LaunchBox09 Looking to Incubate Another Great Year for Startups

For many of us, the new year offers a blank slate and 12 upcoming months of hope that springs eternal. It may seem a bit more difficult to be extremely hopeful this year, given the state of the economy, and it may seem even more dismal for startups seeking funding and other resources needed to launch a particular product. But when it comes to funding and the allocation of resources (monetary and otherwise), the tech-focused incubators seem to be especially hopeful.

The latest to announce its next program and begin taking applications for this year is Washington D.C.-based LaunchBox Digital, an incubator and investment firm designed to help early state entrepreneurs build and grow their interactive applications, services and products. Launched last year, LaunchBox Digital has already had a successful first program that helped get 9 startups up and running (see Nick’s video interview with founder Sean Green here). This includes Koofers, a class notes-sharing application, which went on to raise a $2 million series A round last year. In total, six of the nine companies participating in LaunchBox08 raised approximately $6 million last year.

Launchbox’s program for this year is called LaunchBox09, and will have a number of features and opportunities you’d expect from an early stage incubator program. A focus on mentorship, advice, practical guidance and help with bringing a product to market or enhancing an existing product are all central to Launchbox Digital ideology. For LaunchBox09, ten applicants will be chosen to receive seed investment and a 12 week program in Washington D.C. At the end of the program, each participating startup gets to present their business to angel investors and venture capital firms, along with potential partners and members of the media across the nation.

And the team behind LaunchBox Digital has a lot do with the program’s success. Founded by industry veterans Sean Greene, who was the Founder and CEO of The Away Network, John McKinley, who was the President of Digital Services and CTO of AOL, and Julius Genachowski, former Chief of Business Operations and member of the Office of the Chairman at InterActive Corp.

With a growing focus on capital-efficient startups that can weather the current market, many incubator programs are becoming even more necessary than before in order for startups to work their way up to large venture capital firms. Incubators have always acted as middle men in that sense, and now more than ever venture capital firms could become reliant on such incubator programs to act as enablers for a given startup’s proof of concept before being considered for series A funding. I’ve seen many startups struggle with the chicken and the egg conundrum of needing funding in order to create a product worth considering for venture capital firms, so incubators with a good track record so far and a team of well-rounded and connected advisers is a necessary entity during these times.