The Pittsburgh startup scene is a dynamic environment home to an abundance of tech companies ranging from newborn startups to mature corporations. It is impossible to keep track of each and every detail, with more and more companies sprouting each day and various mergers and acquisitions taking place.
In an ongoing series to make sense of it all, we highlight 5 of the tech companies we at Steel City Startups believe stand out the most from the rest of the crop:
1. Cropolis (Farm Management Software)
Think of it almost as a consulting company for farms. Cropolis seeks to simplify the local food economy in Pittsburgh by using its technology to optimize the business to business food network. They discovered that a significant amount of supply chain transactions were being conducted using very outdated and informal methods, which led to a convoluted system and hampered down the efficiency of bringing local foods to consumers’ tables. The company provides software to bring effective solutions to sales, marketing, administrative, and supply challenges, thus facilitating the growth of the local food economy on both the consumer and producer sides.
2. Duolingo (Language Learning Platform)
One of Steel City’s biggest success stories, Duolingo has been on an upward trajectory since being launched into the general public in 2012. The company raised $25 million last summer in its Series E round of funding, totaling up to $700 million for the company’s net value. Duolingo plans to use this money in developing courses for two new languages — Arabic and Hindi — and also towards increasing their workforce by roughly 40%. These jobs will mainly go to new iOS and Android developers, as well as AI engineers, designers, and product managers.
3. Kaarta (3D Modeling Technology)
Kaarta develops cutting-edge devices that map 3D models of the real world. Their three primary products, Stencil, Contour, and Traak, are each built for use in different applications including architecture, construction, and engineering. The company was selected the city of Pittsburgh to partake in its PGH Labs program, which enlists the help of local startups to assist in city operations. The accurate, real-time 3D mappings use sensors and complex algorithms and will be used by the city to create models of several municipal sites.
4. Peptilogics Inc. (Biotechnology)
With the rise of super-bacteria that have mutated to be resistant towards numerous drugs, there is an enormous need for stronger antibiotics. Peptilogics is a biotech startup focusing on engineering antibiotics specifically designed to combat multidrug-resistant bacteria. Their procedure of developing these medicines also aims to prevent further drug resistance. The main component of the antibiotics: antimicrobial peptides, from which the company derived its name.
5. Zensors (AI-Powered Visual Sensors)
Another company utilizing artificial intelligence to improve business practices is Zensors. Users can install the Zensors system on their own phones or purchase a smart camera from the company, which they can set up in their desired space to be monitored. Next, the user asks questions into the app, such as ‘how many seats are open at the bar’, ‘are there any trash bags on the sidewalk’, or ‘how many people are on line’. The first few times a team of workers, or as they call it “the crowd”, will respond to the questions in order to train the AI specifically to the user’s environment. Once the training is complete, however, the AI will be able to provide detailed analytics on the space and measure the effectiveness of the space’s layout. The startup is currently working alongside the Pittsburgh Parking Authority through the PGH Labs program.