Pittsburgh Technical Council

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Creative Industries Network is Thrilled to Announce the 2018 Co-CREATE Business Ignition Program Cohort!

The Pittsburgh Technology Council’s Creative Industries Network is Thrilled to Announce the 2018 Co-CREATE Business Ignition Program Cohort!

Article Published: July 12, 2017

Co-CREATE is the Pittsburgh Technology Council's Business Ignition Program for the region's Creative Industries. Based on the idea that cross-sector collaboration and creativity are a recipe for success, Co-CREATE's mission is to provide opportunities for emerging creatives businesses to succeed by working together, being exposed to new perspectives and gaining business savvy. Each Co-CREATE team is comprised of individuals who span the gamut of the Creative Industries, including design, fine art, entertainment, communications, software and hardware, data science and Creative Industry support services.

“We had such an amazing first year, “ said Kim Chestney, Co-CREATE Program Founding Director. “New businesses were created, and so many new ideas, partnerships and friendships were born... We are excited to carry such positive momentum forward with this new talented, creative group.”

Part of the Pittsburgh Technology Council's inaugural Co-CREATE Creative Business Ignition Program, six entrepreneurs from different creative sectors will be working together over a 10-month cycle to elevate their creative businesses in Pittsburgh, and around the nation. Providing Ignition Grants, shared work space, entrepreneurship education, mentorship, and community engagement opportunities, the Co-CREATE program offers immersive PTC services to early-stage creative entrepreneurs seeking to take their work to the next level. Co-CREATE culminates each spring, with a special demo-day at the CREATE Festival Innovation Salon, during the Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival.

“The Co-Create program further accelerates our commitment to cultivate the intersections of emerging creative sectors, who often serve as leading indicators for the new economy,” says Audrey Russo, Tech Council President and CEO. “New business models, paired with providing support (finance, legal, marketing, business development) cultivates collaboration with existing companies; typically off limits for artists. Arts and culture have historically served as catalysts for economic transformation. In the age of interconnectivity, infusing those who are developing their talents in a world where we are rapidly experimenting, we need those who bring their skills across the arts to help us forge new solutions and opportunities. Using a hierarchical and discipline approach is no longer acceptable. The artists amongst us will make what was once impossible, possible.”


Byron Nash, Musician, Entertainment/Creative Arts:

Byron Nash is a Pittsburgh-based musician and well-known guitarist. Having toured and played sold-out venues, he has also performed with National acts ranging from Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, Pharell Williams and N.E.R.D., Busta Rhymes, De La Soul, 50 Cent, Soul Live, Musiq Soulchild Fantasia and more. Although he's known for his electrifying, Hendrix-inspired guitar playing, Nash is also a producer having created instrumental music for the Heinz Foundation and other local organizations and businesses. Nash has also co-produced four music videos, and is respected for his tireless work ethic and gorilla-style marketing and promotion style.

Cocreator 01

Cara Livorio, Artissima Studio, Education/Community:

Cara is the owner of the art school, art studio, gallery, event venue, and art boutique, Artissima Studio, located in Fox Chapel, PA.  Artissima offers fall and spring semester art courses for children, summer art camps, adult art classes and unique workshops throughout the year.  Artissima sells artwork and merchandise from local craftsmen and acts as a local gallery.  Cara obtained her BFA in drawing and painting and pursued graduate studies in visual art and curatorship at NABA in Milan, Italy. Cara’s work has been exhibited nationally and resides in private collections throughout the United States and in Europe.  


Cocreator 02

Ian Brill, Artist, Fine Art/Interactive:

Ian Brill’s work focuses on the accumulation of form through immersion and process. Through the creation of interactive, performative and multi-sensorial environments, he considers boundaries of becoming (versus being) in our relationships with technology. Via divergent methods of varyingly-technological explorations, his work seeks to create new experiences that both evoke wonderment and critical awareness. His installations, performances, and writing have been presented internationally. Currently, Ian teaches at Penn State University.

Cocreator 03

Nisha Blackwell, Knotzland, Fashion/Textiles:

Nisha Blackwell is a Pittsburgh Native and Founder of Knotzland Bowties, a Social Enterprise dedicated to rescuing high-quality textile and material waste and repurposing it into stylish bowties. Founded in 2014, Knotzland's Impact has been shaped through partnerships with 13 organizations, 10 Local Artists and trained 12 Seamstress. This community-centric model has helped Knotzland rescue over 200 lbs of non-biodegradable waste from entering the landfills and provided opportunities for local women to learn and make additional work-from-home income through Knotzland. Nisha's life-long passion for community, creativity, and resource conservation has led her to start a business that positively impacts both her community and the environment.

Cocreator 04

Kelly Sanders, Too Many Sparkles / love, Pittsburgh, Design/Maker:

After graduating from WVU, Kelly Sanders spent 20 years in New York City and San Francisco, cultivating a career in clothing design and traveling the world for companies like Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle, Walmart, and Old Navy. After collecting fabric for many years, Kelly created toomanysparkles, using upcycled fabric and pop culture to make unique notebooks, cards, and art. Toomanysparkles is sold in her Etsy shop, and at local events around town, including Handmade Arcade, The Neighborhood Flea in the Strip District, and in Market Square. On July 4 2017, Kelly opened the gift shop, love, Pittsburgh, atop Mount Washington, with her business partner, and Co-CREATE alumni Monica Yope.

Cocreator 05

Rich Sanders, SHPlates, Manufacturing/Design:

Rich is a 27 year old Army combat veteran with 10 years of service. He has a love for philanthropy, particularly for animals, veterans, and kids causes. Rich is a graduate of the Harvard CORe program (will be by August, just figure you'll use this bio later!) and used to work at Google Pittsburgh. Rich started SHplates, his company that produces metal artwork with a patented process, entirely by accident when he created a ruck plate for his own use, shared it on his Facebook, and got bombarded with requests for them.

Cocreator 06

To learn more about PTC’s Co-CREATE and our new group of CO-CREATORS, visit our website at https://createpgh.org/.

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