PITTSBURGH, PA. — The MAYA Group has launched Rhiza Labs, LLC, a software company that builds web-based applications to unify community information and improve decision- making in the public sector. The new company is an outgrowth of MAYA’s unique business incubation process that encourages internal research initiatives to spin off as new companies when they become financially independent. “MAYA’s approach to nurturing new companies makes it much easier for innovation to bear fruit and impact society,” says Josh Knauer, Rhiza’s President & CEO and a veteran of several start-ups before he joined MAYA in 2003.
Rhiza Labs is the second company launched by MAYA. The first, MAYA Viz, was bought by General Dynamics C4Systems and now employs over 100 people in Pittsburgh.
To fulfill its mission of improving decision-making in the public sector, Rhiza offers two software products – the Community Catalog and Community Insight.
Rhiza’s Community Catalog enables organizations to create easy to use websites that help people find the community resources they need. Community Catalog is used by human services organizations, school districts, cultural groups and regional marketers to organize, track, analyze and promote community assets. Rhiza’s second product, Community Insight, creates websites where people with a common interest collaborate around shared collections of data using online mapping, graphing and storytelling tools. Both software products use the Information Commons as a data sharing platform, a database technology developed by MAYA Design, another MAYA Group company. The Information Commons unites all the facts and figures of the world into a resource available to everyone.
“Rhiza’s technology enables non-profits and government agencies to directly benefit from the Information Commons,” comments Peter Lucas, Chair of Rhiza Labs and founder of the MAYA Group.
InfoWorld named the Community Catalog that Rhiza created for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services and 3RC as one of the Top IT projects of 2006. Other public sector clients with whom Rhiza has worked with include the United Ways of New Jersey, the Conservation Biology Institute, the Heinz Endowments, the United Way of Allegheny County, and the Wilburforce Foundation.
Rhiza, which currently has six employees, will share space at MAYA’s SouthSide Works location. The MAYA Group will provide administrative support services to assist Rhiza in its growth.