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Open Field Fund Selects Latest Recipients

on Thu, 01/10/2013 - 01:22

The Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund has announced its latest round of investments, and the newest recipients include five start-up companies based in Pittsburgh. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, the list consists of: ActivAided Orthotics, a clothing apparel company that helps people use better posture to eliminate back pain; Aurochs Brewing Company, the developers of a new method for creating gluten-free beer; PECA Labs, currently going through the FDA approval process for their artificial heart designed for pediatric patients; StatEasy, which is working on better ways to manage high school and collegiate athletic statistics; and Tunessence, the developers of a software application that assists in the learning of musical instruments. The lone non-Pittsburgh recipient is San Diego-based Pixate, which specializes in digital photo management.

The Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund was established in 2011 by Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Jonathan Kaplan, who sold his own start-up company, Pure Digital, to Cisco Systems in 2009. “Open Field is dedicated to helping Carnegie Mellon graduates dream big and create the next great product or service,” Kaplan is quoted in the Pittsburgh Business Times as saying. “We are pleased to provide these investments and encouraged by the success that previous Open Field recipients have experienced in just a few short months.”

One of those Open Field success stories, NoWait, also made news during the first full week of 2013 when it was announced that the company had raised an additional $2 million in funding and named a new CEO as head of its operations. NoWait was founded in 2010 by Robb Myers, and was initially part of the AlphaLab startup accelerator project on the South Side. During that time, the company developed a mobile platform that makes it easier for anyone to make reservations at such popular restaurants as Texas Roadhouse, Mad Mex and Red Robin. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, NoWait has “seated” more than six million people to date, and are now expanding into the New York City area.

While NoWait still has a Pittsburgh office that houses ten local employees, new CEO Ware Sykes will be based out of NYC in an effort to penetrate the Big Apple’s substantial restaurant market. Founder Robb Myers remains with the company as both president and chief product officer, giving NoWait a one-two punch that it hopes will take it to the next level. As for the latest half-dozen recipients of Open Field funding, meanwhile, only time will tell if they achieve the same success as NoWait, but at the very least, they are apparently headed in the right direction.

Anthony Letizia (January 9, 2013)

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