Innovation Works Selects Software, Internet, and Interactive Game Companies As First Participants in AlphaLab

Six Companies Receive Investment, Office Space, and Business Assistance

Jun 25, 2008, 01:00 ET from Innovation Works, Inc.

    PITTSBURGH, June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The first companies have
 been selected to participate in AlphaLab, a new program of Innovation Works
 to spur the growth of companies developing software, interactive games, and
 web and mobile applications. Innovation Works, one of the nation's most
 active seed-stage investors, selected the following companies to
 participate in the initial AlphaLab program: BlenderHouse, Chogger, crono,
 GameHuddle, Skill-Life, and Sonya Labs.
     AlphaLab helps companies rapidly develop early versions of their
 product and reach the critical stage of initial customer feedback and
 validation before commercial launch. Twice a year, up to six companies are
 selected to participate in the intensive AlphaLab program. In just five
 weeks of the initial open application cycle which ended March 31, 2008,
 scores of entrepreneurial teams from seven states applied for
 consideration. Investors and industry experts assisted the Innovation Works
 team in reviewing and selecting the companies thought to have the best
 chance for commercial success; that could make significant progress toward
 a product launch in roughly six months; and those that could maximize the
 $25,000 investment, free office space, and intensive business assistance
 provided to each of the AlphaLab companies.
     The first group of web-related companies represents a diverse mix of
 market segments being pursued, first-time and experienced entrepreneurs,
 teams working at the concept-phase to those with early iterations already
 released for user feedback, teams from outside Pittsburgh who moved here
 for the experience and some that have grown up together in the
 greater-Pittsburgh region, and everything in between.
     -- BlenderHouse creates social applications for Facebook and other
 platforms that offer friends a forum to exchange trusted recommendations
 and feedback during key life decisions.
     -- Chogger is developing software tools that enable users to easily
 create comic strips, a fun and exciting form of expression. Chogger's tools
 will help build and showcase comic strips and will integrate with websites
 containing content that can be easily made into personalized comics, such
 as photo sharing sites.
     -- crono is developing intelligent software to automate and simplify
 communications, schedule appointments, and book services.
     -- GameHuddle is creating a social network for gamers to help bring
 together players with similar interests. Users are able to review games,
 blog, create micro sites for clans/guilds, and engage others as part of a
 social community.
     -- Skill-Life is developing a web-based video game teaching financial
 literacy to middle and high school-aged children. Players create avatars
 and take on different real-life personas with specific occupations, homes,
 friends, and access to capital. Each persona has its own set of games that
 improve the players' math and literacy capabilities.
     -- Sonya Labs is creating a comprehensive web-based legal research
     "We are really excited by the products and teams in this first group of
 AlphaLab companies," says Rich Lunak, president & CEO of Innovation Works.
 "Most of these entrepreneurs just had a concept for a product and the
 AlphaLab opportunity motivated them to form a company and get on the path
 toward rapid commercialization. They're really flourishing in the
 collaborative environment where they can leverage one another's technical
 skills and they're applying the expert advice provided by the Innovation
 Works team and numerous outside advisors to hone their business plans. By
 the time we showcase the companies to investors toward the end of the
 program, we expect each one will have made significant progress toward
 their commercial launch."
     "Without AlphaLab, we'd probably be three guys in a garage," says
 Chogger founder Jeremy Herrman. "Now we've incorporated, we're fleshing out
 a business plan and are developing our product. Maybe we would have done
 that ourselves, but AlphaLab is making our company real right now."
     The next application cycle for the fall/winter AlphaLab program will
 begin in August and close October 15, 2008. Up to six new companies will be
 selected from those applications. More information is available online at
     Innovation Works is the largest, most active seed stage investor in
 Southwestern Pennsylvania. Part of the statewide Ben Franklin Technology
 Partner network, Innovation Works invests in and provides expert business
 assistance to the region's most promising early-stage technology companies.
 Since the inception of the non-profit organization's seed fund in 1999,
 Innovation Works has invested in 110 companies. These portfolio companies
 currently employ more than 1,200 people and have attracted nearly $500
 million in additional capital.

SOURCE Innovation Works, Inc.