Forging Innovation

Catalyzing economic development in Pittsburgh through collaborative discussion and emergent thought.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Building Awareness

Hooman points out some of the wonderful highlights that our community has to offer. These, among many others, make this a great place to live. Still, we hear complaints about the business environment on a regular basis. I helped survey the entrepreneurial community regarding the business environment last year. We asked about 30 entrepreneurs what they liked and disliked about the region and what they needed more of to be successful. Interestingly, there was no one consistent complaint. Some complained about a lack of capital. Others about a lack of experienced leadership. Yet others complained about a lack of local customers willing to buy their product. All of these complaints ring true to some extent, but it dawned on me that perhaps our biggest problem is a lack of awareness of what resources are already here. For each of these problems you can point to multiple companies that have successfully overcome them without leaving the region. Without a doubt we need to improve in all of these areas, among many others, but let's be sure we're leveraging all of the resources we already have. Pittsburgh is chock full of great companies and people who work tirelessly but don't publicize themselves very well, if at all. Many of these companies are well-known in their industry or niche. They spend their precious marketing dollars targeting high-value prospects, not educating the masses about their existence. We can't expect them to spend their valuable time doing press releases about how much they're doing for our community, but there they are, creating jobs and adding value to customers day in and day out. It's up to us to seek them out and to learn about those areas that are of greatest interest to us. Unfortunately, learning about what's here is often harder than just a quck Google search, although you can find a lot that way. Many resources are only available through networks of people. Some might call this the "old boys network", and that network certainly runs deep in Pittsburgh. I'd claim that the network is open to anyone willing to make the effort to get tied into it. Mark Desantis recently wrote the following article that helps differentiate those who are in the network from those who aren't: It's up to each one of us to get into the network and find out what's going on. Only through personal interaction will we achieve the kind of collaboration and innovation that will drive our region forward in an accellerated fashion. So, get out there and find out what's going on and how you can help others!

Some interesting resources we have in our community that folks may not be aware of or not taking advantage of adequately include:
  • Angel investors and the networks that bring them ideas
    • Blue Tree Investors
    • AGT
    • Smithfield Trust
    • SPAN
  • Networks and networking events
If you have found sources of capital or expertise that people may not be aware of, I invite you to share them here. See you at the events!



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