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Pittsburgh Innovates

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Pittsburgh Roundup: NoWait gains on OpenTable. Gov. Corbett visits AlphaLab, shows us the money

With all the world going mobile, will making reservations at restaurants go the way of the smartphone?  

NoWait thinks so. The Pittsburgh-based startup is beta-testing its new mobile app in Pittsburgh. If all goes as planned, NoWait says it will have seated more than 20 million diners by the end of 2013, easily surpassing the number of people making reservations on OpenTable, an online system that caters to fine dining establishments.

The iPad-based app has proven to be quite popular with diners and casual dining spots, places that typically don’t take reservations and might have long lines on any given day, says Robb Myer, president and chief product officer.

Pittsburgh clients have been instrumental in the development of the core product, so it made sense to tap them in developing the consumer interface, says Myer.  “It’s one of the advantages of being in Pittsburgh,” he adds. “We can get a better cross section of people in Pittsburgh than if we launched it in New York or San Francisco.”

NoWait works to make the waiting game more tolerable. When diners arrive, the host inputs the customers’s name and mobile number. Diners then have the choice of leaving the restaurant and returning and are able to check their place in line.

At the same time, restaurant managers are better able to manage the queue and optimize table turnover. The startup received received funding from Birchmere Ventures in Pittsburgh and was built with seed funding and support from Innovation Works’ AlphaLab and Carnegie Mellon University Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund.
 
In other startup news, Gov. Tom Corbett toured IW’s AlphaLab on the South Side last week and launched Innovate in PA, a new program that will accelerate job growth in the tech sector and support entrepreneurs and startup companies.
 
The Innovate in PA tax program is expected to bring in $75 million for seed capital needs across the state. The funds will be distributed through the Ben Franklin Technology Partners and will benefit incubators like IW and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse.
 
“The most creative entrepreneurs and innovative startups are right here in Western Pennsylvania,” Corbett told the gathered crowd.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Robb Myer, NoWait; Innovation Works

Photo: Gov. Corbett chats with Hank Safferstein of Cognition Therapeutics and Rich Lunak of Innovation Works.

Alcoa celebrates 125 years of innovation on the North Side

The story of Alcoa, like many an entrepreneurial tale, began 125 years ago with a few 20-something chemists in Pittsburgh knocking around with science and figuring out a formula to simplify the way metal is made.
 
Charles Martin Hall, with an assist from his sister, Julia, a chemist in her own right, discovered the process of aluminum reduction through electrolysis. The year was 1886.
 
Within 15 years, Alcoa was pioneering aluminum cooking utensils under the Wear Ever brand, the beginning of 12 decades of innovation that started in Pittsburgh.
 
This week 400 employees and a handful of dignitaries gathered at Alcoa on the North Shore to kick off a week-long celebration of the company’s 125th birthday.  Alcoa employees at operations around the world are blowing party horns and wearing royal blue tees in celebration.
 
“These are giants whose shoulders we are standing on,” said Klaus Kleinfeld, CEO, of the early pioneers. The company continues to grow year-over-year by 7%; the metal has been an integral ingredient in some of the greatest innovations in the world, he added.
 
Among the historic highlights:
 
The Wright Brothers’ plane might not have gotten off the ground without a lighter cast aluminum crankcase made by the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, later known as Alcoa.
 
The 1923 Ford Model T was the first mass-produced car to feature an aluminum body. Henry Ford, who refused to be financially dependent on one supplier, later switched to steel.
 
Charles Lindbergh made his historic transatlantic flight in a plane made from a new Alcoa alloy and aluminum cast engine.
 
In the 1930s, H.J. Heinz began using the first commercial aluminum closure made by Alcoa, called the Goldy, to seal sauces and ketchup.
 
The Alcoa Building downtown, with its thin stamped aluminum panels forming the exterior wall, was the world’s first aluminum-faced skyscraper in 1953.
 
Alcoa Mastic revolutionized the modern home with the invention of vinyl siding in 1961.
 
Alcoa helped NASA during the 1970s and 1980s develop a reusable transportation system for the Space Shuttle.
 
In 2004, Alcoa joined Pittsburgh Brewing to make the first beer in an aluminum bottle for the North American beer industry.
 
To mark the occasion, the Alcoa Foundation announced a $1.25 million internship program for 500 students in eight countries over the next two years. The initiative will give unemployed youth a chance to launch successful careers in manufacturing.
 
