5 Reasons why Pittsburgh is THE place for Tech Startups
Bossman suggested I write about this topic, and within seconds I became ecstatic.
Being from Pittsburgh, it hit me the what will be in the contents of this post will be the gist of my “Pittsburgh Pitch”- how I try to convince family and friends who are not from the area that Pittsburgh is the real deal.
That Pittsburgh is the furthest thing from a dirty, rusty, smoky steel town. Those days are long gone. We have entered a new era in Pittsburgh long ago, and tech is playing a major role in that.
Not long ago, my former boss inquired about my growing up in Pittsburgh. His exact words: “Everyone I’ve ever met from Pittsburgh talks about the city like it’s the greatest place in the world. And maybe it is. I haven’t been there yet”.
The greatest city in the world might be going a tad far, but Pittsburgh is a unique and incredibly underrated city in SO many ways.
Before I list my five reasons, I would like to hit you with a few examples from fellow acquaintances after they experienced the City of Bridges for a significant amount of time.
Acquaintance Uno - A few years back, a college buddy of mine three years my elder hailing from DC ended up being stationed part-time in Pittsburgh for Ernst and Young (EY). Once this was revealed to him, he reached out to me recalling that I was from the area.
His feelings of spending time here, in one word, would perhaps best be described as “lukewarm”.
Months later, I reached out to him to inquire how he was enjoying his stay in Pittsburgh. His attitude had completely shifted. He told me he loved the city, the accessibility of it, the friendliness of the people, the bars (this particular person liked to enjoy one or two frosty beverages and thus had a particular affinity for the South Side) scene. He also alerted me that he enjoyed his time here so much that he was thinking of buying an investment property in the area.
Acquaintance Dos- Another college buddy recently came to visit his hometown friend who just moved to Pittsburgh a few months ago to start and run a chain of sub shops.
We got to talking, and the exact words from his mouth were: “Best city in America”.
This particular person didn’t grow up in the middle of nowhere, wither. He hails from New York.
Now that the above portion of this blog has concluded… let’s get to the real reasons why your Tech Startup should set up shop in Pittsburgh.
1- Pittsburgh is attracting MAJOR players
That’s right. It all started when Google decided to open up a joint office here back in 2006 with Carnegie Mellon University, also known as CMU around these parts. We will get into the monstrous impact of CMU shortly.
The arrival of Google here really jumpstarted Pittsburgh’s rise into ultimately becoming what it is today: an unlikely city home to some of the biggest names in technological innovation.
Following Google, names like Uber and Zoom (to name a few) have flocked to the city. Pretty cool stuff. Even Amazon listed Pittsburgh as one of its five possibilities to expand partial headquarters in. While they ultimately settled on Arlington, Va, the mere fact that big Jeff Bezos considered Pittsburgh speaks volumes of the evolution of the city.
2- Tech & Healthcare: A Unique Duo
Pittsburgh is also home to UPMC: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. While I’m not trying to say that UPMC is on the same level as something like a Johns Hopkins, it ain’t too far behind.
UPMC offers world renowned health care. So much so that individuals, even elite athletes, come from all over the globe to seek UPMC medical care. UPMC is also known for their research.
UPMC is great on its own, but when it is combined with the tech and robotic elements of Carnegie Mellon, an elite (and nearly unparalleled) duo of medical and technological research is formed.
Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh’s Mayor for much of the 21st century, put it this way:
“What Pittsburgh has, and what Silicon Valley doesn’t, and what Boston doesn’t have as good as us is that we have the ability to create world-class research to become a global innovation center for corporations around the world”.
Well said, Bill.
3- Carnegie Mellon University
We have Carnegie Mellon to thank for jolting the tech revolution that has taken place in Pittsburgh.
CMU is an Ivy League level university centered around technology, namely robotics. Carnegie Mellon Launched their Robotics Institution well before the turn of the 21st century with a primary focus on AI.
Over time, CMU has become a mecca for research and development within the robotic community, drawing names like Google, Zoom and Uber to partner with them and set up offices in the city. When I referred to Uber earlier on, one of the factors that convinced the giant to come to Pittsburgh was to work with CMU on self-driving cars.
CMU's technology in this realm is simply second to none.
CMU has become so well respected around the world that even the government pairs with the university to test out various technological research and development projects.
YinzCam, a software company that builds mobile applications, IPTV platforms and augmented-reality experiences, specializes in creating applications for professional sports organizations.
Started by CMU Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering Priya Narasimhan<