| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

Entrepreneurs : Innovation & Startups

350 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All

Oakmont-based NewCare Solutions helps families keep tabs on loved ones

Bill Kaigler wanted his mother to enjoy living independently at home for as long as possible while she was living. He also wanted to ensure her well-being.
She lived in the South Hills; he lives in the North Hills. Hoping to find a solution online, he scoured the Internet for a product that would inform him if her daily life was changing in some way, or if she needed assistance. He found a few products, but they were pricey and involved a labor-intensive installation.
“There had to be something simpler than putting motion sensors all over her house,” he says.
A seasoned healthcare entrepreneur, Kaigler saw the value in an affordable solution that keeps daily tabs on elderly and at-risk people living at home. So he founded NewCare Solutions in Oakmont, a spinoff of his company medSage, which was subsequently sold to Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics in 2011.
Last May NewCare released its first product, ConnectCare, a home monitoring kit that follows the daily sleeping and appliance activity of residents; it sells for $200 plus a monthly service fee.
NewCare has also moved into the nursing home space, which is proving to be more lucrative. The company’s second product, the SilentAlert Resident Attendant System, helps to reduce the risk of patients falling by placing a monitor under the mattress.
Studies show that almost half of all falls happen at night, says Kaigler. The system alerts staff with a text each time a patient gets out of bed, a more effective use of staff time than patrolling the floor all night.
“Both products work without cameras, which is an invasion of privacy,” Kaigler explains. 

Newcare Solutions employs nine; the company company will double or triple in size in the next three years, he says.
“We bring peace of mind to the people who care for others by providing them an inexpensive and convenient way to let them know how their loved one is doing on a daily basis.” 

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Bill Kaigler, NewCare Solutions


Your Flashlight and other apps are ratting you out says CMU study

How free are the apps in our smartphones?

That depends on the price you put on your personal information. Many are sucking sensitive information from our phones only to be sold for a profit.

More disturbing, most people don’t even realize it.
Researchers at CMU’s School of Computer Science say 80% of all mobile users are unaware that their smartphone is sharing their location, contact lists and other personal information around the clock. Users should be forwarned of the hazards associated with the great, unregulated Internet.
“The study basically shows that there’s a very sophisticated amount of information being collected and most people don’t even know it,” Norman Sadeh, a professor at CMU’s School of Computer Sciences and co-founder of Wombat Security, an Oakland-based firm working on tools that teach how to identify suspicious online activity.

Among the 10 invasive apps that surprised users, in a crowdsourced study: Brightest Flashlight, Toss It (game), Angry Birds, Talking Tom (virtual pet), Backgrounds HD Wallpapers, Dictionary.com, Mouse Trap (game), Shazam (music) and Pandora Internet Radio.
Apps like GoogleMaps raised few concerns because most knew they were giving up location information, says Sadeh. The bottom line is nothing is free. App developers are in the business of making money by aggregating information that is used to push display ads our way.
Insurance companies, for example, have apps that may one day track our location and the speed at which we are traveling, information that will undoubtedly be used to modify our insurance premiums. So what can mobile users do to protect themselves in this wild frontier?
Become vigilant of the ambiguous popups that periodically surface asking for access and tap Deny, says Sadeh. iPhone users have some degree of control of this information by going to settings and toggling privacy settings on for each app.
“You can always protect yourself by uninstalling an app,” he adds.
While the problem carries over to personal computers, the smartphone is more at risk because it travels with you and details and location information are much richer.
For the researchers, the study was the first step in identifying the problem. The team hopes to develop smart tools and launch a website that will systematically scan apps and make it easier for users to gain this information.
The National Science Foundation, Google and the Army Research Office sponsored the work.
Writer: Deb Smit 
Source: Norman Sadeh, CMU

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Google Pittsburgh, Marc USA, Astrobotic and more

