The Harvard Innovation Labs, an ecosystem that supports Harvard students and select alumni in exploring innovation and entrepreneurship, is hosting its first annual Launch Lab X Startup Showcase on May 23 at 5:15 pm. The event will feature five-minute pitches from the startups that participated in the inaugural Launch Lab X accelerator program for Harvard alumni-led ventures.
“We created Launch Lab X to offer Harvard alumni a more intentional startup accelerator experience — one that would help them build businesses with strong foundations for long-term success,” said Jodi Goldstein, executive director of the Harvard Innovation Labs. “I could not be more impressed with what this group of alumni-led ventures has accomplished. While every team is working on solving a significantly different problem, they share an enthusiasm for making the world a better place.”
More than 260 ventures from 36 countries applied to Launch Lab X. In September 2018, 13 startups began the nine-month program, which was divided into three 90-day sprints. Each sprint culminated in a pitch and feedback session with investors, prospective customers, and industry leaders, giving teams the time, guidance, and 360-degree view necessary to transform materially into sustainable, disruptive businesses with real-world impact. To push progress, ventures gained access to expert coaching within a like-minded community, and developed roadmaps designed explicitly for their businesses.
Accomplishments from Launch Lab X ventures included:
- Launching world-changing products: More than half of the ventures launched a new product or service, including Nebula Genomics’ private and secure DNA testing kit; Nurse-1-1’s app that lets people chat privately with a nurse about health concerns 24/7; Electra Labs’ solution for advancing the safe, effective, and personalized introduction of medicine; and MakerFleet’s 3D Printing Management Software.
- Growing customer bases and teams: Collectively, Launch Lab X teams secured thousands of new customers over the course of nine months. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jamber reported that it is on track to sell hundreds of thousands of mugs in 2019. Additionally, more New York City residents began using Mobley’s furniture rental solution, Zubale saw increased use of its consumer research app, and Gain Life added customers for its software that drives behavior change. More than 60% of the ventures who participated in Launch Lab X hired staff to support their growth.
- Receiving recognition from prestigious startup competitions and awards: Learning how to tell a compelling venture story to prospective customers, employees, and investors is a primary focus of Launch Lab X. These stories were well-received in a number of competitions. Legacy won TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield at Disrupt in Berlin for its innovative approach to addressing the decline in male fertility; Nebula Genomics won the SXSW Startup Pitch “Best in Show” for its private and secure DNA testing kit; Nilus received an honorable mention in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas 2019 for its solution to reduce food waste; and Sophya was recognized as a finalist in the Harvard President’s Innovation Challenge for helping students learn more effectively on the internet.
- Raising capital: Launch Lab X ventures collectively raised millions of dollars in funding during the program. One notable raise was Zoba’s $3 million seed round. The company is building the next generation of spatial analytics to improve the efficiency of cities and the lives of the people who live in them.
Added Howard Kaplan, director of advising at the Harvard Innovation Labs, “While most accelerator programs focus on fundraising, Launch Lab X intentionally does the opposite. Shifting away from growth for growth’s sake, Launch Lab X offers a unique, milestone-based path rooted in the team’s reality – and able to support the inevitable shifts in a startup’s path. This means creating the most fundamentally aligned leadership teams in touch with their customers, their reason for being, and the value they create as they change the status quo.”
The Launch Lab X Startup Showcase is free, and open to the public. Register to attend at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/launch-lab-x-startup-showcase-tickets-60734489493