2018 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup applications will launch on December 1, 2017!

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Congratulations to VaGenie, Winner of the 2017 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup International Finals

And congrats to Atlas Wearables for taking home 2nd, and PlayDate for taking 3rd!

Read more about the 2017 Hardware Cup International Finals here!

Learn more about all Hardware Cup teams here: 2017 AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup – Finalists, Semifinalists, Intnl Companies & Descriptions

Regional Finalists

West Coast




East Coast



International Finalists










South Korea

National Prize

$50,000 Investment startbot

Regional Prizes

$3,000 + 1 year Solidworks license


The Competition


The AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup application is open to early-stage startups that create at least one physical product. 6 teams will be selected in each city to give a 4-minute pitch to judging teams made up of local VCs and Hardware CEOs.


Startbot VC will award a $50,000 convertible-debt investment to the National Hardware Cup champions. Terms to be negotiated based on stage of winning company.


The AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup will be touring: Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Ft. Lauderdale, Washington DC,  Chicago, and Austin.


Winning teams from each city will get $3,000 cash, a 1 year license to Solidworks, and other prizes

The Format


6 teams will be chosen to pitch in each city based on their online application.


Each team will get 4 minutes (strictly enforced) to pitch their company.

5 MIN Q & A

The local VC judges will get 3-5 minutes to ask questions.


Teams will be judged on: 1) Commercial Viability, 2) Team Capability, and 3) Demonstrated Commitment.

The Team


Ilana Diamond

Executive Director–AlphaLab Gear

Ilana works with the AlphaLab Gear companies on a daily basis. Her background in new product development, manufacturing, supply-chain management, and retail distribution will be indispensible to your hardware company.

Prior to joining AlphaLab Gear, Ilana served as President and CEO of Sima Products, an international consumer electronics accessory manufacturer, which she led to a successful exit. Ilana is an active angel investor and advisor in Pittsburgh’s startup community and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Technology Council and Tie Pittsburgh. Previously, Ilana sat on the Executive Board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

Colman Wolfson

Program Manager–AlphaLab Gear

Program Manager

Cole manages the operations and programming at AlphaLab Gear, as well as providing weekly office hours and mentorship to AlphaLab Gear teams.

Cole is the founder of the B2C retail startup Petagogy, where he led consumer marketing efforts, managed distribution channels, and handled all financial modeling, projections and accounting functions. Prior to joining AlphaLab Gear, Cole was the Business Developer Manager for Innovation Works, where he raised funding from companies, foundations and other sources.

Cole has an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Maryland.

Leah Simoncelli.headshot (cropped)

Leah Simoncelli

Hardware Cup Coordinator

Leah manages the operations and logistics for the AlphaLab Gear National Hardware Cup. She also assists in the PR and operations of the UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge through the Forbes Funds. Prior to joining the Hardware Cup, Leah was the Marketing Coordinator for COINED Spanish School in Santiago, Chile, and a Marketing and Management Associate at Georgetown Events in Washington, DC.



Josh McElhattan

Managing Director Startbot VC

Josh McElhattan founded Startbot in 2012 to invest in and serve robotics startups. He directed technology investment for Industrial Scientific starting in 2006, where he led research and acquisition efforts in areas such as predictive analytics, advanced sensors, imaging systems, and robotics.

Previously, Josh was user experience lead at JPMorganChase’s active trading platform, BrownCo (presently Power E*TRADE). He also led a consulting team for America Online’s AIM product management group and served on business development consulting teams for Arnold Worldwide and Allied Domecq (presently Dunkin’ Brands).

Josh has an undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from Babson College.

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