Innovator of the Week
CEO of Alpha Loft
About three years ago, the New Hampshire Innovation and Commercialization Center (NHICC), ABI Innovation Hub, and Alpha Loft merged and rebranded as what we know today as the Alpha Loft. The impetus for this merger was the realization that “those organizations were effectively trying to appeal to the same supporters [and] the same startup,” explains Mark Kaplan, CEO of Alpha Loft. Kaplan explains that they “thought it made sense to combine those into a single organization that could operate in more of a platform way from the Seacoast to Manchester and beyond.” With locations in both Manchester and Portsmouth, Alpha Loft is a “community and ecosystem based organization.” Tailored more towards scalable, innovation based startups, Alpha Loft seeks to “provide resources to startups” and function as “some of the glue that holds together the startup ecosystem” in New Hampshire.
To these ends, Alpha Loft has three primary areas of focus: networking, advocacy, and education. The network of people who are involved with Alpha Loft is both, in Kaplan’s words, “pretty broad and pretty deep.” Alpha Loft functions as a conduit that connects budding entrepreneurs to this network, allowing them to gain from the experience of numerous others who have found success within this ecosystem. Furthermore, Kaplan explains that “advocacy on behalf of startups” is another component of Alpha Loft’s work. Finally, they organize numerous programs in their facilities that seek to both incubate nascent startups and educate those in the community who are interested in this vein of entrepreneurship.
Alpha Loft offers two “longer form programs,” for which there is an application process: Startup Fundamentals and Accelerate NH. The former is a “Startup 101” of sorts. Geared towards promising startups in the very early stages of development, the program seeks to guide the process of developing a great idea into a feasible, more tangible business plan. For entrepreneurs a bit farther down the path, Alpha Loft offers Accelerate NH, a three month, intensive program designed to “accelerate their pathway to market.” This program consists of weekly meetings, classes, and consultations with Alpha Loft’s staff. Volunteers from throughout the high tech ecosystem provide additional mentorship to participants in this program. The program furthermore helps these startups secure the capital necessary to grow after completion. The majority of graduates are still operating and growing in a field with an infamous and dauntingly high rate of failure, a testament to the success of these programs.
“Like any company,” Kaplan explains, “we’re always looking to improve and make things better,” Kaplan says. In the future, they want to focus on developing and expanding both the Startup Fundamentals and Accelerate NH programs. Kaplan also explains that they are exploring the potential creation of a “post-Accelerator program.” Since the relationship between Alpha Loft and graduates of its programs has, to this point, been somewhat “ad hoc,” Kaplan explains, they hope to make it more defined, purposeful, and mutually beneficial in the future. Furthermore, as they themselves develop, they are looking to sharpen their focus on the type of startup that their services are tailored towards. By no means does this signal making the programming more exclusive, but rather an increased intentionality in ensuring that everything offered is “of value to the target market.”
Those looking to get involved in the exciting and critical work that Alpha Loft is doing can do so in two ways. The first is to volunteer. Alpha Loft is always looking to expand its network of those who can lend experience and wisdom to those just starting out. Secondly, funding into the future always carries with it some uncertainty. Those interested in partnering financially with Alpha Loft can partake in a number of sponsorship programs available. To learn more about supporting Alpha Loft and its work, additional information and resources are available at alphaloft.org. As its success so far has indicated, the connections and opportunities Alpha Loft provides are of tremendous value to our ecosystem and, looking towards the future, will be instrumental components to our growth.