No doubt, Pittsburgh is popping with tech startups. The rise of incubators and co-working spaces has been through the roof over the past couple of years. TEQ detailed the major startup spaces in the fall of 2012 (StartUptown, Revv Oakland, ThinkTiv, ECenter@LindenPointe) and more keep coming.
We wanted to get a closer, long-term look at all of this startup activity.
We are working closely with Innovation Works and the AlphaLab staff on what we’re calling the “TEQ Startup Project.” TEQ/Techburgher and Pittsburgh Technology Council staff will spend time each week at the AlphaLab offices to ge
t deeper insight on each of the entrepreneurs and witness the company-building process first-hand.AlphaLab was one of the region’s first startup accelerators founded by Innovation Works to help innovative technology companies launch quickly and successfully. Since 2008, more than 50 companies and more than 100 entrepreneurs have gone through its nationally recognized program.
The latest round of AlphaLab companies have been chosen and have already been hard at work over on the South Side for a few weeks.
Look for reports from other area accelerators for an even more complete look at Pittsburgh’s fast-growing tech sector.
TSP will provide weekly updates on Techburgher.com, complete with podcast interviews, photos and video, too! But that’s not all, tune in to TechVibe Radio every Saturday at noon on FM News Talk 104.7 for more startup profiles.
Meet the Companies
To get the project started, here is some brief information about each AlphaLab company:
Digital Dream Labs
Digital Dream Labs: Digital Dream Labs teaches computer programming to children by linking physical and digital spaces through play.
Engineered Style: Engineered Style specializes in fashion related software for “style challenged” men, or roughly 99 percent of the male population.
Meaningfy: Meaningfy is a competitive intelligence platform that uses machine learning and collaboration tools to provide workgroups an up-to-date, consolidated view of their competitive landscape.
PoweredAnalytics: PoweredAnalytics is democratizing predictive analytics with a cloud-based platform that enables companies to make predictions from big data.
SolePower: SolePower is an energy harvesting startup bringing the ultimate mobile and renewable power supply to the market. It’s first product offering is a power generating shoe insert that charges small portable electronics like cell phones.
Workshirt: Workshirt helps people capture and share the big events in their lives. The company’s first product, HitchedPic, is a mobile app that captures the wedding from a unique perspective.
Getting to Know You…Quiet Please, Companies at Work
AlphaLab’s pulse can turn on a dime.
My first visit to AlphaLab on a Tuesday at 12:30 in the afternoon, confronted me with an eerie silence. I thought: Where is everybody? Where’s the frantic hustle and bustle I was expecting with room full entrepreneurs mixing it up?
Within 10 minutes, a buzz began to build. A bunch of entrepreneurs started shuffling back from lunch with leftover pizza sweating through a box. Others emerged deep in thought from behind the giant particle board doors that close off their office space. People began talking. AlphaLab alum Phil Anderson popped by to use the wi-fi before heading off to a nearby meeting.
As soon as the energy spiked, the entrepreneurs shuffled back into their workspaces. It was quiet as a library again. AlphaLab’s Mike Woycheck said it’s typical. Silence one minute, fury the next.
The quietness reminded me of my visit to Thinktiv in East Liberty a week before. So silent, you could hear the proverbial pin drop. Not a slurp of coffee to be heard! Starting companies isn’t all rapid-fire interaction, mostly deep concentration, too. Shh! Companies at work.
Trying to get better acquainted with its newest class, I was able to steal a few moments with Andre Lessa of Meaningfy.
Hailing from Brazil, Andre came to Pittsburgh in 1998 and pretty much fell in love with the place. He’s worked at some of the region’s top tech companies, including Vivisimo, Lockerz, and ModCloth. He always wanted to start his own company and took the plunge last year.
He’s excited to be part of AlphaLab — to be part of a tight community of fellow entrepreneurs. More than anything, Andre said he looks forward to bouncing ideas off his “classmates” and getting tons of feedback.
“I’m excited about the opportunity that AlphaLab provides,” he said. “They keep challenging us. I have to work even harder now!”
Lessa has truly rolled up his sleeves and is hard at work… quietly hard at work.