CMU language translation site Duolingo has attracted the attention--and funding--from Hollywood celeb and "Punk'd" producer Ashton Kutcher.
The university announced yesterday that Duolingo, created by computer science whiz Luis von Ahn and Severin Hacker, has received $3.3 million from New York-based Union Square Ventures as well as Kutcher. Union Square's tech portfolio includes investments in Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare and Zynga.
In other news from CMU, ten startups were selected for CMU's Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund
(OFEF), a program that awards $500,000 to companies from across the U.S. and mentors them through the early stage.
CMU alumnus and Flip Video Camera creator Jonathan Kaplan and his wife established the fund to provide early-stage business financing and support to alumni who have graduated from CMU in the last five years.
While the company locations range from New York to Silicon Valley, seven are from Pittsburgh. The startups represent a diverse range of industries, including medical, technology, consumer and educational fields.
As part of CMU's Greenlighting Startups initiative,OFEF provides $50,000 in matching funds to each recipient. They also gain access to other funding sources, receive personalized mentoring and attend an annual OFEF business workshop. CMU will provide legal and accounting support for OFEF recipients.
Peter Stern, a CMU classmate of Kaplan and president of Bitly, will be providing advisory support for the fund and is serving as a mentor. Other mentors include CMU alumni Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems and current founder of CareZone, Alan Chung, current founder and CEO of Perka, Inc. and CMU entrepreneurs Rick McCullough and Dave Mawhinney, OFEF Managing Director.
The companies include:
, Pittsburgh, is developing medical technology, a disposable medical device for the detection of specific proteins in body fluids.
, Pittsburgh, is developing innovative tools to help gyms and trainers improve the overall customer experience.
Beyond Lucid Technologies
, San Francisco, a healthcare IT startup company that offers support and to paramedics and other first responders.
, Pittsburgh, providing web and mobile solutions for property managers to streamline
maintenance and communication processes with their residents.
, Pittsburgh, creating fun, story-based educational games to teach science, technology and math to children in grades K-5.
, Pittsburgh, a cloud-based seating management system for the no reservation restaurant.
, Pittsburgh, simplifies the lifelong challenge of managing diabetes by empowering and engaging diabetic patients to maintain and manage their own data through their smartphone.
Qualaris Healthcare Solutions
, Pittsburgh, is tackling the problem of hospital acquired infections with a tech platform that targets hand hygiene compliance in the workplace.
, Boston, is developing a pediatric medical device to detect and diagnose the leading causes of preventable vision loss in children.
, New York City, a mobile self-checkout application that allows customers to scan items in-store, and checkout without waiting in line.
Writer: Deb Smit