There’s more than one way to launch a successful app. Each new project comes with a range of unique needs, resources, and budget.
If this is your first time building an app or a piece of software, the choices can be overwhelming.
Even if you’ve launched an app before, what worked last time might not be right for your next project. So we’re breaking down the pros and cons of five popular methods along with some tips to help you succeed, whichever you choose. So far we’ve covered hiring a friend, freelancers, agencies, and offshore developers.
Let’s take a look at our fifth and final option, Incubators and Accelerators.
What is a business incubator?
The terms “business incubator” and “business accelerator” are often used interchangeably in the startup community. These are firms specifically designed to help new businesses and startups speed up growth by providing wraparound services like office space, management training, or access to capital. They may provide investment themselves or a cash infusion in exchange for an equity stake in the company.
Incubators and accelerators act as catalysts for launching new ideas and speeding up growth. However, there’s a wide spectrum of support and resources offered by these types of firms. Some offer little more than access to a co-working space to develop your idea at your own pace, while others require an intensive weeks-long commitment to work full time with mentors to launch your business. It’s important to find the structure that works for you and your business. This is a partnership, not a transaction.
You should also be aware that these firms are focused more on launching new businesses than building apps, so an established company may not be eligible to join.
- Strategic long-term partner. A startup accelerator has a vested interest in seeing your idea succeed. They’re likely to provide mentorship and strategic business guidance when you need it, which can be particularly useful for first-time business owners.
- Access to resources. Often, incubators offer their startups a cash infusion to help launch their idea. This can help offset your initial development costs or other business expenses. They might also have a network of investors who regularly partner with their startups and who you could pitch for additional investment. Consider the ROI of those resources before you make a decision.
- Concept validation. Accelerators hear new business ideas all day long. If they select your idea out of the dozens or hundreds they considered, it’s a sign that you’re headed in the right direction. (Here’s another sign your app is a brilliant idea.)
- Large networks. Because they work with startups like yours day in and day out, business incubators tend to have a large network of partners and access to resources that can help with the growth and promotion of your company. They may be able to offer sales and marketing support, for example.
- Help with developers. Again, startup accelerators work with new tech ideas all the time. Chances are, they have worked with developers numerous times in the past. They may have preferred providers they can recommend or even someone on staff who can oversee your dev team or do some dev work themselves. You don’t have to do all the legwork yourself.
- They’ll push you. Once you take outside capital, you’ll have shareholders to answer to. You’ll be expected to constantly push yourself and your business to the next level. Go big or go home. This can be good or bad depending on your personality and business goals, but it’s something you should be prepared for if you choose to work with a startup accelerator.
- Buyer beware. Not all incubators are created equal. Just like developers, there’s a range of quality and integrity in the accelerator community. If they’re offering you money and terms that seem too good to be true, it probably is. Watch out for those.
- Restricted funds. Some accelerators will offer cash infusions with little strings attached, while other deals will come with a lot of requirements on how to use resources provided. For instance, they may provide funds to pay for your website design but then require you to use their preferred provider, no matter what. It doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker but it’s something to consider.
- Vendor loyalty. While incubators often come with the benefit of a large network of vendors and investors, keep in mind that those vendors are loyal to the incubator, not your company. They’ll defer to the incubator if there is a disagreement about direction or methods.
Tips to make it work
- Know your needs. Are you looking for a full-service partner to help launch your idea into a new business? Or do you just need the occasional guidance and a free desk? There’s a wide range of possibilities. Determine which is right for you, and find an incubator that matches your individual needs and preferences.
- Check their references. You wouldn’t hire a developer without fully vetting their track record. Be just as vigilant when researching incubators and accelerators. Make sure you check their references. Who have they helped? What are their motivations? For instance, if they have a large co-working space, are they really trying to launch companies or are they just trying to recruit tenants for their space? If they promise connections, make sure they can provide them. Accelerators can exaggerate their connections to funding. It happens.
We hope this five-part series on how to get your app developed was useful to you.
Got questions that we didn’t answer yet? Reach out to our team. We’d love to help!