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. www.blenderhouse.com
-- 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. www.chogger.com
-- crono is developing intelligent software to automate and simplify
communications, schedule appointments, and book services. www.mycrono.com
-- 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. www.gamehuddle.com
-- 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. www.centscity.com
-- 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.