While Alcoa’s is based in New York City, the Pittsburgh office is the R&D center for the global operation. The company continues to develop and promote green industry technologies. 
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Alcoa

PodCamp Pittsburgh, the social media survival fest, returns Oct. 5th

“The beauty of PodCamp Pittsburgh is no two years are ever the same,” says Norm Huelsman, the organizer of the region’s favorite social media unconference, which returns on Oct. 5th.
 
PodCamp, like the social media scene, continues to evolve with the times, and this year is no different, he says. While it began as a forum for podcasting, PodCamp has grown into a study of information sharing online and the effects and effectiveness of the messages.
 
“This year we’ll have a variety of sessions designed to give you a local source of creative inspiration,” says Huelsman. “It covers all the social media bases. How do you stay creative, innovative and inspired while creating content.”
 
PodCamp Pittsburgh 8 will be rolled into one day this year, making for a schedule packed with great seminars on Saturday, he adds. No one person will headline. Instead, many small business owners and in-house professionals will present the latest tools and techniques.
 
“By whittling it down, we think people will get more out of it,” says Huelsman.

Small Business Toolkit will cover some of the best tools available to promote businesses. Some of the other seminars include Visualizing Twitter in Real Time, Topography in Web Design, Storytelling and Blog to Book.

“We’re trying to tell good Pittsburgh stories of the people who are doing it and doing it well,” he says.

PodCamp Pittsburgh 8 is free, but registration is required. A VIP pass for $25 gets you a tee and swag bag.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Norm Huelsman, PodCamp Pittsburgh 8

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Carnegie Robotics, One Planet, Western Pa. Conservancy and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest company hiring news.
 
Carnegie Robotics will be hiring more than 25 people over the next two years as part of the expansion of its world-class robotic manufacturing center and headquarters in Lawrenceville.

The company seeks product-oriented, highly driven engineers, technical associates and interns who will be an integral part of the company’s long-term hiring strategy. CR specializes in building robotic products for commercial, industrial and defense markets.

PPG Industries has announced that its North American Architectural Coatings headquarters will be located in Butler County and promises at least 300 jobs in the future. Currently, PPG has openings for more than 20 positions in operations, systems, recruiting, customer relations and engineering.
 
One Planet, which takes a human approach to the translation of medical, science and business materials, is hiring freelance translators, an account executive, software localization engineer and project managers.
 
Lunametrics on the South Side has five openings: office manager, google analytics data analyst, SEO project manager, online media strategist and an inbound sales expert.
 
St. Clair Hospital Foundation is hiring a director of development, someone to take the lead on the solicitation of major gift prospects, strategies, grant and proposal generation, major donor gifts and more.
 
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy has two full-time openings in its Community Gardens/Greenspace department for field staff, based in Pittsburgh. The position supports field work at community gardens and greening projects throughout the region. To apply, send a resume, cover letter and salary expectations to wpcjobs@paconserve.org and list Garden Staff in the subject line.
 
Dick’s Sporting Goods is looking for a copywriter with three years of editorial experience in advertising, marketing or related with an ability to meet deadlines in a fast-paced, employee-friendly office.

Have hiring news? Email Pop City and include the career links.

Writer: Deb Smit

Why Alung is one of Pittsburgh's hottest life science companies

Alung Technologies, on the South Side, is breathing new life into ailing lungs and ramping up to be the region’s next successful life science story.
 
Having picked up $15.8 million in its most recent financing round—one of the largest venture rounds in the region’s life science industry—the company is preparing for growth on many levels. The company has raised $56 million to date.
 
“This is a huge transition phase for the company from a medical device to a commercial stage company,” says Peter DeComo, CEO. 
 
Alung moved into the 15,000 square-foot office on Jane Street three years ago, a space large enough to serve as its global headquarters and a manufacturing center for the Hemolung Respiratory Assist System.
 
DeComo is negotiating on another 11,000 square feet on the second floor to make room for more engineers, a sales staff and administration. Alung currently employs 45 people and is turning out 10 controllers and 40 artificial lungs a month.
 
“You don’t take a shotgun approach to commercialization,” says DeComo, who has been down this path before, most recently with Renal Solutions, which was acquired by Fresenius Medical Care in 2007. “It’s a slow process. You want to start slow and controlled, stress the technology and validate the therapy.”
 
