The city of Pittsburgh is poised to become the world’s next innovation powerhouse. More than a robust pool of top talent, a hub of non-traditional tech capital, and a hyper-active community, there’s a magical element to Pittsburgh that makes it unstoppable.
Pittsburgh pride runs deep for those of us lucky enough to have called the city home. It’s why Steelers fans show up to away games in numbers that rival the home team’s. It’s also why, when OneValley decided to set its sights on Pittsburgh, I jumped on the chance to lead the project.
I was born and raised about 35 minutes outside of Pittsburgh, and grew up believing that the city was the center of the universe. I used to daydream about growing up and moving to the city, spending days walking along the waterfront and evenings in a cozy brick townhouse. It was the automatic backdrop of all of my future dreams. As I got older and grew interested in startups, that backdrop became Silicon Valley, where it sometimes seemed as the only gold mine for startup business funding.
DEMOCRATIZING INNOVATION AT SCALE
Like most of the world’s entrepreneurial talent, I bought into the idea that in order to work in startups, I needed to be in Silicon Valley. Recently, with the emergence of new and more affordable hot spots, that concept became fractured. Instead of San Francisco, Boston, Tel Aviv, Miami, and dozens more became competitive options.
OneValley’s mission is to break down this concept completely. We know that entrepreneurs can and should have the opportunity to grow their businesses in whatever market they want to call home. In other words, the founder should choose their home based on where they want to live, not based on what mailing address looks better for their business.
So we launched Passport, a global community and resource platform that meets a startup where they are, both literally and figuratively. With Passport, a founder can access the capital, mentorship, and tools they need to successfully grow their business no matter their geography and no matter their stage. We now have over 60,000 members in over 194 countries - that’s 60,000 entrepreneurs that didn’t have to move to San Francisco!
A byproduct of Passport has been the opportunity to work with specific regions to keep tech talent at home, strengthen the local entrepreneurship community, and encourage founders to view new cities as a destination that would rival Silicon Valley. As a Pittsburgh native, I liked the idea of encouraging more people to see Pittsburgh as the entrepreneurial powerhouse that it is, and to make sure the data reflected that.
PITTSBURGH IS A VETERAN TO INNOVATION
Every kid that grows up in Pittsburgh learns about Andrew Carnegie and how Pittsburgh became the backbone of the industrial United States. It’s drilled into us that our blood is made up of black, gold, and innovation. Entrepreneurship is at the heart of Pittsburgh and it’s why OneValley chose it as our next destination for investment. According to StartUp Genome’s GSER202, the start-up ecosystem is valued at $5.2 billion and proud epicenter of AI and unicorn language instruction app, DuoLingo. We believe it continues to be one of the strongest and most important innovation communities in the world, and that this legacy will continue for generations to come.
Our mission in Pittsburgh is to extend our global resources to local startups by helping them connect to capital and industry leaders, and giving them a place to grow. The Pittsburgh Entrepreneurship Platform (inspired by Passport) was built in partnership with top local organizations, including the Richard King Mellon Foundation and Ascender, to empower the city’s startup community. PEP has shown to be instrumental for startups, investors, local businesses and the broader community because members on PEP get full access to
$1 million in value of startup tools and services
Meet with experienced local mentors
Access to funding through VC Connect or directly through OneValley Ventures
AN ENTREPRENEURSHIP COMMUNITY WITHIN REACH
In addition to PEP, OneValley recently launched our new innovation center, located in Hazelwood Green. We welcome all startups, investors, students, local small businesses, curious life-long learners, and the broader community to participate in our regular events and workshops, both at the Roundhouse and virtually. If you are interested in learning more about the Roundhouse or are interested in coworking options, please book a tour with our local team.
The past two years have demonstrated the need for robust virtual platforms as well as in-person spaces. Pittsburgh’s innovation center will become home to local entrepreneurs offering flexible in-person memberships to accommodate ever-changing needs, and PEP will bring global resources to local and distributed founders. The “new normal” is ever-evolving, but one thing is for certain: physical geography will no longer be a requirement for belonging.
I’ve grown more and more connected to my roots in Pittsburgh - from my current home in Los Angeles. For founders around the world that are debating where to build their business, especially those in Pittsburgh, tools like the OneValley platform are here to make that decision easier and to ensure that they can experience the power of a global innovation community from wherever they choose to call home.