Digital technology incubator seeking great business ideas

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by Heather B. Hayes

An early-stage investment firm based in Northern Virginia wants to give a boost to companies with ideas for new mobile, Web and digital platform products.

LaunchBox Digital ( is seeking applications through the end of February for LaunchBox 08, a 12-week accelerator program. It will provide mentoring and support from technology and business experts on how to take ideas from concept to market.

There are no set criteria for selection, says Matt Jacobson, the executive director of LaunchBox Digital, which will ultimately choose six to 10 participants. “What we’re looking for is great ideas and hard-working and smart entrepreneurs.”

The program, which will start in May, will tutor startup teams on topics such as strategy, operations, marketing, business development, human resources and finance. In addition, LaunchBox 08 will help entrepreneurs in developing prototypes and infrastructure.

“Being an entrepreneur is extremely difficult,” Jacobson says. “The things that we will do for them and that they will learn from us will make their task a lot easier.”

At the end of the program, participants will get a chance to pitch their business ideas to angel investors and venture capitalists.

LaunchBox Digital initially will provide each startup with up to $30,000 in seed money, depending on its size and capital requirements. A great business idea might attract additional funds. For its ongoing advice and investment, LaunchBox Digital will receive a 4 to 8 percent equity stake in each company.

The investment firm was founded in November by Julius Genachowski, former chief of business operations at IAC/InterActive Corp.; Sean Greene, founder and CEO of The Away Network; and John McKinley, former president of digital services and CTO at America Online.

The company has more than 20 digital advisers who will participate in LaunchBox 08 sessions, including Ross Levinsohn, co-founder of Velocity Interactive Group; Raul Fernandez, CEO of ObjectVideo; Rick Morrow, CEO of NextGen VS; and Haroon Mokhtarzada, founder and CEO of FreeWebs.

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