Since the relaunch of WeWork Labs about one year ago, the accelerator program has expanded into 37 locations across 22 cities.
WeWork originally launched WeWork Labs in 2011, but it grew unfeasible the following years. Roee Adler, the program’s head, relaunched the program in New York and has now been rapidly opening locations.
Each Labs office is supervised by a Labs manager, who is typically a former entrepreneur who has a passion for the startup community.
Labs managers carry the role of being a business connector for startups by meeting with entrepreneurs and understanding their needs and challenges.
“A lecture that is at our Najing Xi Lu Road space in Shanghai will get captured, summarized, translated and become available to all of the entrepreneurs around the world,” Adler said. “Does that mean every piece of information is relevant for everyone? No. But truthfully, who knows?”
WeWork Labs held a pitch competition at the company’s headquarters to celebrate its one-year anniversary. The $150,000 grand prize went to Lilu, a startup that makes compression bras for breastfeeding mothers.
Adriana Vazquez, CEO and cofounder of Lilu, said that working out of WeWork Labs allows companies to have the community of an accelerator without a fixed schedule.
“We had a brief stay at another co-working space with creatives and small businesses, and there wasn’t that camaraderie, where you see someone that’s working on a weekend and you know you’re not here because they want to hang out on a Friday,” said Vazquez.
Adler says that Labs wants to do more work to connect startups with corporations as it enters its second year and also hopes to reach 100 locations by the end of 2019.