The services provided by incubators in the stages of life startups

One of the main questions that any entrepreneur asks is “What are the services provided by incubators? How can I get them? ”. It is common knowledge that incubators represent the entity that startups are most looking for.

Continue reading the article to find out what the main services provided by incubators and how we can help bridge those who receive the least attention.

Contextualization of search

The number of startups in Portugal and central Europe has increased in recent years. Several entrepreneurs with a different view of the market see opportunities and start their projects. In order to support these startups, whether at the beginning or during their journey, there are several types of support and companies, having incubators a great highlight in this branch.

As incubators or business incubators are organizations support for companies in their early stages of life. In other words, they provide a workspace, business, accounting, financial and legal advice. In addition, they provide a great sharing environment between entrepreneurs, in exchange for a very competitive monthly fee. In the case of having a company based at home, the incubators They have also been providing support virtual, including management advice and assistance.

In order to know the role of incubators in the creation of startups in Portugal, a questionnaire was prepared for these entities. Thus, 5 phases were considered: ideation and concept, Company foundation, Corporative identity, product development e market launch. The data obtained from this questionnaire were used to complete the study previously carried out on the type of services provided by incubators in the possible stages of a startup.

The following chapter contains a brief summary of the analysis of the results collected, identifying the most relevant information that emerged from this.

In the remaining chapters, the universe of study and the method used to obtain data are described, as well as the research tools used, followed by a list of the results obtained.

Finally, we present the conclusions of this investigation making an analysis of these data obtained, reinforcing the aspects where a potential improvement is visible.

Why do startups fail?

Learn about the main difficulties experienced by these.

Why incubators are failing to support startups?

We have analyzed the feedback obtained by the startups and incubators on service needs and the environment of these

Sample search

The study consists of universe incubators Portuguese certified companies spread across the various regions of the country. Its identification was made through the website of the National Incubator Network (RNI).

Thus, the necessary contacts, telephone and email, were collected incubators spread across the country. More specifically 18 belonging to the North region, 7 from the Centro region, 9 from the Lisbon Metropolitan area, 4 from the Alentejo region and finally 2 from the Algarve region, following the NUTS (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistical Purposes) assignment.

The questionnaire was prepared with the aid of a designated survio software. This is used for creating surveys, questionnaires, forms and online market research for free.

Email was sent containing the questionnaire for incubators as well as made a few phone calls to get the most possible responses.

Of the 40 contacted, 19 incubators They contributed their answers to this investigation.

Services provided by incubators

Once the responses obtained in this investigation have been analyzed, we have prepared in this chapter a summary of those considered most relevant.

As incubators start the program support to startups at a very early stage. That is, in the ideation and concept. This turns out to be advantageous for them as it is a great way to enter this market by better controlling the risk that exists associated with new innovative companies. Besides that, They can count on the most diverse type of support experienced professionals in this field.

On the other hand, these entities tend to provide more aid, not in the initial phase, but in the Company foundation, having obtained a great prominence before the other phases.

At the stage where program of support ends It is mainly the launch of the product on the market. However, a part of incubators ends early, in the product development. Thus, the marketing aspects are the responsibility of the entrepreneurs themselves.

Services in phases

For the principal services in phase ideation and concept, stand out the creation of a good business and financial plan. In addition, the feasibility / profitability analysis of the product or service also has great weight.

In the phase Company foundation, the services most provided are the obtaining of investments and the logistics associated with the startup's legalization. In other words, the definition of legal structure, meeting with the responsible entities and the necessary bureaucracy for this feat.

This being a really important phase, the incubators looking entities to establish partnerships with financing capabilities and with legal advisory skills. However, the accessibility of these services externally used is not the best.

In phase Corporative identity, corporate identity & design stands out more in view of the various options available. The rest are not as relevant to the incubators, presenting a noticeable difference in priority of services to be provided.

In phase product development, the support most provided are focused on improving the definition of functionalities, adapting the product to the feedback obtained in the tests, the test itself and a time and work team management. Similarly, the incubators seek partners with development skills, but the accessibility of these services it is also small.

