Thanks for visiting!

This project is now in update mode. Check back regularly to see how things are progressing.

Blast Furnace

Raised toward our $10,000 Goal
76 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on May 09, at 11:59 PM EDT
Project Owners

Blast Furnace

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 Marketing speakers at Innovation InstituteGear, 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 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!  Or sign up for the Innovation Institute Blog at

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

Choose a giving level


Coke Level

In Pittsburgh’s steel making heyday, coal heated to superhot temperatures inside beehive ovens produced coke, which created the intense heat inside the blast furnace necessary for the raw iron, limestone and other ingredients to react and remove impurities and create a stronger metal. When the heat is turned up by student entrepreneurs strengthening their business ideas inside the Pitt Blast Furnace, another kind of Coke is needed. Your donation at this level helps us provide food and drinks during Blast Furnace classes and guest lectures.


Ingot Level

When a steel mill’s blast furnace is tapped, the result is a steel ingot that is then rolled, milled or cut into a finished product. At the Pitt Blast Furnace, student entrepreneurs learn that their initial idea must undergo continual refinement before it can be a viable business. Your donation at this level will help fund materials for Blast Furnace coursework where students learn and apply the fundamentals of starting a business.


Braddock Level

Braddock is home to one of the last remaining steel mills in the Pittsburgh region. It’s named after a colonial-era British general who was killed at the hands of French and Indian fighters in the Battle of the Monongahela. His aide, a 23-year-old Virginian named George Washington, had two horses shot from beneath him that day. How different would our history be had one of those lead balls took him out instead? Your donation at this level will help us host receptions and events across Pitt’s campus and develop promotional materials to help recruit students into the Blast Furnace who have ideas that can help change the course of history and help places like Braddock get back on its feet.


Homestead Works Level

Once the crown jewel of the U.S. Steel Corp, steel from Homestead Works is in the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower and countless other skyscrapers, bridges and ships around the world. Today, it’s the site of the Waterfront shopping center. Your donation at this level can help us shop for much-needed supplies – white boards, printers, monitors and other technology upgrades to the Blast Furnace space inside Webster Hall.


Henry Clay Frick Level

We were going to call this the Andrew Carnegie Level, but the university next door has dibs, so we chose Carnegie’s former business partner turned competitor and rags-to-riches entrepreneur in his own right, Henry Clay Frick. After Frick’s falling out with Carnegie, he built the Frick Building in Downtown Pittsburgh right next to Carnegie Steel’s office and intentionally made it taller so Carnegie’s office would be in its shadow. At the Blast Furnace, our student entrepreneurs support each other, but also have a fierce competitive drive. Your donation at this level will help our student startup teams to participate in business plan competitions outside the region.

Our Crowdfunding Groups