Learn how to choose the right startup incubator for your business, what are the pros and cons of joining one, and how to compare the top incubators

How to Choose the Right Startup Incubator for Your Business

Key Takeaways:

  • Joining an incubator can provide various benefits and resources to early-stage startups, but it also comes with some drawbacks and challenges.
  • Not all incubators are the same, and some might be a better fit for your startup than others, depending on your industry, stage, vision, or culture.
  • You should do some research and ask yourself some questions before applying to an incubator, and compare some of the most popular ones in the world.

If you have a great idea for a startup, but need some help to turn it into a reality, you might be considering joining an incubator. An incubator is a program that provides support, mentorship, and resources to early-stage startups, usually in exchange for some equity. But not all incubators are created equal, and joining one can have both pros and cons. Here are some key points to consider before applying to an incubator.

What are the benefits of joining an incubator?

  • You can get access to a network of experienced mentors, investors, and peers who can offer valuable advice, feedback, and connections.
  • You can get exposure to potential customers, partners, and media through events, demos, and showcases.
  • You can get access to office space, equipment, software, and other resources that can save you time and money.
  • You can get training and education on various aspects of running a startup, such as product development, marketing, fundraising, legal, and accounting.
  • You can get motivated and inspired by working in a collaborative and competitive environment with other ambitious entrepreneurs.

What are the drawbacks of joining an incubator?

  • You have to give up some equity in your company, which means you will have less control and ownership in the future.
  • You have to follow the rules and schedule of the incubator, which might not suit your style or pace of work.
  • You have to relocate or commute to the location of the incubator, which might be inconvenient or costly.
  • You have to deal with potential distractions, conflicts, or competition from other startups in the same program.
  • You have to face high expectations and pressure from the incubator and its stakeholders, which might cause stress or burnout.

How to choose the right incubator for your startup?

Not all incubators are the same. Some are more selective, more prestigious, more specialized, or more generous than others. Some might be a better fit for your industry, stage, vision, or culture. To find the right incubator for your startup, you should do some research and ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the goals and values of the incubator? Do they align with yours?
  • What are the criteria and process for applying and getting accepted? How competitive is it?
  • What are the terms and conditions of the program? How much equity do they take? How long is the program? What are the expectations and obligations?
  • What are the benefits and resources that they offer? How relevant and useful are they for your startup?
  • Who are the mentors, investors, partners, and alumni that they have? How accessible and helpful are they?
  • What are the success stories and testimonials of previous startups that joined the program? How satisfied were they?
Examples of success and failure, even using an incubator:
  • Airbnb: Airbnb is a successful startup that came out of Y Combinator, a prestigious incubator in Silicon Valley. Airbnb is an online platform that allows people to rent out their homes or rooms to travelers. Y Combinator helped Airbnb refine its business model, improve its website, and launch a viral marketing campaign . Today, Airbnb is valued at over $100 billion and operates in more than 220 countries.
  • Homejoy: Homejoy was a Y Combinator startup that offered on-demand home cleaning services. It raised over $40 million from investors, but shut down in 2015 due to customer churn, low margins, regulatory issues, and lawsuits from cleaners.


Joining an incubator can be a great way to accelerate your startup’s growth and success. But it also comes with some trade-offs and challenges. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully and do your homework before applying to one. If you want to learn more about some of the most popular incubators in the world, such as Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Techstars, or Surgehead, you can check out their websites or read some articles that compare them. 

We are startup and small business focused consulting firm. If you don't want to break the bank and avoid becoming a startup statistic, connect with us now!

Good luck with your startup journey!

MD-Konsult: We're not your average consultants. We're the cool kids who know the secret sauce to startup success (it's not ramen noodles, but it might involve pizza) - Let's connect!