A couple weeks back, I gave a presentation at McKinsey, the consulting firm where I used to work. It was great to see and talk to some old friends whom I hadn’t seen in such a long time, and to meet the new faces – the highly talented core of consultants that McKinsey is so famous for being able to assemble.
The high-level message I left with the group was, “Tap into your knowledge and people networks, and tap into the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
I will touch on knowledge and people networks later, but I did get a great follow-up question about where to plug into the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. My overall advice is to find a couple initial points to tap in and then follow networking where it takes you. I am not likely to know all, or the best, resources for any particular person’s interests, but I can give a few of those initial points that may help:
OpenCoffee Club – you can join this group on facebook; we meet live about once every 6-8 weeks (our next meeting is this Monday, April 13th, 9:00am, at AlphaLab), and do nothing but network. It tends to be a youngish crowd… if you come to the next one, I am happy to be a filter and introduce you to some of the more interesting folks. Just ask.
Podcamp Pgh – this is an “unconference”, loosely organized around social media. This group is a little like the bar scene from Star Wars… people from all walks of life, but all joined with the love of social media and most local.
Young Inventor’s International – Anne Swift is a local young entrepreneur who just hosted a conference last weekend; she hosts conferences/workshops to encourage and facilitate entrepreneurs and inventors.
MIT Enterprise Forum – a local offshoot of the very successful MIT startup meetup in Cambridge. These meetings usually feature a good mix of young and old, investors and entrepreneurs, and some good startups.
AlphaLab and Innovation Works – Innovation Works is the local Ben Franklin (state of PA money), and they do a great job seeding the local entrepreneurial scene; I consider them like a little VC, but only with a little more risk tolerance, so they spread the money around a little more. They just launched AlphaLab a year ago to incubate and acclererate startups, and both organizations put on many meetings/shows. Get in touch with Jim Jen at AlphaLab to get involved…
Project Olympus – a CMU computer science program to encourage innovation to move to startup stage; they put on a presentation every other month (next one is likely to be in May/June). They also provide some seed money and office space/advice to a few select spinouts.
OK… that’s about it for me – I am sure I missed several good networking nodes, but actually more than I thought. Maybe you can be a part of the movement for more activity locally. Please let me know if you think I missed any – this would be a good spot to collect “the list”!
A COUPLE MORE ADDITIONS from some astute readers (thanks John and Jia!):
DevHouse Pittsburgh – Modeled after the successful San Francisco software hacking event Super Happy DevHouse, DevHousePgh puts a Pittsburgh spin on the event. DevHousePgh is a software coder driven event where coders can hack away and discuss issues, network, and learn from others. It is open to anyone with an interest in software.
Refresh Pittsburgh – Refresh Pittsburgh is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of Internet designers and developers in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas. In simple terms, Refresh Pittsburgh hopes to bring people together to share what they know through software and technology demonstrations, panel discussions, and open-ended Q&A sessions – driven by your creativity, knowledge and experience – we hope to bring members of the Pittsburgh Area web community together to talk shop, have some fun, and strengthen the community in the process.
Pittsburgh Geek Night – in their own hilarious words: “The Pittsburgh high-tech industry is small, incestuous, and full of people we haven’t seen in ages but keep meaning to call and invite to lunch. So we figured, let’s get all those people in a room together for some really efficient social geekery.”
Entrepreneurial Thursdays – Jessica Lee has been hosting these regularly for several years. She basically moderates a themed panel between jazz sets, followed by informal networking.
Solutions for Society – The MIT Enterprise Forum hosts this event once per year, and the next one happens to be this Wednesday night (April 15, 2009).
Pittsburgh Coding Dojo – The Dojo meetings are organized with a Challenge in mind. You can see the links to past meetings topics on Community Portal. The Challenges are meant to be small programming problems that can be explored reasonably well in 2 hours. They are pure programming challenges that don’t involve any system setup beyond a simple compiler and editor, and are language agnostic.