| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Entrepreneurs : Innovation & Startups

342 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All

Pop City previews the latest local blogs, apps and n'at

Among the latest Pittsburgh-based websites, blogs and apps to surface in recent weeks:
 
Treading Art is the region’s latest resource for cultural happenings in the city.
 
Christine Smith and Melissa LuVisi moved to Pittsburgh after graduating from UCLA, where they met. They were drawn to our region’s thriving arts community and the city’s drive to redevelop and expand.
 
Their background in business development, museum administration and curatorial management is perfect for reaching out to the creative communities in the city. TreadingArt will highlight the scene, promote cultural happenings and post reviews, photographs, interviews, commentary and critiques.
 
In the coming year, the duo plan to launch a membership program with access to arts events—underground openings, panels, tours and workshops.
 
“Eventually we would like to see this transpire into a physical space,” says LuVisi.  “We are truly thankful to have landed in such a receptive and innovative city.”
 
Look for the Weekend Treadings newsletter and agenda events in January of 2013.
 
Built In Pgh is connecting the dots for local entrepreneurs and innovators. The website, brought to you by the same people behind the RustBuilt Initiative, is a clearinghouse for the startup community, listing events, forums, job postings and company news.
 
And here’s several apps and games to keep small minds busy during the holidays.
 
IOnFuture is a cool way for middle schoolers to explore potential careers in the STEM fields. Considering a career as an ecologist or urban planner? How about an industrial designer or Veterinarian? This gives students an opportunity to learn different activities and hobbies they might try as they explore various career paths in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
 
The Lemonade Stand is a free educational iPad game that teaches children ages 3-6 about money and work by letting them actually run a virtual lemonade stand. The app was created through Idea Foundry’s Riveted program.
 
Online reviews comments that it teaches youngsters literacy and math skills while offering kudos for the rocking music.  
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Melissa LuVisi, Kit Mueller

Rail Girls teaches rookie female developers new web tricks (sorry guys)

Want to learn the language of the Internet? Think code is only for computer science geeks and undercover agents? If you’re female and want to get into on the action, Rail Girls is for you (sorry men.)
 
Rail Girls is an international organization that got its start in Helsinki, Finland, 2010, as a one-time event for women. It proved so popular that the teaching workshops spread to other cities around the globe: Shanghai, Singapore, Krakow, and now Pittsburgh.
 
The weekend workshop brings small groups of women together and empowers them to acquire the tools necessary to conquer the online frontier, or at least build a website, says Amanda Brown, an organizer of the local chapter.
 
The classes teach Ruby on Rails, or Rails, an open source, full-stack web application framework for the Ruby programming language. If this makes absolutely no sense to you, it soon will.
 
The weekend event will be held on Saturday, Jan. 19th, and is free and open to all girls and women. An installation event will be planned for the day before.
 
“If you don’t have any programming experience, you should be able to follow along and orient yourself. It’s geared toward the beginner level. We really want it to be a growing and learning experience while building community.”
 
ModCloth is a major sponsor of the event along with Confluence and NuRelm. Innovation Works has donated the AlphaLab space on Carson Street the South Side for the workshop.  
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Amanda Brown, Rail Girls

Pittsburgh fitness entrepreneurs raise the (heavy) bar on CrossFit with social media (hubba, hubba)

Social media is proving an effective tool in building a robust fitness business, especially when it comes to CrossFit training.
 
Jim Crowell and Josh Bobrowsky, who graduated together from Upper St. Clair High School in the South Hills, opened Integrated Fitness in 2010, first in Bethel Park and then on the South Side.

Jim was working with a hedge fund company in Austin, Texas at the time. Josh, who studied social media at CMU, was going to law school at Case Western.
 
Both athletes, they loved the passion and drive of CrossFit, an intense conditioning regimen that started in California and has swept the country, bringing serious fitness seekers together for short training sessions that demand all-out physical exertion. Pittsburgh is home to a handful of CrossFit certified gyms. 
 
