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Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Announces Idea TestLab for Entrepreneurs

By Colin McEvoy on February 19, 2021

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox has announced a new virtual business accelerator program for early-stage entrepreneurs who want to explore their scalable business idea or address a customer problem for a potential startup company.

The six-week program, called Idea TestLab, will provide participants with lean startup instruction and one-on-one coaching through an intensive customer discovery process.

“Idea TestLab is a signature Invent Penn State program, and we are excited to bring it to the Lehigh Valley campus for the first time,” said Annette Durnack, Director of Business Development at Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.

The program run will run from March 30 to May 4. Applications will be accepted through March 3. For more information about the program or how to apply, visit the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox website.

Idea TestLab applications are open to students, faculty, staff, and community entrepreneurs located anywhere in Pennsylvania. No affiliation with Penn State is required, nor is any previous experience necessary. Applicants must be 18 years of age or older.

George Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Communications and Research for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), serves on the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox Advisory Board.

“Startup businesses are an important element of Lehigh Valley’s economy,” Lewis said. “The Idea TestLab provides a unique opportunity for aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs to test their ideas and receive one-on-one mentoring from experienced business leaders.”

During the program, participants will conduct deep-dive customer discovery to help them better understand the problem they are trying to solve and how to provide value in a differentiated way.

Idea TestLab participants will receive coaching from experienced business leaders and mentors. There will also be opportunities for participants to meet in-between sessions for follow-up with their mentors.

Participants will also have the opportunity to connect with 40 potential customers, using those conversations to validate the customers’ needs, identify key characteristics, and determine where to find their customers.

All sessions will be held Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. via Zoom. The five classes included in the program will help participants learn how to test the assumptions behind their business ideas.

The program culminates with a virtual elevator pitch competition in which participants can compete for small grant awards in seed funding, according to Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.

By the end of the program, participants will have verified their assumptions about the problem they are seeking to solve and which potential customers are experiencing the problem.

They will also be able to understand what motivates their customers to keep looking for a solution and be able to pinpoint how the participant can provide value with their solution.

Lehigh Valley LaunchBox connects aspiring entrepreneurs with microgrants, coworking space at Velocity in downtown Allentown, legal and intellectual property services, business advice and mentorship. Since it was formed in 2015, Lehigh Valley LaunchBox has awarded dozens of grants to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Launchbox was established as part of the Invent Penn State initiative, which aims to spur economic development, job creation and student career success through academic programs, training and incubation, funding for commercialization and other university-community collaborations.

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