ISR Alum Among the Founders of BlackLocus
BlackLocus, a Pittsburgh company that helps small- to medium-size online retailers monitor the product prices and shipping fees of their competitors, is the recipient of a $2.5 million equity investment by DFJ Mercury, a startup venture capital firm in Houston, Tex., and Silverton Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm in Austin, Tex.
The investment will enable the company to rapidly expand its marketing and sales staff and hire experienced personnel for a number of key positions. The company was founded in 2010 by Rodrigo Carvalho, Lukas Bouvrie and Francisco Uribe, Carnegie Mellon University business and computer science graduate students.
"This investment allows us to rapidly scale up our product and enter the market in force," said Bouvrie, chief operating officer of BlackLocus. The software-as-a-service company now has a couple dozen customers, but additional staff and product enhancements will give it the capability to handle thousands of clients within a year, he added.
The investment comes just a few weeks after Carnegie Mellon announced "Greenlighting Startups," a portfolio of five incubators designed to help CMU students, faculty and alumni to further speed innovations to the marketplace. CMU has helped to create more than 300 companies and 9,000 jobs in the last 15 years.
Carnegie Mellon helped the students launch their company through two Greenlighting Startups incubators: Project Olympus at the School of Computer Science and the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School of Business. Uribe earned a master's degree from SCS's Institute for Software Research last year and Bouvrie and Carvalho both earned their MBAs from Tepper this year.
"Project Olympus was extremely helpful," Bouvrie said, particularly the mentoring of Katharine "Kit" Needham, senior business advisor. "They really helped us refine our pitch early on and helped us get funding through Innovation Works' AlphaLab." BlackLocus participated last year in the Jones Center's DJC Summer Accelerator, a 12-week program that helps students develop a company while completing their studies.
Uribe, Carvalho and Bouvrie also were assisted by the Idea Foundry. Innovation Works is a co-investor in the company.
"We're very proud of what BlackLocus has been able to achieve in a short time," Needham said. "They serve as a model and inspiration for the other student teams that are working on starting a business while still in school. It's important to get these good ideas into the marketplace and that's what Project Olympus and the other entrepreneur agencies here in Pittsburgh are all about."
More information about BlackLocus is available on its website, http://www.blacklocus.com/. Follow Project Olympus on Twitter@projectolympus.
Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | [Click to Reveal Email]