How to Avoid Startup Incubators That Do More Harm Than Good

6 questions to ask before applying to an incubator

First-Time Founder


Source: HBO

You have an idea and want to make it a reality.

Incubators and other programs like them are often among the first organizations you’ll encounter on your startup journey. As a result, they often seem like a logical place to start. After all, you probably know next to nothing about startups and have many questions:

How do I form a company?

How do I meet a co-founder?

How do I build and sell a product?

How do I raise funding?

If the incubator is well run, incubators can be a great thing for founders. However, they rarely are. We went through several incubator programs and made progress but never really seemed to grow due to their advice.

The advice from the people leading the incubators always seemed a bit off, but being a first-time founder — who was I to say?

I then heard the below statement from YC Partner Aaron Harris while in Y Combinator’s Startup School and realized I wasn’t crazy after all. Although his comments are directed at accelerators, I think the comments also apply to incubators.

I think the number of accelerators is proliferating faster than the number of startups. This terrifies me because most of the people who are advising companies in accelerators have no idea what they’re doing. They’ve never worked at a startup, they’ve never started a startup, they’ve never funded a startup outside of the accelerator. You’ve got to ask yourself why on Earth should I take advice from this person who’s never done any of the things that they’re telling me I should do, never seen any of these things work?

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First-Time Founder

Helping first-time founders learn from my mistakes so they can operate like serial entrepreneurs. 👉 Subscribe to receive new posts: