What is AlphaLab?

AlphaLab is a startup accelerator program based in Pittsburgh, PA that helps innovative companies launch quickly and successfully. Twice a year, on average 6-8 companies are selected to participate in our program and receive funding, mentorship, and office space.

AlphaLab’s intensive 20-week program helps companies achieve product-market fit through rapid iterations of product, intensive customer feedback and market validation. The program culminates with AlphaLab Demo Day, a chance to present your company to investors and press from around the nation.

AlphaLab is a program of Innovation Works, one of the first accelerators nationwide, and a charter member of the Global Accelerator Network.

What is Innovation Works?

Innovation Works (IW) is the Pittsburgh region’s largest and most active seed-stage investor. Since the creation of its seed fund in late-1999, IW has invested over $53 million in more than 160 technology startups that have gone on to raise $1.3 billion from investors across the nation. These companies include ModCloth, 4Moms, Civic Science, ShowClix, and AlphaLab alumni companies such as The Resumator, NoWait and Shoefitr.

AlphaLab companies will work closely with the team at IW, benefiting from their experience and their network.

How is AlphaLab different from other investors? Startup accelerators?

Small Class Size

On average, six to eight startups participate in our program at any one time, ensuring your startup will get the attention and hands-on assistance you need from our team and our network.

Length of Program

At 20 weeks, AlphaLab’s program provides your company the ability to make significant progress on both your product and customer traction by the end of the program.

We’ve built milestones into our program structure including an Interim Demo Day and multiple group review sessions to ensure your company stays on track.

Relationship with Innovation Works (IW)

Because AlphaLab is an IW program, companies have access to the expertise and contacts at one of the nation’s most respected and active seed-stage investors. IW’s seed fund is also a potential investor in promising AlphaLab companies.

Office Space

Each company receives an office in our South Side facility in addition to access to the collaborative working space and two conference rooms. Our setup gives you the best of both worlds: privacy and the ability to collaborate with your co-workers at any time.

AlphaLab regularly holds entrepreneurship and tech events in the space, so you won't need to do more than step outside your office to meet the connections that just may help you take your business to the next level.

Tell me more about AlphaLab's educational sessions.

At least once a week, we bring in speakers to talk exclusively to our companies about their areas of expertise.

We also regularly hold office-hours at our space, a time where experts can come in and talk with our companies one-on-one on their area of expertise.

We bring in a diverse group of individuals who can help you think about a wide range of topics applicable to your business including sales, marketing, design, accounting, and investment.

Previous speakers have included:

  • Sean Ammirati, BirchmereLabs
  • Phin Barnes, First Round Capital
  • Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
  • Lynsie Campbell, ShowClix
  • Ed Engler and Steve Robinson, Pittsburgh Equity Partners
  • John Greathouse, Rincon Ventures
  • Tom Jones, Draper Triangle Ventures
  • Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
  • Eric Koger and Udi Nir, Modcloth
  • Nathan Martin, Deep Local
  • Ned Renzi, Birchmere Ventures

How can we apply to be in AlphaLab?

Just fill out our online application before the listed deadline.

Do we need a business plan?

No business plan is required. 

Do you think our company is too early/too late to apply?

We will accept any company we feel would benefit from the acceleration in growth and development the AlphaLab program provides. That being said, your company probably isn’t at “too early” of a stage to apply—we have accepted companies still in the ideation phase of development. And you probably aren't "too late"--we've had companies come into our program with revenues and customers.

For more clarification, read AlphaLab Executive Director Jim Jen’s (aptly titled) blog post on the topic: Too Early, Too Late, Or Just Right: When is my company ready for AlphaLab?

Do we have to be developing a software product to be considered for AlphaLab?

No. We are looking for the best companies and teams that can make rapid progress and reach critical product and market development milestones (e.g. a working version for customer feedback, early customer acquisition) in a short amount of time with a $25,000 investment.

While software, web and entertainment technology startups have traditionally fit this criteria, we have broadened our approach to include physical products as well. Feel free to browse our companies by category.

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.

Through Cohen & Grigsby's AlphaLaw program, all AlphaLab companies will be eligible to receive complimentary legal services and documents (e.g. certificate of incorporation, restricted stock purchase agreement, stockholders agreement, proprietary rights agreement) and have the option of working with C&G at favorable rates post-AlphaLab. Read more about the benefits of C&G's AlphaLaw Program

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.

Can you describe your selection process? 

A review committee consisting of our advisors, investors, and the AlphaLab team will review all of the applications and select a subset of the companies for in-person meetings. After the face-to-face meetings and follow-up due diligence, we will select the companies based on the teams’ ability to develop and launch a winning product/service, the technology’s market potential, and the concept's originality. We have a 5-6% acceptance rate.

How is the investment structured?

Innovation Works receives 5% common stock in the company in return for a $25,000 investment from Innovation Works (AlphaLab's parent organization), plus space and services.

Where is AlphaLab's office? What is it like?

We're located at 2325 East Carson Street in the heart of Pittsburgh’s historic Southside neighborhood. Conveniently situated between coffee shops, restaurants, and other startup tech companies, our space has become a local hub of entrepreneurship and tech-related activities. Check out the Events section on the AlphaLab blog to see if any events are coming up. 

AlphaLab’s 5,000 square foot facility contains individual offices for each company, open space for working or collaborating, conference rooms for large/private meetings, and a full kitchen.

Do we have to stay in Pittsburgh after the program ends?

Companies are expected to remain in the Pittsburgh region 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.

We believe that Pittsburgh is a great place to build a company and after your experience at AlphaLab, we're confident you'll agree.

Why is Pittsburgh a good place to start a company?

Please visit our Pittsburgh page.

What happens if our company fails?

We recognize that not all startup companies succeed. While we want to give you every chance for success, sometimes market and customer feedback says otherwise. In that case, it’s better that you had the opportunity to find out earlier, and more cost-effectively, than you might have otherwise. Whatever happens, we believe that your experience at AlphaLab will be extremely valuable for your next venture.

Please visit our contact page if you have additional questions about our program.