Laila is the Managing Director of the STANLEY + Techstars Accelerator.
01. What are the key elements you look for when sourcing startups for the STANLEY + Techstars Accelerator?
I am looking for passionate entrepreneurs and teams who want to make an impact in the field of manufacturing, who have a passion for sustainability and circle economies, and want to build cool products and great businesses.
The accelerator theme is AI in Advanced Manufacturing. It starts with data collection from sensors, QBR codes, IoT, video, robots, cobots, and other data collection sources. Over time data analytics and optimization algorithms become artificial intelligence/machine learning and move from predictive to prescriptive. Those processes apply to the factory floor, the supply chain, transport and logistics, and end with the consumer.
02. What are some of the biggest learnings from your career and entrepreneurial journey that you bring to being a Techstars MD?
My startups taught me to be humble. They taught me the importance of mentors, and the thousands of little things that go into starting and growing a business. From my Intel Capital days, I learned how good stewardship of a relationship between a large company and startup can create huge market impact, as well as financial success. I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed!
03. What does our partner Stanley Black & Decker bring to the accelerator?
Stanley is a 177 year old company that has lived through three industrial revolutions and thrived. Innovation is in Stanley’s DNA and its leadership is committed to industrial innovation and digitizing manufacturing. At Stanley, the discipline of a well-run company is coupled with an openness to new ideas and experimentation. That culture permeates throughout Stanley, making it the ideal partner for any startup working in advanced manufacturing.
04. What is your favorite thing about the Hartford startup scene?
It is about entrepreneurs! I love working with passionate, focused entrepreneurs and the Hartford startup scene is vibrant, broad-based, and extraordinarily collaborative – from local angel groups to eager students and large corporations with active innovation efforts.
05. What does Give First mean to you, and how do you apply it in your work and life?
When I started my first company, I was fortunate to have Zipcar founder, Robin Chase, spend an afternoon with me. She has been a friend, sounding board, and mentor ever since. That memorable sunny afternoon in Cambridge set the tone and put me on the path to #GiveFirst. I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs succeed.