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Founders of Parthian Battery Solutions and Sulo in 2021 Pittsburgh Smart 50 Awards

USI is excited to partner with Smart Business Network for the second year in a row to announce and recognize the honorees of the Smart 50 awards for 2021. The events of 2020 presented unique challenges to the way we do business, the communities in which we operate and the very health of our employees. As we approach the end of 2021, there were many great examples of how companies and their employees adapted to these challenges and not only survived but thrived. USI is proud to be part of this community and help celebrate and recognize leaders that led during these trying times.

The year 2021 and beyond bring new challenges. The very nature of how we work in a remote or hybrid workplace environment will require adaptation and innovation to maintain teamwork, productivity and culture. Across many industries, there are labor shortages, and the difficulty in recruiting and attracting talent has never been greater.

Employers are also recognizing that promoting diversity in their workforce and creating a culture that celebrates that diversity are not only the right things to do, they are key factors in solving the issue of how to fulfill human capital needs in a tight labor market and build and retain a productive workforce. Companies are also expected to be good citizens of their communities on a host of concerns, from being environmentally conscious to being actively engaged in solving the problems the communities they operate in face. They are expected to be successful enterprises based on the traditional financial measures of success while also leading in their communities. Leaders need to not only serve the traditional stakeholders such as clients, employees and shareholders or owners but are also expected to serve their communities.

Yet another and new challenge? No doubt. But during the Smart 50 judging day, we heard directly from leaders who have the skills and the broad perspective, as well as the desire, to face these challenges head on. It was motivating how leaders are adapting to a rapidly changing external environment while successfully operating their companies.

With regard to the specialty awards for Innovation, Impact and Sustainability, we heard from leaders about how their businesses embody, and their employees are committed to, the values that are essential to excelling in business. As we heard their individual stories and how their leaders are responding, we were inspired and are optimistic about the future for the businesses recognized and the Greater Pittsburgh business community.

The Smart 50 awards gala will be experienced in a virtual setting this year. We are confident that this will contribute to the legacy of the awards and will be a truly unique and exciting event.

On behalf of USI’s Western Pennsylvania team, congratulations to each of the honorees for the well-deserved recognition of your leadership and your enterprises.

August Chico
Founder and CEO
Parthian Battery Solutions

Parthian Battery Solutions is a startup company that recertifies and repurposes post-consumer lithuim-ion batteries. Parthian ensures the most amount of value is extracted from the batteries over their lifespan, while simultaneously minimizing their environmental impact. The company’s practices more than double the useful life of the battery, and each unit of hardware it produces prevents hundreds of pounds of battery waste from being prematurely disposed of, along with hundreds of pounds of virgin elements from being dug up from the Earth. Additionally, Parthian’s establishment of a safe and viable second-use battery market brings forward lithium-ion technology at more affordable prices, making it attainable to the masses.

Auggie Chico, the founder and CEO of Parthian Battery Solutions, bootstrapped Parthian from concept to revenue in less than six months.

Jiaman Xu
Founder and CEO
XYZ Corporation-Sulo

Jiaman Xu figured that entrepreneurship is a way to create what you like, develop it and offer it to a client segment that will benefit from your product. She came up with the idea for an app that allows users to find a battery charge on the go. The app directs you to the nearest location where you can rent a battery pack from a power unit. She approached the SBDC for business support, received business consulting and market research and attended business webinars.

She was able to start her company, market the product and attend many networking events to promote adoption. Today, the technology is in more than two dozen locations in Pittsburgh and, with the addition of the University of Pittsburgh, there will be nearly 50 locations.

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