To anyone who may stumble upon this blog, please take a look at Help Startups
. We have changed our organization name from Help to this one, and I will soon be starting a new blog to correspond with our web portal for entrepreneurs.
BTW - If you would like to have a Help Startups portal in your area, please contact me
, and I'll be happy to talk with you!
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?
Sometimes Pittsburgh seems the perfect setting for that Bruce Springsteen song. Every time we take a step forward someone pops up to knock us back.One day we're cited as one of the most liveable cities in America, the very next we're pointed out as one of the worst for particle pollutants! Announcements are made about new funding sources, and then the Kauffman Foundation announces that Pennsylvania ranks 49th in the nation in business-creation! Check out Cori Shropshire's article for the details.And, of course, our good 'burghers ALWAYS fixate on the negatives - we ARE our own worst enemy on that front, but that's another story.What's the truth? Pittsburgh is not perfect, but then again there isn't anywhere that is. This is a very good place for a lot of reasons. We have some of everything, although in some ways we're a mile wide and an inch deep, but, over all, we compare favorably with other cities and in some areas excel!From the HELP standpoint our area is on the upswing. Entrepreneurial activity is on the rise, and maybe, just maybe, we may find our way back to the glory days of a century ago when Pittsburgh was the entrepreneurial hub of the US. Government, universities and non-profit organizations are coordinating their activities in ways that haven't been seen since the days of Pittsburgh's first Renaissance fifty years ago. Our rivers and air are cleaner than they've been since about the time that George Washington was here before the Revolution. The city is coming back to life with more and more people moving downtown all the time to take advantage of the great treasure we have in the Cultural District.So, I think we need to rephrase the title of this post to "Two steps forward, one step back!" Watch out world, Pittsburgh is coming back!Technorati Tags: Kauffman Foundation
The domain name (HelpStartups.com) is reserved, along with the .net and .org iterations and technical development is underway!This week we're having a reality show type of event to select the members of our intern team. This team will research content for our portal and call non-profit organizations, universities, professional firms, etc. in our area to gather information for listings. If you are looking for something different to do, please join us on Thursday, May 17th at 6 pm at our normal meeting place, upstairs in Doc's on Walnut Street in Shadyside!Also, put a hold on the evening of Tuesday, September 18th, because that's when HELP will be hosting one of the biggest launch events ever in Pittsburgh to formally "open" HelpStartups.com to the world at large.Technorati Tags: helpstartups.com
The PTC Strikes Back!
One of our HELP members recently got engaged in an escalting dialogue with the Pittsburgh Technology Council
. Seems it was time to renew his membership and he wasn't interested in renewing, as he didn't perceive any value from it. Well, one thing led to another as the dialogue escalated. Bottom Line - he didn't renew and apparently the Tech Council doesn't really care.
He shared the email dialogue with me and one thing that LEAPT off the screen was a "promo" insert that the people at PTC put at the bottom of their signature."We Help Regional Technology Companies Succeed."
Last year, Council members saved $3.7 million dollars in recruiting costs by posting 7,747 jobs at the Council’s Career Center for Members
In 2006 Council members saved $450,000 in employee health care and life insurance costs
On behalf of members, the Council successfully derailed $170 million in proposed new state and local business tax burdens during the past several yearsAllow me to offer line by line intrepretations of these statements - - -
"We Help Regional Technology Companies Succeed."Regional Technology Companies help us be profitable!
Last year, Council members saved $3.7 million dollars in recruiting costs by posting 7,747 jobs at the Council’s Career Center for MembersRefer to an excellent book, “How to Lie with Statistics” – this is based on a wildly inaccurate assumption that every job they listed was ONLY posted on their web site and that is how the position was filled – not true. Plus who “made up” the almost $500 figure per job???
In 2006 Council members saved $450,000 in employee health care and life insurance costs“How to Lie with Statistics”, Part II – based on WHAT? Some arbitrarily selected “other” slightly more expensive plan. $450k over thousands of participants is a very small number!
