manufacturing in pittsburghAlphalab Gear is an integral part of the Pittsburgh region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Four years into its existence it is innovating its model for serving hardware startups. In this guest blog, Managing Director Illana Diamond outlines the changes being made and the opportunity for Pitt hardware startups to take their innovations from the lab to the market.

We’ve learned a lot these past four years at AlphaLab Gear, and with feedback from our alumni, investors and partners, we are planning some exciting changes for the next cycle.

We’ve found there are two points in time when hardware companies are best equipped to fundraise and scale successfully:

  •  When they have identified their first target market and proven that customers will pay to use their product; and
  • When they’re ready to manufacture at scale.

To help companies reach these points faster, we’re dividing our program into two sequential modules: the first one focusing on market validation and the second on manufacturing at scale.

The new program’s 24-week market validation module focuses on customer discovery, prototyping, product iteration and customer traction. Then, we spend 14 weeks focusing on manufacturing at scale: design for manufacturing, tooling, regulatory, quality control, vendor negotiations, inventory management/fulfillment and connections to manufacturers and supply chains.

This fall, we are running the manufacturing module with companies from the current AlphaLab Gear cycle and finalists from regional Hardware Cup competitions. There will also be an opportunity for additional companies to join, and that’s where you come in.

We know what the University of Pittsburgh community can bring to the table. We’ve seen success with companies like HiberSense, a team of two Pitt graduates and a Pitt professor, and we know there are more teams like HiberSense out there. We would love to learn more about what you’re working on and support your entrepreneurial journey. To that end, there are two different times when you can apply to be a part of an AlphaLab Gear cohort:

  • If you have a working prototype and paying customers, and are looking to scale your manufacturing, you can apply for the 14-week manufacturing module here. Deadline is July 5, 2017.
  • If you have an idea and early-stage prototypes, but haven’t shipped to paying customers, and would benefit from a market validation module, we recommend that you apply to our first two-module cycle in 2018. Sign up here to let us know that you’re interested in applying to the 2018 cycle, and we’ll notify you when the application launches in December 2017.

Questions? Contact AlphaLab Gear Program Manager Cole Wolfson at cwolfson@alphalabgear.org.

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manufacturing in pittsburgh with alpha lab gear