The fast-paced sessions are held in the gym and change daily, combining movements such as weightlifting, kettlebells, jumping rope, sprinting and jumping and climbing rope. There’s CrossFit Games as well, competitions that bring athletes together from around the region for intense day-long gameplay.
 
“CrossFit was a perfect fit for us,” says Crowell. “We’re both passionate about helping people. It's about getting someone in the best shape of their lives, from former athletes to those who’ve never been athletic.”
 
What makes CrossFit unique is the way it builds community, adds Bobrowsky. To that extent, Integrated Fitness has successfully grown the business with the help of social media, especially YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
 
The Pittsburgh gym has achieved the distinction of having the most views per month of workout videos of any CrossFit gym in the country. YouTube videos are averaging 700,00 hits a month, boosted by world record lift videos and celebrity interviews at the gym. Bobrowsky, who handles the gyms' social media, has 43,000+ followers on Twitter. 

Social media is a way for people to share with others online and interact with people from the gym, he says. People enjoy sharing their CrossFit scores, posting them on Facebook.
 
“Not everyone initially wants to share,” he adds. “But as time goes by, almost every person in the gym has at least one workout of exercise that they’re very proud of and they want their picture up there.”
 
“It’s not about being great CrossFit champions, but creating an atmosphere that creates an engaged community that helps individuals to reach their goals,” Crowell adds.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jim Crowell and Josh Bobrowsky, Integrated Fitness
 

RustBuilt strives to amplify the voices of innovation in the Great Lakes region

A new regional initiative to redefine the Great Lakes region and the emerging modern innovation marketplace is underway.

It’s called RustBuilt, although it’s far from a new idea. A handful of organizations in recent years have mounted similar campaigns. There was the Great Lakes Urban Exchange (GLUE), which led a mission to catalyze transformation and reinvestment in the region from western Pennsylvania to Michigan. Renovating the Rustbelt is another, a Cleveland-based initiative that is chronicling the transformation of the Rust Belt to the GreenBelt. And there are others.

RustBuilt is still gaining momentum as an initiative, but it's picking up traction from leaders in the Great Lakes region, most recently the Tech Belt initiative, which is facilitating a dialogue for companies in the Cleveland-Pittsburgh corridor, the city of Buffalo and PLSG. The idea is to bring together leaders in the seven-state region, those who are already hard at work on similar initiatives, and get them on the same page.

RustBuilt takes its cue from the Brookings Institution’s John Austin, a non-resident senior fellow, who has written about the economic strengths and opportunities of the Great Lakes region as detailed in the BI report: The Vital Center, A Federal-State Compact to Renew the Great Lakes Region.

“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but want to be able to reveal all the cool stuff that’s going on,” explains Kit Mueller, a seasoned tech entrepreneur and co-organizer of Pittsburgh Startup Weekend. “The more we celebrate ourselves, the better.”

Mueller is joined by Paul Burke, a managing partner of the local startup accelerator Thinktiv, Adam Kelson, an attorney, and Ellen Saxon, a CMU program administrator. Together they want to accomplish two things at first: amplify the region’s voice and convey its dynamic new economy and create a central clearinghouse where entrepreneurs can identify and share opportunities. Seed incubators is another idea that may be launched next year.

RustBuilt is currently in the process of discussing the initiative with regional economic entities, founders and funders in the startup space and others with like-minded propositions underway in the seven target states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, New York and Michigan. 

“The next step is to build content around it. People are already identifying that this is a worthy movement to join,” says Mueller.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kit Mueller, RustBuilt

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Hopital Albert Schweitzer in Pittsburgh, The Aviary and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest hiring news in Pittsburgh.

