Startup Incubator vs Accelerator vs Company Builder vs Venture Studio — what is the right one for me?

Blockchain Founders Group
8 min readFeb 28, 2023

by Jona Hauch

Many specialized firms have emerged over the last few decades to help startups and their founders in raising funds or providing mentorship and guidance. Among them, the most well-known catalysts are startup incubators and startup accelerator programs. But lately, company builders, also known as “venture builders” and venture studios which can be also referred to as tech studios, startup factories, or venture production studios, have gained prominence. Confused? This article will help you to sort out the key differences and guide you in choosing the right program.

Main Takeaways

Incubators, accelerators, company builders, and venture studios are all types of organizations that support entrepreneurs and help early-stage startups to grow. However, there are some key differences between these types of organizations:

  • Startup incubator: a program that helps startups in the early stages of development, providing guidance, training, networking, and sometimes funding.
  • Startup accelerator: a program that helps startups scale once they have achieved product/market fit. It provides guidance, training, networking, and sometimes funding, with a focus on growth.
  • Company builder: a company that builds startups from scratch by cultivating potential ideas and leaders through a hands-on process, and provides long-term support for a startup’s growth.
  • Venture studio: the venture studio model involves a team, building and launching startups from scratch using its own ideas and resources, and then hiring founders to run the startup.

What is the difference between a startup incubator, startup accelerator, company builder, and venture studio?

Both, startup incubator programs, and startup accelerator programs, can be referred to as “accelerators”. Startup incubators accelerate the launch phase of a company, whereas accelerator programs focus on scaling a startup. They offer basically the same kind of resources, although the content is of course adapted to their focus.

Company builders and venture studios are companies that create and develop several startups at the same time, often in a strategic way and focusing on a specific sector. Those startups are often created and accelerated within their own incubator or accelerator programs like we BFG Superstars and YCombinator (both are company builders) are doing it. The key difference is that company builders are looking for entrepreneurs to launch a startup from 0, whereas venture studios launch startups with their own resources and then hire CEOs to run the startup.

What is a startup incubator?

A startup incubator is a program that guides and teaches startups in the very early stages. Usually, you have experienced startup experts giving workshops on specific topics such as idea validation, MVP creation, business model, etc. Moreover, the right mindset to become a successful entrepreneur is cultivated. In addition to the courses, you can also contact the experts for specific, individual needs. The basic idea is to help you create a stable foundation on which to build your startup, with the first goal of reaching product-market fit. At the end of a startup incubator program, you will usually have the opportunity to pitch to potential investors in order to receive pre-seed funding.

Before applying to an incubation program you should select the right one for you. Here are some points to consider:

  • Define your expectations and goals for the program and compare different incubators on this basis.
  • You can participate in virtual or in-person programs, decide according to your preference and location.
  • Figure out if there is a startup incubator tailored to your niche (e.g. the BFG Superstars program only accepts entrepreneurs who focus on web3).
  • Have a look at the team and advisors, you should know who is going to guide and teach you. Is their network relevant to your startup?
  • Review the track record and check some of the startups that have previously participated in the program.

What is a startup accelerator?

Once you’ve achieved product-market fit, it is time to join a startup accelerator program. An accelerator can be seen as the next step after a startup incubator while it is not necessary that you have joined an incubator before.

Achieving product-market fit requires that you have already acquired customers and know exactly who your ideal customer is. At this stage, you are all set to massively scale your startup. A startup accelerator program can help you with expert guidance and education to focus on your startup growth, and provide financial resources and an invaluable network. Usually, you are also getting prepared for investor pitches to raise seed capital.

Before applying to an accelerator program the following points should be considered:

  • Define your expectations and goals for the program and compare different accelerators on this basis.
  • You can participate in virtual or in-person programs, decide according to your preference and location.
  • Figure out whether there is a startup accelerator tailored to your niche.
  • Have a look at the team and advisors, you should know who is going to guide and teach you. Is their network and expertise areas relevant to your startup?
  • Review the track record and check some of the startups that have previously participated in the program.

Company builder vs. venture studio

Company builders, also known as “venture builders” and venture studios, also called “tech studios”, “startup factories” or “venture production studios”. These companies can be venture capital firms that strategically launch new startups from scratch by offering incubator or accelerator programs.

