Two New Startups in Pittsburgh’s Growing Tech Scene

 

By Henry Yelin

To the outside world, Pittsburgh may be most well-known for its beloved sports teams like the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. These three teams are supported by a fan base that can appear to be orders of magnitude larger than the population of Pittsburgh itself – especially during the playoffs. While Pittsburgh’s reputation may have historically been anchored by athletics, a new reputation is emerging in which technology companies are taking a far more dominant role.

Pittsburgh is home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group and plays host to a new Google campus. Along with many other larger cities, Pittsburgh is included in Amazon’s short-list of possible locations for its second headquarters. Beyond these massive companies, the steel city has also given rise to a vibrant startup culture. Two relatively new startups, Netbeez and LifeWhere, originated in Pittsburgh and still concentrate their operations here today.

Netbeez is a security product that runs on client-server architecture through hardware installation. It helps network engineers rapidly detect and mitigate issues on networks, and it also performs connectivity and performance assessments. End users can access the results of diagnostic tests and other threat information using an online dashboard. Netbeez got its start in 2013 through the Pittsburgh-based startup accelerator AlphaLab and maintains its headquarters in the Bloomfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Along Pittsburgh’s North Shore, another startup is developing. LifeWhere, founded in 2016, has pioneered IoT devices for homeowner appliances. They’re capable of detecting inefficiencies and soon-to-be problems before an actual issue or breakdown occurs. This technology can save individual consumers considerable time and money by scheduling maintenance before a loss of function, and it can also provide rich data to appliance repair companies and appliance manufacturers. LifeWhere joins a small cadre of other nascent in-home IoT products like the Nest thermostat and voice-activated assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa.

Not only do LifeWhere and Netbeez both call Pittsburgh home, they also both count Carnegie Mellon University alumni amongst their leadership. According to Sean Ammirati, partner of Pittsburgh-based venture capital fund Birchmere, “Carnegie Mellon has world-renowned expertise in many of the most exciting areas of technical innovation such as machine learning and computer vision. It’s very helpful for us to be able to spend time on campus connecting with current and future entrepreneurs.” In Birchmere’s most recent investment fund, one-third of the 24 companies receiving capital were founded by Carnegie Mellon alumni.

For entrepreneurs and budding startups, Pittsburgh is quickly emerging as an ideal city for growing a company. Its cost of living is markedly low relative to other startup hotspots like San Francisco, and it has a comparable pipeline of workforce talent led by Carnegie Mellon. It may not have the Golden State Warriors, but the Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates are enough to keep this town entertained.

 

Henry Yelin is a first-year student in Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College. He is pursuing a Master of Information Systems Management degree with a focus in IT Strategy and Management. Prior to Carnegie Mellon, Henry was most recently living in New York City and working in financial services advisory.

 
 
 

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