Hopital Alfred Schweitzer in Haiti/ Pittsburgh is looking for a Major Gifts Manager. This position is ideal for a fearless and passionate fundraiser who is committed to strategic fund development for nonprofits through traditional and new vehicles of fundraising. The accomplished candidate will work with donors at a national and international level for this respected healthcare hospital in Haiti.
 
The successful candidate should have five years as a successful gifts officer, a bachelor’s degree and advanced degree preferred, strong interpersonal skills, the ability to travel and more.

The Darpa Robotics Challenge team 'Tartan Rescue' of the National Robotics Engineering Center at CMU is hiring for a Senior Research Programmer position. NREC is developing a complex humanoid platform capable of performing various disaster response activities. The ideal candidate is a strong, self-motivated person who wants to work in a fast-paced environment and push forward state-of-the-art technology.

Celerity, as reported this week in Pop City, is expanding its Pittsburgh office and web team with the hiring of six, mostly software developers and web and mobile analysts. Most of the positions require a software engineering at least three to five years of experience.

The National Aviary is seeking a full-time grant writer who will assist in uncovering private funding sources for new and existing activities and operational needs. The idea candidate should have three years of demonstrable grant writing experience and will report to the Director of Development.

Pittsburgh startup FutureDerm is looking for a science and beauty blog writer and intern. Writers who are interested in learning more about the science behind  skin care, hair care and makeup are encouraged to apply. Writers may be compensated up to $15 per article depending on previous experience.

Have hiring news? Contact Pop City.

Writer: Deb Smit


Steel City Codefest is looking for a few competitive app developers. Sign up now!

Attention app developers! If camping out in the Google offices for two days to create a cool app that provides a civic service to the region piques your interest, this contest is for you.

The Steel City Codefest is challenging developers to take otherwise dry and hard-to-locate government data and turn it into something useful. Perhaps a pay-your-tax bill app? Better yet, a Public Works app for asap snow removal?

The only criteria is it must benefit Pittsburgh residents, governments or businesses.

The contest is the first event born of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s PowerUp Pittsburgh initiative. Early applications are of the essence. Due to space constraints, only the first 100 entrants will be accepted. The contest will kick off on Saturday, Feb. 23rd and close at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24th and take place at the Google Pittsburgh offices at Bakery Square at 6425 Penn Ave.

Mayor Ravensthal, clearly up for reelection, wants to “create an opportunity for Pittsburgh’s best and brightest minds to connect and use their skills to create apps that are useful to city residents and organizations.”

Prior to the event, there will be a mixer with Mayor Luke. Participants will also be given access to government information on a city, county, state and federal level. Teams of one to six people will have 24 hours to create software applications and will be permitted to stay overnight in the Google Pittsburgh office.

Registration, which is now underway, is $10, which includes food and a tee.

Several winning teams will be selected based on the apps ability to address a clear community need, technical sophistication, user friendliness and artistic merit. Members of the winning teams will receive a Nexus 7 tablet.

Partners include the URA’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Google Pittsburgh, Bakery Square, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Social and Urban Research, MAYA Design and Traffic 21.

Writer: Debra Smit
Source: The City of Pittsburgh

Birchmere Labs poised to fund two new Pittsburgh digital media startups

 
Birchmere Labs, the $10 million studio seed fund created by Birchmere Ventures to support digital media startups, plans to fund two Pittsburgh-based companies in the near future.
 
While the announcement is not yet official, Birchmere Partner Sean Sebastian confirmed that two local startups will be among the first to receive studio funding. 
 
One of the companies is a digital media technology developed by a professor at Carnegie Mellon. Sebastian declined to provide details on the second, but said both companies would be developed in house initially through Birchmere Lab.
 
“A CMU professor came to us with an interesting idea that has never been done, but he didn’t want to run the company,” says Sebastian. “We struck an agreement and plan to build a company from scratch around the idea.”
 
Birchmere Labs operates as a seed studio fund, a novel approach that allows Birchmere to fund established startups through seed monies and support and build new companies through the studio funding. 
 
