Business incubator provides startup with capital, advice, office space – and the right domain name


AlphaLab, a startup incubator that is one of the nation’s most active seed-stage investors officially accepted Devotee into its startup program back in June 2010.  Here’s how Devotee works: You earn rewards by sharing things about your visits to restaurants with your friends online through Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. 

For example, you’re out with your friends or family, you open the Devotee application on your iPhone or Android phone, then check into the restaurant through Devotee and tweet about it – and for your customer loyalty, earn rewards.


Over the last several months since entering the startup incubator program, Devotee employees have been blogging about developing their mobile application, new ideas, working with a seed fund, and their day-to-day experiences. 

Originally, the group was using as their web address.  But it looks like AlphaLab has done a good job of providing the startup with resources and tips on building their brand, including getting the right domain name for their business:

Sedo reported this week that the domain name sold for $6,950 through its GreatDomains marketplace, and the startup is the new owner. 

Learning about a startup

As I mentioned earlier, Devotee has been blogging about their experiences since joining AlphaLab, and the read is interesting and helpful at times.  The company talks about the five most important startup tips they learned while attending a presentation given by Sean Ammirati, the current COO of ReadWriteWeb.  They also share screenshots of their mobile interface, other startups they share space with, and of course brand building.

One of the first changes for the startup was the addition of a mascot named Devo, for a little added branding as they say.


So why a dog?  Matthew French of Devotee writes:

Well being that we are building a fun and simple mobile software centered around loyalty, we wanted our brand to be just as fun and simple.  The core of the Devotee software is to promote brand loyalty at restaurants and small businesses through the loyal customers.  Customers will be spreading word of mouth experiences with their friends and getting rewarded for doing such, all while remaining loyal to the business.  This loyalty bond between a business owner and customer much resembles that strong bond between “mans best friend” and a dog owner. We wanted a branding solution that allowed users to immediately think loyalty when they saw our brand, so a dog kind of just made sense! 

If you have a startup and are wondering where to get started, check out AlphaLab online.  The early-stage business incubaor provides a $25,000 investment, expert advisors and mentors, educational sessions and office space as part of an intensive program in Pittsburgh.