Category Archives: Press and PR

Pre-Launch PR for Early Stage Startups

The teams in the 2014 HTRLaunchPad are past the halfway point and we’re seeing exceptional progress as evidenced by the refinement of their business models and their stories. What typically started as ideas expressed vaguely has coalesced into specific solutions to targeted problems with a marketable audience. There are a few struggling with the end game but we think they will be seeing  things come together before the demo days here in Rochester and in NYC.

So it’s time to start thinking about publicity– getting the word out about the teams. PR is something that can be done with a small budget accelerated by some hard work and creativity. The LaunchPad process helps get that going as each team works towards their goal of talking to 120-150 people about their concept. We’ve had some local news coverage for the program as a whole but it’s now time to be thinking about using the media to tell each company’s story.

Fortunately the FounderDating blog has an excellent post, written by an entrepreneur, on early stage PR for startups:

Pitching Practice: A Public Relations Launch Checklist for Early-Stage Startup Founders

This is comprehensive and I’m urging our teams to study it and begin developing their pitch, their story, their relationships with bloggers in their field and all the other pieces that go into a compelling story for the media. It’s an important part of their customer discovery process and each bit of coverage increases the value of their startup, often in significant ways.

HTRLaunchPad 2014: Teams, Lab & more

From our most recent Press Release:

HTR LAUNCHPAD SELECTS TEAMS, OPENS SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT LAB

Thirteen software developers to participate in a highly focused software accelerator program that helps them commercialize their innovations, can now use a dedicated software development facility at HTR’s Lennox Technology Enterprise Center

Modeled after the highly successful Lean LaunchPad program developed at Stanford University and funded locally by a grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, the HTR LaunchPad has selected 13 teams for its second season. The 13 selected were from an application pool of 33, an increase over last year’s pool of 29.

The HTR LaunchPad provides support for start-up companies by offering one year of advisory services and access to HTR’s incubation facilities, including an initial 12-week program – an intensive, action-oriented workshop requiring development of working prototypes and first-hand customer interviews to refine and validate ideas for new products and services. HTR LaunchPad is for Rochester-area software and web-based teams and entrepreneurs developing new software applications: internet-based systems, mobile apps, and enterprise software products including those for smart phones, portable web-based devices, more traditional markets and technologies, larger scale enterprise IT, and “cloud” computing.

The 13 teams, their leading founder and their areas of interest are:

• Providentia Healthcare Analytics (Karan Mehrotra) Healthcare decision support system
• Digitronik Development Labs (Stephen Mokey) Industrial automation optimatization
• Kavyar (Justin Kramer) Community for creative professionals
• Coterie (Letitia Elizabeth) Mobile shopping system for boutiques
• CityWhisk (Stacey Lampell ) Custom itineraries for travelers
• eStork (John Loncz) Buying incentive programs for hospitals
• DogWays (Andy Simon) Social platform for dog owners and service providers
• TourBlend (Brian O’Keefe) Location-based tools for tourism professionals
• GlassPay (Guy Paddock) Mobile payment systems
• Clinical Trial Innovations CTiX @iCardiac (Thuan Pham) Digital archive for heart monitor data
• DealerTeam.com (Adam Grossman) Web-based tools for independent car dealers
• 12 Parsecs Design (Robert Handsfield) Software tools for analysis of human motion
• Quantum Prep, Inc. (Anuradha Tanwar ) Online math SAT/PSAT /ACT test preparation

“Each team has great potential yet all could likely benefit from experienced advisors and additional resources for bringing their concepts to the marketplace,”

says LaunchPad program director Mike Riedlinger, HTR’s Program Manager of Technology Commercialization.

“By using the HTR LaunchPad approach, a start-up team learns what needs to be done to address specific customer needs, rapidly adapt to market requirements and build viable business models to make money from their venture.”

