The Hive guide to start-up spaces

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Hacker space, incubator, accelerator, challenge – the list goes on. The jargon around start-up spaces along could halt the pondering entrepreneur from actually getting any work done. One issue is that there isn’t a clear definition of each category, but there are some qualities that are generally accepted. So without further ado, here’s our guide to various types of office options for start-ups.

Hacker spaces

Don’t be scared off by the word “hacker.’’ A hacker space is usually a nonprofit or open source studio or lab where people can meet to work together on a project. Generally they have common interests in areas like technology, science, or digital art. Community collaboration is highlighted for finding solutions to everyday problems.


Also referred to as: Makerspace, hackspace, or a hacklab.

Local spots:Artisan’s Asylum, Bocoup Loft, BUILDS, Cambridge Hackspace, hack/reduce, Ideas to Things, MITERS, and P.irateship

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Apply to an accelerator if you already have a developed start-up that could benefit from a couple months in a mentorship program. You very likely will have to give up some company shares in return for funding. The aim is to grow the company quickly with many resources.

Also referred to as: Seed accelerator

Local spots:Bolt, Dogpatch Labs, Firefield, Future Boston Alliance, Healthbox, LearnLaunchX, MassChallenge, Startup Institute, TechStars, and Venture Development Center

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Accelerator and incubator are often used interchangeably, but that’s not exactly accurate. An incubator takes more time and shares in an idea than an accelerator, but an external management team could come in to manage the company as opposed to the mentorship of an accelerator.

Local Spots:Cogo Labs, Crop Circle Kitchen, Greentown Labs, Idea, OpenIncubate, and PayPal Start Tank

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Coworking Spaces

Coworking space could be a collection of start-ups and venture capital firms in one building or multiple companies in single office space, where each could rent a desk or room. The hope is that being closer together would inspire more collaboration.


Also referred to as: Shared space

Examples:Cambridge Innovation Center, Collaboratory 4.0, Encandle, Exponential, Geek Offices, Harvard i-Lab, Intrepid Labs, Koa Lab, Oficio, Space with a Soul, and Workbar

View our gallery to learn more.

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