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An Arlington-based company that helps startup founders turning their ideas into viable businesses has a new permanent home in Rosslyn.
Founded in 2017, Labs unlocked is a small venture capital and advisory firm that provides founders of small tech startups with mentorship, office space, and sometimes investment.
Until recently, Unstuck operated out of various coworking spaces in Arlington. With the help of Arlington Economic Development, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and the County Innovation Fund With that grant, Unstuck moved to an office in Rosslyn, where co-founder and CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf says he hopes to add more programs.
Ashshowwaf says Unstuck is not a typical acceleration program.
While most accelerator programs provide founders with a “curriculum” on how to build their company, Ashshowwaf says Unstuck treats the curriculum more like an apprenticeship.
“Think of sitting in a classroom rather than being taught. Like someone can tell you, ‘This is how you fix a car,’ but our learning will be like, ‘Okay, let’s open the hood and fix it,'” he said. told ARLnow.
The program lasts 12 weeks, during which Ashshowwaf says the company helps founders with everything from designing a logo to pitching to potential investors, including Unstuck.
While Unstuck doesn’t guarantee it will invest in participating startups, Ashshowwaf noted that “86% of founders secured some sort of seed funding…within three months of the program.”
“The goal is for you to arrive on day one and no one really cares about you. You have your idea. By week 12, people care about you. You have an idea. You have a client. You have income and you invest in it,” he said.
Even if the product “doesn’t work,” Ashshowwaf says it’s not the end of the world. For Unstuck, a failed product launch is less of a setback and more of a learning opportunity that can lead to a more successful business down the line.
“If the idea doesn’t work, it’s not a failure because in 12 weeks you’ll learn, ‘Okay, that didn’t work.’ You didn’t spend two years of your life doing this. And then you can move on,” Ashshowwaf said.
In addition to its accelerator program, Unstuck offers free workshops, such as “Startup Patent Survival Skills, and weekly meetings where entrepreneurs can discuss their current projects. Ashshowwaf says he hopes to host 50 to 100 free workshops and weekly meetups per year now that Unstuck has its own office.
Ashshowwaf says the free workshops cultivate an “ecosystem” where entrepreneurs can collaborate and help each other get “unstuck,” instead of navigating an often intimidating process alone, he said.
” Any ideas. He says, “Okay, I want to start a startup. I want to start a business. So they ask their friends and family, and then they usually turn to a company and say, “Hey, can you build the app?” How much? Oh, $100,000? How to find the money? And it’s a very disjointed process,” he said.
The meetings, for their part, promote accountability, he says.
“At the end of (the meeting), I give you a list of things to do… So, for example, I say, ‘Okay, let’s figure out how to make a dog tuxedo.’ Here are some companies: go check them out…A member of our team will follow up with you to make sure you’re doing it,” Ashshowwaf said.
Unstuck is also seeking an additional $10 million in funding to support the company’s operations, including its accelerator program, for the next two to three years.
“But the goal is if I can be the first check for 100 startups in the next two years, I think that will be great,” Ashshowwaf said.