The Hemolung provides respiratory dialysis to patients suffering from critical lung diseases. The system was approved for the European market four months ago and is established in 12 hospitals in Germany, the United Kingdom and France.
 
While many companies at this stage might elect to outsource the manufacturing piece, Alung is content to stay in the South Side and grow into a fully integrated medical equipment company.
 
The composition of the artificial lungs is a closely guarded trade secret, one Alung would like to protect, says DeComo.

Alung plans to expand to the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia and South Africa by the end of 2014. The U.S. clinical trial is underway.
 
“Pittsburgh has all the right resources for a company to be successful," he adds. "You can be a big fish in a small sea. The infrastructure and organizations are tremendous."
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Peter DeComo, Alung Technologies
 
 
 
 
 

Pittsburgh entrepreneurs jump in the startup shark tank on "Running with the Bulls"

A new radio game show is giving Pittsburgh entrepreneurs a chance to pitch before a panel of investors in the spirit of “Shark Tank.”
 
“Running With the Bulls” is a six-week segment featured on “Your American Story,” a radio show hosted by South Hills businessman, entrepreneur and politician D. Raja.
 
Extending the legacy of Pittsburgh entrepreneur and radio host Ron Morris, "Your American Story" is an introspective survey of American innovators and risk-takers and the challenges they face.
 
“Running With the Bulls” was created with direction from early startup incubator Idea Foundry. It gives local entrepreneurs a chance to gain exposure and—if successful—funding, says Mike Matesic, CEO.
 
“It’s a new forum that introduces companies to potential investors and customers,” says Matesic. “We hope some strategic alignments will come out of this.”
 
Companies in the lineup include Wombat, Safaba, Intellomed and Zuluma. Much like the popular TV version, startups pitch their concepts to three seasoned investment professionals: Roger Byford of the BlueTree Venture Fund, Mel Pirchesky of Eagle Ventures and Alicia McGinnis of the Audrey’s Kitchen Venture Fund.
 
While most of the startups on the program are selected from the Idea Foundry portfolio, others are considered, Matesic says.
 
“We’re looking for companies with a product or service that is easy to understand in a one-hour format,” he says.
 
The show airs Sunday afternoons at 1:30 p.m. on FM Newstalk 104.7. Previous programs may also be streamed online.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Mike Matesic, Idea Foundry

UX Pittsburgh hosts discussion on the future of "big data" driven design at Revv Oakland

The future of data-driven design and how big data fits into the picture is the focus of an event at Revv Oakland Oct. 1.
 
UX Pittsburgh, a forum of Pittsburgh user experience professionals, will host “Data-Driven Design” to address just how big data can be leveraged in this area, from aggregation to information visualization and predictive modeling.
 
Adi Veerubhotla, a user experience designer for IBM, and Pat Stroh, vice president of Data Science and Consulting Services at Precision Dialogue, will speak and lead the discussion.
 
“Big Data has been around for quite some time, but professionals need to figure out a way to look at, analyze and understand what all that information is really saying and how to make it digestible to users,” says Erica Volkman, founder of UX Pittsburgh.
 
The event will be held at Revv Oakland, located at 122 Meyran Avenue in Oakland. To reserve a spot, click here. It is co-sponsored by Gatesman+Dave.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Celerity, SnapRetail!, The Resumator and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest company and hiring news in the region.
 
Celerity, a business consultancy that delivers web, mobile and business IT solutions, has acquired 3PC Media in Wexford, a digital agency that specializes in mobile app development and strategic branding. The company’s expansion means four new jobs for the Pittsburgh office including front end developers and native iOS mobile developers. Prospects should email hmoffitt@celerity.com
 
SnapRetail! in the Strip District is looking for “snappers” to join its team. The buy local, digital marketing solutions firm has 15 openings in sales, engineering and marketing. An open house “snapdraft” with Charlie Batch will be held on Sept. 26th for potential recruits.
 
The Resumator, a digital platform that facilitate's a company's hiring needs, is hiring. The startup is looking to fill roles in engineering, support, sales and marketing.
 
Kennametal Inc. in Latrobe has acquiried a tungsten materials business from Allegheny Technologies Inc. for $605 million. The company is posting 15+ jobs at its global headquarters including positions in engineering, software IT, finance, sales and internships. (Note: the career page can only be accessed using Foxfire or Internet Explorer.)
 
