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A couple weeks ago, Thinktiv was lucky enough to be a host, sponsor and mentor of the second Startup Weekend to take place in Pittsburgh. For those of you who don’t know, Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs who assemble in rooms over three consecutive weekend days to invent businesses.
It was a killer event and exactly what Pittsburgh needs all the time. We got so rolled up into the excitement, we converted our office to pack in the 200+ impassioned attendees and visitors who came to see the pitches on the last night. Up 30% in attendance from last year, the weekend produced 13 unique business ideas and again revealed the community of entrepreneurs that are quietly percolating beneath the canopy of the Pittsburgh business community.
Where did they all come from? Their day jobs. “They each gave up a hundred bucks and their weekends to work,” to quote Kit Mueller, the events organizer. Why did they do it? It was an opportunity to be a part of something bigger, to test their business ideas with their fellow entrepreneurs, to see a potential alternate future for themselves. Why are we fired up by that? Because it provides a clear signal that there is a community of motivated talent and a brewing pot of excellent ideas here in Pittsburgh, ready to be catalyzed into thriving new businesses.
The companies were diverse and substantive. Local ad platforms. Social commerce businesses. Specialized peer-to-peer networks. Mobile applications. We have our favorites, but that’s unimportant right now. What is important is that we’re building momentum among a talented community of innovators who want—more than anything—to be part of building a ‘next generation’ of businesses in the region. That’s a fire waiting to start. A pot waiting to boil.
We’ve seen this before, most notably in our other hometown of Austin, Texas. Over the past five years, we’ve played an instrumental role in the growth of that now-thriving startup ecosystem, where we’ve fueled the launch of hundreds of products and businesses that now employ thousands of people. We see this future for Pittsburgh. Over the next few weeks (and from here on out), we’ll be rolling out new programs that will help strike the match and add fuel to the fire. We’ll also be launching a new office with space to welcome entrepreneurs who are taking the plunge into building those new businesses. We are geeked about all of it. Stay tuned.