“We saw all the internet, media and web 2.0 activity coming, which really didn’t fit into Birchmere IV,” says Sebastian. “It was like putting a square peg into a round hole.”
 
Birchmere Lab was formed with the help of Sean Ammirati, who joined as a principal partner last August. Ammirati has a national reputation in digital media and mobile technologies. He was formerly the COO of tech blog ReadWriteWeb (now ReadWrite) and CEO of mSpoke, which sold to LinkedIn in 2010.
 
Last August Birchmere announced a $40 million venture capital fund, Birchmere IV. The fund has invested in eight companies so far, two local companies among them. Uptown-based NoWait received $2 million and Ross Township-based The Resumator received $2.1 million. Both were Innovation Works’ Alpha Lab companies.
 
While Birchmere continues to invest in the best companies it can find, regardless of geographic location, the recent activity does suggest that local startups might have an advantage.
 
“While there’s no official edict, the closer we are to an earlier stage company, the less heavy lifting is required,” says Sebastian.
 
Writer: Debra Smit
Source: Sean Sebastian, Birchmere Ventures 

Astrobotic expanding to the Strip District, prepares to blast off

Astrobotic Technology, the CMU spinoff and a front runner in the Google Lunar X race to the moon, is breaking ground on a new headquarters in the Strip District.
 
The facility, to be located at the corner of Liberty and 25th streets, will give Astrobotic 3,600 square feet to consolidate its operations in one place, says Jason Calaiaro, CIO. The company is currently housed on CMU’s campus and in Oakland.
 
The new facility is key to the development of the company’s landers and rovers and to further plans for a mission to the moon in 2015. Plans also call for a crane, called a gravity offloader, which simulate Moon gravity for robots and assist in assembling spacecraft.
 
“This is a dream facility,” says Calairo. “The crane is an incredible piece of technology.  Imagine strapping yourself into a harness connected to a crane and having the experience of Moon gravity.  We're doing that for robots.”
 
Last October, Astrobotic unveiled a prototype lunar prospecting rover, Polaris, which will prospect for water, oxygen, methane and other life-supporting volatiles on the moon. 
 
The company has also won several NASA contracts that are helping to underwrite the mission to the moon and Google Lunar X Race. The Astrobotic-CMU mission, scheduled for October of 2015, is on schedule, says Calairo.
 
Of the 28 teams entered in the competition, three or four are considered serious contenders and have secured the funding needed to compete, says Calairo. The Astrobotic-CMU mission, which is under the wing of CMU’s Red Whittaker, CEO of Astrobotic, is considered a favorite to win. 
 
Astrobotic currently employs seven, with another 20 on the CMU side, and plans on hiring several in 2013.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jason Calairo, Astrobotic Technologies

Pittsburgh Tech 50, and the winners are...

More than 600 people attended the 16th annual Pittsburgh Tech 50 Awards last Thursday, a celebration that marked the last 30 years and the transformation of Pittsburgh as a hub for thriving technology companies.
 
With music pumping and videos playing, the show celebrated the business leaders that helped lead the way, such as Dick Thornburgh, Tim Parks and Jerry McGinnis, to name a few. "They didn't see it as risk. They saw it as imperative," Audrey Russo intoned in the video. (Watch the 30 year history video.)

Rock star presenters sashayed on stage to the beat, some dancing or playing guitar.

Held at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, the event also featured a Showcase of Innovation where nominees displayed their products and initiatives prior to the awards ceremony.
 
And the winners were: 
 
Advanced Manufacturer of the Year: Calgon Carbon Corporation
 
Innovator of the Year: Epiphany Solar Water Systems, LLC
 
Life Sciences Company of the Year: ERT, formerly invivodata, inc
 
New Media Company of the Year: TrueFit
 
Solution Provider of the Year: Summa Technologies
 
Start-Up of the Year: Branding Brand
 
Tech Titan of the Year: ANSYS, Inc.
 
