Although their campaign has concluded, if you would still like to make a donation to the Blast Furnace you may always do so here.
What is the Blast Furnace?
The Blast Furnace is a student accelerator, providing student entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills they need to take their ideas to market. This program provides participants access to deep mentor networks, co-working space, and a rich curriculum to enhance the success rate of student startups and to help them grow their businesses.
Different from regional Pittsburgh economic development-led accelerators (e.g. AlphaLab, AlphaLab Gear, IdeaFoundry, Thrill Mill, etc.), the Blast Furnace was created by the University of Pittsburgh's Innovation Institute specifically for all Pitt students from undergraduate to post-doc who have a desire to be entrepreneurial, create new companies and receive hands-on, immersive learning on how to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. The Blast Furnace partners closely with regional external accelerators since these organizations are often the logical next step in the commercialization of a student's idea after completing the Blast Furnace.
The objectives of the Blast Furnace are twofold: first, to provide an educational foundation in entrepreneurship to all interested students , and second, to translate that foundation into actionable skills preparing these student entrepreneurs to start their businesses.
What is our goal?
The Blast Furnace is not a budgeted or funded program. It's a startup inside of Pitt, but we already have market traction. In 2015, our first year, 34 teams representing close to 100 students participated in our initial two cohorts. To launch, we had financial support from the Innovation Institute and volunteers from over 80 Western Pennsylvania entrepreneurs and service providers (lawyers, accountants, etc.), many of them Pitt alumni, who served as coaches, mentors, and judges. And the results? We were able to get 30% of the teams that participated in the Blast Furnace to incorporate or be accepted in regional business accelerators -- double the rate of other benchmarked accelerators! We were thrilled by the participation of both the students and the volunteers…but we want to do more, and with your help, we can.
Our hope is by giving Pitt students the skills, knowledge, physical space, contacts, and community to solidify and accelerate their startup ideas, they can become successful entrepreneurs, creating the ‘next big thing,' right here in Pittsburgh.
How can you help?
With your help, the Blast Furnace will be running two cohorts (Summer 2106 and Fall 2016) with 8 to 10 student teams per session, helping to create the next generation of Pitt startups! We are seeking the support of the Pitt community, particularly its great entrepreneurs, to help us raise the necessary funds to accomplish our goal. Your generous donation to our campaign will help cover:
• Supplies (books, online programs, etc.) for the creation/acquisition of materials for the teams to use
• Transportation to visit local startups and accelerators
• Food for attendees at our on-campus events
• Awards for our participants
• and more!
We are also urging the Pitt community to get involved by volunteering as a coach or mentor to a student team. Please contact Greg Coticchia at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
We would also like to invite everyone to come out to our Blast Furnace Demo Day Event and other Innovation Institute programs. It’s a great way to get involved with Pitt Startup events! http://www.innovation.pitt.edu/events Or sign up for the Innovation Institute Blog at http://blog.innovation.pitt.edu/blog.
The generous support of individuals like you makes it possible for the Blast Furnace to exist and is crucial for creating the next generation of Pitt entrepreneurs. If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at email@example.com.