Article Published: March 12, 2015
Article Published: March 12, 2015
This morning, the PTC announced the launch of FortyX80, a stand-alone non-profit organization focused on supporting the success of Pittsburgh’s innovation economy.
From the outset, the efforts of FortyX80 (the organization’s name is based on the approximate geographic coordinates of the region) will be largely focused on accelerating the ability of emerging entrepreneurs to rapidly capitalize their business plans by providing both talent development assistance and direct connections to key investors from the angel, venture and private equity communities.
“Pittsburgh is making steady progress toward seeding a wide array of early stage entrepreneurial activity in the region,” said Audrey Russo, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Technology Council. “Through FortyX80, we look to address the critical challenge that many entrepreneurs face as they seek to capitalize their growth plans.”
Among the early strategies FortyX80 will leverage to address these capital-related challenges, the organization will pursue an aggressive outreach strategy to the nearly 80 out-of-state investors that are already active in the Pittsburgh region. FortyX80 is also planning to partner with the Angel Resource Institute to help bring best practices in fundraising to organizations raising capital or entrepreneurs contemplating a new business venture.
“FortyX80 is tackling one of the greatest challenges that startups in Pittsburgh face. It often takes years to develop strong investment networks, which for many entrepreneurs is simply too long,” said FortyX80 board member Alicia McGinnis, who is also an active angel investor in the region. “We envision this organization and its staff to serve as an ‘investment network to go’ for entrepreneurs, but more than that, as a source of valuable technical assistance.”
FortyX80 is also being founded to address the multiple talent-related challenges that face southwestern Pennsylvania. The organization will focus on developing and attracting one of the most diverse, creative and highly skilled workforces in the world.
“It is imperative for technology companies now and in the future to have highly qualified talent working at their businesses in order to innovate, thrive and solve problems,” John Friel, Board Chairman of FortyX80 and former CEO of Medrad, said. “FortyX80 must work on building the STEM pipeline because many of the jobs that will exist to solve future problems do not yet exist.”
The organization will partner with the PTC on programs including a major educational summit and conference for K-12 administrators to understand emerging practices in STEM curricula.
“As its name signifies, FortyX80 exists to bolster the brand recognition of southwestern PA as a destination for investment and talent,” Russo continued. “Pittsburgh already has a rich and diverse tech ecosystem, ranging from world-class universities and R&D capabilities to technology companies that are solving some of humanity’s toughest problems. FortyX80 will ensure that we can bring more of those solutions to the market through effective entrepreneurs and organizations powered by diverse and creative people.”
On April 8, 2015, FortyX80 will host Intuit Chairman and Apple board alum, Bill Campbell, at Duke’s Upper Deck Café in Homestead. Campbell will sit down with Danny Conway, Executive in Residence at Andreessen Horowitz, for a casual conversation focused on issues faced by every early-stage company. Entrepreneurs and members of Pittsburgh’s innovation community are encouraged to attend this free event to hear Campbell and Conway discuss topics ranging from product viability, hiring practices and roles of management to constructing a board and managing a team.
This June, FortyX80 will host a launch party as part of CREate Pittsburgh – an Art and Technology-focused festival – taking place June 10-12, 2015 during the Three Rivers Arts Festival.
Follow FortyX80 | @FortyX80