Each week Pop City reports on the latest company news and hiring:
Black Box Corp., a global technical services company, is hiring a web marketing manager responsible for web marketing strategy, direction and management for the company’s technology product solution offerings. The ideal candidate will have a minimum seven years of professional experience in technology-based markets and five years in website management.
Google Pittsburgh is looking for a lead content writer for its Bakery Square office, as well as software engineers and a Data Scientist. Generally speaking, the ideal candidates will be working in a fast-paced environment with a highly innovative team of people. All the positions are full-time.
MARC USA is seeking a creative director-copywriter for its ad agency that is brimming with new business. The ideal candidate should be a “killer writer” and “strategic thinker” as well as a pioneer in all media. 
Astrobotic, the CMU spinout in the business of establishing commuter missions to the moon, is hiring an experienced Administrative Assistant to join the team. A bachelor’s degree and experience with graphic design, Photoshop and/or video editing experience is sought. Must be willing to oversee all aspects of an office of a small company. 
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is looking for a chief communications officer, someone who will lead the Food Bank’s marketing, communication, education and advocacy efforts in the pursuit of hunger relief in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Marketing and communication skills and the ability to lead a team strategically forward are key.
Carnegie Learning is looking for a team-oriented, self-directed software engineer-user interface to create custom components and layout managers in a message-driven environment. Strong software design skills and experience with the Java programming language including Swing and Java 2D are necessary.
Pittsburgh law firm K&L Gates is looking for a Website Administrator for its Pittsburgh office, a position that will be responsible for the coordination of an array of relevant content. Sharepoint and Social Media Web 2.0 technologies is a must.

Is your company hiring? Email Pop City and send us your link! Check out more listings from last week.
Writer: Deb Smit

2012 was a good year for VC growth in Pittsburgh despite a nationwide decline

Venture capital investment across the region continued to climb steadily in 2012 with 79 deals that totaled $168.97 million, a 7.9% increase over 2011 when $156.53 million was raised and spread over 55 deals. 

The news in Pittsburgh was a bright spot; nationally VC figures declined by 10 percent from the prior year. All figures are from the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), based on data from Thomson Reuters.

“We’re bucking a trend here in Pittsburgh which is very positive,” noted Gary Glausser who joined Innovation Works this month as Chief Investment Officer.

A longtime venture capitalist in the local community, Glausser was with South Side-based Birchmere Ventures for 13 years. He most recently handled alternative investments for the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System, a total portfolio of $7 billion. He is also a member of the IW Board of Directors.

Among the highlights of the MoneyTree report for 2012:

The strongest showing in Pittsburgh was the life sciences and software sectors. More than 23 companies received funding in life sciences, predominantly medical device companies, and 19 software and IT services companies were funded. The number of software company deals last year is a sign of the region’s strength in this sector since software companies generally don’t require large infusions of cash, noted Terri Glueck of Innovation Works.

Innovation Works and The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) were the largest overall investors, IW with 12 deals and PLSG with six according to the MoneyTree report.

The companies that raised the largest rounds included: Avere Systems ($20 million), Thorley Industries ($20 million), TriStar Investors ($15 million) Duolingo ($15 million) Knopp Biosciences ($14.94 million) and BodyMedia ($11.89 million). 

Other local investors included: Birchmere Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures, Adams Capital Management, BlueTree Allied Angels, Eagle Ventures and Pittsburgh Equity Partners.

“I personally think the next few years will be exciting,” Glausser adds. “We’re looking at a pipeline of opportunities here. Our mission is going to be to get the capital to put into these companies.”

