At an event this week held by Canada's Venture Capital Association, investors warned that accelerators and incubators are not a be-all and end-all method of taking one's startup to the next level.
There are now 106 accelerators and incubators to choose from in Canada, according to the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, and the level of quality varies tremendously between them.
Research in the US showed that, out of hundreds of accelerators, only three—Y Combinator, TechStars, and Excelerate Labs—consistently produced successful companies upon graduation from their programs.
The rest, overall, failed miserably, according to ReadWriteWeb.
It's important for entrepreneurs to remember that accelerators are just one cog in the machine: getting accepted into one is an achievement, but it's an achievement that guarantees nothing. The task of building a viable technology startup still rests on the shoulders of the founders, and no accelerator can save a doomed startup from drowning in its own ignorance or mistakes.
“The idea of all these programs is to accelerate your business," Fixmo's Rick Segal reminded the audience during the event. "Going through one of these programs to say you went through one of these programs is stupidity."
Consider it like graduating from a school. You're better off but it's up to you to land a killer job, get promotions and raises, and build a successful career. On the same note, the quality of education varies immensely school-to-school, so take the time to find one that's right for you specifically.
It's also beneficial for entrepreneurs to understand the distinct differences between incubators and accelerators before applying to one.