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We believe that the most important thing for Pittsburgh is to grow the entrepreneurial community—and we believe that starts with growing entrepreneurs. Pittsburgh has plenty of innovative business ideas, but we need to develop those business ideas into investable startup opportunities. We need to create content tuned for this region and make it available to the entrepreneurs in exchange for their participation. And we need to create a passionate community of idea generators who throw off such an energy that investors can see the light of the region from Google Earth.
Thinktiv is focused on shortening the window between idea and market. Our goal is to eradicate the “valley of despair” many early stage businesses face between funding cycles, and help to build the next generation of winners in Pittsburgh.
We are doing 3 things to help:
1. We’ve invested in a space where aligned entrepreneurs can freely work on their ideas. We are creating a hive—a buzz of activity by loosely connected groups with great ideas and great insights. From our experiences here and in Austin, we believe strongly that by cohabiting, individuals and businesses can thrive from the micro-meetings at the coffee machine and the hey-look-at-this phenomenon of the desk drive-by. This space will be open next week and we will be announcing an opening party to kick it off. Oh, and we aren’t charging anything for it. No cash and no equity—you just get to sit here—for free. Want to learn more? Tweet me.
2. We are supporting grassroots leadership development through market-relevant content programs. We are endorsing people like Kit Mueller and his organic growth approach to the startup community of Pittsburgh. Together with Kit and others, we believe the entrepreneurs need to hear from more folks in more communities about how businesses form, how they succeed and how they fail. We need to develop a more specific regional point of view around early stage innovation for the Mid-Atlantic. We need to recognize how our region invests capital, and build entrepreneurs that understand how to win in that environment. It doesn’t help to align our entrepreneurs to the conditions of markets we can’t access. We also need to celebrate any exit—success or failure. The simple fact is, regardless of whether it was a smash hit or an abysmal failure, an idea that reached the end is something to learn from. We’re building this content now. Let us know if you want to help.
3. We are starting a cashless program to fast track the transformation of early stage ideas into investable business opportunities. One at a time in 30-day sprints, we will be working with early stage businesses to create an investable opportunity, by compressing the “Born Winner” model in our Playbook into a 4 week program. The process will vary per business to ensure that we respond to their specific goals and needs, but generally we will cover four phases: (1) Company Strategy & Vision, (2) Product Strategy, (3) User Experience and (4) Branding and Marketing Strategy. The result will be a set of artifacts that substantiate the business as a legitimate and valuable investment.
We are launching this Born Winner program with an award-winning Pittsburgh startup called Thoughtful Husband. Why did we pick them? Aside from the fact that 6 respected judges (Audrey Russo, Jay Srini, Adam Kelson, Andrew Moore, Jay Katarincic and Mickey McManus) picked them as the winner from the latest crop of Startup Weekend businesses, we like them and we think we can help. They submitted no forms and competed against no one. We just talked, liked one another and thought we’d try to build something together. Sounds risky? Of course it does. That’s venture and that’s where the fun is.
Oh, and we believe that all that we are doing needs to be documented and shared, so we’ll be publishing our activity on our website. Point your browsers to Thinktiv Pgh and come back periodically to monitor our progress.
If you want to know more about any of the above, drop us a line.