A bus filled with investors from the likes of First Round Capital, Bloomberg Beta, 1517, Lightspeed Ventures pulls into Pittsburgh. The group looks around – many have never been to the Steel City. It’s a lot less steel and a whole lot more green than what they originally anticipated.
There is a bit of a buzz… These investors are all eagerly anticipating the day. Within just a few hours they are going to:
1. Get a rundown on the different regions around Pittsburgh
2. Go to CMU’s AI and Robotics fair
3. Check out Innovate PGH’s life sciences fair
4. Have a roundtable with some of the tech and entrepreneurship leadership from Pittsburgh
5. Wrapping up with a night at the Warhol
Bringing the coasts inland
Others add on, “Getting some of the experience of tech from more mature ecosystems and bringing that into regions, like Pittsburgh, is the best of both worlds.” Living in both San Fransisco and Pittsburgh for portions of my life – I certainly can agree with that statement.
The day full of meetings goes on much like this. Learning more about Pittsburgh, proposing ideas to accelerate the ecosystem, talking about financial successes (and failures) in the region, and learning much more about what this city has to offer. I eagerly listen in to the discussions; there are a few key points which seem to be talked about over and over again.
Hot topics of the day
There is as much benefit as locating a company in San Fransisco as there is in locating a company in Pittsburgh. SF has significant benefits when it comes to raising capital, finding high-growth talent, locating able mentors, focusing on scale, and keeping you near other, similar companies. Pitt puts you closer to many of your customers, boasts lower operating costs, gives you less hiring competition, and ensures an employee turnover rate of 1/3 of that of SF.
Pittsburgh has extremely strong technical talent. Most of this stems from a combination of prowess from Pitt and CMU, but it also comes from some of the companies in the region, including Facebook, Uber, Google, and others. While this is less of a secret to people in the Bay Area than it used to be, it is still something that shocked a few investors.
Entrepreneurial Quality (and Quantity)
The group was able to meet several high growth startups, from AI spinout Zensors, to Plug and Play portfolio Adrich, Rice Business Plan Winner Forrest Devices, and more. The quality of these companies was impressive – further pointing to the talent available in the region.
One item which jumped out to people was both the quantity of access to corporations that we’re located in the region. Companies in the industrial space, like PPG, US Steel, the Healthcare companies like UPMC and Allegheny health network and finacial space like BNY Mellon and PNC and many more help ensure that there is a robust corporate network available to buy new technologies developed in the region.