An award-winning technology executive with more than 25 years’ experience in high-tech products and services, Greg Coticchia is director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Student Startup Accelerator, The Blast Furnace, and Executive in Residence (EIR) for software and information technology. A resident of Mt. Lebanon, Greg has led or been a major contributor in two of the largest and most successful software companies in the world—LEGENT (now CA) and AXENT (now Symantec).
“I have been a part of Pittsburgh’s tech scene since the mid ’80s—when dinosaurs roamed the earth!—and I can honestly tell anyone this is the ‘best version’ of Pittsburgh’s tech scene—we have more support, infrastructure, successes and interest, as well as experience, than ever before,” says the Brentwood native.
Monday, June 27
I start every day by reading email and scouring the Internet for the latest information on university student accelerators, tech startups, and general blogs.
Today’s first meeting is with key team members of the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute to discuss our recent results from the third cohort of Pitt’s student startup accelerator called Blast Furnace. Since the Blast Furnace is focused on advancing our student startups, we will be discussing how we can help the latest teams match the success record we achieved with one out of every three teams being selected to participate in Pittsburgh’s accelerators, such as AlphaLab, AlphaLab Gear, Thrill Mill, Idea Foundry, Alloy 26, and more.
I believe lunch is the most important meal of the day and Oakland is full of great options. I’m a diehard for good sushi and the best, I believe, happens to be located minutes from my Oakland office—Sushi Fuku. I’ll meet my friend Alan there and talk about his new security startup.
Next, I have a meeting with Jessica Sinclair, who’s the director of PantherlabWorks, a part of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence at Pitt. We will discuss how we can submit grants to obtain funding for new initiatives at the Blast Furnace that will bring in speakers from around the country.
I’ll finish the day by briefing a member of the Pitt Board of Trustees on the Blast Furnace and our traction.
Tuesday, June 28
After a nonstop Monday, I’ll head to Dunkin Donuts in Oakland for their black tea before making my way into the office—don’t hate me because I’m not a coffee guy!
Today, we will focus on finalizing several startup software licensing deals that I’ve been working on with other technology transfer colleagues. These deals will enable the University of Pittsburgh to continue its increasing pace of spinning our startups. I’ll also be working on expanding the Blast Furnace for undergraduate business school students as part of a new version of the program that will allow students to earn credits.
As Tuesday wraps up, I’ll meet with a team of students who participated in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition and just recently launched their business to help them with marketing ideas and selecting their office space.
This evening, I’ll be doing what all good husbands do, taking my wife to the new Killer Heels exhibition at The Frick Pittsburgh. We’ll dine at Istanbul Sofra, one of our favorite restaurants in the East End. You can’t get more fresh, authentic Turkish cuisine, plus it’s BYOB!
Wednesday, June 29
I’ll be joining a couple of all hands meetings at the Innovation Institute to coordinate our efforts across the organization. The morning is the senior team that leads the Innovation Institute. Since Pitt’s year ends in June, we’ll discuss what needs to be done to achieve our goals and objectives for the year during this final week. In the afternoon, I’ll be a part of the enterprise development organization’s monthly planning and status meeting. This group is primarily Pitt’s Entrepreneur In Residence (EIR) team, with 12 seasoned startup executives who work with the University to help commercialize technologies. As one of Pitt’s first EIRs, I play an important role in helping this team with their activities.
I’ll wrap up the day teaching a business to business marketing class at Pitt’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration in the evening. This is my 11th year teaching the class I created.
Thursday, June 30
I’ll be meeting with key IT leaders at Pitt to discuss the best process for commercializing mobile applications created by faculty, staff or students. That afternoon, I’ll be helping one of our faculty and their students that are creating a new cyber security startup with their application to an accelerator in Washington, D.C.
In the evening, I am coaching a student team at the Blast Furnace in Webster Hall on their pitch as they prepare for a nationwide pitch contest taking place in September.
Friday, July 1
I’ll start off the day by reviewing the progress of an MBA student consulting team that I am a faculty advisor for. This team is doing consulting for a local major retailer. The course helps teach the fundamental principles of successful consulting by working with real-world companies on their problems.
Later that afternoon, I’ll meet with my peers at Carnegie Mellon University to talk about how we can build cooperative programs across both universities.
On Friday night we are going to see our friends Phil and Valerie Keys. I hired Valerie as an admin. over 30 years ago, and today she is principal of Chartiers Valley High School. Valerie, my wife Kelly, and I all worked at one of Pittsburgh’s successful software startups, LEGENT Corp. Phil is a serial entrepreneur who was a co-founder of Automated Healthcare and today runs the nonprofit NurturePA.
Saturday, July 2
I’ll have my weekly piano lesson with my teacher Bill Cantolo, do my usual chores around the house, cut the grass and have dinner with my family at The Carlton, one of my favorite restaurants where the meals are always excellent and the wine list is perfect.
Sunday, July 3
We’ll leave for our place on Lake Michigan to celebrate the Fourth of July.