WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALPHALAB, ALPHALAB GEAR, INNOVATION WORKS AND THE HARDWARE CUP?
Innovation Works is regularly one of the most active seed-stage investors in the United States. Since the creation of its seed fund in late-1999, IW has invested over $70 million in more than 300 companies that have gone on to raise over $2 billion from investors across the nation. These companies include ModCloth, 4Moms, Civic Science, ShowClix, NoWait and Shoefitr.
AlphaLab, a program of Innovation Works, is a nationally-ranked software accelerator helps early-stage software companies quickly figure out the best way to build and grow in an immersive 4-month program with funding.
AlphaLab Gear is AlphaLab’s physical product-focused sister accelerator.
The AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is a pitch competition is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups, holding competitions in 6 US regions and at least 5 international countries.
SO THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT ALPHALAB GEAR PROGRAMS?
Yes. There are two separate programs with separate applications, but together they are designed to take a company from an initial idea or prototype, through engaging early customers, to fulfilling demand by manufacturing at scale.
There is a 21-week Market Validation module running April through August and focusing on customer discovery, prototyping, legal and accounting, business model development, product iteration and customer traction.
Then, there is a 15-week Manufacturing at Scale module running September through December and focusing on design for manufacturing, tooling, regulatory, quality control, vendor negotiations, inventory management/fulfillment, and connections to manufacturers and supply chains.
DO I HAVE TO DO BOTH? CAN WE JUST DO ONE OR THE OTHER?
You can just do one or the other. There are separate applications for the two program modules. Note that being accepted for one program module does not guarantee your acceptance into the other program.
HOW CAN I APPLY?
Just go to our Apply page.
DO YOU THINK OUR COMPANY IS TOO EARLY/TOO LATE TO APPLY?
For the manufacturing program, companies should have paying customers, a working prototype, and be looking to scale their manufacturing.
For the spring market validation module, we accept teams at all stages of development (we’ve accepted teams anywhere from ideation to $1M+ in revenues). If you are not manufacturing at scale, then you are not “too late.”
DOES OUR COMPANY NEED TO BE INCORPORATED?
No. If you are accepted into our program, we will help you think through issues surrounding incorporation and also connect you with experienced legal providers our companies have worked with before. We partner with a number of law firms that provide our companies with complimentary legal services and documents (e.g. certificate of incorporation, restricted stock purchase agreement, stockholders agreement, proprietary rights agreement).
WILL YOU SIGN A NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT (NDA)?
No. Because we look at hundreds of business plans each year, we do not sign NDAs. However, we will work with you to find the balance between understanding your company’s unique advantage without requiring you to divulge proprietary information. In your application, please avoid disclosing any technical information that you consider to be your “secret sauce,” but be as clear as possible about your competitive advantage.
WHAT'S THE SELECTION PROCESS LIKE?
A review committee consisting of our advisors, investors, and the AlphaLab Gear team will review all of the applications and select companies for in-person interviews. After the face-to-face meetings and follow-up due diligence, we will select the companies for the manufacturing program based on the following factors: companies should have paying customers, a working prototype, and be looking to scale their manufacturing.
WHEN SHOULD SELECTED TEAMS EXPECT TO HEAR A FINAL DECISION?
For the manufacturing program, we are scheduling interviews for the beginning of August, with the program starting early September.
For the 2019 customer discovery program, we anticipate opening applications in December for March interviews and an early-April start date.
WHAT ARE THE START/END DATES OF THE PROGRAM?
For the manufacturing program, the program will start September 10th, 2018.
For the 2019 customer discovery program, the program will start in early April.
DOES PARTICIPATION IN THE PROGRAM REQUIRE RELOCATION OR CAN WE PARTICIPATE REMOTELY?
Participation in the program requires being present in Pittsburgh for the duration of the program.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO PARTICIPATE? CASH OR EQUITY?
Companies in our market validation module receive $25,000 for 4% equity or $50,000 for 7% equity (company’s choice). Companies that complete the market validation module have the opportunity to receive an additional $25,000 convertible note to support fulfilling customer purchase orders of at least $25,000.
Companies in our manufacturing module receive $25,000 cash investment in exchange for 3% equity. Companies also receive free office space in our 10,000 square foot facility, access to the AlphaLab Gear hardware lab, and use of other onsite facilities (conference rooms, full kitchen, etc). General office supplies, basic furniture, and free drinks/snacks are also provided.
WHO IS ON THE ALPHALAB GEAR TEAM? WHO WILL BE ADVISING ME?
In addition to the core team and our mentor network, you will also work with program advisors of the engineering and design reviews. These advisors are industry experts with years of design, engineering, and manufacturing experience.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CYCLE ENDS?
You will be a lifetime alum of AlphaLab Gear, which allows you to be connected to the Innovation Works seed and follow-on funds and Riverfront Ventures. You can receive support from our Executives in Residence, and will be connected to our network of investors and corporate partners.
DO WE HAVE TO STAY IN PITTSBURGH AFTER THE PROGRAM ENDS?
Companies are expected to remain in Pennsylvania after the end of their program. Our goal is to help you build a successful technology company while adding to the critical mass of flourishing tech companies in the region.