On Wednesday, May 24th, Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead, PA, welcomed entrepreneurs from all over the Pittsburgh area to Demo Day, an event headed by AlphaLab and Alphalab Gear, which provides the tools for early-stage technology companies to network and meet with potential mentors. AlphaLab offers extensive educational sessions with industry leaders, and focuses primarily on Software technology, while Alphalab Gear is hardware-focused and designed to implement hands-on programming with supplied hardware to assist in a company’s startup. At Alloy 26 and Nova Place, we are delighted to sponsor such important programs that continue to inspire entrepreneurs annually.
Both AlphaLab and Alphalab Gear are programs of Innovation Works (IW), the country’s sixth most active seed stage investor according to the 2015 PWC Moneytree report. On their website, IW writes that it fuels the technology economy in Southwestern PA through direct investments and business expertise. They help hundreds of entrepreneurs, like those at Demo Day, create new markets and share their ideas, all with the hope of changing the world one invention at a time.
There was a total of twelve presenters last Wednesday, with projects including a women’s travel app that helps to ensure safety while traveling alone on business, an app that allows cyclists to share and catalog which roads are safest, a company that solves the problem of the “McMansion syndrome” with “incremental housing,” enabling homeowners to build additions as they see fit, and even a Wi-Fi tool that connects with hotel guests to solve their problems in real-time. All the presenters were exceptional; they shared innovative ideas that could potentially improve the lives of many individuals.
The cyclist app, LaneSpotter, connects bikers from all over the city of Pittsburgh, and users can input if there are routes with potholes, lanes with significant traffic, bike parking spaces at destinations, and most importantly highlights the safest routes for bikers to travel. This invention is incredibly important, as there are 100 million Americans who ride a bike each year, and Pittsburgh ranks second in the country for biking. This app paired with Pittsburgh’s ranking gives friends, family members and fellow cyclists the ability to travel from point A to point B safely.
While all the entrepreneurs had excellent ideas and execution, one project stood out for its wide reception and success rate thus far. ZaaBox is a monthly subscription containing bath and body products specifically targeted toward black women, which according to Founder and CEO Terence Strong, is an underappreciated market with enormous potential.
ZaaBox fulfils the desire for luxury products that support the African American community. ZaaBox delivers five of the “finest all-natural full-sized products” directly to consumers’ doors every month, and has proven to be successful, with a 4,000-dollar monthly retention rate and outstanding product reviews. Each box differs from month-to-month, so consumers are pleasantly surprised with new products to try. Products include bath salts, shampoos, lotions, etc. For example, a past box, named “Lovely Lavender,” included Creamy Lavender Wash, Lavender Massage & After Bath Oil, Lavandula Body/Hair/Hand Wash, Lavender Rose Bath Salts, and Lavender Chocolates. Themes vary each month, always keeping consumers on their toes and excited for the next pampering product.
Overall, Demo Day was a success. Entrepreneurs from different areas of the city brought their dreams and beaming personalities to the stage, making for captivating presentations and a positive sharing of ideas. Again, Alloy 26 and Nova Place are proud sponsors of such an amazing program. To all the presenting teams: GoJaneGo, Module, Adrich, ZaaBox, BlastPoint, LiftLink, Norilla, HiberSense, Arin, LaneSpotter, Qlicket, and NsideoutSpaces—thank you for all your hard work and the contributions you make to both society and technology.
If you would like to contact the highlighted companies mentioned in this post, you can reach Terrence Strong, of ZaaBox, here: https://www.zaabox.compre and founder of LaneSpotter Lynsie Campbell here: https://www.facebook.com/lanespotter/. If you’re interested in checking out an overview of Demo Day, that can be found here: http://alloy26.com/pghdemoday/