Each year Pop City raises a finger to the entrepreneurial wind and suggests some of most promising companies in the region to watch in the coming year.
Sizing up the success of innovative technologies is always a bit of a gamble. Companies will come, companies will go and the slightest shift in the economic weather could change everything.
With that in mind, we venture forth. This list was compiled through informal survey and discussions with local business leaders and investors. The result is companies that have not only shown staying power in Pittsburgh, but ones that tantalize us in their prospects for explosive future growth.
The sheer number of great companies required us to compose two lists this year. This week we present the Top Tech Companies to Watch in 2013. Next week we'll consider the life sciences sector. Both are strong fields proving yet again the region's potential as fertile ground for entrepreneurs and their innovative products and services.
Without further adieu, the Top 10 Tech Companies to Watch in 2013:
The idea behind the Cleanwater Infant Tub was so simple as to be deceiving; a running fountain of clean water to bathe the baby. Then 4moms took off and we've been agog ever since over their line of techy baby gear that has attracted the attention of parents.
This year the Strip District firm unveiled the Origami, the world’s first power-folding stroller. It joined the self-effacing Breeze, a playpen that assembles itself, and the mamaRoo swinging chair, which had already won the hearts of parents. 4moms is setting its sails in the future on the world market, with plans to distribute and sell to more than 17 countries. Both the mamaRoo swinging chair and Origami have gained national attention through prime media spots on The Ellen Degeneres Show, The Today Show
and How I Met Your Mother
. Good things will come from a company that makes parenting more joyful.
ALLED Lighting Systems
Appalachian Lighting Systems changed its name to ALLED in October 2012, but it remains a manufacturer of solid state lighting systems for large indoor and outdoor spaces.
The Ellwood City company attracted attention several years ago with a major LED installation at the Pittsburgh International Airport. This past year, ALLED installed systems in the Niagara Falls area and Welland, Ontario. Welland alone will realize a net savings of about $2.4 million in energy savings over 15 years after the cost of the lights are deducted.
ALLED claims to be the first company in the world to create not only the most reliable and energy-saving solid state light, but also an adaptive control technology that can be programmed to light or dim on demand.
Avere just keeps growing. Developers of high performance storage solutions for data enterprise centers, Avere cites three major highlights in the last year: the release of new product architecture for data storage, a $20 million investment from a new investor and a major partnership with Fujitsu American.
The company doubled in size last year to 75 employees and plans to double again this year, both in employees and revenue. Squeezed for working space, the company plans to go shopping for a new headquarters in 2013.
CivicScience has a stake in a moving target, public opinion, and is successfully using its unconventional methodology to keep a finger on the pulse of what people are thinking at any given time. Polling millions of consumers each week puts the company in command of information of tremendous interest to leading decision-makers.
Highlights in 2012 included a $2.86 million investment round led by Cox Enterprises and New Atlantic Ventures, the doubling of the CivicScience team and revenue growth of 500%, says CEO John Dick. Dallas Maverick owner and Shark Tank celeb Mark Cuban joins the board in 2013; the company will also move to a new space in East Liberty and continue to grow.
Dynamics is changing the plastic we carry in our pockets. This former Project Olympus startup launched its flagship product this year, the Dynamics ePlate Visa credit card device, the world’s first battery-operated credit card issued by UMB Bank, N.A. The card is capable of multi-tasking like no other, offering consumers applications that award loyalty points for dozens of perks, everything from travel to games, restaurant meals, groceries and charity donations.
CEO and founder Jeff Mullen promises that a number of new products will be introduced to consumers in 2013.
This North Huntingdon company is pioneering the evolution of a new age of manufacturing. Founded in 2005, a spin-off of Extrude Hone Corp., ExOne has inherited several decades of research and product development that is helping to usher in a new era of rapid production technology. This global company supplies services, systems and solutions for manufacturing in the digital age, including three-dimensional printing in sand, metal, glass and laser micromachining.
A former AlphaLab grad, NoWait has generated a buzz in the region as the Open Table for casual restaurants. It was no secret that the startup was quickly outgrowing its space in StartUptown
this summer. The company announced this week it has hired a new CEO, Ware Sykes who will replace founder Robb Myer who remains as president and chief product officer. While the team will remain in Pittsburgh, Sykes will work from New York. NoWait raised a $2 million investment round in August. The service has seated more than six million diners to date.
Yet another fast-growing Alpha Lab grad, The Resumator hit its stride this year when it was tapped by both presidential campaigns for their hiring needs. Another highlight--in addition to moving into an 8,000 square-foot office space and doubling from 18 to 30 people—was an investment by Salesforce.com.
2013 may be an even better year as the firm looks to take the national stage and partner with larger businesses to exponentially grow the customer base, says CEO Don Charlton.
Working under the radar since 2009, Safaba is ready to make its presence known. The Squirrel Hill firm provides automated language text translations to some of the world’s leading global enterprises.
Companies that are ready to take the international stage have tapped Safaba to translate all their online and text corporate materials into other languages. PayPal used Safaba to develop online ecommerce in the Nordic languages. One of the greatest accomplishments of 2012, says Safaba’s Udi Hershkovich, vice president of business development, was tackling the world’s largest machine learning project, the translation of Dell’s online content into 27 languages.
"Our goals for 2013 are still open to question,” he adds. But they quite ambitious. “We’d like to replicate the success of 2012 by four times.”
The Oakland company moved beyond its anti-phishing tools in 2011 and began offering companies a broader security net through a more comprehensive approach to cyber security. With it has come triple digit customer growth and triple digit product revenue for two years running.
Wombat has received three information security industry awards and recognition from the respected security trade pub, SC Magazine, for its cyber security tools. The coming year will bring new software training solutions that will help people learn to avoid cyber-attacks when using mobile devices.
Next week Pop City brings the next installment on top tech companies to watch in 2013 when we feature those in life sciences.
Deb Smit is innovation and jobs news editor at Pop City.