Is it the accelerator, the incubator or co-working? If you’ve decided to make the next step in scaling up your business, the trend over the last decade has been to get some extra support. These programs have seen the birth of Revolut, Dropbox and Airbnb, and if you get it right, can sky-rocket your business with the right contacts, support network and investment. So, what is right for your start-up?
Co-working is the easiest option, with spaces popping up all over the globe, with successes like WeWork even listing on the stock exchange. They propagate the hipster-like co-working spaces that facilitate a collaborative environment of like-minded entrepreneurs on a flexible, scalable and affordable basis. Depending on the co-working space, they can also offer networking opportunities, access to experts and seminars within a community designed to encourage growth. These are a great option to consider if you’re looking for cost-effective office space, prefer working amongst a community of peers to bounce ideas and contacts off of, rather than working in isolation.
This is a great option for those earlier on in the start-up process. Historically in the 50’s, they were attached to Universities, so have retained their reputation of being akin to “business school”. An article in Forbes described them as “startup hubs [that] offer expert mentorship, resources like office space and legal counsel, and even seed money—typically in exchange for a small amount of equity in tiny (or theoretical) companies.”
Incubators tend to scout out niche start-up concepts and ideas and train the entrepreneurs in how to succeed with them. This reputable support network and training-ground can make for an enticing investment opportunity, as business plans tend to be fleshed out well. Incubators are great if what you are looking for is resources for guidance, mentorship and credibility, with a lack of experience. But a word of warning, incubator programmes tend to be hugely selective, so be prepared to fight for your place.
There is often confusion between accelerators and incubators as there tends to be an overlap in what they offer. The key difference is that accelerators tend to take on start-ups slightly further down the lifecycle (think adolescence rather than infancy). They are designed to help facilitate rapid growth through high-value connections, and rather than fleshing out business plans, they assist with mentoring, resources and funding, and focus on operations, management training and overall strategy.
There are some great accelerator programmes out there, each providing invaluable access to different and often niche industries. One of those now taking applications is Hangar 51, which is a 10-week accelerator specifically designed for start-up companies to co-work with teams at IAG Cargo, Iberia and Vueling.
This isn’t the first year that International Airlines Group (IAG) have run Hangar 51, but this time round it will be based in Madrid and Barcelona. For those start-ups that meet the criteria, there is the opportunity to access real world operational environments, work with experts across the aviation and logistics industries and receive tailored mentorship from senior sponsors. Plus, at the end, you could get the chance to pitch for investment from their multimillion-pound venture fund as well as fast-track procurement and commercial contracts with the operating companies within the IAG Group.
It’s had a great track record too, from running the UK’s first airside self-driving vehicle trail, to the early stage trials of drone technology inside an airport warehouse. To get inspired by previous successes, check out these interviews with Mobilus Labs, who used bone-conduction technology to fight the challenges in airside environments and Emu Analytics, who developed a data visualisation platform to help get cargo to the planes on-time.
Applications for Hangar 51 are now open and close on the Friday 2nd of August, you can find the application here.