October 15, 2013
On Friday night, Tech Cocktail hosted its first ever Startup Showcase and Mixer in Pittsburgh. Having lived in Pittsburgh for five years, the city and its people are very near and dear to me. Also, with the city being home to Carnegie Melon University, a Google campus, and AlphaLab startup accelerator, among others, an event like this was long overdue. I attended the event to check out the growing Pittsburgh startup space and talk to some of the people who are making it happen in the Steel City.
Fourteen startups demoed and participated in a 60-second pitch competition. The winner of the pitch competition was Get The Hookup, a service that helps you sell and purchase tickets for events in real-time using location-based data. It connects buyers to sellers in the area so that no one has to deal with overpriced scalpers or risk losing money on tickets. Here are a few of the other startups that stood out to me:
- BudgetSimple – BudgetSimple is your financial advisor in the cloud. The service helps you put a plan together to change your spending habits, get out of debt, and built wealth.
- Thinkerous – Thinkerous provides a collaborative ideation platform through social innovation to create and realize great ideas and solutions. Modeled after the four stages of a hackathon (idea, team, build, pitch), the platform tries to help those with ideas make them into real products or services, while helping those with skills prove them through experience
- Inktd – Cloud-based, scheduling platform for tattoo shops. Inktd strengthens the relationship between shops, artists and clients by proactively managing the scheduled appointment. Inktd organizes appointments for tattoo artists, minimizing no-shows with automated rescheduling and text message reminders for clients.
- Lily&Strum – Lily&Strum is a mobile- and web-based platform that reminds, recommends and delivers the right gift at the right time. It provides the most personal and scalable gift recommendation service on the market, making sure that you are not the one running through the checkout line of your neighborhood grocery store on the way home from work on Valentine’s Day!
- Vendalize – This is local search, built for your phone, using tags. The tags-as-keywords model is at the crux of every part of the product: it’s the framework for the cleanest data model on the market, as well as the revenue model and engagement model. It’s the way local search should’ve been done from the beginning – but only now that users have become familiar with mobile devices and tagging has it become feasible.
I also had a chance to talk with a few people at the mixer including several founders and sponsors. They all expressed a lot of enthusiasm about the Pittsburgh startup space, and a couple even asked me why Tech Cocktail hadn’t come to Pittsburgh until now. I could tell just from spending a couple hours among Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs and thought leaders that the startup community there is growing very fast and a lot of exciting things will be coming out of that city in the near future.
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