Writer: Deb Smit
Source: NVCA and MoneyTree 

Body Media unveils chic and sleek weight-loss armband at CES

Body Media’s wearable weight loss technology made a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month.
The Pittsburgh company unveiled its Core 2, a smaller and sleeker armband that comes with interchangeable fashion plates and straps for the stylish workout enthusiast. 
Not only is it the smallest wearable multi-sensor device of its kind, it features a new heart rate monitoring system, an energy-saving Bluetooth that enables live activity updates on smartphones and tablets, a longer battery life and an assortment of online apps.
BodyMedia, with offices downtown in Gateway Center, has 60 employees and continues to grow. The design work is done in Pittsburgh; the armbands are assembled in Canada.
“As the innovators in wearable technology, Core 2 hits on many elements of becoming more fashionable and we continue push the envelope on sensors and size," said Christine Robins, CEO, from CES last week. "We continue to grow our customers and partners year-over-year in a range of different of channels who are interested in technology to manage health and wellness,” 
While competition is fierce in the wearable weight loss tech niche, BodyMedia has a distinct advantage. NBC’s current season of “The Biggest Loser,” which premiered on Jan. 9th, is using the armbands and companion software to help contestants track their exertion levels, calories and food intake.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Gwen Smith, Christine Robins, Body Media

Hill District entrepreneurs receive boost from Urban Innovation21; CMU awards seven startups

Twenty businesses and entrepreneurs in the Hill District are among the first recipients of funding to be officially announced by Urban Innovation21 on Thursday night.  
The grants are the first of three Urban Innovation21 competitions underway that will assist entrepreneurs in the Hill District, Homewood and the Pittsburgh Central Innovation Zone (PCKIZ).  The overall goal is to provide support for community-based, resident-owned businesses while connecting them to the region’s innovation communities.
“We were really overwhelmed by the response and are excited about the work to connect our region’s success to some of its poorest communities in a way that will ultimately provide wealth opportunities for minorities, women and resident-owned businesses,” says Bill Generett, CEO of Urban Innovation21.
The Hill District Grant Competition attracted 62 initial applicants, 60 of whom were African Americans. Applicants participated in workshops and received assistance from Urban Innovation21. The finalists submitted a business plan and gave an elevator pitch as well.
Twenty applicants will receive grants. Artistry Greenscapes won the $10,000 top prize; the winners of the $5,000 grants include: Cameron Professional Services, EnjoYourself, Grace Security, Silq Concrete, Something Borrowed Boutique and The Pittsburgh Spot.
Three companies will receive technical assistant awards to launch crowdfunding efforts and another 10 will receive $1000 each toward a Kiva Zip zero-interest loan of up to $5,000.

In other startup funding news, CMU’s Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund (OFEF) has awarded $300,000 to six startup companies to assist them in growing their business ventures.

The fund, established by CMU alumnus and Flip Video Camera creator Jonathan Kaplan and his wife, Marci Glazer, provides early-stage business financing and support to alumni who have graduated from CMU in the last five years.
Since June 2012, the OFEF has provided support to 16 startup companies from across the country and a variety of industries. The fund is part of CMU’s Greenlighting Startups initiative, which facilitates bringing faculty and student innovations from the research lab to the marketplace.
The recipients include:
NoWait, a seating management system used by large restaurant chains including Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse and T.G.I. Friday’s. NoWait recently raised $2 million in funding led by Birchmere Ventures.
ActivAided Orthotics, developers of a line of postural training designed for the long-term relief of back pain. Their first product, "RecoveryAid" was released in July 2012. 
Aurochs Brewing Company is commercializing a unique formula to brew great tasting craft beers that are naturally gluten-free.
PECA Labs’ Masa Valve is the first valved conduit to be specifically designed for pediatric heart conduit reconstruction. The valve is clinically validated and is currently going through the FDA approval process. 
Pixite’s Unbound service provides a seamless photo management and viewing experience across computers, tablets and smartphones, allowing users to do more organized with their photos while saving time.
StatEasy is a free and easy-to-use platform to high school and collegiate teams to manage statistics and video of their sporting events. The company currently services more than 120 teams.
Tunessence is a virtual guitar teacher in your Web browser through advanced audio software with instructional video that replicates the experience of an in-person lesson in an online setting.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Bill Generett, Urban Innovation21; CMU