CEO of the Year: Scott Pearson, Aquion Energy, Inc.
 
For a complete listing of all the finalists, click here.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Pittsburgh Technology Council
 

New Hazlett Theatre sets the stage for some of the hottest new tech startups in town

Some of the hottest new tech startups in the region were unveiled at the New Hazlett Theatre Thursday, tackling everything from learning the guitar online to autonomous boats that monitor water quality.
 
The companies included the current class of AlphaLab startups and technologies coming out of the region’s universities and the i6 Agile Innovation program.
 
In its fifth year, Alpha Lab has drawn entrepreneurs to the region from across the country and around the world, Rich Lunak, CEO of Innovation Works, told the more than 200 in attendance.
 
Going forward, several new programs are on the horizon, Lunak said. Alpha Law will provide legal assistance to entrepreneurs and startups. The Agile Hardware Design Center will be for hardware and manufacturing what AlphaLab is to software company development.
 
More on that later. In the meantime, check out some of the latest technologies that were rolled out:
 
Tunnessence draws on advanced studio processing technologies to provide personalized guitar lessons to aspiring musicians. The startup will charge a fee for online lessons.
 
Fitwits is a learning tool that is helping doctors to approach the delicate discussion around childhood obesity. The tool assists with in-office consultations with children and families during a well-child checkup.
 
Platypus is a autonomous robotic boat that motors on waterways with sensors that monitor the heath of local waters at a far lower cost than systems that require continuous human oversight.
 
My CE Manager streamlines and monitors the continuing education process required for all licensed individuals.
 
Other companies, many of which have been featured in recent issues of
Pop City, included FutureDerm, Aurochs (wheat-free beer), CollegeZen (former College People), treatspace, autoref, Neon, ExpressionBlast, Quant MD, and Panther Learning.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Innovation Works

Dynamics unveils world's first battery-powered credit card--get ready to rack up loyalty points

Pittsburgh-based Dynamics Inc., the mega-award-winning CMU startup founded by Jeff Mullen, unveiled its first credit card this week, a battery-operated system that promises to change the way consumers, banks and vendors use thin plastic.
 
Called the Dynamic ePlate Visa, the card can multi-task 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.
 
The ePlate provides a revolutionary level of service as a credit card, explains Mullen, Dynamics CEO. Until now, banks have been unable to partner with certain companies and brands—such as seasonal products or artists—on loyalty awards. With ePlate, the consumer can select rewards, at the point-of-purchase, simply by flicking a lighted switch.
 
The card initially comes with 35 apps for travel, games, entertainment and retail, but many, many more will follow, says Mullen. The system awards points almost instantaneously.
 
“You can eat dinner and, by the time you get home, you could be watching that movie through that reward,” says Mullen. “That’s the power of the ePlay system.”
 
With each purchase, the reward data feeds into Dynamics’ data center ln Cheswick. Dynamics' has a nine-acre, 125,000 square-foot office, in a former torpedo factory and Westinghouse site.
 
“We are going to run out of room fast,” Mullen says.
 
The company currently employs 71 full-time and 20 part-time employees and plans continued hiring as applications are rolled out. The company is hiring extreme engineers, software developers, administrators, skilled labors and operators.
 
“ePlate’s integration into the payment systems is so fast the apps will be implemented before you can even put your card back in your wallet,” says Mullen.
 
The company has raised $40 million in venture funding to date, from Bain Capital Ventures in Boston and Adams Capital Management in Sewickley.
 
The story of Dynamics began back in 2007 when Mullen was attending the Tepper School of Business at CMU. Dynamics went on to win the $1 million DEMOgod prize as well as several other prestigious competitions.
 
Pittsburgh gaming company Evil Genius Designs is among the companies partnering with Dynamics. Evil Genius’ game Black Friday utilizes consumer approved purchase data to provide in-game bonuses and power ups to enhance and empower the guests' gaming experience through the Dynamics ePlate.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jeff Mullen, Dynamics Inc.

