There are many different types of funding available to startups, from friends and family to well-hyped VC funding. However, there are also many other opportunities for entrepreneurs starting out who may need more than just money. Accelerators & Incubators are a great way to learn while also receiving investment. If giving up equity is not something you want, competitions and grants can be a valuable source of free funding.
"Startup accelerators support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education, mentorship, and financing. Startups enter accelerators for a fixed-period of time, and as part of a cohort of companies. The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months." - HBR
Like Accelerators, startup incubators aim to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses. They are usually non-profit organizations, which can be run by both public and private entities. Incubators are often associated with universities, and some business schools allow their students and alumni to take part in these programs. There are several other incubators, however, which are formed by governments, civic groups, startup organizations or successful entrepreneurs.
The aim of competitions is for startups to win funding for their business. These often come with a whole host of support including mentorship, networking and workspace. Most startup programmes are run as monthly or annual competitions and usually include opportunities to meet your peers, learn from industry experts and refine your ideas.
Startup or small business grants are a source of funding that you do not have to pay back or give up equity for. There are many different types of grants available in many countries, especially those that are government funded. Grants are awarded to help launch a start up or new businesses, with the aim to generate jobs and stimulate the economy.