Y Combinator and TechStars Officially "Seed Accelerators"

Posted: January 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: posts | 2 Comments »

Per an article on the Techvibes Blog, Bootup Labs, “along with Y Combinator’s Paul Graham and TechStars’ Brad Feld have agreed to drop the ‘Incubator’ term for good in favor of ‘Seed Accelerator’.”

“Seed-stage Accelerator” is the term that I’ve long used for these programs and it’s good to see that the programs are now going to brand themselves as such, to better differentiate them from conventional business incubators, which typically have a bad name among entrepreneurs and investors.

I’ve been collecting some information on why incubators have such a poor reputation among entrepreneurs and investors for a future post.  The National Business Incubation Association makes incubators sound pretty good, though.

Why do incubators have a bad reputation?  Any good links to incubation horror stories?

  • http://www.chubbybrain.com/ Anand

    Rob – Not sure the reason for their bad reputation but one factor may be that the word incubator describes a very heterogeneous group of organizations and so doesn't seem to really offer a clear definition. And this diversity seems to lead to ambiguity and confusion. This also probably explains why Y Combinator and TechStars have chosen to 'rebrand' their category.

    We analyzed 300+ US incubators and their associated portfolios last summer, and the diversity and lack of standardization amongst them in terms of their focus and their tenant portfolio companies was pretty staggering. Some were incubating scalable technology-driven businesses while others appeared to be focused on more retail or service oriented businesses (commercial printing, janitorial services, etc). But all were under the banner of “incubator”.

    Our analysis looked at incubators by state and examined the scalability ratio of all 300 incubators. The analysis titled “Fostering Local Economic Development: The State of United States’ Incubators” can be found here: http://www.chubbybrain.com/blog/2009/07/fosteri

    Hope it is helpful and provides a bit of a data-driven view into the incubator landscape. Great post and good questions to ask.


  • http://www.robertshedd.com Robert Shedd

    Thanks for the thoughts and the link! The ChubbyBrain post on incubators is very interesting – the diversity in the programs is amazing. I suspect that the “accelerator” space will quickly become even more heterogenous than it is already, as well. Even now, the variation between programs is increasing, as each tries to find was to differentiate themselves from the pack. I think that this experimentation and diversification is good for the space, but certainly 'accelerator' will soon become a term with broad application, as well.

    Thanks again for the great insight!