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The Role of Accelerators in Regional Innovation

The Role of Accelerators in Regional Innovation

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Published by: Benjamin Au on Jan 18, 2012
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The Strategic Role of Accelerators in Regional Innovation

A RIAN Webinar
With Presenters: Rich Lunak of Innovation Works, and Jim Jen of AlphaLabs

The Strategic Role of Accelerators in Regional Innovation
January 17, 2012
Rich Lunak, CEO of Innovation Works Jim Jen, Director of AlphaLab

Innovation Works

Growing Southwestern PA’s entrepreneurial economy through direct investment, business expertise and hands-on support.

IW is a Critical Component of Our Region’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Innovation Works: Impact 2000 - 2010


AlphaLab Background - 2007
National Trends – SW Dev
• Decreasing costs to build software • Gain customer feedback with less capital •Software remains largest sector of VC Investment

Local Trends and Assets
• Strong base of talent in CS • Companies and entrepreneurs in IW portfolio

• Entrepreneurs not connected
• Grassroots groups emerging

Opportunity to create unique program for software, web and entertainment cluster in Pittsburgh

Launched AlphaLab in 2008
Mission – Build 3 Cs for Internet sector in Pittsburgh through an innovative accelerator model
• $25,000 Investment • 20-week program •Mentoring and assistance from experts and advisors • Educational sessions • Free office space • Collaboration with fellow entrepreneurs • Access to broader network




AlphaLab – Early Results and Success

Companies • 39 companies formed
• Source of deal flow for seed fund and regional investors •Companies achieving national recognition, revenues and funding

Capabilities • Over 100 entrepreneurs
• Over 200 educational sessions, events – sharing best practices, learnings •Active mentors, advisors • AlphaLab satisfaction rating very strong

Community • Hub for software community
• Partnerships with universities, grassroots groups • National recognition for Pittsburgh – Top 15 accelerators by Kaufmann and TechCocktail

Creating a Regional Industry Cluster
• Innovation Works and AlphaLab have cultivated a nationally prominent hub in the software and Internet industry

Building Community
• AlphaLab has become physical hub for entrepreneurial and technology community

Case Study: The Resumator
• Founder pursued dream to start company through AlphaLab program • SaaS-based applicant tracking system to help businesses manage the complexity with receiving and reviewing resumes • An AlphaLab success:
o Rapidly growing customer and revenue base o Raised equity round from West coast investors in mid 2011 o IW not just an investor, but also a customer

Case Study: ShoeFitr
• Three CMU alums who returned to Pittsburgh for AlphaLab • Using 3D scanning technology and software algorithms to help online shoppers with fit • One of AlphaLab’s most promising companies
o Increasing customer base from online retailers and leading shoe manufacturers o Raised $1.2M investment round in late 2011 from VitalFin, Blue Tree Allied Angels, and IW o National awards at industry conferences

Case Study: NoWait
• Founding team with diverse industry and educational background
o Hewlett-Packard, Respironics
o CMU (ETC and Tepper), Penn (Wharton), and Art Institute of Pittsburgh

• Mobile application to help restaurants manage wait-list operations and market directly to its customers • Promising 2010 AlphaLab company
o Growing base of restaurants using solution o Raised investment from private investors + IW o National awards at startup competitions

Thank You
Rich Lunak rlunak@innovationworks.org Jim Jen jjen@innovationworks.org

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