Pittsburgh Technical Council

Venture Outbound NYC: Linking PGH Startups to Capital

Venture Outbound NYC: Linking PGH Startups to Capital

Article Published: December 11, 2014

By Jonathan Kersting, Pittsburgh Technology Council

The Pittsburgh Technology Council, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Rustbuilt and FortyX80 headed to New York City for a two-day trip to introduce 14 Pittsburgh-based startups to nearly 10 New York venture firms and national tech media.

IMG_0069The charter bus departed from the PTC’s parking lot at 5:30 AM for a 2 PM start in the Big Apple. Despite the pre-dawn departure, all of the entrepreneurs were buzzing with energy. Discussing business plans, marketing strategies and elevator pitches. So who was on the bus? Some of Pittsburgh’s most promising companies:

  • Collected
  • Digital Dream Labs
  • Eeme
  • Interstacks
  • Lily & Strum
  • Rewyndr
  • SRVD
  • tACC
  • Thread
  • TrackAbout
  • uknowme
  • Workdesq

IMG_0072We poured one over the curb for Megabits’ Patrick Perini. He got a bad cold and couldn’t make the trip. The bus was abuzz as Digital Dream Labs’ Justin Sabo brought a box of its Puzzlets. The learning toy is set to hit store shelves shortly. He was stoked at the opportunity to show it to the media panel that awaited in Midtown Manhattan a few hours away.

The Media Panel included editors and reporters from Mashable, Fast Company, Tech Cocktail and CNBC. More on that later.

IMG_0075As the bus traversed the turnpike through a mix of snow and sleet, a few entrepreneurs nodded off. We almost left Rewyndr’s David Palmer at the Turnpike Rest Stop Roy Rogers. Good thing for headcounts.

The nearly seven-hour drive flew by quickly with people talking and swapping stories. Rustbuilt’s Kit Mueller even set up a swear jar. Anyone muttering the words, Big Data, Disruptive, Pivot or Paradigm Shift would have to toss in a dollar. Luckily no donations were made!

IMG_0076Before we knew it we were stuck in Holland Tunnel traffic, antsy to get to the Hippodrome for the media panel, lunch and a restroom break.

Once we got off the bus, Mueller handed out some sweet Fygment T-Shirts to everyone. Score!

At 2:30 the media panel kicked in with lots of advice to the entrepreneurs. Some top takeaways included:

  • Put urgency and passion into your pitches
  • Know your story
  • Articulate your competitors and what problem you are solving
  • Don’t be gimmicky
  • Tweet a reporter or editor
  • Share good links of previous media coverage

IMG_0079The reporters quickly learned more about our cadre of talented companies. Sabo debuted his shelf-ready Puzzlets. Piecemaker showed off its digitally printed toys, Eyebrows were raised at Thread turning garbage into fabric.

After the panel, Erik Nordlander from Google Ventures addressed the group allowing them warm up their pitches for tomorrow’s full day of meetings. He provided insight into what Google Ventures looks for before making an investment. Google puts dollars in companies across the spectrum with a recent focus at the intersection of life sciences and Big Data. Oops, gotta put a buck in the swear jar.

By 5 p.m. it was time to head to our Air Bnb, grab some dinner and recharge for tomorrow. Time to get some needed shut eye!

Stay tuned for more coverage of the investors, entrepreneurs and TechVibe Radio podcasts.

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