Shopping for a new or used car? Autoref seals the deal online, no-haggling required

AutoRef, a car-buying referee, is streamlining the car deal, helping buyers to sidestep the frustration that goes along with negotiating the sale of a new or used car.

The idea was hatched in LA by Mike Pena after he suffered through a sale with his brother. Together with CMU student Todd Medema Autoref was born. The company, which got a boost from CMU's Project Olympus and Greenlighting Startups, is currently in Alpha Lab where a team of seven is poised to expand the service nationwide through more than 5,200 participating car dealerships.

While there is no obvious shortage of car-buying websites out there, none of them actually seals the deal, explains Michael Bailey of Autoref. The website not only gives buyers a no-obligation final offer, guaranteed for 72 hours, but offers financing through the dealership. 

And AutoRef is free. AutoRef customers report spending an average of 45 minutes at dealerships compared to three hours without the site, says Bailey. Customers who have purchased vehicles through the Autoref report saving an average of 11 percent off the sticker price. 

And dealerships and car salesman love it.

“One of the biggest annoyances in the car industry is to have a customer come in, shop around, test drive, and then leave and never come back,” says Bailey. “Salespeople work on commission. Often they’ll waste half their day and have nothing to show for it.”

Here's how it works. Buyers select the make and model of the car and provide their zip code. The site then offers a list of available vehicles at participating dealers in the region. Buyers can compare models, view a Carfax report, view images and ask questions. 

Selected cars then go into your “garage” and up to three cars may be submitted for an offer, with or without dealership financing. AutoRef currently isn’t able to negotiate with a trade-in, but that feature is coming soon, Bailey says.  

When offers are received, usually within a day, buyers have 72 hours to visit the dealers, test drive the cars and respond. In this writer’s experience, the prices on the new cars dropped at by at least $2000 while a used car, which was priced fairly to begin with, stayed the same. 

One of the keys behind the pricing is dealers have the ability to see what other dealers are offering on the same deal. Autoref receives a commission on every car sold.  

“Dealers are used to people coming in and saying ‘the guy down the street can give me a better price,’” says Bailey. “This way dealers can see exactly what the other dealers are offering.”

The company plans to expand significantly this fall and is looking for five to 15 people for its sales and tech team.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Michael Bailey, Autoref

Wanna kick a habit? Ludo Mechanica puts a life coach in your pocket

Wanna kick an annoying habit? Meet your accountability partner.
 
University of Pittsburgh undergrad James Lomuscio is co-founder of Ludo Mechanica, an Oakland-based startup that is helping professional life coaches assist their clients in quitting unhealthy habits.
 
LM’s first Android product is called DropKicker, a text message delivery system designed to bring an end to unwanted, habitual behaviors. Dropkicker works as a mobile app, assisting coaches in keeping tabs on clients who want to stop behaviors like eating too many sweets. Or smoking. Or drinking soda.
 
While the technology is customized to an individual’s needs, it works through gentle (and often humorous) text messages sent throughout the day, missives that try to determine if temptation or denial is winning out. 
 
People are habitually driven to respond to a text message rather than a push notification, explains Lomuscio. “(A life coach) can’t call to check in on every client several times a day or during the week. DropKicker is an intermediary, a proxy coach.”
 
Lomuscio, a neurosciences major, has based the system on psychological studies of habit-forming behavior and the effectiveness of certain methods like going cold turkey. A soda junkie himself, he was approaching day 46 without a carbonated beverage during this interview.
 
As goals are met, the number of text messages may decline. Sneak a smoke, and your proxy coach will buzz you with plenty of feedback. Family and friends are an important part of one’s support team.
 
For example, turn off the technology during therapy and everyone you know and love will be notified.
 
“The important thing is to make sure the process feels like fun. We quantify achievement in a funny, fun way,” he says.
 