Finally, the main services do market launch they are the creation of a marketing strategy plan and an action plan. It is clear that incubators focus more on services initials. With this, they leave the services a little more specific, such as the continuous optimization of the strategic plan. These entities seek partners with marketing skills however, the accessibility of these services is small. O which can justify the fact that these only be in focus services base.

Find out how The IT Factory can help you improve your services.


In this section, the data obtained are presented. The main services provided by incubators startups.

Current status of startups

The first question asked in this questionnaire was about the current entrepreneurial environment. That is, what is the state of play of Portuguese startups.

portuguese startups environment

As incubators they are divided between growth and expansion. Firstly, the entrepreneurial environment in Portugal is no longer new, which implies support notorious as well as the popularity of this concept.

On the other hand, the entrepreneurship environment in Portugal is already popular, with an increase in the population's interest in this concept as well as in support data to this.

Origin of the incubator

Most of these incubators emerged through contributions from various entities, such as higher education institutions and municipalities. In order to promote entrepreneurship, they provide various types of servicessuch as installations up to support more technical in different areas.

startups selection criteria

Not all startups are accepted in programs provided by incubators. To be selected, they must meet certain requirements. Next, there are the main criteria for selecting startups.

Firstly, the degree of invocation of the idea stands out, selected by 84.2% of the incubators. Besides that, the potential and sustainability of the business (57.9%), the strategic business areas (52.6%), the profile of the entrepreneurs (47.4%) and the creation of new jobs (42.1%) are also relevant.

On the other hand, the financial viability of the project, the increase in value for the local economy (both selected by 36.8% of the incubators) and the response to market needs (31.6%) are not such relevant factors.

Finally, it was also mentioned the stage of the startup in the “other” field provided in the questionnaire.

rejection criteria for startups

Likewise, there are criteria for startups to be rejected from the programs of the incubators. In order to identify these, the following question was asked.

Here, the lack of consistency in the business plan stands out, selected by 63.2% of the incubators. Similarly, inconsistency in the financial plan and no visible opportunity in the market (both with 47.4%) are also relevant. Finally, there is the lack of the required degree of innovation (36.8%) and poor organizational structure (31.6%).

On the other hand, the entrepreneur's non-ideal personality (26.3%), the entrepreneur's lack of professional skills (21.1%) and unconvincing pitch (21.1%) are not so important factors. As well as the weak recognition of business profitability (15.8%) and the lack of a single sale proposal (10.5%).

In addition, the fact that the startup does not fit the regulation applied by incubator in the “other” field provided in the questionnaire.

Phase early support

It was also important to identify the stage where it is more common support be initiated.

Phase where startup support begin

Phases of startup, a ideation and concept is when incubators start the support. Here, the entrepreneur has only an idea of ​​what his business would be like. That is, having nothing implemented or even well defined the concept.

Then if it is Company foundation. So the support is provided in the bureaucratic aspects for the legalization of the company, identification of the responsible entities and in fundraising or incentives.

O product development third stage is the most common early support. As the name implies, this is where the business idea is put into practice.

Finally, there is the market launch. So the support ace startups is provided in the marketing strategies about the product to be marketed.

Phase more support startups

In the same way, the question was asked about the stage where the most support ace startups, providing various resources (time, money, material, among others).

Phase with more support for startups

In the responses, the Company foundation (selected by 42.1% of incubators). Then if it is product development (21.1%) and a ideation and concept (15.8%).

Finally, 10.5% of incubators selected the market launch and the Corporative identity.

Last phase of support for startups

Finally, the phase was identified where the support ace startups tends to end.

Phase where startup support end

Typically the incubation program of startups selected ends as soon as the business idea is launched on the market since at this stage is to be expected that startups have great entrepreneurial skills and have the autonomy to take your product forward.

In addition, it is also common to support after the end product development, passing the market launch for the responsibility of the entrepreneurs.

Services in the ideation phase and concept

After asking more general questions, more specific questions followed for each of the phases treated in this investigation. These focus essentially on the main services provided by incubators.

services that incubators provide in ideation phase

In the first phase, the ideation and concept, within the various services the creation of the business plan, selected by 84.2% of the incubators. Then there are the creation of the financial plan (68.4%), product feasibility analysis (63.2%) and entrepreneurial education (47.4%).

