UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank is now accepting applications through May 15 for its Idea TestLab that will now be hosted virtually in June. The quick pivot to a virtual format is in response to COVID-19 and the global pandemic, which has temporarily closed the LaunchBox facility.
Open to the community, 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 what value they can provide them that others can’t. The first virtual Idea TestLab kicks-off June 2.
“We are working on new ways to connect to our audience virtually. Without a physical space and foot-traffic, we’re missing some of our normal opportunities to connect with the community,” said Happy Valley LaunchBox idea catalyst Ben Nason. “That said, outside of the in-person meetings and use of the LaunchBox space, participants in the June program still have access to most of the program’s benefits.”
Considering social distancing protocols and facility closures, program participants will now meet virtually via Zoom as a group for four two-hour hands-on sessions. They will also have access to 1-on-1 mentoring and will receive mailed copies of the “Mom Test” and other program materials. Additionally, they have the potential to qualify for a $3,000 grant for customer discovery.
“We’re looking for virtual analogs to our physical tools,” Nason said. “Meeting rooms, sharpies, sticky notes — they’re all being replaced by virtual whiteboards and Zoom breakout rooms. I’m very excited because we believe we’re providing an experience through Zoom that is very close to the in-person offering w traditionally offer.”
Successful Idea TestLab teams often apply to the FastTrack Accelerator, a 15-week program held later in the year that takes validated business ideas, tests them in the market with customers, and walks through the required steps for launching a company.
“As heartbreaking and difficult as our current situation is, we still have a number of people reaching out to us with their ideas for founding a business or creating a product,” says Nason. “We are sincerely encouraged and inspired by the ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking we’re hearing as people respond to the new normal.”
Apply for the Virtual Idea TestLab online by May 15 at launchbox.psu.edu/ideatestlab.