Skip to content

Pittsburgh to Seattle Startup Mission

Cover Story

Let's Connect with Seattle: #PGH2Seattle

The Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC) and its non-profit arm FortyX80 have a long history leading business missions of Pittsburgh area startups to technology/capital hubs acrossSeattle the country. The organizations’ business missions have connected startups to capital, partners and media outlets multiple times in Silicon Valley, New York, Boston and the North Carolina Research Triangle. The missions not only expose regional startups to potential funders/partners, but missions also highlight the rich deal flow emanating from Pittsburgh. Nonstop flights to technology and capital centers are a necessity for startups to access outside markets and for outside markets to access Pittsburgh’s deal flow. Pittsburgh has been adding nonstop flights to key destinations at a record clip over the last three years with an efficient connection to Seattle on Alaska Airlines commencing in September. To celebrate new access to a vital part of the west coast, the PTC and FortyX80 are leading their next business mission with five start-up product companies to meet with Amazon LaunchPad, Microsoft, The Gates Foundation and attend the GeekWire Summit. In the true spirit of entrepreneurship, Alaska Airlines granted scholarships for discounted seats to startups, helping them preserve capital and gain valuable exposure in Seattle. In even truer Pittsburgh style, the Allegheny County Airport Authority, UPMC, The Allegheny Conference and The Webb Law Firm will be joining the mission and attending the GeekWire Summit.

Getting There

Alaska Airlines began nonstop, daily service between Seattle and Pittsburgh September. The new route effectively links Seattle to the thriving business community in Pittsburgh, which continues to grow as top technology companies, entrepreneurs and startups look to establish a presence in the city. “We are excited to start our new daily non-stop from Seattle to Pittsburgh as we’ve seen strong demand since the route was announced in late 2017,” said John Kirby, vice president of capacity planning at Alaska Airlines. “As Seattle’s hometown airline, we continue to invest in new destinations to ensure we are meeting the needs of our loyal and valued Emerald City guests.” "Nonstop service to Seattle is a critical link for the Pittsburgh region and is the latest addition to the growth at Pittsburgh International Airport during the past three years. We are thrilled to welcome Alaska Airlines," Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. "Increasing service to the West Coast has been a top priority and the connections between our two regions, including our vibrant tech growth, will fuel the success of this flight." "The arrival of Alaska Airlines with year-round daily service to Seattle is a major win for Western Pennsylvania," said Christina Cassotis, CEO of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. "This carrier is the right fit for our market given the close economic ties we have with the West Coast. We're excited to offer more options for our passengers who have been asking for this service." Alaska is continuing to make investments in improving nonstop access from key focus cities, while investing in the onboard product with the addition of high-speed satellite Wi-Fi connectivity, free movies and chat, and the introduction of a new food and beverage program that embodies Alaska’s West Coast vibe by featuring fresh and local ingredients and new selections of craft beers and local wines.

Who’s Going

FortyX80 made a call to local product startups in the Pittsburgh region to attend the Seattle Business mission this past August. The following companies were selected to attend: AbiliLife AbiliLife engineers biomedical devices  to improve the quality of life for neuromuscular and spinal deformity patients. AbiliLife’s first product is the Calibrace+, an orthotic back brace developed to improve posture and balance for patients. The Calibrace+ is in the market in over 35 States, is reimbursed by Medicare, and was granted a utility patent. Courtney Williamson, CEO and Founder, founded AbiliLife from her personal experience with neuromuscular diseases as her mother who had Parkinson's disease for 25 years.  Courtney's developed the concept for the Calibrace+ while completing doctoral studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Velocity Robotics Velocity Robotics is creating the internet of power tools. Velocity bridges practical fabrication needs with high-tech solutions. Veolicity conceptualizes, makes, and sells IoT products for the professional construction and DIY markets. Its goal is to make measuring and cutting with precision easy and reduce bottlenecks on the job site. FutureDerm Nicki Zevola Benvenuti founded FutureDerm in Pittsburgh in 2007 as a “Science of Beauty” blog, and in 2012 as a full-fledged beauty company. A note from Nicki: “I started, a simple WordPress blog, to teach women the science behind skin care. The most empowering part of my job is elucidating the fact that women are smart consumers. We may not all be scientists, but there are so many smart, savvy beauty consumers who want high-quality ingredients, and who can sniff out snake oil from a mile away. That’s the passion behind FutureDerm — empowering a new generation of women to learn the science behind skin care and discover what works best for them.” VIT Initiative VIT is a cloud-based, IoT enterprise risk management platform that reduces the burden of paperwork and use of lagging indicators that the safety industry has relied on for the last 50 years. Its mission is to take safety out of the dark ages and empower organizations with leading indicators and utilize modern data processing techniques to solve complex and difficult challenges that plague the workplace. Hibersense The Hiber Team is a talented group of top engineers, computer scientists  and business development professionals committed to making the world a greener, smarter place, one building at a time. Hibersense’s sensors learn information by tracking data like occupancy, temperature, humidity, light, and even indoor air quality. It monitors the climate of every space so that you're always comfortable and healthy. Hiber Vents adjust the airflow to every room ensuring that your space is always the perfect climate. HiberSense stops unoccupied spaces from being over-conditioned while making sure everyone is comfortable.

What’s on Tap?

FortyX80 is coordinating high-level meetings with officials at Amazon LaunchPad -- an onboarding and marketing program for startup products funded by crowdfunding, VCs, or incubators. Its mission is to support entrepreneurs by providing resources, expertise, and global infrastructure to sell and deliver innovative products to millions of Amazon customers. FortyX80 is also coordinating one-one investor meetings at Microsoft Accelerator and Madrona Ventures. More meeting to be announced! The business mission will also attend the 2018 GeekWire Summit taking place in downtown Seattle on Oct. 1-3. The summit is one of the country’s premier technology conferences, bringing together more than 900 innovators, entrepreneurs, business executives, media and tech leaders to explore the future of the innovation economy. The Seattle Business Mission will conclude with a happy hour at the Pilchuck Glass School convening local stakeholders, Pittsburgh diaspora and a representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reports from the Great Northwest

Look for daily reports documenting the business mission on as Pittsburgh Technology Council VP of Communications/TechVibe Radio Co-Host will provide podcasts with attendees and interesting people encountered along the way. Follow the action at #PGH2Seattle.