Lawrenceville-based Astrobotic, providing affordable robotic technology options on planetary missions, is recruiting qualified candidates in the following technical fields: avionics, structures, propulsion, thermal, operations and communications.
 
The MEMS Industry Group, a nonprofit industry association to promote micro-electro mechanical systems across global markets, is hiring a program and events manager.
 
Energy+1, yet another company out there working to convince the general public to switch their utility supplier, is hiring upward of 50 people to sell their plan in the region. The company claims the pay is lucrative for ambitious sales types.
 
Have hiring news? Email Pop City and include the career links.
 
Writer: Deb Smit

Looking for last-minute Steelers or concert tickets? Get The HookUp gets you there

Pittsburgh entrepreneur Levi Benson has the perfect Pittsburgh app for living in the moment.
 
Looking for a lucky last minute ticket to a Steelers game? Decide at the 11th hour that you can go to that big rock concert? Get The HookUp is a mobile app that allows users to seal the deal in the final hours before the venue starts. 
 
“I find it fascinating that people try to sell tickets by waving them in the air,” says Levi Benson, a native of Butler and graduate of Pitt. “There’s a marketplace for people who want to buy and sell tickets at the last minute.” 
 
Say a storm is rolling in and you don’t feel like spending money to sit in the rain. Or you’re not feeling well. Selling a good seat for a fair price at the last minute is a tricky undertaking, especially after the window closes on a sale through StubHub or Craigslist (four to six hours before a venue starts). 
 
Get The HookUp is free and works through GPS technology, allowing people to buy and sell tickets at their convenience from any location. When a buyer or seller creates a listing, a pin drops on a map giving users immediate access to tickets that are available or needed. Transactions are agreed upon by the parties through direct chats. 
 
No more standing on street corners hoping to get lucky. “Scalpers won’t like it," Benson admits. “It offers more transparency. Buyers and sellers can see the (pricing) spread." 
 
The app was created with the help of Pittsburgh-based C-Leveled in East Liberty. Once it achieves the critical mass it needs to be successful, Benson plans to add additional features. Friends can also use it to find one another, he adds.
 
If one thing's a given in life, it's that there will always be last-minute tickets, says Benson.  
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Levi Benson, Get The HookUp

Luke Skurman takes College Prowler to the next level with Niche, K-12 school rankings

Helping students pick the right colleges for themselves has been College Prowler’s sweet spot for 11 years running. So where does the successful Shadyside startup, one of the largest college content websites in the country, go from here?
 
Founder and CEO Luke Skurman has launched a new company and brand called Niche, a site that provides the same trusted in-depth reviews and analyses that has made College Prowler successful, but with expansive content for public and private schools across the U.S., kindergarten to 12th grade.
 
“It was time to think about a bigger vision and brand,” says Skurman, always the forward-thinking entrepreneur. “We’re very pleased with how far we’ve come. We want people to continue making great life decisions.”
 
Niche has amassed 400,000 user-generated reviews and has graded 80,000 public and private K-12 schools since its launch four months ago. More districts will be added with 120,000 public and private schools as the ultimate goal.
 
Families on the move--or merely interested in how their school district stacks up--will find information on popular high school classes, racial diversity, where students go to college, graduation rates and student-written reviews.
 
Many of the same students and parents who had generated reviews for College Prowler participated in the school district surveys, says Skurman. In addition to user-generated reviews, Niche draws on government databases and school administration surveys. 
 
The K-12 school letter rankings—A, B, C, and D—are calculated by comparing a school’s assessment scores on state assessment tests with other schools in their state. 
 
The point is not to become an advocacy group, but to report impartial data, Skurman says. “We want to keep tackling big life decisions…providing as much transparency, insight and clarity on the educational system as possible.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Luke Skurman, Niche

Feministing author and blogger Courtney Martin speaks at a free forum at Ellis on Sept. 25th

 
Courtney Martin is a fresh voice for the reinvention of feminism. Join her for a not-to-miss talk at The Ellis School when she addresses how advocacy and engagement can help girls find their own voices and pursue their dreams.
 
An author, journalist and blogger, Martin was raised by feminist parents in the age of Anita Hill and “Free to Be.”  “It was a beautiful, horrible time,” she told a TEDx audience this year, fraught with confusing paradoxes.
 
