The Pittsburgh Technology Council has launched FortyX80, a nonprofit group with the focus of accelerating the amount of capital investment coming into the region for innovation, startups and existing companies.
“We have incredible investors here in our region, we have a few strong venture funds, but they can only do so much” said Tech Council President and CEO Audrey Russo. “We can’t always count on them to do what needs to be done, and it wouldn’t be fair.”
But, Pittsburgh is still known to many outside of the region as a steel town, so Russo said it’s essentially become a “fly-over” zone. With a growing number of technology startups, she said that perception needs to change.
“And we have to work really, really hard to bring people the information about all these companies and the innovation that rests here in Pittsburgh,” she said. “It has be easy and it has to be pervasive, and it’s built on relationships.”
That means the FortyX80 effort means local companies will travel to places such as Silicon Valley and New York City to meet with venture capitalists.
“In different cities, in different locales, working with investors closely really full-time, before we were doing it sporadically, so we can better understand what these investors are looking for, connect startups and companies who need institutional investment with these investors,” Russo said.
The name FortyX80 is a play on Pittsburgh’s latitude and longitude. The organization’s first event will bring Intuit Chairman and former Apple Executive Bill Campbell to town to discuss issues faced by early stage companies. Campbell is a Homestead native.
The organization also hopes to provide education training. FortyX80 will team with the Pittsburgh Technology Council on programs including an educational summit and conference for K-12 administrators and will work with community colleges and research universities to help develop a skilled workforce.