TrueFit’s apps optimize big ideas for smartphones-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

TrueFit’s apps optimize big ideas for smartphones

Many Steelers fans watching their cornerback nail an opponent might be reminded of former great Mel Blount's playing days. But other fans might chat up the ex-cornerback himself during the game.

That is, if they have the Steel City Buzz app developed last year by TrueFit Inc. in Cranberry. The free app for Android and iPhone smartphones connects fans with Steelers legends, such as ex-linebacker Jack Ham and ex-running back Rocky Bleier, who want to remain in the limelight. Thousands of fans have used the app so far, the company estimates.

Celebrity connecting, however, is just one of TrueFit's feats. Founded in 1997, the company designs and develops a variety of Web and mobile apps for entrepreneurs and companies and researches user experience to perfect the innovations.

For example, TrueFit developed an app for a trivia game about the United States Constitution for an Illinois company last year. An app (short for “application”) is a small software program computer users download for specific tasks.

“The work we do almost always starts with an idea, a brand-new concept,” said TrueFit CEO Darrin Grove. “It's understanding what creates value for a target group of people and designing great user experiences.”

Toward that end, TrueFit last month acquired Downtown company Gist Design Inc. for undisclosed terms. Gist provided TrueFit with consumer research and software design capabilities, more clients nationally, and its first Downtown presence (at Fourth Avenue and Wood Street). Gist's four employees, including ex-president John Beck, all joined TrueFit, giving it about 50 workers.

“We'll grow (revenue) 20 or 30 percent this year from this deal,” Grove said. TrueFit, whose 2012 revenue exceeded $6 million, plans to hire five to 10 more workers within three years.

In addition, the firm may open a third area office soon, in East Liberty, said the CEO, and has plans to open at least two offices in key markets, such as Boston, New York and San Francisco.

“They are not just thinking about building a cool app but about what problems they are solving,” said Greg Coticchia, executive in residence for software at the University of Pittsburgh. “They think about things from the customer's perspective, which differentiates them from just a group of programmers you can find in a lot of places.”

In Pitt's case, researchers at UPMC Sports Medicine last year conceived of an app for doctors to better diagnose athletes' knee injuries. The idea was to use mobile-device video to compare the injured leg's movement to normal leg movement to determine the nature of the injury and severity. They brought the idea to TrueFit, which produced an iPad app for commercial release...Read more»

By: Thomas Olson