What are Startup Incubators? How They’re Helping Your Startup to Succeed?

  • Aamir Qutub
  • | CEO of Beyond Grades
  • | Updated on April 1, 2024
Incubators 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Startup Founders

Every startup is like a new-born baby that comes up with a bright idea and wants it to blossom into a successful business. But most of the time, startups don’t have the right atmosphere to flourish especially at their budding stage.

So how can startups grow and thrive in this highly competitive market?

Do they have any support system that helps them grow and succeed?

Yes. Startups get the support and perfect environment to thrive provided by institutions called startup incubators.These days, startup incubators are the new buzzword in the world of startups.

In this blog, I’ll cover all aspects of startup incubators and their transformative impact, where ideas take flight and dreams become reality.

What are startup incubators?

Incubators are organizations that help startups kick-start developing their business ideas.

An incubator is specialized in helping early-stage startups by offering a set of services and resources that help budding entrepreneurs grow and create a place for themselves in the market.

The aim of startup incubators is to establish new companies and foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Incubators do so by providing the right atmosphere like access to office space, mentorship opportunities, business education classes, and community networking events. These incubators can be found in various forms including private, university, or governmental institutions.

The set of services and resources provided by startup incubators can be classified into three categories:


The incubators here assists entrepreneurs with

  • Business objectives,
  • Securing finances,
  • Measuring results and viability
  • Partners and investors
  • Preparing business plans
  • Conducting market research
  • Preparing marketing strategies, and much more.


Startup incubators provide a range of training programs to enhance entrepreneurial skills and business acumen which includes:

  • business planning
  • financial management
  • learning or improving technical skills
  • leadership
  • pitching
  • networking
  • legal compliance
  • personal development.

The aim is to well equip startups with knowledge and tools necessary for success in today’s competitive market.


The startup incubators offer workspace and resources so that business owners can grow their ventures.

Generating ideas is not a problem. Incubation is. Acceleration is.

Rita Gunther McGrath

History of startup incubator

It all began in the 1950s, when American economist Joseph Schumpeter first introduced the concept in his paper. He proposed that certain companies can be nurtured and supported with resources and mentorship to help them grow and ultimately succeed.

However, the modern concept was developed in the 1970s and 1980s with organizations like the Batavia Industrial Center and the International Business Innovation Association.

In the 1990s, during the era of the technological revolution, the internet and dot-com boomed, which encouraged incubators to go technology-focused. These tech-focused incubators gained access to expertise and funding.

With time, incubators diversified into various industries and niches, with co-working spaces and accelerators offering tailored support.

Today, these incubators are playing a significant role in fostering the early stages of a business venture.

Some incubators, like Y Combinator and TechStars, were started by successful entrepreneurs wishing to help the next generation learn from their experiences. Other programs, such as Viterbi Startup Garage and Austin Technology Incubator, were created by universities to help young entrepreneurs bridge the knowledge gap from student to funded company.

Jay Samit

How does a startup incubator work?

Startup incubators help in the very first stage of a startup’s life, called the “pre-seed” stage.

The operational process is divided into four phases:

How does a startup incubator work?


Incubators welcome inquiries from aspiring entrepreneurs who want to present and explain their business plans.
Subsequently, they carefully study and analyze the proposals before initiating collaboration with the entrepreneurs.


At this stage, the startup incubators meticulously study the business plan, formulating strategies based on the project type, its action plan, and the target audience.
The incubator in charge oversees this process and guides you to follow the outlined procedures tailored to meet their startup needs.


Incubation is the stage where incubators launch the project as per the defined business plan that they created in the pre-incubation stage.
Different departments are created, including, human resources and marketing, and the work is divided department-wise.
The experts from startup incubators keep track of the project development and provide all the required support to the entrepreneurs.


In this final stage, startup incubators examine and explore how the project has evolved as per the strategies that were created in the pre-incubation phase.
They study the business venture’s viability and its potential impact on customers and entrepreneurs in the future.
Additionally, they suggest changes to the business strategies, if necessary, based on these evaluations.

How does a startup incubator help?

A startup incubator helps startups in many ways at the early stages of their business, including providing resources, infrastructure, access to funding, guidance, and more.

How does a startup incubator help?

Resource and Infrastructure:

Incubators provide workspace, equipment, and facilities, thus helping startups avoid spending money on setting up their own office space.

Mentorship and Guidance:

With mentorship and guidance assistance, they provide valuable information and networking opportunities to help startups navigate challenges and make informed decisions.

Access to funding:

Incubators have links to investors and many funding sources. hence, it increases the chances of startups securing investments.

Business Development Support:

Startup incubators share their expertise in developing business plans, refining strategies, and providing guidance on how to connect with potential customers or partners.

Networking and Community:

Networking and community building are helpful for every startup. It gives them access to resources and opportunities for collaboration.

In fact, startups can also get valuable feedback and validation and might get the right visibility, support, credibility, and motivation, all of which are essential for startup success.

Training and Workshops:

Many incubators offer workshops and training programs to enhance entrepreneurs’ skills in finance, marketing and technology.

Now let’s understand how many kind of startup incubators are available:

Types of Incubators

Incubators are of various types, but they are primarily categorized into three main types.

