PieceMaker 3-d printer

Jesse Stratton of Johnstown (left) looks at a product made by a PieceMaker 3-D printer as Sage DeFrances, an engineer with the company, talks about the capabilities of the emerging technology on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at Pitt-Johnstown.

Since December 2013, David Luciew has worked to perfect the wrist-support product he developed and patented with his wife, Michele. He’s developed more than 30 design iterations of a prototype for the concept – wristocat, a wrist support cradle that uses opposing magnets to essentially float. He has a website, video and other marketing collateral and what he sees as a really cool name.

But he hadn’t asked for funding until Thursday, when he pitched the idea for the first time to “sharks” at the qualifying round of PITTch Fest, an event similar to the reality television show “Shark Tank” that is in its second year.

“If I could win, I could produce the prototype and take it to a soft channel,” he said. “That’s all I need right now.”

By Thursday evening, he was one step closer.

The wristocat was one of six concepts to make it to the final round of PITTch Fest, to be held from noon to 2 p.m. at Showcase for Commerce in downtown Johnstown.

“What was really cool about this, so far, is the opportunity to get great feedback from the judges,” Luciew said. “You can only stay in your basement so long. You have to get it out and try it.”

Hoping for a shot at more than $10,000 in startup funding and services to turn business concepts into market-ready products, 12 teams pitched to sharks on Thursday at Pitt-Johnstown.

The 12 semifinalists were announced at noon, started pitching at 1 p.m. and waited for finalists to be announced at 6 p.m.

Judges chose three ideas from the student category: the Monroe, a weighted skirt design to save women from wardrobe malfunctions; Healthponics, self-growing garden ecosystem that can be controlled with an app; and Never Dead, a cellphone charger that uses thermal energy.

Aside from the wristocat, two other pitches in a proficient category also will go on to compete Friday: Calibrace, a back brace designed for people with Parkinson’s disease, and Invisible Robotics, a hearing device that allows users to hear multiple voices clearly, even in crowded environments.

Kecia Bal is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at @KeciaBKay

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