Pittsburgh-based accelerator AlphaLab has selected its next class of seven startup companies announced  February 20. The new software companies will spend the next 20 weeks tapping into the AlphaLab Pittsburgh community network and beyond to develop their products and examine customer needs.

In addition to $25,000 investment from Innovation Works, each company will get office space, currently at the temporary space at the Beauty Shoppe in East Liberty, along with the soft benefits of mentoring and educational opportunities from seasoned professionals.

Selected from over 150 applicants, the companies were chosen based on three main criteria, says Jim Jen, executive director of AlphaLab. “We looked at the markets they were going after and the problems they are solving, the quality of the team and if they have the ability to make rapid progress.”

The groups were also evaluated on what they had achieved up to this point. Many of the companies are at the phase in which they are closely examining customer needs for an existing product, he adds. “They are all going after big ideas and big markets, trying to solve fundamental problems.”

Take for example Suitable, a skill development platform that helps college students chart a career path to the best entry-level jobs by helping them build and broadcast employable skills. There are several studies that show a gap in companies that need employees and students who need the employable skills that can be developed while still in school, explains Jen.

And there is Emplified, a company with an application that helps employees to stay engaged with their jobs and discover the next career options within their existing companies. “Companies are putting a lot of value on retaining their employees,” says Jen.

Others on the list include:

TravelWits, a firm developing the next generation travel search engine to find cheaper travel options. The technology analyzes real-time data for every travel component like flights, buses, trains, taxis, car rentals, accommodations, cruises and even parking costs to find the least expensive travel options.

Bansen Labs is using a video game interface to drive physical rehabilitation, replacing controller button-mashing with therapy-specific movements, to create high patient engagement, increased patient retention and better clinical outcomes, both in the clinic and at home.

WhoYu is generating dynamic micro-location networks, facilitating authentic, real-world connections between users within 100 feet. (Think of a networking event and wanting to know something about a person nearby to facilitate an introduction.)

EthosIO is helping companies to discover more about those using their products by analyzing written correspondence. The technology will provide information on personality, level of education and gender and will also generate twitter profiles and information on learning styles.

Seekahoo is a company developing a marketing app for home improvement contractors to engage with current and future customers while connecting homeowners to reliable contractors using their social networks. It’s like Facebook for the home improvement industry, says developer Zack Parme.

“We’re very excited about this group and what they will be working on over the next few months,” says Jen. All the companies were present at an open house on Friday at Beauty Shoppe Cube where they will reside until AlphaLab’s new space on East Liberty’s Broad Street is ready for occupancy, likely in the spring.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.