On behalf of members, the Council successfully derailed $170 million in proposed new state and local business tax burdens during the past several yearsI will give them credit for participating in the lobbying process, but to take sole credit for this is beyond absurd!Hopefully, the Board will select a new leader of PTC who will change attitudes there and refocus this important organization on its true mission to promote its members and improve the economic climate of our area.Technorati Tags: Pittsburgh Technology Council
Entrepreneur's Growth Conference
Just signed up for this year's Entrepreneur's Growth Conference
. An annual event put on by the Duquesne
University, Chrysler Corporation Small Business Development Center. This year it is on Thursday, June 7th
and is only $99 for the all day conference and lunch, IF you register by May 11th
HELP has signed up as a sponsor to promote our upcoming entrepreneurs' web portal, helpstartups
.com, which will soon be appearing! This is the only event of its kind in our area and I urge you to attend.Technorati Tags: Duquesne University Entrepreneur's Growth Conference helpstartups.com
Last night I had the pleasure of attending the Illinois IT Association's
award dinner. This was the ninth year of the event, which has grown to be the
premier event in Chicagoland
for the IT entrepreneurial community. Awards were presented in a number of categories with each of the nominees given their props before the award was announced. Although the logistics of the event left something to be desired (more later), I'm very impressed with the concept and will see if we can create a Pittsburgh version of this event.
Something that I found to be EXTREMELY interesting was how at least half of the speakers/award winners commented on how proud they were that they and the Illinois IT Association were disproving the myth that you couldn't start and make successful a tech business in Chicago. Does this sound just a little familiar to all of us in Pittsburgh? This lament has been heard for years and seems to make it sound like its a unique Pittsburgh problem, but, guess what, its not! Every metro area in the US that isn't Silicon Valley, Austin or Boston continually laments, "How can we be like them?"
The answer is that we can't, and we shouldn't try. We need to build on our own unique identity. Pittsburgh has a combination of things that other cities would die for, and its a long list, which Pittsburghers
usually can't see. One thing we do need to do, and quickly, is adopt a positive attitude toward our area, and be proactive in letting everyone know about. Another thing that would be great is for all our leaders to realize that our region will grow by supporting entrepreneurship, not by spending time and money pursuing
companies running an auction to see who can give the most to get their new facility that may employ a hundred or so people.
Lots of thoughts for further pursuit, but its time to go make some $$$, so back to what was wrong with last night's event. At the top of the list was holding the event in a ballroom with MASSIVE pillars that obstructed the view of about 40% of the audience. Second, the reception room felt like the inside of an old VW
back in the 60's when students vied to see how many people they could pack inside. Third, the sound system was inadequate to the room and it was very difficult to understand a lot of what was being said.
All of those things are correctable, and I'm sure the association will get the logistics better in the future. In their defense, they were overwhelmed this year as the attendance jumped by about 65% over the prior year.
What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
You might not remember the reference, but its supposedly what the guys said as they were beating up Dan Rather a number of years ago.
I'm using this for two reasons. First, I want to beat myself up, and second I'm hoping this post will be read by the right person.
On the morning of April 12th
(Thursday), I received a VERY interesting email from a Kevin (?). He had just stumbled on to this blog and reached out to me for HELP. Seems he is a fledgling entrepreneur at Pitt, who has a Life Science product he's trying to develop, and has grown increasingly frustrated with the "run around" from multiple groups and wants to know where to go to actually get good information.
I quickly replied via my new toy, Blackberry Pearl, that I was traveling and would get back to him the next day. THEN I somehow managed to delete both his original
message AND my reply from both my device AND my email server. So now I have no way of contacting him!!!
I've only had the Pearl for about a week and am still getting used to all its features and the sensitivity of its track ball. Kevin, if you see this, PLEASE send me another email, as I really do want to talk with you.