I think it is fair to say, AlphaLab operates at a high level of organized chaos. While we are busy working with our companies, recruiting for the next cycle, hosting community events, building our mentor network, and interacting with one of our 60+ alumni companies, we are constantly focused on the core objective, which is to equip entrepreneurs with the tools they need to build businesses. Some elements of our 20-week program are relatively straightforward – funding, office space (and lots of free food), access to world-class mentors, and a growing number of dedicated AlphaLab alumni and investors. But others are more subtle, like our educational sessions and programming. Kicking off the 12th cycle, we were excited to hit the ground running and wanted to be sure our calendar was teed up to deliver.
Founded in 2008, and one of only 10 accelerators worldwide, our program development has been organic; informed by market trends, specific company needs, and alumni feedback. But with a handful of companies in different markets, various stages of growth, and driving hard towards product/market fit, commonality isn’t always obvious. Furthermore, our companies’ time is valuable, so programming is limited to 2 events per week and scheduled around convenience (lunch, happy hour, etc.) Within those constraints, we asked ourselves: How can we deliver the most value? And here is what we came up with:
Week 1-2: Nuts & Bolts of running a company
During this time we provide an orientation of the AlphaLab program, introduce our companies to their mentors, and host a number of foundational education sessions which cover topics like mentor management, accounting, LEAN startup principles, and agile development.
Week 3-6: Building a Product People Love
The main objective of this piece of the program is to understand key components of product development including design, testing, and customer engagement. We rely on our alumni and mentors to lead sessions and provide their candid perspectives on building an awesome product.
Week 7-11: Business Model & Acquiring Customers *we are here (2/25/2014)
During this time we are still focusing on customer engagement (so important), customer acquisition/sales, and building a business model that scales and sets the company up for success.
Week 12-16: Raising $$$/ Finance
Our programming objectives during this time include understanding fundraising basics, approaching angel investors, and building a sound financial model. We heavily lean on the investment community to guide companies on these matters and host a number of angel/VC office hours, and an angel investor panel.
Week 17-20: Demo Day & Life after AlphaLab
Last few weeks we keep the calendar wide open to allow companies to focus on their business and prep for Demo Day. For this cycle we will be hosting a “Life after AlphaLab” panel led by our alumni and all other events will be squarely focused on preparing for Demo Day!
Our Summer/Fall 2014 application recently opened and closes April 4th. We will be hosting a number of events to introduce the AlphaLab program and the many benefits we provide. During our open app times, one of the more common inquiries we receive from serious candidates is to describe a day in the life of an AlphaLab company. Stay tuned for a series of “Day in the Life” posts over the upcoming weeks!