By definition, the difference between a startup accelerator and an incubator is simple: accelerators work with startups that are already growing or validation according to the entrepreneur journey, and incubators help entrepreneurs in an early stage of ideation until the beginning of validation.
But it is much better to tell this story through an account of an entrepreneur who went through an incubator before accelerating.
THE FindMe is a startup that makes intelligent monitoring of private security teams in real time and passed the ITNC / IFRN (Natal Central Technology Incubator) before being selected for the first acceleration class of ACE Start, validation program for the Best Accelerator in Latin America .
Diogo Vinícius, FindMe's CEO, told a little about the differences between incubator and accelerator in the skin.
Well, let's go back to October 2014, when we started our incubation process. Just left with the 3rd place at Startup Weekend Natal, FindMe passed the ITNC selection process. In addition to the euphoria of this important achievement, the initial thinking of the entire team was that we had at least one good place with internet to work for the next 30 months. But it was more than that!
The incubation process was essential for FindMe. First because it happens at IFRN (Federal Institute of Technology of RN), that is, an academic and extremely inspiring environment, where we were able to have direct contact with teachers and students thirsty for knowledge and innovation.
Another very important factor was the daily contact with the entrepreneurs of other companies, who, like us, were starting the journeys of their respective startups.
In addition to all this, we had workshops in the financial, personal, technological and marketing areas, which helped a lot in the improvement of that, until then, idea. In addition to periodic visits by entrepreneurs who told us their cases, which served as learning and inspiration.
Anyway, it was not just a room with internet!
As the name says, as well as a baby incubator, who are not yet prepared for healthy living in real life, a startups incubator aims to better structure that initial idea, make it more robust, in addition to better preparing entrepreneurs to face the great challenge that lies ahead, the market.
But, we agreed from the first day that we entered that room that a 30-month process was a long time for our startup. And we were right. We received the graduation of the incubation process after 18 months of incubation.
There were many validations, visits to customers, pivotal, heated discussions until we found the business model and the product that was able to be marketed.
And here comes a new phase for our company. The acceleration.
We thought it was time to take bigger and faster steps. For that, we needed the support of experienced, qualified people who knew, better than us, how to grow quickly and, above all, sustainably. We decided to apply for the ACE acceleration process and we were accepted.
On 04/25/2016 the 7th acceleration class started and as the name says, the business is really accelerated. The first two weeks were very intense. A lot of content, a general shake-up in the company's vision and in the way the whole team sees the business.
In fact, a dedicated team is the first requirement assessed by ACE. Why are we the right guys to make our company a unicorn?
Another big change was in the day-to-day work. If before, the interaction was with teachers, students and beginning entrepreneurs, now, the interaction of 13 hours daily is with people from several different States with extremely innovative businesses, scalable and inserted in billionaire markets.
Another factor that has been very enriching is the interaction with the accelerated companies in the previous classes. Receiving feedback from these entrepreneurs who have already gone through this experience and now have their businesses in full growth is very inspiring.
But none of this has been as important to FindMe as ACE's mantra, “We are Growthaholics”.
It's amazing how guys are passionate about growth and how everything here is based on meritocracy, always based on numbers and results. This had to be learned very quickly, or else, we would not accompany the tram.
And that change in mindset was the biggest difference between incubation and acceleration.
There the main objective was to learn, mature and validate. It is not that here we do not continue to learn, mature and validate. This entire process must be continuous, regardless of the company's stage. However, add to all this a generous dash of charging for strategic planning, KPI's and sales.
Another very important point that I can highlight is the possibility for accelerated startups to get in direct contact with investors and executives from large national and international companies.
This becomes even more cool when Grupo Algar, one of the most innovative corporations in Brazil, with operations in several verticals, such as telecom, agribusiness, aviation, solar energy and security, operating in Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia, comes across actively participate in our acceleration process, in partnership with ACE, in the ACE Corp. program.
So far it has only been three months, which looks like 3 years. As I said earlier, business here is really accelerated.
Here are my sincere thanks to those who do ITNC, who fulfilled their role with us. It is also the responsibility to give our contribution to deliver a better ACE than we found, to the next acceleration classes.