AlphaLab introduces its latest class of entrepreneurs

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After considering hundreds of entrepreneurs seeking entrance into one of the nation’s top accelerator programs, AlphaLab has unveiled the six that made the cut.

The South Side accelerator introduced its latest class Wednesday during an open coffee event designed to informally introduce mentors to entrepreneurs and introduce the public to the innovations that won over executive director Jim Jen. With a class of CEOs that range from musicians to Rhodes Scholars, AlphaLab officials are excited about what may be produced in the next few weeks.

Benjamine D.T. Liu and Kit Dobyns, two Rhodes Scholars who started clinical research company ResearchWe while they were roommates at Oxford University, researched Pittsburgh after discovering AlphaLab had been ranked the number seven accelerator program in the nation by TechCrunch.

Once they discovered the region’s hospital networks and universities would serve as great hubs to test their product, which connects researchers seeking clinical trial subjects with willing participants, applying to the program was an easy decision.

“We were interested in a lot of accelerators, and AlphaLab had the mentorship component we were looking for but they also had the same ethos as we did,” said Mr. Liu.

For Atlanta residents Ashwin Muthiah and Harris Gani, founders of artist’‍s marketplace app Easely, AlphaLab’s national ranking drew them in but Pittsburgh’‍s tech sector made them want to stick around.

“It’s a growing tech scene, and we wanted to be part of that. We wanted to be early adopters who are here to help the city grow its tech scene and to grow with it,” Mr. Muthiah said.

Location is everything for two Pittsburgh entrepreneurs who hope their digital apps will be facilitating physical connections throughout the region in coming months.

Vanessa Jameson, who founded location-based mobile app Covey to help new mothers connect with one another in public settings, said she will be recruiting mothers in the next few weeks to try the app and provide customer feedback. William Lutz, Shadyside resident and founder of social connection app SitWith, said the idea of connecting strangers for lunch or some other event through his app is particularly appealing in Pittsburgh.

“By the end of AlphaLab, I want everyone in Pittsburgh to have tried SitWith lunches. I want to see people going out the way they used to,” Mr. Lutz said.

Face-to-face collaborations are ideal for musicians such as Nebulus founder Robert Kotcher. However, the Plum-based musician and his team of engineers are hoping Nebulus, a cloud-based audio workstation designed to edit shared audio files, will become the go-to solution for musicians who can’‍t make it to the studio together. is up and running online, and Mr. Kotcher is asking users to send feedback to

Kinetica, a data analysis tool designed to transform the way users interact with and analyze complex data, is also up and running. The main hope founder Jeff Rzeszotarski has for his experience with AlphaLab is to connect with businesses seeking to analyze internal data and with the public at large, whom he believes deserves to understand the full implications of public data.

“I want to release a free version to the public because I believe in democratized data,” said Mr. Rzeszotarski.

Over the next 20 weeks, the companies — which already received $25,000 each from AlphaLab in exchange for 5 percent of equity in their business — will take part in educational sessions, mentorship and the Demo Day pitch competition, which draws hundreds of investors to the region biannually.

For more information, visit

Editor‘‍s Note: This story has been to changed to correct Vanessa Jameson’‍s name.


Deb­o­rah M. Todd: dtodd@post-ga­ or 412-263-1652.

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