“I often say that we were told we could be anything and we heard we had to be everything,” Martin told Pop City this week. “The mistranslation was in the modeling—our mothers are the most dynamic, powerful women we know, but they are also the most exhausted and self-sacrificing, sometimes even self-loathing.
 
“I think young women today are trying to continue the great legacy of expanded success that our mothers have created, but figure out how to integrate more wellness, more joy, less guilt. Not an easy task,” she adds.
 
Martin is the author of two books, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" and "Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists,and an unflinching and articulate social commentator, from her condemnation of beauty pageants to her encouragement of less-than-perfect mothers.
 
“If you don't want your daughter to grow up with a toxic definition of success based on perfection, achievement for its own sake, and appearance, then you have to model an alternative in your own lives, your own conversations, your own family practices and culture,” she says. “Do as I say, not as I do doesn't work.” 
 
Come hear her for yourself. Martin will be at The Ellis School on Sept. 25th beginning at 6:30 p.m. While the talk is free, reservations are required. 
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Courtney Martin

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Nearly everyone. More than 100 jobs posted.

Each week Pop City reports on the latest local hiring news. It must be job season as nearly a dozen companies are hiring: Songwhale, Holtec, Think Through Math, ShowClix, College Prowler, Kextil, K&L Gates, Lucas Systems and Cheetah Technologies. 

Songwhale in Lawrenceville, an interactive tech company that sends brand messages via smart phones, computers and tablets, is hiring software engineers, project managers and developers.

Holtec in Turtle Creek, a manufacturer of dry fuel storage canisters and high tech racks for nuclear utilities around the world, has a handful of open positions: quality engineer, product line manager, burn operator, welder, supervisor and maintenance manager.

Innovation Works reports a record-breaking year, good news considering the year is only halfway over. The region’s largest investor in seed-stage companies has invested $3.7 million in 47 companies so far. Even better, IW reports that there are more than 30 jobs at area startups, many in software engineering, software development and sales.

There are four openings at Think Through Math. The math instructional tutoring company is hiring a bilingual math teacher, inside sales rep, IT manager and senior software developer. The company recently closed on a $5.6 million funding round and plans to move into a larger office on the North Shore, across from PNC park.

Online ticketing company ShowClix has four full-time and three internship positions.

Niche, better known as the online college resource College Prowler, is hiring three people who will join a staff of 20: database engineer, director of sales and a software engineer. The company expects to grow to 30 by next year.

Kextil, featured in this week's issue of Pop City, is hiring a lead architect. 
 
The law firm of K&L Gates is looking to fill two positions within its global marketing team in Pittsburgh: a PR and communications assistant and CRM Data Steward who is primarily responsible for assisting with data security throughout the firm.
 
Cheetah Technologies in Pittsburgh is looking for a software quality assurance analyst and firmware engineer.

Lucas Systems, a provider of voice logistics solutions for retailers and warehouse operations, is hiring seven full-time and two interns. The positions include: product engineers, software engineers, software support supervisors, and software and engineering interns.

The Pittsburgh Parking Authority has two full-time openings for an IT network administrator for its growing IT Division and an accounting manager with a CPA certification to join its Finance Department.

Have hiring news? Email Pop City pretty please and include the career links.

Writer: Deb Smit
 
 

Greg Babe, CEO of Liquid X, the promising metallic ink with enviable viscosity

Greg Babe always dreamed of running a successful corporation. He knocked that off his to-do list in 2012 when he retired from Bayer Corp. at 55, at the pinnacle of a successful career.

Looking for a new entrepreneurial challenge, he joined his two sons at Orbital Engineering as CEO. When Orbital proved a less than perfect fit for them, they went their separate ways. Liquid X Printed Metals Inc., a Pittsburgh startup in stealth mode, hired him a month later in July of 2013.

“I spent 36 very enjoyable and successful years at Bayer,” says Babe. “I went from 16,000 (employees) to six. That sort of puts some scope on it.”

Richard McCullough and John Belot, both CMU professors, founded Liquid X in 2010; Bill Newlin, chairman of Sewickley-based Newlin Investment Co., was the startup’s first outside investor. The company raised $1.4 million from seven investors in May, including McCullough and Andrew Hannah, CEO and co-founder of Plextronics.