Generally, they develop many projects and ideas simultaneously, exploring different ideas that complement each other through structured, iterative processes to create businesses. They engage leadership teams to develop these ideas and launch the most successful of them as stand-alone companies.

Company builders and venture studios are both organizations that help create and develop new companies. However, there are some key differences between the two:

  1. Business model: Company builders typically generate revenue by building and selling companies, while venture studios generate revenue by investing in and operating companies.
  2. Involvement in the companies: Company builders tend to be more hands-off, providing resources and support to the founders of the companies they build, but leaving the day-to-day management and decision-making to the founders. Venture studios, on the other hand, tend to be more hands-on, actively participating in the management and decision-making of the companies they invest in and operate.
  3. Size and scope: Company builders tend to be smaller and focus on a specific industry or market, while venture studios are often larger and have a broader focus, investing in and operating companies across a variety of industries and markets.
  4. Funding: Company builders may receive funding from outside investors or generate revenue through the sale of the companies they build, while venture studios typically fund their operations and investments through their own capital or through a fund.

Which one is right for you

There is no “better” or “best” when you compare a startup incubator vs accelerator vs company builder vs venture studio. Each opportunity should be evaluated based on your situation and needs. Maybe the following decision tree helps you with your decision:

Figure 1: Decision tree for entrepreneurs to find the right fit.

Do you like the idea of building a startup in Web3 based on blockchain technology? Then check this out!

The BFG Superstars program is a 3-month startup incubator offered twice per year starting in March and September respectively. The Blockchain Founders Group will provide mentorship, funding, and support from top-tier experts for next-generation business models related to Web3, Crypto, DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, IoT, Bitcoin Lightning, CO2 Compensation, Metaverse, Gaming, and Privacy. As part of the BFG Superstars program, you are compensated for your time and brain power with €2,000 flat per month on a full-time basis to help you kick-start your venture. Moreover, participants can join from anywhere in the world since the program is conducted remotely only. It is possible to join alone or as a team, with, or without an idea. At the end of the program, you have the chance to receive funding of up to €60,000 for 6–10% of your startup’s equity, depending on your pitch and the business model.

BFG Superstars is looking for entrepreneurs who have:

  • Leadership skills: a passionate leader who influences with a sense of empathy. Age, background, or gender don’t matter to us!
  • Hands-on mentality: someone who is not afraid to fail but rather tries and learns from the impossible.
  • Growth potential: someone who could become a CEO or a great leader with the motivation to learn and grow.
  • Team player skills: a person who can collaborate, listen and communicate with the team for the sake of solving a problem.
  • Blockchain knowledge: understand blockchain systems such as smart contracts, wallets, and different protocols at least on an intermediate level.
  • Flexibility: BFG believes in the effectiveness of remote work and operates fully digital. We expect participants to be equally flexible and understand digital collaboration.
  • Media exposure or tech: we believe in people who either excel in technical understanding or are willing to understand marketing, sales, and media exposure.
  • Ambition: consistency and perseverance are key in entrepreneurship. Learn, grow, and build an impactful company together with BFG.

What are you waiting for? Apply now! Check out our team, advisors, and more information.

About Blockchain Founders Group

Blockchain Founders Group (BFG) is the driving force behind web3 innovation. As a company builder, we bring together a team of blockchain visionaries, experienced entrepreneurs, and industry experts, all committed to nurturing emerging talent. Our BFG acceleration programs serve as your springboard for launching blockchain startups, transforming concepts into reality in just 2–3 months. Each cohort develops 5–8 unique web3 ideas, and selected projects will be financially supported with 70,000–100,000 EUR, along with access to our extensive network. Join us in shaping the future of web3!

Stay updated by connecting with us on LinkedIn, Medium, Twitter, and YouTube.

Contact: Max Zheng, Head of Corporate Development & BFG Superstars Program, max.zheng@blockchain-founders.io.

--

--

Blockchain Founders Group

Blockchain Founders Group is a company builder specializing in building early-stage web3 startups through a comprehensive incubation and acceleration program.