HTR LaunchPad Lab

To foster a community of software developers, and to offer software development and customer discovery resources to participating teams, HTR LaunchPad has created its own LaunchPad Lab, a dedicated suite at HTR’s Lennox Tech Enterprise Center, located at 150 Lucius Gordon Drive (off of Bailey Road) in West Henrietta. The new facility offers a wide range of hardware, including iMacs, iPad Airs, Android tablets, Kindle readers, wire framing tools, self-paced web coding curricula, video editing, and Chromecast and Smart TV. In addition, the Lab boasts a collection of reference materials including interface design for iOS and Android, user interface design, market research and business building.

“With our new LaunchPad Lab, individuals on the participating teams have access to popular mobile devices, computer hardware and the latest in reference materials,”

says LaunchPad director Riedlinger. “We’re grateful to the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation and to Merkle Donohue helping High Tech Rochester equip and furnish this facility.”

More About the HTR LaunchPad Experience

In addition to offering the free 12-session to participants, HTR connects participating teams with regional business vendors, professional advisors, and engineering resources for rapid development and market testing. Investor presentations and demo days will be held in Rochester and New York City in June.

Working closely with the participating teams will be “successful serial entrepreneurs, seed-stage venture capitalists, software engineering and business experts who’ll provide one-on-one mentorship and support,” says Mikael Totterman, an HTR LaunchPad advisory board member. Totterman is a co-founder of VirtualScopics, iCardiac, and Innovocracy.org

“Thanks to a grant from the Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation, HTR has developed this new program which we believe will benefit the Rochester community in the way of new and successful businesses and the economic benefits that come with them,”

says HTR President James Senall.

“The mission of the HTR LaunchPad is consistent with HTR’s larger mission of commercializing innovative technology developed in the Rochester area and helping entrepreneurs create successful and profitable ventures.”

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HTR LaunchPad 2013 inspired a book, The Customer Discovery Matrix: A Concise Guide To Starting Anything

Customer Grass Cover copy

Alex Zapesochny of iCardiac and I had a broad-ranging discussion after last’s years HTRLaunchPad program about what worked, what new things we learned and what we could have improved on. Alex serves on the LaunchPad Advisory Board and as a mentor and I work on the teaching team. As a writer I was interested in doing a concise version of the methodology for those who might not wade through the very long texts written by inventors of the lean concept.

We also had an epiphany of our own and that was that customer discovery is a process that anyone starting anything new should go through, before committing time and resources to their idea. This included community projects, new product development, local ‘mom and pop’ businesses, sales initiatives and more. So we felt our book should cover the application of the methodology in a broader sense.

The result is an ebook, available on Amazon, called The Customer Discovery Matrix: A Concise Guide To Starting Anything by Martin Edic & Alex Zapesochny. It’s our hope that we can encourage adoption of this process across a wide range of innovative efforts taking place in Upstate NY.

The book is currently available as an ebook for Kindle. Amazon offers free reader apps for any device here.

You can see the Table of Contents on the web site we created for the book and our community-building efforts at www.customerdiscoverymatrix.com

We’ll also be posting excerpts here that are relevant to what we’re teaching in this year’s HTRLaunchPad.

Lean Goes Mainstream: The Economist Cover Story

20140118_cna400The Economist devotes 16 pages to the global startup movement with a huge emphasis on accelerators and the way lean methodology is being adapted to startup programs of all kinds. It’s a comprehensive set of articles that serve as an excellent guide to this movement (if you can call it that) and its methodology.

You can download a PDF of the cover story here.

Here at the HTRLaunchPad we’re proud to be among the earliest programs utilizing this process outside of Silicon Valley

Join us at Roc Brewing Tuesday January 28th

Roc Brewing, 56 South Union St Rochester NY
Roc Brewing, 56 South Union St Rochester NY

We’re hosting an informational mixer at Roc Brewing, 56 South Union St on Tuesday the 28th of January. Mentors, applicants, curiosity-seekers, 2013 LaunchPad teams…come on out!

Doors open at 5!

If you haven’t been there check out the directions– it’s a one way street.