Written by – Ranuli at Omebiz

A fresh idea in the mind is like an egg in the hand – it’s wonderful and contains huge potential but how do you bring it to life? Simple: You join an incubator. An Incubator is a co-working space that provides access to a network of startups, mentors, events and other valuable resources for learning how to build and grow a business from scratch.


Accelerators, on the other hand, are cohort-based programs that provide tailored mentorship, education and training designed for early-stage startups to help further grow their business and scale their technology.

In a nutshell, Incubators helps give life to an idea whilst an accelerator helps existing startups to fast-track their growth.

Both programs provide guidance to startups, as well as advance their business models and strategies, and the main goal is to groom the startup to become valuable in the eyes of investors. However, key differences exist between accelerators and incubators. When examining the selection and investment process, the differentiation between the two becomes more apparent.

How Lengthy are These Programs?

Incubators operate on an open-ended timeline as they focus more on the endurance of a startup rather than the growth of it. Most incubators run for the span of over a year and a half.

Accelerators operate on a set time frame, which usually lasts three to four months. During this period, startups build out their business with the support of mentors and capital provided by the accelerator whereby at the end of the program startups receive the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors.

Do These Programs Fund Startups?

Most incubators normally do not provide any funding for their members and/or startups within their community, nor do they take equity stakes in their members’ businesses. However, Accelerators usually provide a certain level of seed or pre-seed investment for each startup under their arm in return for an equity stake in the company. This amount of equity and investment usually varies but a general figure would be between 7% — 10% equity.

Furthermore, Incubators tend to provide a broad range of resources for their members while accelerators tend to focus on one specific industry or a certain kind of technology. This means they can provide more specialized resources for the startups within their cohorts.

Both incubators and accelerators offer an environment of collaboration and mentorship. This gives the startups the platform to share a space, have access to a multitude of resources and peer feedback. Furthermore, the mentorship for these startups is from seasoned entrepreneurs and business experts.

Where can you kick off your startup career?

Google Launchpad


Google Launchpad is a six-month accelerator program from startups that are currently in their growth stage. What really sets apart Google Launchpad from all the other programs out there is that it gives the startups the rare opportunity of collaborating with Engineers from Google, experts from Silicon Valley, top tech companies and various other mentors from around the world whilst getting their training at the Google Headquarters. The participants also get access to equity-free support, credits for Google products, and PR support during the six-month period.

CIMA Launchpad

CIMA LaunchPad is an incubator program held in the form of a competition. This program encourages startups to engage in a series of events where they are given the opportunity to pitch their idea. Following that, the participants undergo workshops and mentoring sessions before competing for the grand prize.

The winning team receives a Startup Bundle, which differs each year. In 2016, the startup bundle included consultancy from Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), market research by Nielsen, re-branding and marketing consultancy by Response Marketing, and startup loan facilities by Hatton National Bank (HNB). Moreover, the winning team was also invited to attend SLUSH, in Helsinki, Finland, one of Europe’s most renowned startup accelerator programs.

JKX – John Keells X

John Keells X is a startup incubation program that operates under the Sri Lankan conglomerate John Keells Holdings PLC. If you are a startup looking to create an impact in sectors like Leisure & Tourism, Transport, Consumer Food, Beverages, Retail, Property, Banking, Insurance, and Plantations, then JKX is your platform.



Mora Ventures is a platform focused to boost budding entrepreneurs of University of Moratuwa. This program is not limited to just tech startups, they also encourage other business ideas, social innovations and products. Mora Ventures is a long-term program for entrepreneurs with a continuous follow-up mechanism that goes beyond a pitching event.

StartupX foundry

It is essentially a tech startup catalyst. This programmer was initiated by the former CEO of Etisalat – Dumindra Rathnayake with the aim of honing technological ventures, driving them from inspiration to exit. This program provides a dynamic ecosystem for startups where they can benefit from investors and startup personalities to forge their idea into a viable product or service and take it to market. Alongside Mr. Dumindra Rathnayake, you can find Mano Sekaram – Founder & CEO of 99X Technology, Pete Deemer – Founder & CEO of Good Agile, and Dag Honningsvåg – Chairman of Driw AS, Bylineme and WindSim AS mentoring the startups. Currently, there are four startups that are a part of this accelerator.

One of the startups that are part of StartupX foundry is Maturify –


Slingshot focuses on providing Sri Lankan startups with incubator/seed accelerator opportunities. Developed by Hemas Group, the program supports startups in Sri Lanka in offering diverse advisory, guidance, and support.



Spiralation” is a Tech Startup Support Program that was initiated by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka with the aim of supporting new technology ventures. A subsidy of 75% of the total project cost or up to a maximum of LKR 1,000,000.00 are given to the startups with new innovative ideas and concepts. Furthermore, selected candidates will receive other benefits including mentoring, capacity development training, global and local exposure.

Is an Incubator right for you? Or an Accelerator?

Whatever stage you’re at, it’s well worth spending some time researching, contacting and visiting both incubators and accelerators alike, because sometimes you can simply skip joining an incubator and go for an accelerator straightaway. However, be aware, that you will need more than just an idea to gain acceptance into an accelerator, you will need some proof-of-concept such a design prototype or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) for your application to succeed.

Now, what are you waiting for? Figure out what’s right for you and launch your startup career!

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