Expanding CREATE Lab’s Ethics MVP Program to Include AlphaLab Cohort Companies

By Olivia Payne & Leah Simoncelli

In 2019, CREATE Lab and AlphaLab Gear kicked off the first pilot of Ethics MVP (Minimum Viable Product), a program to support entrepreneurs in articulating their values and corresponding ethical business practices at an early stage.

Building on the success of last year’s ethics pilot program with AlphaLab Gear and CREATE Lab, AlphaLab was excited to join forces and add this dimension to their program. This collaborative effort meant that the accelerators had the opportunity to weave ethics throughout their entire cycles, while the CREATE Lab team could test out and refine their framework.

The framework intentionally builds ethics thinking into a company’s culture. Baking ethics into both culture and operations from the very beginning gives companies a solid foundation from which to grow.

Participating in a series of workshops, in addition to office hours with ethics gurus Jessica Pachuta and Dror Yaron, AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear companies discerned their why and the core values that guide them. Identifying and remembering the why is a key concept in keeping ethics front and center of your decision-making process as a company.

A group photo of AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear cohort companies and Innovation Works staff from the 2020 virtual Ethics Demo Day.

At the end of the program, the founders came together for an “Ethics Demo Day” to share their final product: their companies’ ethics statement.

TouchWood Labs (currently participating in the AlphaLab Gear program) co-founder and CEO Matthew Dworman synthesized his experience during the Ethics Demo Day best when he said, “we’re an ethics company with a product statement.”

“We’re an ethics company with a product statement.”

The startups found great values in going through the Ethics MVP framework, identifying the key values that would drive their company, and creating a plan to implement that vision.

To help more founders “establish ethical values early and determine how they will act on them”, Jessica and Dror wrote a guide, “Making Ethics Practical in Startup Spaces.” The guide “helps founders anticipate ethical dilemmas and tradeoffs before they are faced with making difficult or irreversible decisions.”

‘Making Ethics Practical in Startup Spaces’ is now available online.

(Guide Helps Startups Incorporate Ethics Into Business Plans, CMU School of Computer Science)

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Innovation Works

Innovation Works

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Innovation Works is one of the nation’s most active seed funds. AlphaLab (AL), ALGear, and ALHealth are nationally ranked startup accelerator programs of IW.