WHAT TYPES OF COMPANIES ARE YOU SEEKING FOR ALPHALAB GEAR?
We are looking for early-stage physical product startups across hardware categories including robotics, materials, consumer electronics, soft goods, AR/VR, medical devices, energy/cleantech, autonomous vehicles, and more.
Regardless of industry category, characteristics of a strong candidate include 1) an early version of a first product, 2) a clear use case, problem statement, and value proposition, and 3) a realistic plan to get to the next stage of growth in six to nine months.
HOW CAN I APPLY?
We accept applications year-round through our Apply page.
DO YOU THINK OUR COMPANY IS TOO EARLY/TOO LATE TO APPLY?
We accept teams at all stages of development. We’ve accepted teams in the ideation stage, companies with significant revenue, and everything in between.
CAN I APPLY TO BOTH ALPHALAB AND ALPHALAB GEAR?
No. When you start an application you will be asked if you consider yourself to be primarily a hardware company or a software company. Based on your answer you will then be reviewed by the appropriate team — AlphaLab (software) or AlphaLab Gear (hardware).
DOES OUR COMPANY NEED TO BE INCORPORATED?
No. If you are accepted, 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 and applications each year, we do not sign NDAs. However, we will work with you to find the right 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?
We review applications on a monthly basis and try to provide feedback and/or next steps to companies as quickly as possible. After you submit your application please allow up to four weeks to hear from us. If you do not here from us in a timely manner please contact us to confirm we have your application.
Please note that historically we receive over 160 applications per year and ultimately fund approximately six companies.
DOES ALPHALAB GEAR REQUIRE US TO RELOCATE TO PITTSBURGH OR CAN WE PARTICIPATE REMOTELY? DO WE HAVE TO STAY IN PITTSBURGH?
We are willing to work with companies to determine the most appropriate proportion of virtual interactions versus in-person experiences at our facility. However, all companies that receive funding from AlphaLab Gear are expected to maintain a significant presence in Pennsylvania per the terms of our investment agreement. Our goal is to help you build a successful technology company while adding to the critical mass of flourishing tech companies in the region.
Companies receive, if wanted, free office space in our 10,000 square foot facility, access to the AlphaLab Gear shop space, and use of other onsite facilities (conference rooms, full kitchen, etc). General office supplies, basic furniture, and free drinks/snacks are also provided.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING TO PARTICIPATE?
No. AlphaLab Gear invests up to $50,000 in the form of a convertible note and receives up to 2% common stock equity from participating companies.
DO YOU ALSO PROVIDE FOLLOW-ON FUNDING?
AlphaLab Gear is a program of Innovation Works, which regularly ranks as one of the top seed-stage investors in the U.S. Qualifying AlphaLab Gear companies are eligible for additional funding from the Innovation Works Seed Fund.
Follow-on investment decisions are made independently and based on several factors, including the company’s progress and external feedback from investors and industry experts.
WHO IS ON THE ALPHALAB GEAR TEAM? WHO WILL BE ADVISING ME?
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALPHALAB, ALPHALAB GEAR, ALPHALAB HEALTH, 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 $92.5 million in more than 300 technology startups who have gone on to raise over $2.4 billion. These companies include ModCloth, 4Moms, Civic Science, ShowClix, NoWait and Shoefitr.
AlphaLab helps early-stage software companies quickly figure out the best way to build and grow their companies. AlphaLab Health does the same for life science companies, and AlphaLab Gear focuses on physical product companies. All three are programs of Innovation Works.
The AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup is an annual pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups.