Pittsburgh Technical Council

Tech 50 2014 Winners Announced!

Tech 50 2014 Winners Announced!

Article Published: October 22, 2014

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Tech 50 awards program honors southwestern Pennsylvania’s fastest moving and most innovative technology companies. The awards represent transformative technology centers of excellence featuring tech companies at all stages of growth.

Advanced Manufacturer of the Year: Universal Electric Corp.

There is a growing need for energy efficient, energy monitoring systems within the data center industry. Universal Electric Corporation’s STARLINE Critical Power Monitor (CPM) has met and surpassed this need. STARLINE’s CPM is part of the STARLINE Track Busway System, and is uniquely designed to provide the functionality required for busway applications for both end feed and branch circuit applications, and is calibrated to meet ANSI Revenue Grade Standards for power usage.

With the success of its various product lines, including the new CPM, STARLINE added 68 jobs in the last two years. The company’s investment in Research & Development has increased by more than 60 percent in the last three years. And in the last five years, sales have more than doubled. In 2006, Universal Electric moved into a brand-new facility and is currently in the final planning stages of an approximately $10-million expansion project in order to meet the growing market demand for its novel energy monitoring systems.


  • Aerotech, Inc.
  • eV Products, Inc.
  • GiftCards.com
  • Industrial Scientific  Corporation

Ed Tech Company of the Year: Panther Learning Systems

Panther Learning Systems Inc. improves writing and critical thinking skills in secondary and post-secondary students using SWoRD™ Peer Assessment, a cloud-based, double-blind platform for peer-to-peer qualitative assessment. SWoRD teaches by engaging students on the giving side of the feedback loop, demonstrating the timeless axiom, “You don’t know a subject until you try to teach it.” Using SWoRD, assessment itself becomes part of the learning process, while allowing instructors to assign the tasks that build these skills without placing more burdens on their time.

Just recently, Panther Learning was awarded two campus-wide licenses. Georgia State, a public research university in downtown Atlanta with 32,000 students, and River Dell High School,  a suburban secondary school outside New York City with  1,100 students, have both purchased licenses that allow use of SWoRD Peer Assessment across their curriculum for the  2014-15 school year. These awards illustrate the breadth of interest in assessment solutions: in many schools there simply isn’t any effective way to assign formative feedback tasks.


  • Acrobatiq
  • BirdBrain Technologies
  • BloomBoard
  • Wombat Security
  • Technologies, Inc.
  • Zulama

Interactive and Application Developer of the Year: Schell Games

Schell Games is a full-service game design and development company with a focus on creating transformational games and innovative, interactive experiences. Founded in 2002 by world-class game designer and renowned author Jesse Schell, the studio employs a highly talented array of artists, programmers, producers, and game designers. Schell Games specializes in creating memorable experiences through mobile, PC, console, hand-held, on-line and social games, interactive theme park attractions, Internet-enabled toys and virtual worlds. The company counts some of the world’s most respected brands as clients, such as Yale University, SeaWorld Parks, The Fred Rogers Company, The Walt Disney Company and Microsoft Corporation.

Thanks to the growth within the educational game market, Schell Games has been able to expand its number of full-time employees from 65 in 2011 to 87 in 2013, for a 33.8 percent increase. Employee growth has continued in 2014, as Schell now employs more than 90. With regards to annual gross revenue, Schell’s overall percentage increase from 2011 to 2013 was  152.6 percent. As Schell Games continued to grow, the company required more office space. In May 2014, Schell moved into a new space in Station Square.


  • Branding Brand
  • DVSport, Inc.
  • LunaMetrics
  • SnapRetail

StartUp of the Year: NoWait

NoWait is the first and only mobile network for casual-dining restaurants. For consumers, the guest app provides real-time information on wait times in their area, enabling them to add their name remotely to a wait list from their phone, and simply show up when their table is ready. For restaurants, NoWait is an iPad wait-list and table-management system that helps them run their busy restaurant more efficiently. NoWait revolutionizes the overall dining experience and gives back the most important thing in peoples’ lives: their time.

2014 has been a huge year for NoWait. In February, the startup launched its guest app for consumers on a national scale, which is now available in thousands of restaurants, in all 50 states, and in every major metropolitan area across the country. Then in May, NoWait announced that it had raised $10 million led by Drive Capital, a $250 million Ohio-based fund focused on Midwestern companies, with participation from existing investors.


  • Diamond Kinetics
  • Encentiv Energy
  • Forever, Inc.
  • FutureDerm, Inc.
  • LoyalTree
  • Thread
  • Treatspace, Inc.
  • WebKite

Solution Provider of the Year: First Insight, Inc.

First Insight is a cloud-based technology company, provider of the world’s leading platform empowering retailers and brands to introduce the right products at the right price before major investments are made. First Insight partners with retailers and manufacturers to eliminate the high cost of new product failures by enabling them to design, select and optimally price winning products. The First Insight solution, InsightSuite, gives merchants, designers, marketers and planners insight into consumer demand and optimal entry price points for new products.

Working with some of the largest retailers in the world  (ex. Abercrombie & Fitch and The Limited), First Insight is enabling these companies with actionable information that results in 3-9 percent gains in sales and gross margin dollars.

First Insight is in its fourth year of compounded triple-digit growth. To keep pace with this rapid growth, the Sewickley-based company continues to expand its team within the region. Since the fall of 2013, First Insight has increased its headcount by more than 100 percent, nearly all in Pittsburgh. First Insight also raised an additional $1.5M in capital, from Adams Capital Management.


  • Advantech US, Inc.
  • AEC Group, Inc.
  • C-leveled
  • Newton Consulting
  • SDLC Partners
  • Sherpa Software
  • Summa Technologies

Innovator of the Year: Rhiza

Rhiza is an emerging leader in the field of marketing analytics, offering on-line tools that make Big Data actionable for marketers and salespeople. Rhiza’s tools increase revenue for both media companies and advertisers by delivering detailed recommendations based on integrated consumer insights.

This year, Rhiza successfully closed on $3 million in Series-A funding, lead by Pittsburgh-based Draper Triangle Ventures with participation from Arthur Ventures and Camp One Ventures. The increase in capital will accelerate Rhiza’s growth as the leading provider of marketing analytics. Recent new product development is expanding Rhiza’s suite of analytics to include tools that rapidly develop marketing plans, support cross-channel media buys and support the development of visually compelling, data-driven marketing and sales collateral. Rhiza’s latest release revolutionizes the way users interact with their data, making it simpler to find answers to their toughest questions about how to reach and influence consumers.


  • Aquion Energy, Inc.
  • Astrobotic Technology, Inc.
  • Blue Belt Technologies
  • Iagnosis
  • Intelomed
  • Malcovery Security
  • Resilient Cognitive Solutions
  • WindStax Wind Power Systems

Life Sciences Company of the Year: Aesynt

Founded as Automated Healthcare in 1987, Aesynt has been a leader in pharmacy automation for more than 25 years. Automated Healthcare was the first company to offer a robotic, bar-code-based solution for medication dispensing. Today, Aesynt is the only company that offers integrated pharmacy automation solutions to address every stage of medication delivery, including the automated preparation of liquid IV medications used for chemotherapy. More than 850 employees are dedicated to designing, manufacturing, selling and supporting Aesynt’s automation solutions that improve medication management.

In alignment with the company’s growth strategy, in March 2014 (just four months into new ownership) Aesynt successfully completed its first acquisition of Health Robotics, the leading global supplier of automated technology for intravenous (IV) medication preparation, compounding and dispensing. Aesynt’s world-leading technology eliminates these errors, while also reducing health care costs. In addition, Aesynt has launched more new products in the last 12 months than in the last four years, inclusive of its new enterprise inventory management system software, Insyte™. All of these new products are designed to help health systems and hospitals to dramatically reduce their medication costs, while increasing quality.


  • Carmell Therapeutics
  • Cernostics
  • Cognition Therapeutics, Inc.
  • Net Health
  • Neuro Kinetics, Inc.
  • Rinovum Women’s Health

CEO of the Year: Kraig McEwen

Since being appointed to lead Aesynt (formerly McKesson Automation) in November 2011, Kraig McEwen has completely transformed the company. McEwen is a motivator who leads by example, encouraging everyone to make suggestions and provide feedback, regardless of their roles within the company. He has earned the trust of employees throughout the organization by spending dedicated time within each of the teams to learn what they do, asking questions about why they do it, and requesting input on how to continually improve as a company. 

By being open and honest and encouraging feedback, McEwen empowers Aesynt employees to think creatively and innovatively. In fact, he challenges employees to grow the business through continuous process improvement, market differentiation and with a deep understanding of customer needs. Under McEwen’s leadership, Aesynt launched four new products in one year, aligned the organization around the top fiscal year priorities and developed a strategy that will return the business to growth by leveraging its core products and strong customer relationships.


  • Peter DeComo, ALung Technologies
  • Jason Wolfe, GiftCards.com
  • Ware Sykes, NoWait
  • Stephen Bollinger, Rinovum Women’s Health

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