Virtual Idea TestLab and FastTrack Accelerator now accepting applications

September 01, 2020

Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank is now accepting applications for its Idea TestLab and FastTrack Accelerator programs, both being hosted virtually this fall. The pivot to a virtual format is in response to COVID-19 and the global pandemic, which has temporarily closed the LaunchBox facility. The deadline for Idea Test Lab applications is Sept. 25 and the deadline for FastTrack Accelerator is Oct. 11.

“We have pivoted all our startup programs to 100% virtual,” said Happy Valley LaunchBox Chief Amplifier Lee Erickson. “We’ve already run two virtual programs and tested a number of online tools to ensure that all participants get the same level of one-on-one coaching that is typically provided in-person.”

Idea TestLab—Apply by Sept. 25

Open to the community as well as Penn State faculty, students and staff, the four-week Idea TestLab program is designed to help teams evaluate the viability of their business ideas by coaching them through a proven method of customer discovery and problem analysis. Participants get a better handle on the problem their customer has and the value they can provide them that others can’t. Teams meet as a cohort once per week, have one-on-one consultations with the program manager, and do other work independently. The application deadline is Sept. 25, and the first virtual Idea TestLab group meeting kicks-off Oct. 13. Program benefits include:

  • Access to one-on-one mentoring
  • Mailed copy of “The Mom Test” and program materials
  • Up to $3,000 for customer discovery

“What’s so cool about the Idea TestLab is that all you need to have in order to apply is an idea,” said Happy Valley LaunchBox Idea Catalyst Ben Nason. “Through customer discovery we’ll help you hone the true value of your idea and figure out what your next steps should be.”

FastTrack Accelerator—Apply by Oct. 10

Also accepting applications, the FastTrack Accelerator is a 15-week program that validates business ideas, tests them in the market with customers, and walks through the required steps for launching a startup company. This milestone- based program is for startups that don’t have a clear business model. No Penn State affiliation is required. FastTrack Accelerator helps participants to avoid common startup mistakes and build an actionable plan to launch their business. The first FastTrack Accelerator meeting kicks off Nov. 4. The cohort meets weekly, as well as having 1-on-1 coaching sessions and independent work. Program benefits include:

  • Weekly one-on-one mentoring
  • Free server credits, one-year subscription to SolidWorks and POWr website plugins
  • Up to $6,000 in funding for customer discovery, paid interns, and market testing
  • 80+ advisers from a wide range of industry experience 

“Acting on assumptions can kill your startup,” said Erickson. “Through the FastTrack program we help founders test their assumptions to better define their target market and understand the value people require in order to pay for a solution; all with a focus on building a sustainable business model.”

Considering social distancing protocols and facility closures, program participants for Idea TestLab and FastTrack Accelerator will meet virtually via Zoom for the fall semester. “COIVD-19 has disrupted many businesses and caused the loss of numerous jobs. It has also created opportunities for new businesses and required many current business owners to reinvent themselves. We hope that as individuals adapt and build anew that they are able to take advantage of the FastTrack Accelerator and Idea TestLab to help increase their chances of success,” said Erickson.

About Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank

Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank is the hub that connects local entrepreneurs to the support, resources, and facilities they need to build a sustainable and scalable business with a viable plan for growth. Programs are made possible by a generous gift from PNC Bank. For more information about Happy Valley LaunchBox, visit their website. For information about addition startup resources, visit the Resource Navigator.

Happy Valley LaunchBox is one of 21 innovation hubs that were provided seed grant funding by Invent Penn State, a state-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation, and student career success. For more information, visit the Invent Penn State website.

Last Updated September 22, 2020