The key to Liquid X is in the makeup of the metallic ink, explains Babe. The composition and viscosity is unlike anything else on the market. While other inks are thick—composed of particles and flakes—Liquid X is so refined it will work with a common inkjet printer.

“This means we can use less metal (gold and silver) than competing technologies,” explains Babe. “It saves money for our customers.” Metallic inks are a billion dollar industry used for touchscreens, medical devices, consumer electronics and printed radio-frequency (RFID) tags.

Liquid X has the added bonus of being an attractive ink for the growing additive manufacturing industry, Babe says. Rather than coating a surface and removing what is needed during printing, products are printed without the waste of the subtractive process.

Liquid X, based in Harmar, is next door to Plextronics, another local inkmaker.  The location is intentional. McCullough was co-founder and chief scientist of Plextronics and Newlin is a director. 

The two products couldn’t be more different, notes Babe. Plextronics is creating organic electroactive inks for a variety of applications ranging from alternative power sources such as solar to lightweight battery applications. Liquid X is an inorganic product used for printed circuitry.
 
“There is an existing market out there, one we don’t have to create,” says Babe. “It’s very exciting.”
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Greg Babe, Liquid X
 
 

Thread rolls out its first bolts of fabric spun from the trash-strewn streets of Haiti

Socially-minded Thread LLC has successfully spun its first bolts of fabric made from plastic trash collected on the streets of Haiti.
 
It's a major milestone for the for-profit social enterprise, which began three years ago under the leadership of Ian Rosenberger, a contestant on CBS’s Survivor. Following the earthquake that leveled the island country, Rosenberger found himself wandering the country, wallowing in waste, and enlisted others to find a way to improve the country's health by turning the trash into something useful.
 
With the help of partners and investors, including Idea Foundry and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Thread has begun moving mountains, of trash that is. This month an unnamed industrial partner in North Carolina wove the first bolts of trash-spun material.
 
The process is fairly complex. Trash is collected in Haiti, melted down into flakes and shipped to the North Carolina center where it is funneled, melted and filtered into slimy strands, says Frank Macinsky, marketing director of Thread.
 
The strands are then gathered, spun onto spools and woven into bolts. The resulting material is a soft canvas that will work well for backpacks and similar products.  
 
“Now that we know that fabric is possible, we will move into producing it on a larger scale so it can be sold to manufacturers as a responsible fabric for their products,” he says.  
 
The long-term goal is to establish a supply chain and manufacturing center in Haiti that employs local workers. The fabric will be manufactured in the U.S. until the process is perfected.
 
Earlier this year, Thread announced several new partners along with Partners in Health: Executives Without Borders, the Mapou Foundation and Samaritan's Purse. The Ramase Lajan Center opened in the seaside city Jacmel, on the southern coast, to organize resources and coordinate a network of collection centers.
 
Ian Rosenberger was honored with the 2013 Emerging Leader Award from the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership.
 
“One of the great things about what we’re doing is involving a lot of people from the public and private sector,” says Macinsky.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Frank Macinsky, Thread LLC

Pittsburgh's Kextil is the small voice with big answers for field technicians

For service technicians working in the field, getting quick answers to complex questions can be daunting, especially when they're in a tight spot and their hands are full.   
 
Pittsburgh-based Kextil offers an easier way. Its hands-free, speech-recognition technology puts a virtual advisor and supervisor in the ear of the service technician.
 
“It eliminates barriers to getting and using information,” says Jonathan Berman, CEO.
 
Berman founded Kextil in 2011 with two colleagues, Jordan Cohen and Alex Rudnicky, co-CTOs and world-class experts in the voice recognition field. The company has been lying low, in stealth mode, developing the technology until recently.
 
Their first product, which is in beta, gives technicians access to important and complex information using a headset and voice commands. Several global enterprises have signed on, including oilfield service companies, advanced manufacturers, semiconductor and medical equipment companies.
 
The product solves two problems at once, explains Berman. It helps technicians to comply with best business practices and it accelerates the processing of data and paperwork.
 
“Workers need their hands and eyes to push buttons and turn parts,” he says.  “They can’t always look up needed information, which leads to mistakes.”
 
Kextil employs two full-time, five in total, and is planning for major growth and a new office space in the coming year.
 
Innovation Works invested in Kextil in 2012. The company is busy raising $2 million that will assist in launching its first commercial version.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jonathan Berman, Kextil
 
 
 
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