It seems like not so long ago, crowdfunding was merely a trendy new way to raise funds for new projects and products. Today, it is a major instrument in investments and a World Bank-commissioned report predicts that it will grow to almost $100 billion in 10 years—nearly twice the size of the global venture capital industry.

Not only will it match the current way we do business, it will overtake it. Crowdfunding is spurring entrepreneurship, helping revitalize the arts and enabling impact investing.

Pittsburgh is a good example of this growth. A recent weeklong (un)conference showcased Indiegogo and a host of other nontraditional funding opportunities.

NEXTpittsburgh has featured local projects whose potential for large-scale impact depend on your micro-investment. As crowdfunding grows, we will periodically feature artists and entrepreneurs whose campaigns contribute to the economic and cultural fabric of our city.

Here are five you should crowdfund now!



Goal: $5,000

Raised: 28%

Days left (as of 3/21): 46

Pittsburgh loves the merging of the old and the new and Pittonkatonk is no exception. This daylong brass band festival organized by Rich Randall and Pandemic’s Pete Spynda may seem like a newfangled hipster event but it’s actually  a modern homage to a Pittsburgh classic. “With Pittsburgh’s rich Eastern European history, an event like Pittonkatonk continues the traditions of the old social clubs but hosts it in a public forum for all ages and walks of life to enjoy,” says Spynda.

The first installment of this festival last year brought out over 700 people. The event, set for May 2nd at the Vietnam Veterans Pavilion in Schenley Park, is completely free to the public. This “picnic for the people” aims to break down the traditional music festival by eliminating what we most commonly expect—the stage, the tickets, the greenrooms, the vending. Spynda says, “Our goal is to create a platform where the social club can come alive in a public space for everyone to live, learn, celebrate and dance.”

Other projects looking for your support:


Steel City Grazers

Goal: $40,000

Raised: 10%

Days left (as of 3/21): 3

Weeding is not for everyone and NEXTpittsburgh wrote about Steel City Grazers in February, showcasing a first in the city: using goats as landscapers. Last summer, Tree Pittsburgh tested out the “concept” and used goats to prepare West Penn Park in Polish Hill for planting.

Carrie Pavlick’s startup is raising funds to launch the business this summer, in time for prime weeding season. The funds will go toward everything from livestock and landscaping equipment to … a guard llama. Yes, the goats will be guarded by a llama. How can you not fund this?

With only this weekend left to raise a significant amount of capital, Steel City Grazers needs you to step up! It is the Year of the Goat, after all.


The Pop Stop

Goal: $10,000

Raised: 20%

Days left (as of 3/21): 9

Using FoodStart—a new platform focused on food entrepreneurs—Pop Stop is raising funds to become the first frozen dessert food truck in Pittsburgh. That is, the first that is not the typical ice cream truck that most grew up with—with handmade pops with flavors like Pineapple Basil and Watermelon Parsley and Horchata.

You may have seen the Pop Stop at many outdoor events during the season. The business that Todd Saulle and his wife Laura started has been doling out frozen treats since 2013.

This year, Pop Stop is looking to expand its offerings with “raspados”—shaved iced treats that take a cue from those popular in Latin America. Flavored with all-natural fruit syrups and topped with condensed milk, fruits and spices, we want this on our summer repertoire this year.


Uncle Andy: The Andy Warhol Family Film

Goal: $175,000

Raised: 25%

Days left (as of 3/21): 12

This week in NEXT Up, we profiled Abby Warhola, filmmaker and Andy Warhol’s great niece. Warhola, along with her husband, Jesse Best, are producing an independent documentary about her great uncle.

The couple has been filming the Warhol family over the years and the resulting documentary aims to show the intimate side of Warhol. The documentary will reveal a not oft-seen side of the pop artist woven with personal stories from family members, including Paul Warhola, Andy’s eccentric oldest brother.


Pittsburgh Fringe Festival

Goal: $2,000

Raised: 25%

Days left (as of 3/21): 21

What is a fringe festival? At its simplest, it is an unjuried arts festival—started as a response from artists to be able to provide a stage for the most diverse range of the arts. It traces its roots in Edinburgh, Scotland when eight theater groups performed outside (at the fringe) of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The Pittsburgh Fringe is our city’s participation in this global movement. Pittsburgh Fringe is a weekend-long, artist-led performing arts festival, featuring more than 70 shows from 24-plus companies, coming to the Northside May 8-10. Tickets are a low $10 and a majority of the box office gets returned back to the artists.


Artisan Tattoo

Goal: $87,200

Raised: 14%

Days left (as of 3/21): 38

Artisan Tattoo was born in 2011 out of a dilapidated building along Penn Ave. in Garfield. Since then, Artisan has grown into a community hub, hosting award-winning tattoo artists and evolving into an arts space and coffee shop with future plans of building a hostel.

Last year, along with many Penn Ave. businesses, Artisan’s business suffered a blow when the protracted Penn Ave. reconstruction extended from what was to be a six-month project to a year and half construction.

Artisan is undergoing major renovations to stay on code and they are looking to the community for help as they tackle the challenges of construction and ramping up after an 18-month loss from the Penn Ave. roadwork. They’ve worked really hard to get this far. There’s no turning back now!

Leah Lizarondo

Leah Lizarondo is a food advocate, writer and speaker. She is also the co-founder of 412 Food Rescue, an organization that seeks to eliminate food waste to make an impact on hunger and the environment. She is the Chief Veghacker, recipe creator and curator at The Brazen Kitchen, where she writes about food and food policy. She writes about the intersection of food, health, innovation and policy.