Tailored Programming: The Right Support At The Right Time

There are two points in time when hardware companies are best equipped to fundraise and scale successfully:

  1.  When they have identified their first target market and proven that customers will pay to use their product,  and
  2.  When they’re ready to manufacture at scale.

To help companies reach these points faster, we’ve divided our program into two sequential modules: the first one focuses on market validation, and the second on manufacturing at scale.

Market Validation:  21 weeks (April through August) focusing on customer discovery, prototyping, legal and accounting, business model development, product iteration and customer traction.

Manufacturing at Scale:  15 weeks (September through December) focusing on design for manufacturing, tooling, regulatory, quality control, vendor negotiations, inventory management/fulfillment, and connections to manufacturers and supply chains.

These are 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.


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 can receive $25,000 cash investment in exchange for 3% common equity.


Our 100+ mentor network is one of the most valuable aspects of the AlphaLab Gear program. Companies benefit from the guidance of entrepreneurs, technologists and investors who have developed and launched products, raised capital and negotiated manufacturing and distribution partnerships.

Companies have opportunities to meet 1-on-1 with mentors during meetups, talks, or through personal introductions. Mentors are able to provide relevant strategic and tactical guidance to companies that is specific to each company’s industry, stage and goals. Check out our mentors here.

AlphaLab Gear, AlphaLab and Innovation Works collectively have an extensive alumni network of over 300 companies, many of which remain engaged with our current companies, offering expertise and guidance. Check out the AlphaLab Gear, AlphaLab and Innovation Works company pages to see our portfolio and alumni companies.

Investors & Customers

As a nationally-ranked accelerator, AlphaLab Gear has an extensive network of investors and corporate partners. Many of our companies find their first investors, customers, suppliers, advisors and other partners through introductions from our network.

Follow-On Funding

Over 85% of our alumni raise follow-on funding within six months of the end of the program.

AlphaLab Gear is a program of Innovation Works, which regularly ranks as one of the top seed-stage investors in the U.S. Qualifying alumni companies have the opportunity to raise additional capital — up to $600,000 — from the Innovation Works Seed Fund.


Ilana Diamond, Managing Director of Hardware and AlphaLab Gear

Ilana served as President and CEO of Sima Products, an international consumer electronics accessory manufacturer, which she led to a successful exit. Through her work, Ilana has strong experience in new product development, manufacturing, supply-chain management and retail distribution. 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.

Cole Wolfson, Program Manager

Cole is a 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.

Matt Verlinich, Manufacturing Program Associate

Prior to joining Innovation Works, Matt was the founding General Manager of TechShop Pittsburgh. He then went on to found Clear Ice Rocks, where he invented, prototyped, crowdfunded, mass-produced, and fulfilled orders to over 55 different companies. In his role as Manufacturing Program Associate, Matt engages with accelerator and early stage hardware companies to identify design and manufacturing needs, and provides connections to resources for design for manufacturing, prototyping, components, and supply chain partners.

Leah Simoncelli, Coordinator, AlphaLab Gear & Hardware Cup

Leah runs the AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup, an international pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups. She leads the outreach, marketing, and event management efforts for the US regional competitions, and provides support to partners holding Hardware Cup events around the world.  Additionally, she manages marketing for the AlphaLab Gear program. Leah brings a wide range of marketing, management and event planning skills to the accelerator programs.  Her varied background also includes leading marketing and sales for the Santiago, Chile branch of a Spanish language school, launching and managing a market in Nantucket, and coordinating marketing efforts for a restaurant group 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).

Space & Perks

Collaborative Workspace

Use your own private office when you need it; collaborate in our open workspace when you want.

Legal Services

Access to free and discounted legal services including a complimentary incorporation package through Cohen & Grigsby’s AlphaLaw program as well as complimentary filing of initial intellectual property through Fox Rothschild.

Accounting Support

Access to free and discounted accounting and tax services through Sisterson & Co.


Help with finding and paying for an intern through connections with local universities such as Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.


Discounts on products and services essential to any startup like Amazon Web Services, Solidworks, Stripe, ZipCar and more through our Global Accelerator Network membership.


Never-ending coffee, snacks and drinks. And usually lunch at least a couple times a week.