WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ALPHALAB, ALPHALAB GEAR, and INNOVATION WORKS?
AlphaLab is a nationally-ranked software accelerator that helps early-stage software companies. We provide support, guidance, and expertise in areas like product, networking, customer acquisition, and fundraising/financials to help you quickly figure out the best way to build and grow your company. We’re also a charter member of GAN.
AlphaLab Gear is AlphaLab’s physical product-focused sister accelerator. You can learn more about them here: alphalabgear.org
AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear are accelerator programs of Innovation Works, 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 in more than 300 companies that have raised over $2 billion in follow-on funding. These companies include Wombat Security, 4Moms, Bossa Nova, Modcloth, ShowClix, and Civic Science, plus numerous AlphaLab alumni companies such as JazzHR, NoWait, Flexable, Gridwise, Shoefitr, Treatspace, Blastpoint and Ikos.
AlphaLab companies work closely with the teams at AlphaLab Gear and Innovation Works, benefitting from their experience and their networks.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY “NATIONALLY RANKED”?
AlphaLab has been consistently ranked in the Seed Accelerator Ranking Project, a research and data-driven ranking of the top accelerators in North America. These rankings are based on several success metrics from companies that completed AlphaLab, including revenues, follow-on funding, acquisitions, and alumni satisfaction with our program. We are proud of this ranking as it reflects on both the successes of our companies and our founders’ experiences in the program.
HOW IS ALPHALAB DIFFERENT FROM OTHER STARTUP ACCELERATORS?
We intentionally limit our cohorts to between six and eight startups, to ensure you and your co-founders will get hands-on attention and customized assistance. We recognize that every startup is different and want to ensure the right balance of personalized attention with the benefits of being in a cohort.
Community, Network, + Alumni
We pride ourselves on being part of Pittsburgh’s thriving and close-knit startup community. Our network, alumni, and community are one of the most valuable resources as part of the AlphaLab program and we work diligently to connect you with the right people. We strongly believe the collaborative and giving nature of the Pittsburgh community and (our continuing role in it) is a huge asset to our companies.
History + Expertise
We’re celebrating our 10th anniversary this year! AlphaLab is one of the first accelerators in the country and our years of expertise allow us to help teams navigate all sorts of scenarios – chances are, we’ve seen it before.
Over the years:
- Our companies have raised $150m in follow-on funding;
- Over 70% of companies raised follow-on funding;
- We’ve helped 113 companies;
- 12 of those companies have been acquired
Relationship with Innovation Works
AlphaLab’s relationship with Innovation Works is unique and potentially opens the door up for future investment by Innovation Works’ seed fund in promising AlphaLab companies.
WHAT ARE SOME SUCCESS STORIES FROM ALPHALAB?
Notable AlphaLab success stories include 12 companies that have been acquired, including Black Locus (Home Depot), NoWait (Yelp), Shoefitr (Amazon) and Powered Analytics (Target). Other companies continue to see big opportunities in their market and have raised growth rounds of investment including The Zebra, JazzHR, Ikos, and Jetpack Workflow.
While we naturally highlight company successes, we also proudly celebrate alumni founder successes – even if it’s at companies other than the one that went through AlphaLab. Our alumni have gone on to do many fantastic things on the local and national level. They’ve started other companies, taken on leadership positions at companies like Birchbox, Google, and Amazon, and have become leaders in our startup ecosystem. They’ve all contributed to making the startup scene, especially ours here in Pittsburgh, a better place.
HOW CAN WE APPLY TO BE IN ALPHALAB?
WHERE IS ALPHALAB’S OFFICE? WHAT IS IT LIKE?
We’re located in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty 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 our Events page or Facebook to see if any events are coming up.
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.
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 kitchen. General office supplies, basic furniture, and free drinks/snacks are also provided.
CAN WE PARTICIPATE REMOTELY?
No. AlphaLab is an immersive, in-person program. Your best chance for long-term success is directly correlated to your ability to build meaningful relationships with us, your cohort, our mentors, and our community.
DO WE NEED A BUSINESS PLAN?
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 Gear 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 Gear. Read more about the benefits of C&G’s AlphaLaw Program.
WILL YOU SIGN A NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT (NDA)?
No. We look at hundreds of companies each year so 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.
DO YOU THINK OUR COMPANY IS TOO EARLY/TOO LATE TO APPLY?
We accept any company that we feel would truly 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 many companies come into our program with revenues and customers.
For more clarification, read our blog post on the topic: Too Early, Too Late, Or Just Right: When is my company ready for AlphaLab?
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SELECTION PROCESS?
You’re encouraged to reach out to the AlphaLab team before you formally apply so we can get to know each other!
The first step in our application process is to apply through f6s. Then, the AlphaLab team and a group of our colleagues, investors, and mentors read and evaluate all of the applications. Based on our evaluations, we may follow up with some additional questions or directly invite 20-25 companies to our in-person interviews.
During the interviews, you’ll have 5 minutes to present your company, followed by 25 minutes of Q + A from a review committee including members of the AlphaLab, AlphaLab Gear, and Innovation Works teams. After the face-to-face meetings and follow-up due diligence, we will select the companies based on the team’s ability to develop and launch a winning product/service, the technology’s market potential, and the concept’s originality.
HOW IS THE INVESTMENT STRUCTURED?
Innovation Works (AlphaLab’s parent organization) receives 4% common stock in the company in return for a $25,000 investment, plus space and services.
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 flourishing tech region.
We truly believe that Pittsburgh is a great place to build a company.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE CYCLE ENDS?
Congrats! You will be a lifetime alum of AlphaLab! Our alumni network runs strong and we’ll continue to stay in touch and share many opportunities with you. You’ll also be connected to the Innovation Works seed and follow-on funds and Riverfront Ventures. Plus, you’ll always be welcome to stop by AlphaLab and catch up with us.
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. Plus, you’ll always be a part of our alumni network.