AlphaLab executive director Jim Jen at the 2014 Demo Day. Photo by Alex Jones.

The Pittsburgh startup scene takes center stage when Innovation Works presents up-and-coming companies during AlphaLab’s 2016 fall Demo Day on Wednesday night.

The event marks a well-earned debut for the eight early-stage software companies who entered the AlphaLab accelerator program last June. Over the course of an intensive four-month period, the new cohorts worked to improve their products with the help of mentors, experts and one another.

The presenting startups include Gridwise, Flexable, Ikos, Mentorscape, Resus Technologies, Sqwad, Strix and uTranslated.

“This particular group of companies went through a rigorous launching process,” says AlphaLab executive director Jim Jen. “We see Demo Day as a vehicle for introducing these companies to the business and startup community here in Pittsburgh.”

The previous Demo Day provided a platform for 14 companies from AlphaLab and its parent accelerator, AlphaLab Gear, to present their ideas to a large crowd at Stage AE.

Demo Day 1
2015 Demo Day. Photo by Ian Mikrut.

The event also demonstrates AlphaLab’s impressive track record in a time when the accelerator movement has come under scrutiny. Last spring, researchers from Rice University, MIT and the University of Richmond named AlphaLab as one of the nation’s top accelerators for the annual Seed Accelerator Rankings Project. Now in its fourth year, the study looks at accelerators from across the country to determine how well each one guides young entrepreneurs to success.

The latest crop of AlphaLab Demo Day startups focuses on a wide array of fields, including beauty, education, childcare, real estate, transportation and entertainment.

Despite their diversity, Jen says “macro-themes” tie the cohorts together. Both Sqwad, an online fantasy sports platform, and Gridwise, a product geared towards taxi and rideshare services, capitalize on rapidly growing new industries. Others tailor mobile technologies to fit certain lifestyles–Flexable, for example, allows busy parents to find quality, on-demand childcare.

The event will also feature an unlisted startup from outside the region. The surprise guest is part of a program where top accelerators from across the country agree to exchange companies for their respective Demo Days.

“It’s a way of showing that while we’re focused on Pittsburgh, we’re part of a broader network,” says Jen, adding that another accelerator will host one of AlphaLab’s startups. “We wanted to work together and help each others’ companies.”

The AlphaLab fall Demo Day takes place on Wednesday, October 26 at the New Hazlett Theater. Tickets are currently sold out, but those interested in attending are welcome to sign up for a waitlist. The event will also stream live online.

Amanda Waltz

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.