IT start-ups often emerge from academic research grounds where software development is primarily driven by innovative research. Software quality dimensions such as maintainability, portability and evolvability are not a priority and are often dependent on the personal background of the involved researchers. This deficit of quality (or technical debt) generally reveals itself when transitioning from research to company exploitation. In this paper, we report about our work of assessing and advising IT-startups hosted in a pool of Belgian incubators. In addition to the innovative nature of each project, the incubator strategic board is also taking software quality into account as part of the global evaluation of the future businesses’ potential. We report here on the use of high level manager oriented indicators like technical debt on top of product and process metrics. We draw some observations and discuss them from a risk management and evolution perspective.