Finally, still of the main services are contribution to the definition of concepts, market research and finding business partners (these being selected equally by 36.8% of incubators).

On the other hand, cost and duration estimates (26.3%) and the identification of shortcomings in the definition of requirements (15.8%) did not reflect great relevance. In addition, the development of the value proposition and product market-fit was also mentioned as one of the supports provided at this stage, in the “other” field provided in the questionnaire.

With The IT Factory you can balance the level of support of the services in order to ensure that all the needs of startups are covered. We offer services from the most diverse areas such as, a correct market research, support in estimating costs and duration, among many others.

Services at the company's foundation phase

For a phase Company foundation, the same question was asked in order to identify which are the main services.

services that incubators provide in company foundation phase

Obtaining funds or incentives (79%) and defining the company's legal structure (57.9%) are the main services provided by incubators at this stage.

Next are the identification of entities responsible for the legalization of the company (52.6%), the procedure of bureaucracies associated with its registration (47.4%) and the guarantee of protection of the brand (36.8%).

With The IT Factory you can balance the level of support of the services in order to ensure that all the needs of startups are covered. We offer services from the most diverse areas such as guarantee of brand protection, among many others.

Services in corporate identity phase

At the stage where a brand and visual management strategy for the company and product is planned, various types of services.

services that incubators provide in corporate identity phase

The definition of corporate identity and design stands out as the main service, being selected by 57.9% of incubators. Besides that, the development of the landing page (31.6%) and the development of a styleguide (26.3%) also represent some relevance.

Lastly, the design of the logo (21.1%) and the design of business cards (15.8%) do not represent the main services provided by incubators.

With The IT Factory you can balance the level of support of the services in order to ensure that all the needs of startups are covered. We offer services from the most diverse areas such as the elaboration of a styleguide, definition of the logo and business cards, among many others.

Services in the product development phase

O product development It is one of the most important stages for successful startups. So, there are several services provided by incubators at this stage.

services that incubators provide in product development phase

Among the various services the improvement in the definition of functionalities (52.6%) and the adaptation of the product to the feedback obtained in the tests (47.2%) stand out. Next is the product test (42.1%), time management (36.8%) and the work team (26.3%).

Finally, 21.1% of incubators selected identifying faults in the definition of requirements and product quality assurance as services main.

On the other hand, the survey of requirements (15.8%), making the product user friendly (10.5%), the preparation of code or general documentation (5.3%) and the acquisition of professionals (5.3%) were identified as services not so important.

In addition, personalized assistance in relation to specific problems that are presented by the startups as one of support provided at this stage, in the “other” field provided in the questionnaire.

With The IT Factory you can balance the level of support of the services in order to ensure that all the needs of startups are covered. We have a team of professionals ready to assist in an earlier phase of product / service development such as requirements gathering and improvement and also in the development of web and mobile and auxiliary solutions.

Services at launch on the market

Finally, the main services provided by incubators in phase market launch.

services that incubators provide in market launch phase

57.9% of that incubators selected the creation of the strategic marketing plan and an action plan as the main services at this stage. Next are attraction and fundraising effective customers (52.6%), the achievement of the target audience (47.4%) and the selection of advertising channels (42.1%).

On the other hand, creating a relationship between type of action and investment, establishing strategies to deal with competition (both with 26.3%), achieving the defined objectives and monitoring the results (both with 21.1%) are not so important. Finally, 10.5% of incubators chosen continuous optimization.

With The IT Factory you can balance the level of support of the services in order to ensure that all the needs of startups are covered. We have a team of digital marketing professionals ready to set goals, launch the product / service on the market and follow up on the phases following this one, providing continuous monitoring and improvement of the applied strategy.

financial support

Regarding the support the financial startups welcomed, 84.20% of incubators They claim they do not provide this type of support directly. However, these assist startups to obtain due financing through their contact networks, which normally contain several potential investors.