Ludo Mechanica has a team of six part-timers and works out of Idea Foundry on Craig Street.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: James Lomuscio, DropKicker
 
 

CMU news: Aura's bike lights for night riding and Astobotic's water-drilling moon rover

Industrial design majors Jonathan Ota and Ethan Frier, both avid bikers, understand the need for bikers to be more visable at night.
 
Studies show that 36% of all accidents occur at intersections, between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m., they say. So when they got a class assignment that asked them put their industrial design know-how to use, they came up with bike lights that can be seen on the road from almost any angle.
 
Called Aura (formerly Project Aura), the system uses LED lights, glowing white orbs that are rim-mounted to the bike to illuminate the wheels, alerting drivers and pedestrians to the presence of a moving vehicle.
 
Aura is a new way for cyclists to not only broadcast where they are, but convey how fast they are traveling, they explain. Unlike wheel tape or gimmicky products like lighted shoes, Aura is intended to make bikes pop out at night amid the urban chaos.
 
“The real innovation is the color changing aspect of the system,” says Ona, who regularly commutes to the Oakland campus. “It offers another level of information to drivers who can recognize more easily what a cyclist is doing.”
 
The LEDs illuminate red when the biker is moving slowly and white as a biker gains speed.
 
The pair are developing the prototype through CMU’s Project Olympus with help from a Student Undergraduate Research Grant (SURG) and support from CMU’s Greenlighting Startups. The plan is to raise money to take the design to the next level and commercialization.

In other CMU news, Astrobotic unveiled its prototype lunar rover, the solar-powered Polaris, yet another step in pursuit of the Google Lunar X $20 million prize. Polaris is equipped to search and drill for water on the Moon’s poles, in addition to other sources of potential energy.
 
This is the first lunar rover developed specifically to drill for water, a feature that was added as a result of scientific research that suggest that water exists on the moon in some form, says Red Whittaker, CEO of Astrobotic and director of the Field Robotics Center at CMU.
 
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jonathan Ona and Ethan Frier, Aura; CMU

Image of Jonathan Ona and Ethan Frier courtesy of CMU

Pittsburgh startup scene is a Thrill Mill. And then you Hustle (Den).

What began as a backyard BBQ to raise money for local startups has expanded into a new organization and incubator for entrepreneurs.
 
Thrill Mill was founded to build on the momentum of the first Pittsburgh Business Bout, a competition that awarded $5,000 last year to a young group of entrepreneurs who created an online legal notice search engine called FindNotice.  
 
This year’s Business Bout, currently underway, is upping the stakes with $25,000 in prize money for the best business plan. The winnings were made possibly through sponsors Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). Submissions are due Oct. 31st
 
Thrill Mill consists of an annual cycle that begins with a large-scale music festival – Baller BBQ – that will not only showcase national music talent, but local music, art, entertainment and business talent.  Revenues generated by the festival will be awarded to the winner of a Business Bout.

Lucky applicants in the Business Bout may then gain admission to an early stage business incubator, the Hustle Den, opening early in 2013, where entreprenuers will receive free office space, mentorship, programming and investor relationships, for one full year. 

“The security blanket of corporate America is not what it use to be,” explains Bobby Zappala, Thrill Mill CEO. “Startups will become more a part of mainstream growth and certainly this is happening in Pittsburgh. We have all the elements. We just need to encourage those in Pittsburgh to stay here.”
 
The 5,000 square-foot space was secured with the help of a $750,000 investment from an anonymous donor, says Luke Skurman, of College Prowler and an original founder of Business Bout.
 
“We want hungry entrepreneurs who are going to go for it,” says Skurman. “All industries are welcome.”
 
At the conclusion of the cycle, the Hustle Den participants will have an opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors at the next year’s BBQ, and the cycle continues says Skurman.

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Bobby Zappala, Luke Skurman, Thrill Mill and Business Bout
342 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts