Too Early, Too Late, Or Just Right: When Is My Company Ready For AlphaLab?
By Jim Jen
Every application cycle we come across a few entrepreneurs that considered applying to our program, but decided their company was either too early for AlphaLab or “beyond AlphaLab”. Often after speaking with them, these same entrepreneurs realize they are a good fit for our program and that AlphaLab could add significant value for a company at their stage.
In hopes of addressing concerns like these directly, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the topic.
If you think you’re too early for AlphaLab:
Applicants who are concerned about being “too early” for our program are still formulating their ideas, haven’t built a prototype, and still have many unknowns about their business.
I usually advise individuals in this category to apply to our program as AlphaLab’s goal is to help accelerate a company’s development. Thus, enabling the founding team to build initial versions of the product and answering early business questions is clearly a good fit with AlphaLab’s goals.
Others have also told us that the application process really helped them think through their ideas and provided valuable feedback on the initial concepts of their business. And remember, you shouldn’t be dismayed if you’re not accepted into the program the first time around. It by no means signifies the door is closed to you. In fact, several of our AlphaLab entrepreneurs had applied in a previous cycle before being accepted. In those cases, they either addressed an issue we raised, showed us continued progress with the company, or applied with a different idea/concept.
If you think you’re too late for AlphaLab:
Applicants who are concerned about being “too late” have usually built a product and may have some early users/customers.
My view is that AlphaLab embraces the notion of rapid, iterative development and prototyping, on all levels — from building the product to defining the business model. We encourage AlphaLab companies to iterate on early versions of their product through user-feedback or continued user interaction and we spend much time with the companies analyzing their findings from early customer feedback. Even after product launch, the company is still honing its business plans and rapidly iterating on issues such as user acquisition, target market, business model, pricing, etc.
For example, Jazz (formerly the Resumator) launched its first version within days upon entering AlphaLab and spent much of its time in our program focusing on the business elements above, in addition to continuing to improve/develop the product.
I hope this post helps answer some of the questions we hear regarding the right stage for AlphaLab. I encourage anyone thinking about AlphaLab to reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any further questions/comments about this whole process, I’d love to hear your comments below.