As for the remaining incubators (15.80%) declare to make certain programs available, such as acceleration programs, which result in a financial incentive to startups winning.

Actions incubated on startups

When asked if they had some action on startups assisted, 94.74% of incubators claim not to have any type of action.

On the other hand, 5.26% of incubators They claim to provide financial assistance in exchange for a percentage of the capital of startups, more specifically an average of 7% of their capital for € 70,000.

Level of involvement in startups

Ultimately associated ace startups, was asked about the level of involvement of incubators in these.

involvement of incubators in startup decisions

100% that incubators addressed state that are involved in startups supported through counseling. Then there is strategic planning (47.4%) where the long-term objectives that the company intends to achieve are defined, as well as its value, vision and mission.

In addition, the operational planning (26.3%) also has some relevance. Here, medium-term objectives are defined for each area and department of the company.

On the other hand, tactical planning (15.8%), where methods are defined to be exercised in order for the company to reach the defined strategic and tactical objectives and decision making (10.5%) were the least voted options.

Partnerships with incubators

In order to identify the efforts of incubators in providing the services necessary, the question was asked about partnerships.

Areas of partners needed for incubators

73.7% of that incubators seek to establish partnerships with entities for financing purposes. Likewise, entities with development skills to assist startups at this stage, public companies and universities (both with 63.2%) are in great demand.

Besides that, private companies (57.9%) and entities with skills in marketing and legal advice (both with 47.4%) are also highlighted.

On the other hand, research centers (42.1%), corporate (36.8%), investors and partners with skills for the ideation and concept (both with 31.6%) are not in much demand.

At The IT Factory you will find all service areas in a single company, without having to resort to any other.

Accessibility of external services

As incubators also find it difficult to access services externally, namely through established partnerships.

Accessibility of external services contrated by incubators

The services external to product development have the worst level of accessibility. Then there are the financing and legal advisory services.

On the other hand, marketing and ideation and concept they are the services where there is more external accessibility. Yet, these values ​​are very close and it can be concluded that these services find themselves in the same difficulty in obtaining them, with little discrepancy between them.

At The IT Factory you will easily find all service areas in a single company, without having to resort to any other.

Selection criteria partnerships

Ultimately, there are the main criteria that incubators take into account when looking for entities to establish partnerships.

Partnerships selection criteria

The quality of services to be provided, their degree of involvement (both with 63.2%) and references (52.6%) are the main criteria. Besides that, technical skill (42.1%), ethics and values ​​(36.8%) and reliability (31.6%) have their weight.

On the other hand, criteria such as communication (26.3%), the price of service to hire (15.8%), productive capacity and meeting deadlines (both with 10.5%) are not very relevant.

Finally, the institutional level was also referred to as one of the criteria to be taken into account, in the “other” field provided in the questionnaire.

Are the services provided by incubators sufficient?

After this analysis, we can conclude that, in fact, incubators have a very positive role for this entrepreneurial environment. With this, there is a great demand for startups to these entities.

The services provided by incubators go far beyond those mentioned in this article. These seek ensure that your startups manage to develop, grow and be able to work autonomously as soon as the program ends.

Despite the visible effort on the part of incubators to provide the best possible support for startups, the latter still experience several difficulties. With better accessibility to services hired externally, namely a more direct link between incubators and, for example, government institutions in order to obtain investments more easily, certain problems would be significantly mitigated. In addition, a more centralized and coherent documentation about the steps to be taken to open a company or even more companies aimed at providing services from product development a startups whose entrepreneurs do not have sufficient capacities to do so, would be relevant improvements.

However, the fact that this entrepreneurial environment becomes increasingly known and desired by the population means that support existing ones become better and better. Likewise, new support arise in order to create a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in Portugal.

In order to fill the gaps in existing support, a new concept was created. The IT Factory launched an innovative concept where you will find the most diverse services of the various areas that startups cover. We believe that with the best partners we are able to respond to all the needs of startups and create a incubator of confidence and reference for these.

With the right partnership, you can be number one in the world of incubators.


Find out about the discrepancies between the needs of startups and services of incubators