Idea TestLab

Have a cool idea that you want to turn into a business?

Your ultimate goal is to figure out, as quickly as possible, the right thing to build that customers want and will pay for.

Before you can build anything, however, you must be able to 1) clearly articulate the problem/need that your customer has and 2) be able to find customers that have the problem.

Our 4-week Idea TestLab helps you get a better handle on what problem your customer really has, where they hang out, and what value you can provide that others can’t.


The next Idea TestLab will take place fall 2018.

Applications will open late August, 2018.

Better understand the problem/need.

Successful startups fix problems and meet the needs of their customers. But, before you can build a solution to do that, you must verify that they actually have the problem for the reasons you think they do.

As part of the Idea TestLab, you will:

  • Document and test your assumptions
  • Talk to potential real customers
  • Validate your customers’ needs
  • Evaluate current solutions and identify where they fall short

Clearly define your target customer.

It’s critical that you can clearly describe your customer, not only in terms of the job they are trying to get done (or the need they have), but also in terms of who they are.

The Idea TestLab helps you:

  • Identify key customer characteristics
  • Determine where they hang out (physically and virtually)
  • Develop detailed customer personas
  • Document customer experience from beginning to end

I’ve had the idea in my head for a few years now, but I needed that push and direction to turn that idea into something real.”

Dan Hansel
Founder, TrophyTracks


PNC Bank commits $1M to support entrepreneurship in State College

$2M to help support entrepreneurship Yesterday was an amazing day at the LaunchBox. We announced the receipt of a $1M gift from PNC Bank to support what we do here at ...


We take no equity. We charge no fees.

Our programs are free. We take zero equity in your business and charge no rent to use our facilities.


24x7 access to our facilities.

Get 24×7 access to our facilities for the duration of the 4-week program. Also, free coffee and Wi-Fi.


Optional 1-on-1 coaching.

Sign up for weekly 1-on-1 mentoring sessions to get additional help building out your idea.

You're fast-tracked into our Accelerator.

Individuals/teams who have successfully completed the Idea TestLab program will be fast-tracked into interviews for our  Accelerator program.


The Idea TestLab is best for individuals who have identified a problem (or idea) they want to work on, but have not yet systematically collected data to validate the problem/need and who has it. We look for scalable ideas that have an unclear, or unknown business model.

We are looking for teams or individuals who…

  • …have identified a problem (or idea) they want to explore as a potential business.
  • …need help to clearly define their target customer and the value they can provide to them.
  • …are willing to learn from others by working through the customer discovery process, which includes holding 10 business interviews (customers, experts, competitors) each week.
  • …are looking to build their entrepreneurial skills by participating in a structured program that focuses on moving ideas from concept to potential viable businesses.
  • …are struggling with identifying an appropriate business model.

Nope. We welcome individuals who are looking to better define an idea for their business.

In fact, we hope that you might be able to find others to work with by participating in this program and hanging out at the LaunchBox.

  • 4 weekly 2-hour sessions where all teams learn about customer discovery tips and techniques and receive guidance on how to apply those techniques to their specific idea
  • 24×7 access to our facility for the duration of the 4-week program
  • Optional 1-on-1 coaching
  • Successful teams may also be fast-tracked into interviews for our Accelerator program

The question to ask yourself is, based on what you have learned by talking with potential customers (not your friends or family), can you clearly articulate the answers to the 5 questions below?

  1. What are 5 key characteristics of your target customer (not demographics only)?
  2. What is the job (problem/need) your customer is trying to do (solve/meet) and why are they unable to solve it sufficiently today?
  3. What are the best channels for reaching your target customer?
  4. What other solutions have your customers tried, and what do they say about those solutions?
  5. What assumptions are you making about your customer that could “tank” your business if your wrong?

If you are unable to clearly answer all the questions in detail, based on real data from potential customers, or others can’t easily understand what you’re talking about, then the Idea TestLab would be a great place to start.

If you have talked to numerous potential customers and can answer the questions based on what you’ve learned from those customers, and others can easily understand what you’re talking about, then the FastTrack Accelerator may be the best program for you.

That’s hard to say. We can tell you, however, that by the end of the 4-weeks, you will:

  • have verified your assumptions about the problem and who has it,
  • have a clear statement of the problem or job your customer is trying to accomplish and the root cause of that problem/need,
  • know what your customer is doing to try solve the problem today and how that’s working for them,
  • understand what motivates your customer to keep looking for a solution, and
  • be able to pinpoint how you can provide value with your solution.

With all that under your belt, you’ll be ready to start building a minimum viable product and start testing the market.

No funding is provided as part of our Idea TestLab at this time.

No. We take zero equity and charge no fees.

Our next Idea TestLab program will be held in fall 2018.

Look for applications to open late August 2018.

  1. You complete the online application by the defined deadline.
  2. Our Selection Committee reviews all applications and selects 10-15 individuals/teams to participate in the 4-week program.
  3. Individuals/teams are notified via email of acceptance to the program.

That’s it. Simple.

It is our expectation that all participants are serious about, and will be dedicated to, testing their idea. Participants in the Idea TestLab should be prepared to spend between 7 – 12 hour a week during the 4-week program.

Time commitment includes 2 hours a week in a weekly group meeting and 5- 10 hours preparing for and carrying out customer discovery.

Not required, but recommended.

If you have others that you are working with the 4-week program is a great way to get everyone on the same page and see how well you work together.

The 2-hour group meetings are held from 6-8PM on Wednesdays here at the LaunchBox. Specific dates will be posted in late August.


Lee Erickson

Lee brings 25 years of business experience to her job as LaunchBox coach. As the co-founder and CEO of Erickson Barnett, a full-service marketing agency, she worked with B2B technology startups and some of the world’s largest venture capital firms. She also brings hands-on experience with customer discovery and design thinking sprints to help startups drive innovative solutions that solve real problems.

Looking for $10K to jump start your venture? The Summer Founders Program may be a great opportunity.