Idea TestLab

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

The first step in taking your idea from concept to business is figuring out if you have identified a problem worth solving.

We’re hosting two 4-week virtual Idea TestLab sessions during summer 2021. The program helps you… 

  • get a better handle on what problem your customer really has,
  • figure out where potential customers hang out, and
  • identify the value you can provide that others can’t.

Participants will:

  • meet virtually for two-hour sessions for 4-weeks
  • have access to up to $3000 for customer discovery
  • have access to 1-on-1 mentoring

This program will be an all-virtual program and will require the following to participate:

  • Access to a computer with audio and video capabilities
  • A stable internet connection

Notebooks and copies of The Mom Test generously provided by

The Penn State Bookstore

Important Dates:

Session 2

  • Applications open: July 6
  • Applications close: July 27
  • Teams selected: June Aug 10

Session 2 Teams will meet virtually from 6-8PM on the following dates:

Aug 24, 31

Sept 7, 14

Learn from your customer.

Successful startups begin by spending time with potential customers to figure out exactly what the problem is and how much “pain” they are having.

As part of the Idea TestLab, you will:

  • Talk with at least 40 potential customers
  • Validate your customers’ needs/pain
  • Identify key customer characteristics
  • Determine where they hang out (physically and virtually)

Figure out where others fall short.

It’s critical that you understand where other solutions fall short from the perspective of your target customers.

The Idea TestLab helps you:

  • Evaluate current solutions
  • Identify the tangible results you provide
  • Draft a value proposition

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


Legal advice across the Commonwealth

Helping startups de-risk their businesses. The Penn State Law Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic is a key part of how Penn State de-risks early stage startups. Lead by Tom Sharbaugh, the clinic provids ...


We take no equity. We charge no fees.

Our programs are free. We take zero equity in your business.


Access to our network of advisors

We’ll connect you to experts who can provide advice based on experience.


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.


Benjamin Nason

Not a day goes by when Ben isn’t thinking about how to turn cool ideas into viable businesses. His first venture, started as an undergrad, was the Blue and White potato chip company, Tailgater Taters (which you can buy at the Creamery). His next startup venture was as COO of Phospholutions, an agricultural technology company focused on reducing phosphorus runoff. While there, he helped grow the team, support research trials, and sales across the East Coast. Ben is now bringing his passion for the early-stage startups here to the LaunchBox as the Idea Catalyst where he is building new programs to support blossoming entrepreneurs.

Interesting in meeting with someone about your idea? We'd love to hear what you're working on.