I have written a bit before about business accelerators, and I sit on the board of a local accelerator here in Pittsburgh called AlphaLab. There is a pretty significant national trend afoot right now for every town to put up their own accelerator, and you are seeing them pop up everywhere. I think this is a good sign.
AlphaLab runs on a 6-month cycle, bringing in six new companies to live in the Southside (see this shout-out for Pittsburgh) every six months. Each company gets $25,000 and ton of coaching and guidance from the broader PA startup ecosystem, including a bunch of venture capitalists (our firm, Meakem Becker Venture Capital, helps out, along with some folks from First Round Capital in Philly), law firms, accountants, and other local successful entrepreneurs.
I have watched AlphaLab grow from ~60 applicants in the first cycle (in 2008) to nearly 100 applicants in the latest cycle. The quality of the companies that are considering AlphaLab has shot up, and I have seen some very interesting companies and ideas sitting in the interview rounds with prospective ALers.
I have also seen many of the other top-ranked national incubators – and AlphaLab holds its own, in my estimation. Time will tell whether or not we have funded any big success stories; I am optimistic.
If you have any interest at all in AlphaLab, feel free to write to me or get in touch with anyone associated with AlphaLab – Jim Jen, Meredith Benedict, or Mike Woycheck. The application process is easy and painless, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has an idea they have been considering turning into a company. And if you live outside the area, no problem – we take out-of-towners.
I will be live-blogging the upcoming Demo Day this Wednesday (10/14/2009).
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