Image of the Hill District courtesy Tom Little Photo

Who's hiring in Pittsburgh? Design Center, ShowClix and more

Looking for a job? Each week Pop City reports on company hiring news in the region.
Design Center Pittsburgh is hiring a Community Programs Manager who will be responsible for management and oversight of projects for the grant-making program of the Design Fund. The ideal candidate will provide technical assistance and support around issues of design, planning and policy to community-based organizations.
The position demands a highly organized person with experience in architecture, planning and/or community development and strong program management and communications skills.
The hiring spree continues at ticketing company ShowClix, which is posting seven jobs and four internships for account executives and managers, software engineers. The news at ShowClix is the recent departure of company co-founder and Josh Dziabiak who is moving to Austin, TX, to work for former AlphaLab company Insurance Zebra.
ShowClix has no immediate plans to fill the CEO position and remains committed to Pittsburgh, reports Lynsie Campbell, president. A new funding round is in the works.
Tickets for Kids Charities, a nonprofit that seeks to give underprivileged children in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio access to the arts, is looking for an executive director and administrative assistant.  
The ideal candidate will have have 10 years minimum experience as a senior manager in a nonprofit or business environment and an established record of success in several areas.
The administrative assistant position is part-time, about 20-hours a week, and requires one to two years of experience working in a busy office environment.
Carnegie Robotics, a startup company that builds robots, smart sensors and automation components with a strong relationship with the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), is hiring mid-level software engineers for its Lawrenceville office.
The full-time positions requires product-oriented software engineers with superior problem-solving skills, high energy, creativity and strong experience in developing C and C++ software for robotics sensing applications. 
General Dynamics C4 Systems is hiring an Information Designer. GD works on the latest in visualization and collaboration software for the military and commercial partners. The ideal candidate will have a degree in Design and/or Human Sciences or related field plus a minimum of five years of relevant experience.

Sequoia Waste Solutions is hiring a lead developer and two paid-for-hire interns for its O’Hara Township office. The company, which takes a unique approach to waste disposal and recycling as a service, helps companies save money and recycle products. (See related story.)
SnapRetail has a position for a Marketing and Product Management person. The ideal candidate will be an advanced user of Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop and be able to execute and create compelling graphics and work with a team.

Treatspace is hiring a Lead Interface Designer.
Writer: Deb Smit

Pittsburgh shares the SXSW spotlight in March. Join the Pittsburgh Innovation Party!

When it comes to venues, SXSW in Austin may be the hottest ticket in the country, five days of techno-bliss and partying alongside cutting-edge technologies and the smartest entrepreneurs in the world.
This March the city is throwing its own Pittsburgh Innovation Party. Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Technology Council have joined forces to stage an officially sponsored event in downtown Austin on Saturday, March 9, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.
The event, open to all SXSW registrants, will highlight the best of Pittsburgh innovation and include an interactive arcade of projects featuring companies and students. Pittsburgh’s own Tracksplotation will provide live entertainment.  
While Pittsburgh companies and students have always gone to SXSW--and some have thrown their own events--this marks the first time the city has come together to pull off a sponsored event, says Brad Stephenson, director of online strategy for CMU’s Heinz College, a lead sponsor along with CMU’s Human Computer Interaction Institute (HCII).
“The whole gamut of innovation will be represented at this event, from early childhood education to startups to university technology,” says Kim Chestney Harvey, manager director of the PTC’s Creative Technology Network. “Everyone will be down there showcasing innovation from the region and showing off Pittsburgh as a great place to live, work and learn. It’s a great place to get exposure.”
As an official event, the Pittsburgh Party will be promoted through SXSW marketing channels to the more than 40,000 attendees. PTC is currently seeking all innovative projects, partners, companies and sponsors to join the program.
Supporting sponsors include: Alpha Lab, The Entertainment Technology Center, Steeltown Entertainment, CMU University Advancement. The event is also supported by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the SPARK Kids & Creativity Network.
“It will be electrifying and fun,” adds Stephenson. “We would love to see 1,000 people come through.”
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Kim Chestney Harvey, PTC, and Brad Stephenson, CMU Heinz College

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 
350 Entrepreneurs Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts