We’ve learned a lot these past four years, and with feedback from you — 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: 1) when they have identified their first target market and proven that customers will pay to use their product and 2) 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, so if you have a working prototype and paying customers, and are looking to scale your manufacturing, check out our website after June 1, 2017 for information on how to apply.

Our first full 2-module cycle will begin in 2018, with applications opening in December 2017.

Ilana & Cole