Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Supporting Enterprises

This section looks at some of the key concepts that will help to inform how you support your cohort, including development pathways, areas of expertise and support types. It also provides a brief overview of different learning styles before offering some tips for keeping different types of people engaged in your program.


It then explores the concept of working in or out ‘of the room’ of your program, and offers an example of how to split your programming so there is a mix of direct learning, supplied coaching, and independent testing by your entrepreneurs.

Developmental Pathway of an Enterprise

There are various definitions for the different stages that an enterprise can grow into, and many factors that influence their growth (or stagnation). Understanding where your entrepreneurs fit on the development pathways will help you to best assess their needs and support them through your program.

  • Idea

    Have identified the problem/opportunity you want to address, and have begun to define a product/service and/or business model.

  • Prototype

    Are developing our offering(s) through interactions with customers, and defining how the business will develop.

  • Product Development

    Are currently developing, testing, and getting patents on our product.

  • Growth

    Are established and focusing on growth.

Developmental Areas of an Enterprise

There are a range of areas that an enterprise may wish or need to develop through your program.

These can include:

  • Leadership
  • Team
  • Business Model
  • Value Proposition
  • Product/Service
  • Impact Model (or Theory of Change)
  • Business Plan (or Operating Model)
  • Strategy and Vision
  • Governance and Management

Practical Tip

Resources, skills, needs (internal and external factors) should be considered in determining what you will focus on.

What is your value proposition for enterprises?

Types of Support

The way in which you provide cohort with support can greatly affect how they engage with the content of your curriculum.

Types of incubator and accelerator support can include:

  • Structured programs: Cohort-based or 1:1
  • Technical assistance
  • Mentoring and coaching: incentivisation, matching, training and preparing

Learning Styles

When deciding what type of support you want to provide, it can be helpful to think about the different ways that people learn and incorporate a range of learning styles into the delivery of your curriculum. Learning styles are incredibly important to consider, as they influence how we as individuals see, understand, and process information.


Be sure to pick a model where you are engaging across ALL styles over the course of a day.

Keeping People Engaged

Incubator and accelerator programs can be an intense experience for entrepreneurs, who have to take in a lot of new information at once. This is especially true of -in-person workshops.

Here are some tips for keeping people engaged throughout a day of content delivery.

  • The afternoon snooze brain drain – try juggling ball activities, get people moving
  • Ask a different person at the end of every session to summarize/extend/comment on something they have taken away from that day
  • Have fun awards at the end of the day for the person who stretched the most/let themselves be the most vulnerable. Awards for the most audacious pivot, incredible customer interview insights, most assumptions tested on their financial model, etc
  • Shape sessions with sound (e.g. with a Tibetan singing bowl)
  • Draw the journey – have a large canvas/paper and routinely invite people to draw from their perspective
  • Invite participants to write an encouraging card to another participant.
  • Have only water and healthy snacks throughout the day and healthy meals. Keep carbs and sugary snacks/drinks to a minimum
  • Create community with rituals

  • 0

    In the room

  • 0

    Supplied coaching

  • 0

    Individual learning

In the Room vs Out of the Room

There will be some things that are best taught during the contact hours that your entrepreneurs have with your program. This is referred to as what happens in the room of your incubator or accelerator – the activities and sessions that you do directly with your cohort.

For example, a workshop session on marketing and communications run by a member of your organisation.

There will be other things that, because of the nature of the learning or because of other constraints, will need to happen outside of your program contact hours. This is referred to as what happens out of the room your incubator or accelerator – the activities or further research that your cohorts do separately from you.

For example, a customer analysis exercise that an entrepreneur performs with other members of their organisation to better understand who they are marketing to.

What happens in or out of the room is often determined by your cohort’s availability and constraints.

Some people cannot give you 10 weeks in a row. Some people have to keep running their business while they’re learning to improve their business. Some people have family and other life commitments that mean they just cannot give up large blocks of time.

Practical Tip

It’s really important to understand the flows of people’s lives and the time that they have, and to block and structure things to reflect them, your customer.

Design your program with them.


70:20:10 with The Difference Incubator

  • 1.

    The Difference Incubator use the 70:20:10 framework when designing the contact hours of their programs.


    10% of the journey is in the room – teaching the cohort and providing direct input

    20% of the journey is supplied coaching – being there to answer real-time questions and engage with a problem

    70% of the journey is individual learning – having the entrepreneur go off and apply what they have learned by trying it out and actually doing it


    The 20% co-learning and re-enforcing stage is the KEY as it helps the entrepreneur connect what they have learned in a classroom type setting with what they will be doing in the real world with their business.


    It includes:


    – One on one coaching

    – Targeted mentoring applied to tasks

    – Peer coaching via a buddy or group sessions)

    – Chat rooms focused on problem-solving

    – Access to an online learning library e.g. Fitzroy Academy


    Source: The Difference Incubator


  • Fitzroy Academy

    A YouTube channel providing tools and lessons for not-for-profits and social enterprises



    The Difference Incubator’s (TDi) mission is to awaken the possibility of doing good and making money by returning to the roots of business. They work across Australia and the Pacific with entrepreneurs and businesses to create sustainable business models that create measurable impact. Since 2014 they have accelerated over 400 businesses, from early stage entrepreneurs shaping their idea to those growing and seeking investment. TDi combine their significant experience in entrepreneurship, finance and investment, innovation, design, development and measurement with a flexible and relational approach that builds capacity and sustainable results.




    Uncharted is the next generation of accelerator that uses the power of an entrepreneurial accelerator to address major social and environmental issues like the future of food, urban poverty, and hate and discrimination. They scale and connect organisations in three ways. 1. Accelerate: Resourcing organisations with mentors, funders, and customised training. 2. Connect: Bringing together ventures who are all tackling the same problem so they can share insights and find collaboration opportunities. 3. Empower: Giving power away and empowering others to change the world, whether through one-off specialised trainings or licensing their world-class curriculum.





    Founded in 2008, Ākina is New Zealand’s leading social enterprise (SE) development organisation, operating in New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region. We deliver a range of capability building programmes for SEs at different stages of development, and provide specialist capacity building and advisory services in enterprise development, financing and market access, and sector development. Ākina believes that social entrepreneurs and social enterprise are key to building an economy that regenerates the environment and creates social foundations for people and communities to thrive.




    Invest2Innovate (i2i) supports startup communities in growth markets, and has been operating in Pakistan since 2011. i2i supports entrepreneurs via the i2i Accelerator, an annual four-month program that provides business support and access to mentors and investment. Since 2012, i2i has accelerated 41 startups in Pakistan, which have gone on to raise over $6M, scaled their businesses, created over 1500 jobs, and deepened their social and economic impact in the country. i2i has licensed and customised its curriculum to support a number of initiatives, including the National Incubation Centre Islamabad, the Grameenphone Accelerator in Bangladesh, and trainings for youth in Pakistan, Ukraine and Nepal.





    Village Capital builds bridges for entrepreneurs who are creating an inclusive and sustainable world. Their programs connect high potential, early-stage entrepreneurs with the people, institutions, and capital they need to succeed. Since 2009, Village Capital has supported more than 1,000 entrepreneurs through their programs, and partnered with affiliated investment funds, including VilCap Investments, that have invested seed capital in more than 90 program graduates. Through their VilCap Communities program, Village Capital provides an all-inclusive solution for program design, management, and implementation of a venture development program.



Building a Curriculum

How to build a program curriculum that is valuable for your entrepreneurs