Kenny Chen
Kenny Chen.

Kenny’s exciting week kicks off at midnight, and you’re invited to hop aboard his beloved “Midnight Turtle” and ride along. Program director for the early-stage startup incubator and coworking space Ascender, Kenny is also co-founder of involveMINT. Raised in Las Vegas, Kenny landed in Pittsburgh for a Coro Fellowship after working in San Francisco, DC and Hong Kong. He invites readers to challenge him to a game of chess and tune into his favorite podcasts.

Monday, January 30

12 a.m.: My BFF Marissa and I wrap up a game night/birthday party with some close friends at our apartment.

6:30 a.m.: Wake up to the BBC Global News podcast to get my brain in gear for the week. I credit/blame local podcaster Aaron Watson and the Epicast Network for turning my brain into an insatiable knowledge monster. I now consume at least several episodes a day, played at 2x speed.

7:15 a.m.: Hop into my cara speedy black Honda Civic named Midnight Turtle. Listen to Tech News Today.

7:45 a.m.: Arrive at The Shop for #UnstuckPGH, a weekly meetup of diverse, entrepreneurially-minded people. Before it starts, I check The Weekly Dose of Good, StartNowPGH, and #Boomtahn.

9:30 a.m.: Staff meeting at Ascender, with the best team and workplace I could ask for. We’ve got a lot going on: our incubator applications close on February 3rd; the Grand Opening is on February 16th; our programs begin on March 14th; and we’re well into planning for September’s Thrival Festival, for its epic fifth year.

12 p.m.: Lunch with John Seiffer of CEO Boot Camp and Steve Cherin of Cherin Law Offices to talk about entrepreneurial initiatives.

7 p.m.: Dinner and drinks at Social while talking FinTech with Peter Ashworth from PNC.

8:30 p.m.: Conference call with involveMINT, a social currency startup that friends and I have been working on part-time for the past 16 months.

11:30 p.m.: Head home from Ascender, listening to the podcast, How I Built This.

Kenny Chen
Kenny Chen volunteering with 412 Food Rescue to help end waste and hunger.

Tuesday, January 31

8 a.m.: Meeting at Repair the World for Social Justice Innovation Weekend, a startup hackathon that focuses on art, faith and technology, and is open to the public.

10 a.m.: Meet with Noah Levinson at Deeplocal, a unique innovation studio in the Strip. We connected at the Artificial Intelligence Hackathon I organized earlier in January, and have been eager to share ideas.

11:30 a.m.: Conference call with Sookyung Koo from the International Leadership Foundation in DC. The Fellowship program I did there in 2011 launched me into the civic arena and introduced me to the Coro Fellowship, which was my reason for coming to Pittsburgh.

5:30 p.m: Go to the BNY Mellon Innovation Center for “To B or Not to B: What it Means to Start or Invest in a For-Profit Social Enterprise Company,” an event hosted by the MIT Enterprise Forum, where I’m a board member.

Podcasts: FiveThirtyEight Politics and Freakonomics Radio.

Wednesday, February 1

8 a.m.: Breakfast at the Ace Hotel with Ryan Gayman and Ben Utter from CitizenCity to check in on a few social impact initiatives we’ve been working on.

9 a.m.: Second breakfast at the Ace with Joe Nickel and Keith Schmidt from Bridge Connections, with whom I host a monthly networking happy hour.

6 p.m.: After a dedicated day of GSD, I’ll take a laser-cutting class at TechShop.

9 p.m.: Grab a bite to eat and head back to Ascender to work on a few projects. I focus so well there, I often don’t notice I should be leaving until 2 a.m.

Podcasts: NPR Politics and StartUp.

Thursday, February 2

9:45 a.m.: Start a late day at work with a bottle of Coffiest, and it’s off to the races!

12:30 p.m.: Chat with Richard Porter of Community Elf about content marketing strategies and their UpContent content discovery platform.

3 p.m.: Weekly meeting with the Beauty Shoppecoworking pros whom we’re lucky to have as our operating partners at Ascender.

6:30 p.m.: Host a partner meeting with Social Venture Partners Pittsburgh, a network of engaged philanthropists dedicated to serving nonprofits throughout the region. Serving as a partner and board member has been phenomenally rewarding.

8:30 p.m.: Rush downtown to catch the end of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation‘s Annual Meeting.

Podcasts: Planet Money and Marta on the Move.

Kenny Chen
Kenny Chen with fellow “Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest” 2016 honorees.
Kenny Chen with fellow “Pittsburgh’s 50 Finest” 2016 honorees.

Friday, February 3

9 a.m.: Meet with Ed Grefenstette, president of The Dietrich Foundation, whom I met at an L3 Leadership breakfast.

11:30 a.m.: Grab lunch with Po-Shen Loh, CEO of Expii, and coach of the US  International Math Olympiad team, to discuss Expii’s participation in XPRIZE.

4:30 p.m.: Conference call with Michael Martin, prize manager of the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, to discuss opportunities for them to further engage with Pittsburgh.

6 p.m.: Explore the Unblurred First Friday art walk with Michelle Flynn, host of burghTV. We’ll make sure to stop by WorkshopPGH, BOOM Concepts, Assemble, and Most Wanted Fine Art, among dozens of other amazing venues.

10 p.m.: Stop by a basement concert to see friends perform in their band, Zaki.

11:30 p.m.: Close out the night at James Street Gastropub on the Northside for Manic Soul’s live album recording concert.

Saturday, February 4

10 a.m.: Reacquaint myself with my cello and digital piano, rehearsing old repertoire and trying out new pieces. For tabs and charts, I often use Hooktheory, a free music education and analysis site developed by friends back at Berkeley.

2 p.m. Take a milling class at TechShop.

4 p.m.: Practice Japanese drumming with Pittsburgh Taiko.

8 p.m.: Go home and watch the documentary, Particle Fever, on Netflix while packing for tomorrow’s trip to LA.

10 p.m.: Relax by playing a few games of chess on the app. Feel free to challenge me! My username’s “knnychn.”

Kenny Chen
Kenny Chen with his Berkeley thesis advisor, Dr. Christina Maslach-Zimbardo, and former boss, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, at their San Francisco home.

Sunday, February 5

6:30 a.m.: Call a zTrip for the first time to get to the airport. Prior to getting Midnight Turtle, I was a heavy Lyft and Uber user, but never got to try their more recent competitor.

9:05 a.m.: Depart from PIT toward LAX. I’m flying there to help run the Hardware Cup with AlphaLab Gear at the SOLIDWORKS Conference. We’re running regional competitions in seven cities across the U.S. (as well as Japan and Korea), in search of high-potential startups producing physical products. I’ll listen to the audiobook, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and spend the flight reviewing event documentation, pitch decks, and other Hardware Cup materials.

11:45 a.m. PST: Land in LA and get lunch with my sister Shannon and some friends.

3:30 p.m.: Super Bowl time. I’d be more enthusiastic if either of my two teams (Packers and Steelers) had made it. My sister, however, is some sort of fantasy football genius, as are many of our close friends, so I’ll watch casually while they all freak out.

7:30 p.m.: Go out to dinner with friends for some much-awaited catching up.

11 p.m.: Wrap up a fun week by getting ready for the next one!

See who else is NEXT Up here.

Have a suggestion for NEXT Up? Email us with suggestions!

Jennifer BaronEvents & Jobs Editor

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator of Handmade Arcade. Musically, she is in a band called The Garment District and is a founding member of Brooklyn's The Ladybug Transistor.