MSc thesis Nick Toet

In a time where private and public incubators and accelerators spring up all around us, startups have lots to choose from. That's why it is good to know what they need, what alternatives they have and what they are actively looking for. Or, in other words, what are their reasons to join a government incubator?

Nick Toet, MSc in Strategy and Organization (VU Amsterdam), studies the motivations startups have for joining an incubator or accelerator programme. To do so, he compares 12 startups that participate either in a private accelerator, a public incubator (Startup in Residence Amsterdam) or are not involved in any programme. The research looks into startups' reasons for applying, their expectations of what the programme offers them and their actual experiences of being part of the programme.


The first accelerators started in 2005, they gained popularity among start-up founders and

researchers just recently. The number of different accelerators in number and form has grown

significantly all around the word. The accelerators provide help to start-up founder who try to

create successful businesses by funding, networking, mentoring and supporting and

infrastructure. The objective of this research is finding the motives of the start-up founders

while they are choosing an accelerator program. The emergence of this objective in recent

literature, combined with the scarcity in this field of literature, implies that there is a need to

explore the motives of start-up founders.


By exploring three different cases: start-up founders that have participated in a private

accelerator program, start-up founders that have participated in a public accelerator program

and stat-up founders that have not taken part in an accelerator program have been examined.

Subsequently an explorative research has been done with twelve respondents based in the

Netherlands. These interviews are transcripted and analysed with the inductive data analysis

from Gioia (2013). First a within case analysis was achieved to test whether there is

correspondence in motives. Thereafter, a cross case analysis is performed to search for

similarities and differences in motives between the cases.


The results out of this research imply that there are differences in motives between

start-up founders that participated in a public accelerator program and a private accelerator

program. The start-up founders in a private program base their motives on their feeling,

strategic decision and acknowledgement of the program. While, start-up founders in a public

accelerator program base their motives on the network that comes with the program and the

acquisition of knowledge.

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Image credits

Icon image: Max Pixel - Start-up