University startup incubators.
Non-profit startup incubators.
Corporate startup incubators.

University startup incubators

Gone are the days when universities focused solely on issuing degree certificates. Today, universities empower aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them with the support they need to succeed.

University-based startup incubators (UBIs) are typically operated by universities or students and may be funded through donations or venture capital. Students aspiring to start their own businesses can approach UBIs for support.

These incubators may invest in student projects and offer the necessary assistance, mentorship, and access to technology, providing a secure environment for students to thrive.

One of the top academic incubators is Stanford University, UC Berkeley (Cal), and many more which help aspiring startup entrepreneurs with all the assistance they need to kick-start their businesses.

Non profit startup incubators

Not every startup aims to earn a profit; some aim to make a difference without focussing solely on money. Nonprofit startup incubators help these startups in a way similar to other incubators.

They provide programs and spaces and also use their networks, knowledge, and resources to give nonprofit startups everything they need to grow and succeed.

They offer resources like office space or technology, which can be a big help for nonprofit businesses as they often have to struggle to get these expensive tools.

The top nonprofit startup incubators are Ycombinator, Fastforward and many more.

Corporate startup incubators

Corporate incubators offer programs within a company that nurture and develop ideas.

They focus on early stage ideas, often aiming to create new businesses or products.

These incubators use the company’s resources to generate new revenue streams and encourage innovation within the organization.

This approach also helps employees feel more connected to the company’s larger goals.

One of the top corporate incubators is Google’s Area 120.

Now let’s move on to see how a few incubators helped startups reach greater heights.

Case Studies



Airbnb, in its initial days besides having a solid idea, and fair customer response at MVP stage , struggled to gain traction.


They reached out to Ycombinator. After the interview, they received all the mentorship and guidance from Ycombinator, which helped them refine their business model and scale globally.

About Y Combinator:

Ycombinator is one of the most well-known startup incubators and accelerators globally.

They have helped known companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe in their budding stages as startups.



Sphero was finding it hard to find the right market fit for its robotic ball product.

Also, at first, Sphero marketed itself as a gaming device, but it struggled to gain significant traction in the gaming market.

The solution:

Sphero decided to take help from Techstars.

Techstars helped Sphero pivot its strategy and reposition itself as an educational tool, which created many opportunities for Sphero in the education sector.

It also helped Sphero refine its product and marketing strategy, leading to significant growth and success.

About Techstars:

Techstars is both an incubator and an accelerator.

It helps startups with funding, mentorship, and resources to help them grow smoothly and quickly.

Techstars also offer co-working spaces and other support services.

Big Mamma


Big Mamma, a restaurant group, faced many challenges in the early stages of operation.

One of the main problems Big Mamma faced was that it was unable to expand its business despite maintaining the quality and authenticity of its offerings.

The Solution:

When Big Mamma took help from Station F, they offered support by providing resources such as office space and networking opportunities.

Their assistance helped the Big Mamma manage its growth and expanded its business without compromising the quality and authenticity.

About Station F:

Station F is one of the largest startup campuses in the world, located in Paris, and has been supporting many startups that are in their early stages of growth.

With all the discussion above, have you started to wonder whether you need a startup incubator or accelerator? Are they the same? Why does a startup accelerator exist?

What is the difference between a startup incubator and an accelerator?

Startup incubators and accelerators are both programs designed to help startups grow and succeed, but they differ in many ways.

Given below are the main differences between incubators and accelerators for better understanding:

difference between a startup incubator and an accelerator

How can I get help from the startup incubators? Whom should I reach out to and who is best for me?

You will have to calculate a few things before considering reaching out to startup incubators for your business.


First things first, you have to start by researching different incubators to find one that aligns with your business goals, industry, and stage of development.


Fill out the application. Include your business plan, team, and financial projections.

Some incubators also require an interview as part of the application process, so prepare for the interview really well so that you can pitch your business and impress the incubators enough to help you out.


Incubators select startups based on various criteria, including the viability of the business idea, their potential for growth, and the strength of the founding team.


If your business is recognized and is supported by an incubator then you will have to participate in a program that may include mentorship, networking events, access to resources such as office space and funding.


Incubator programs typically last for a set period of time, after which startups “graduate” from the program.

In this graduate stage, your business is much more developed than in the earlier stage and is all set to take on the market.

It is important to know that the application process can be competitive, so it’s better to thoroughly prepare your application and buckle up to demonstrate why your business would be a good fit for the incubator.


If you are all thrilled and passionate about giving your startup the right direction, want to flourish in this highly competitive market, and learn more about every facet of startup building,
Then you’re in the right place!

Beyond Grades is offering the transformative journey from dreamer to entrepreneur in just a few hours!

Book your seat now to dive deep into the world of startup building with us.

Aamir Qutub Aamir Qutub, the founder and CEO of Beyond Grades, has a sincere passion for innovation and startups. With over a decade of experience in entrepreneurship, he has successfully co-founded 4 technology startups and invested in dozens of other startups, focusing on real-world problems and their solutions. When not juggling with his reports and presentations, he loves to create unconventional recipes and cherish moments with his family.


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