startup

Pittsburgh's Startup Activity Isn't As Strong As It Claims

Oct 3, 2016
Mike Petrucci / Upsplash

You’ve heard it in the news or maybe even from your neighbor: These days, Pittsburgh is hailed as the center for innovation. The Steel City is thriving and building the new economy and even “birthing the age of self-driving cars,” as Wired Magazine recently put it. The idea that Pittsburgh is the bleeding edge of the startup frontier seems to be as much a part of its present narrative as steel was in its past.

Entreprenuer Examines Factors Behind Successful Startups

May 24, 2016
Sean Ammirati

It seems we hear about Facebook almost every day but does anyone remember Friendster? Why do some companies seem to strike gold while others simply strike out? Our guest Sean Ammirati went in search of an answer to this question and chronicles his findings in the book The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster – and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust.

'Suitable' Helps Connect College Students To Future Careers

Jan 14, 2016
Suitable / Facebook

To help college students be better prepared for the real world, Mark Visco came up with an idea. The result is Suitable a startup company tracking students out of classroom experiences. Mark Visco joins us to explain how his company could be a game-changer for college students.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Would you leave your travel plans in the hands of a stranger not knowing where you’re going until you’ve reached your point of departure? Our guest Lillian Rafson, founder and CEO of the start-up Pack Up & Go bet on this premise when she made her pitch to the judges of the Invest in Her competition. The result - she won the competition which came with a cash prize to fund the venture.

The Challenges Of Being A Startup In Pittsburgh

Jul 22, 2015
Apps for Europe / flickr

Despite a report released last week by the Kauffman Foundation ranking Pittsburgh low for startup ecosystems, Thrill Mill President, CEO and Co-Founder Bobby Zappala said “not all is lost” for entrepreneurs. Zappala joined Essential Pittsburgh as a Tech Startup Contributor. He also runs Thrill Mill, an independent organization that serves as an incubator/accelerator for startup companies in Pittsburgh.  For this segment, he looked at challenges of being a new business and discussed some startups coming out of their infancy and the challenges they're facing now.

Whistl Mobile Safety Device

Sep 2, 2014
Jayon Wang / Lifeshel

The past year has seen a number of news stories about safety on college campuses. From Time magazine’s cover story on sexual assaults to a Forbes magazine article on the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to compile and publish data on campus crimes.

Campus safety was one of the motivating forces behind the development of the personal safety device Whistl. Jayon Wang, CEO and Co-founder of LifeShel, a device company creating smartphone cases, talks about Whistl.

The University of Pittsburgh is combining resources to spark innovation and increase support for entrepreneurial initiatives on and off campus.

Pitt Thursday launched the Innovation Institute, which consolidates the existing offices of Technology Management and Enterprise Development as well as the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence.

This weekend budding entrepreneurs and those curious about launching a startup will gather in Pittsburgh for Startup Weekend. It’s part of a global grassroots movement that follows a basic model: participants pitch their startup ideas and they get feedback from peers. Teams form around topic ideas which are determined by votes and then comes 54 hours of business model creation, coding, designing and market validation.

Somenametoforget / Flickr

Startup incubators provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their ideas in an affordable space, with resources, mentoring and sometimes funding. They’ve sprung up all over Pittsburgh, especially in East Liberty. 

The Thrill Mill and its incubator space, the Hustle Den, is one of the new kids on the block. And while many incubators are focused on technology, Thrill Mill is supporting some diverse innovators.

For Bobby Zappala founder of the Thrill Mill, it all started when he moved back to Pittsburgh from Washington D.C. in 2006. He says he and his friends wanted to connect with other young people who had interesting business ideas. He says they host regular gatherings which became very popular.