One look at the business cards of DeviceKnit co-founders John Ganotis and Jordan Messina will tell you these guys aren’t your typical entrepreneurs. Listed as the chief espresso officer and chief tea officer, the recent AlphaLab grads have a knack for setting themselves apart (and employing humor while they’re at it).
DeviceKnit began as a web application for Ganotis and Messina to keep track of their gadgets and share ideas of how to use them with friends. Both were often asked to help setup electronics for other people and like finding new uses for devices they already own.
“I was always tinkering,” Ganotis said.
The best use Ganotis found was using the Wii remote, which he describes in a video on DeviceKnit.
Messina said he is looking forward to using GoogleTV with the iPhone.
Working from their interest in devices, Ganotis and Messina thought to expand the network by including more users and to make a profit through pay-per-click and affiliate sales. They decided to apply for the Spring 2010 AlphaLab session after Messina heard Resumator founder Don Charlton on the podcast This Week in Startups. Charlton had mentioned AlphaLab during the talk.
“I looked up Don after I heard it and emailed him last June,” Messina said.
Now that the program is over, DeviceKnit has moved in to office space with fellow AlphaLabers CloudFab in the Hill District. The building is owned by Dale McNutt, who is calling the location “Startup Town” and offering graduated pricing for new companies. Ganotis and Messina agreed that the community of local business owners in Pittsburgh offers a lot of different groups to get involved with and provides opportunity and guidance.
“Everyone is pulling for each other and giving a helping hand,” Ganotis said.
When it comes to funding, Ganotis and Messina are hopeful about their prospects and can self-sustain from profit in the meantime. Receiving support will enable the two to grow the community for DeviceKnit at a quicker pace by allowing them to move forward with development and gain users.
Ganotis and Messina are working on development along with the help of an intern from Duquesne University. The private beta for users who sign up is expected by the end of June, with a public beta to follow.
Not to be forgotten are the efforts of “Pluggy,” the logo for DeviceKnit, which can be found on Twitter. Pluggy was described as a “plug with an attitude” and picked from several designs submitted to 99designs.com, the site Ganotis and Messiner used to solicit ideas for the logo. Plans for Pluggy include t-shirts and stickers. The stickers, as Ganotis said, may find their way onto devices in different stores (some with angry faces to show Pluggy’s disgruntled opinion).
Eventually, Ganotis and Messina hope to expand DeviceKnit to include person-to-person sales, similar to how craigslist operates. No matter how the business expands, the initial idea for DeviceKnit remains the motivation behind the company.
“DeviceKnit is about sharing ideas and getting inspired by what others are doing,” Ganotis said. “Too many people are trying to reinvent the wheel when they should be figuring out how it works.”