Happy Valley LaunchBox wrapped up the fourth successful installment of its Accelerator program on Wednesday, April 26 with a graduation ceremony for its six newest startups: Glass Gotcha, DigitalFSBO, KinderMinder, OGOVO, TrophyTracks, and Unoia Beauty.

The six spring 2017 teams were selected from a competitive pool of 37 applicants—an increase from last fall. And for the program’s fourth go-round, LaunchBox tested the waters with a new, second offering: the LaunchBox Master Class, intended for startups that are already a bit more advanced in their development.

“We think of them as second-stage startups,” said Lee Erickson, Chief Amplifier at LaunchBox. “Basically, the idea is that if you’re a little further along, you won’t need to go through the weekly Accelerator meetings, but still need support, facilities and mentoring.”

After the success of the first three cycles of Accelerator, which began in February 2016, the next logical step was to expand the program’s range of offerings. And Erickson says they will continue to offer the Master Class option as needed.

“Accelerator is really great for the early stage groups, but we need to be able to accommodate and help people at different stages of their companies,” she said.

Another distinct difference this spring was the fact that only half of the teams were made up of students. In addition to the three student teams, one team was run by a community member, one by a staff cofounder, and another by a Penn State faculty member. According to Erickson, the increase in community participation is extremely positive as it helps to spread the word that LaunchBox is open to any startup company, regardless of the founder’s affiliation with Penn State.

“There is a misconception that we’re only available to students, which is not the case,” said Erickson. “So what we’re seeing is more and more of the community realizing that we are not just for students or Penn State people—we’re for everybody.”

The growing success of LaunchBox is already evident. After just one year, the startups that have gone through the program have secured more than $200,000 combined in funding and awards; LaunchBox has created 15 new jobs; and the startup teams have placed over 90 interns in fields ranging everywhere from business to engineering to public relations.

As the program builds, it seems that the best is yet to come for Happy Valley LaunchBox. But all things aside, Erickson and the rest of the staff are simply having a great time helping to support the current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

“I’m having more fun than I’m probably supposed to be having,” Erickson said. “I get to talk to interesting and motivated entrepreneurs all day.”

The next Accelerator course—whose participants will be announced in the near future—will kick off later this month.