the seed stage.
Startup Weekend – An intense 54-hour event, this focuses on building a web or mobile application, which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. This has been organized in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Lebanon. There will be a startup weekend in Doha in November 2012.
I360HUB – They claim to be the first Innovation Accelerator of Middle East based in Dubai. To be launched in November 2012, it will be a 60-days innovation acceleration program, where participants will learn the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and innovation. They will also receive professional mentorship, guidance and seed funding.
Bedaya Centre – A Qatar based incubation center, it can help you establish a business. They help you with Business plan, Market Analysis, Operational Plan, Feasibility study, Costing/Projections etc. Post launching a start up Bedaya advisor will assist you in understanding your growth options, whether the company is expanding, franchising or if you eventually intend to sell the company
Tahrir Square - An Egyptian Incubation center that offers young entrepreneurs funding, mentor-ship and co-working area. Its co-founder, Mohammed Gawdat is heading Google emerging markets and businesses in Southern, Central and East Europe, Middle East and Africa.
First Misr is an Egyptian dedicated incubator helping startups by giving seed funding up to 65,000 EGP per company and extensive business consulting on issues like marketing, assessment of ideas and finances. First Misr does only support web and/or mobile-based startups that are mainly focusing on the Egyptian market.