AOL Co-Founder Steve Case urged Pittsburgh entrepreneurs to be “more braggy” about Pittsburgh’s innovation and startups. With good reason, reports Pando. The technology news outlet recently sized up Pittsburgh and Detroit to see which city is leading the way in innovation. Both cities were part of Case’s Rise of the Rest-a four-day, four-city tour from June 24 to June 27- which allowed startups the opportunity to pitch ideas and awarded one startup in each city $100,000.
Notes Pando: “The difference in tone between Pittsburgh and Detroit was rather stark and strange, particularly when you take into account the fact that Pittsburgh, by investment capita, is actually doing better than Detroit. According to a report from Ernst & Young LLP and Innovation Works, in 2013 the city had 52.5 venture rounds per million residents, compared to Detroit’s 11.9 venture rounds per million residents. If you don’t go by individual venture rounds and instead look at the dollar amounts, Pittsburgh had $74.2 million investment dollars per capita compared to Detroit’s $24.6 million.”
And yet Detroit gets more press. While Pittsburgh’s event generated three times the crowd of Detroit’s, it was more challenging to get the press to attend. “They weren’t as tapped into the startup scene and why it was important,” said one.
“The general consensus…was that although Detroit pitches were good, Pittsburgh pitches were better,” reports Pando. Yet, “Pittsburgh has not garnered nearly the amount of attention as its auto industry brother to the north.”
Pittsburgh’s problem, according to Case, is that the City’s innovators are not selling themselves. “Pittsburgh is not place for braggadocio and vision selling,” declares the author who sought to find the explanation for Pittsburgh’s recent innovation boom. “The conversation kept coming down to Carnegie Mellon.”
The author notes that in the past few years more CMU graduates are sticking around, rather than moving to higher-cost cities like San Francisco and New York, thus keeping “bright young grads” from CMU’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or world-renowned Robotics Institute, right here in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh’s Rise of the Rest winner was SolePower LLC, which generates solar power from people’s shoes as they walk and stores it in a battery pack that can then be used to charge a cell phone.
Not to get braggy but just last week Sole Power was invited to the White House for Maker Fair along with Pittsburghers Jane Werner of the Children’s Museum and Gregg Behr of the Grable Foundation. And the day before, President Obama visited Pittsburgh and spent time at our innovative and very cool TechShop. And it really was a big and enthusiastic crowd at Rise of the Rest at AlphaLab Gear followed by a great reception. Just sayin’.
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