Viewing posts in ‘Application Cycle’ Category

FAQ and Tips for your AlphaLab Application

1) Is my startup too early or late to apply to AlphaLab?

AlphaLab helps companies accelerate their development and learning through a rapid, iterative process based on engaging customers early and often. This acceleration is applicable to the product definition and development cycle as well as the customer acquisition and sales cycle. Companies have come into AlphaLab with just an idea and companies have come into AlphaLab with a product, customers and funding. The key question is whether your company can benefit from the accelerated learning and broader network we provide. Read more in our blog post Too Early, Too Late, or Just Right?


2) I don’t think I’m ready to apply yet; should I wait until I make more progress in order to put my best foot forward?

There are some situations where it may not make sense to apply but in general, we would suggest applying if you are unsure whether to apply or not. Previous applicants have told us that the process of answering our application questions and going through the in-person interviews (for those advanced to the interview round) have been very valuable even when it didn’t result in an acceptance. There is no stigma associated with applying more than once; many of our alumni had previously applied to AlphaLab and gotten in later (either with the same idea or a new idea). In all cases, being able to see progress made in between applications was viewed very positively by the review team.


3) How do you evaluate applicants? Do you look for team, market, traction?

This is always a tough question to answer as every applicant is different along all of these dimensions and we look at a combination of all of these factors. Sometimes we see a great team where we have questions about the market and other times, we’ll see an incomplete or unproven team that’s going after a big problem in an attractive market. As noted above, we also see applicants at the idea stage or applicants with products and revenues in the market.

How I describe it to applicants is that we are focused on where an applicant could be by the end of program and their prospects to achieve their next step – usually developing the vision and gaining the market traction to attract investor interest for their next round. So we’ll look at three main dimensions – the team, the combination of the market/problem/solution they’re going after, and their current progress to date. The more the applicant can highlight their strengths in these areas or at least discuss how they’ll address current weaknesses is important to our evaluation.


4) What are some Do’s and Don’ts to the application?

a) Be specific but don’t overwhelm us with detail. Good applications are compelling; they provide enough information so that we understand what you’re doing and why and they are easy to read. Providing detailed business plans or PhD theses is way too much.

b) Specific customer use cases or scenarios are good for illustrating the problem you’re solving and help you to avoid getting caught up in just listing all the features of your product.

c) Really make sure you tell us why your solution is unique and can be a game-changer. Saying that your competition’s UI is bad and that you’ll be better or that you have some feature that they don’t have isn’t usually compelling. Having a different approach or unique technology to solving a hard problem is usually more likely to get our attention.

d) Be specific about your team, roles, time commitments, including other commitments. We understand that teams are in different stages and places when you apply so we ask that you are candid on this question so we can assess your ability to be successful in AlphaLab. 

e) Be clear of where you hope to get to by the end of AlphaLab. As stated in #3 above, we are trying to figure out where you are and where you can get to, in order to figure out whether your company is a fit with the program. This also shows that you have a sense of what you want to accomplish. We recognize that things will change (and in fact, the iterative nature of AlphaLab almost ensures it will) but we want to feel confident that you have a current gameplan you want to execute.

Thanks for your interest in AlphaLab and we look forward to start reading your application soon.

Jim Jen
Executive Director, AlphaLab
Innovation Works

Summer 2013 application office hours now available!

We're now posting office hours for those interested in talking further about our Summer 2013 program!

Each slot is 20 minutes long and can be used to discuss your idea, ask questions about the application, or get more information about our program. We ask that each interested team only reserve one spot per application cycle.

Please visit our Ohours page at There you can sign up and reserve your spot. You can also follow our account to be notified of new office hours opportunities as well. We'll be announcing new postings on Twitter as well.

Our Winter/Spring 2013 Application Cycle Is Underway!

We're pleased to announce that we're now accepting applications for the Winter/Spring 2013 cycle of AlphaLab! Check out for additional information - the big date to keep in mind is Sunday, October 28th. Applications are due by 11:59 PM Pacific time.

We're hosting two AlphaLab Information Nights during this application period where you can learn more about the AlphaLab program, ask past and current participants questions during an informal Q&A panel, and meet the AlphaLab team. You don't have to attend both - pick one that's convenient for you!


AlphaLab Information Night - Oakland

Date: Thursday, September 20, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Location: Carnegie Mellon University Campus, 4303 Gates Building, 4800 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

(No registration required)


AlphaLab Information Night – South Side

Date: Wednesday, October 3, 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Location: AlphaLab, 2325 East Carson Street, Pittsburgh 15203

RSVP to AlphaLab Information Night – South Side

Keep checking our blog and Twitter stream for additional information about other events related to our app cycle - we'll be announcing more in the coming weeks!


Summer/Fall 2012 Application News!

We're now accepting applications for the Summer/Fall 2012 session of AlphaLab! You can find the application here: The deadline for application submission is Monday, April 2nd at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. The Summer/Fall 2012 AlphaLab program officially starts on Tuesday, June 12th.

Thinking about applying? Want to learn more about AlphaLab or have questions about the program? Would like to hear about the experiences of some current and past participants? You should check out AlphaLab Information Night! It's an opportunity to get information about what the program is like and meet other interested entrepreneurs.

AlphaLab Information Night is Thursday, March 1st from 6:00 to 8:00 PM. Appetizers and refreshments will be provided - please register here:

Two sets of office hours now available!

Fresh off the heels of our AlphaLab Information Night, we now have two new sets of office hours available for registration! The dates are Thursday, October 6th from 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM and Monday, October 17th from 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM each with 20 minute appointment slots. The 20 minutes can be used for you to share information about your company/product and/or ask questions about the AlphaLab application or program.

We're using for scheduling and you can find our profiles here:

We are using two profiles so that we can have members of our team meet with more than one prospective applicant simultaneously. We encourage you to follow both these profiles so you know when we announce new office hours.

If you have any questions, please contact us at application (at) alphalab [dot] org.