What is Play Labs @ MIT?

Play Labs is a startup incubator/accelerator program for startups on campus at MIT in the summer  using playful technologies in any industry. Playful technologies come in many forms, including Digital Currency/Blockchain, eSports, Video Games,  Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3d Modeling, Gamification, AI & Machine Learning, Media Visualization and Streaming.

The next batch will be in the summer of 2018, with application deadline of March 15, 2018.   Selected startups will receive an initial investment (of $20k in cash or Bitcoin), hands-on mentoring, a curriculum of speakers and advisors designed to help them make their startups successful, introductions to industry experts, and the ability to get a follow-on investment after graduating from the incubator as part of their seed round (up to an additional $80k).

Is Play Labs part of MIT?

Play Labs is a private venture run by Bayview Labs (www.bayviewlabs.com) , and its executive director is Riz Virk, MIT ‘92, a successful entrepreneur in both video games and enterprise software, and angel investor in many playful companies.  Play Labs is hosted by the MIT Game Lab, whose faculty and researchers will be involved hands on with startups, and will take place on the MIT Campus.    

Play Labs is being run in partnership with the Seraph Group (www.seraphgroup.net), a seed stage venture capital investment firm that invests in technology startups. Also participating is VR@MIT, a student organization on campus dedicated to fostering VR/AR/MR entrepreneurship at MIT (vratmit.com).    


For this incubator, we are open to applications from start-ups using playful technologies applied to any industry. This is a term which encompasses many technologies and applications related to gaming, play, and entertainment.

There is a particular emphasis on esports and blockchain for the summer, 2018 batch.  However, a startups building any type of playful tech in andy industry are encouraged to apply.

Here are some examples:

         Playful Tech Examples

  • Blockchain / Bitcoin
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Machine Learning / Vision
  • 360 Video
  • Cloud Streaming
  • Video compression
  • 3d Modelling

Application Examples

  • esports (competitive gaming)
  •  Immersive Games 
  • Education
  • Simulation/Training
  • Data Visualization
  • Finance  
  • Healthcare
  • Collaboration
  • Design Visualization
  • Gamification
  • Aerospace / Manufacturing

How can Play Labs help me?

Launching a startup can be a herculean task; making it successful can be even more challenging!  Many MIT alumni and members of the community have started, funded, grown and sold their companies. Play Labs is designed to help you get your company off the ground and on the right trajectory to success with advice, hands-on mentorship, financing and more.  Play Labs can also help your company get exposure within the VC and investment community; because of our affiliation with MIT we are watched closely by many investment professionals.

What makes Play Labs different from other accelerators?

Unlike many other accelerators, Play Labs is very focused on particular technologies/applications; It has support in the MIT alumni community; it has the participation of MIT faculty and alumni as mentors;  it is focused on a small number of startups, and it is hosted on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA and provides office space for frequent interaction.

This focus allows us to bring in speakers, advisors, and mentors that are relevant and tailored to our group of startups. Play Labs startups will receive hands on mentoring from the Executive Director, Riz Virk ‘92, who has helped many entrepreneurs launch successful startups, from our Hands-On mentors who participate every week, from MIT faculty & staff, and from many mentors and speakers who have been through what you are going through. We also have many service providers that will be able to help you get your company ready for launch.

What investment will startups receive?

Every team accepted into Play Labs will receive $20k at the start of the program in exchange in for 6% common equity as our standard participation method.  Startups that have raised more than $100k already or have more than $100k in annual revenues may be eligible for our alternative participation methods.

This money will help the team get through the summer, and each company that graduates will be eligible for a follow on investment of up to $80k as part of a follow-on seed round, which is typically done as a convertible note. Startups will need to meet certain criteria in their seed round for the follow-on investment.

Will I be given workspace?

Yes, all accepted teams will be provided up to 2 full time desks on the MIT Campus for the duration of the program.   If you have more than 2 team members, there are temporary desk for when they visit but space on campus limits the amount of full time space we can provide.

Will you introduce me to prospective investors AND CUSTOMERS?

Yes, we will introduce you to investors, at Demo Day (we have a great turnout of investors and MIT community since the demo day is on campus).  If you are ready before Demo Day, we can make select introductions and we have frequent "Ask the VC" sessions during the program.   Even after graduating from Play Labs, we will continue to help you with intros and advice. We cannot of course guarantee that any investor we introduce you to will want to invest in your company. Our mentors and advisors will be able to help your team with introductions in various industries as well.