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Mark Cuban invests in cell texting system

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By Rick Stouffer
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A South Side company that's developing a system to enhance simple cell-phone text messaging has raised nearly $1.4 million from investors, headed by Mt. Lebanon native and billionaire Mark Cuban.

SMaSH Technologies Inc. grew out of an idea of two Carnegie Mellon University graduates, Eric Boduch and Chanu Damarla, who saw the possibilities simple texting wasn't taking advantage of on most cell phones.

"SMaSH is more sophisticated. You can do much more with texting," Boduch said. "SMaSH-enabled text applications offer a Web-like presence with limitless possibilities."

Cuban came into the SMaSH picture last fall, with Boduch and the owner of the National Basketball Association Dallas Mavericks introduced via an e-mail connection.

"He (Cuban) was excited about SMaSH because it brought expanded capabilities to the masses," Boduch said.

"I invested because I think SMaSH has a unique technology that takes interaction on mobile platforms to a new level," Cuban said in an e-mail. "Right now, mobile communications is very limited and simplistic. SMaSH has the same impact that cookies had on the Web. It allows for more advanced and smarter interactions from mobile sets."

While he wouldn't say how much of the nearly $1.4 million investment he put into SMaSH, Cuban did say that one of the requirements of his investment was that all hiring and offices for the company must be in Pittsburgh.

Another SMaSH investor was Pittsburgh-based Innovation Works, a state-funded organization that helps young Western Pennsylvania companies get on their feet with direct investment and hands-on support. The organization through multiple fundings has invested more than $300,000 in SMaSH.

"We knew the two co-founders from prior companies they had started," said Jim Jen, Innovation Works' executive in residence, who works closely with the management teams at a number of Innovation Works' investments. "When they told us what they were doing, we thought it had a great deal of potential."

Boduch said the $1.4 million primarily will be used to increase SMaSH's sales and marketing capabilities, targeting large companies and marketing organizations.



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