A yearlong incubator program that helps founders launch, build, and grow self-sustaining businesses and organizations.
Our pipeline into the Incubation Program (learn more). Multi-day intensive program for early-stage businesses that combines workshops, hands-on business planning, and access to experts and mentors.
1-on-1 mentorship from one of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, in addition to access to our extended pool of experienced mentors.
Membership & Community
Access to Ascender’s 24/7 workspace in Ascender’s diverse, collaborative co-working space, where you are joined by more than 50 PGH startups from different industries and growth stages. Explore the Space
Unlimited access to all Ascender-hosted programs and events as well as incubator-specific educational programming.
Help in refining your business model, test your product/service and connect to potential funding sources.
Access to funding to support your growth model.
Ascender uses its network and platform to elevate you.
Join the ranks of dozens of Ascender Incubator alumni. See Companies
What are the eligibility requirements?
- Bootcamp participation*
- Stage: Ideation to a working prototype
- Raised less than $250k
- Positive contributors to our community
*Note that acceptance to the Bootcamp does not guarantee participation in the Incubation Program.
What type of business should apply?
Ascender works with startups across a broad range of industries, including software (SaaS, mobile applications, enterprises, B2B and B2C), hardware (manufacturing, devices, wearables, etc), social ventures, healthcare technologies, educational technologies, and even non-profit organizations.
We don’t limit the definition of entrepreneurship to startups seeking venture capital. While we certainly work with these “hockey stick growth” businesses, we also support and foster the growth of entrepreneurial enterprises that may never need to raise funding, including small family-owned business models, local impact models, local retail businesses, and others.
How is Ascender able to accelerate such a broad range of entrepreneurs?
Our team doesn’t claim to have expertise in every industry. However, at an early stage, startups of all shapes and sizes will face similar challenges, and our team is very experienced in navigating those challenges.
Once we’ve worked with you to develop a working business model and a plan of attack, we leverage strategic partnerships with industry leaders in the region to accelerate your growth.
Do I need a full team in order to apply to Ascender?
Though not set in stone, we like to see teams as opposed to individuals. Though an individual is capable of making significant progress, our experience shows that a team is much less likely to get “stuck” and much more likely to discover creative solutions to problems than a one-person startup.
Moreover, we strongly prefer startups with the technical aptitude to build the core business assets. For example, if your company is web-based, someone on your team must have the technical knowledge to build the necessary front and back end platforms.
How does Ascender connect us to mentors and advisors?
Rather than inundate each startup with “too many voices” at the beginning of the process, our team will work with our network of mentors, advisors and industry experts to better guide your progress. Once your startup clears certain determined benchmarks, we’ll connect you directly to the appropriate mentors and advisors.
What Our Alumni Say
The mentoring and coaching provided by Ascender has been invaluable to our startup journey. Stephan’s level and persistence of engagement has greatly exceeded my expectations and in my opinion, other incubator/accelerator programs, as starting a company is a long, complicated, dynamic process. In practice, this has taken the form of providing advice on how to approach the process at any point along the journey, from the mechanics of incorporating, to fundraising, customer acquisition, attracting talent, and growth strategies; all while keeping founders grounded and honest with themselves along the way.
CEO & Co-Founder, Medcontrol Technologies
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