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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

Thank You for the Overwhelming Support!

May 10, 2016

A year ago the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute identified a need to offer Pitt students of all levels who have an entrepreneurial impulse an experiential educational program that provides the tools, resources and an on-and-off-campus network for bringing their ideas to life.

With initial funding and a dedication of space from the Innovation Institute, the Blast Furnace was born.

In the first year, 36 teams representing close to 100 students participated in the initial two cohorts. Presently, another 12 teams comprised of 42 students are participating in the 3rd cohort with participation ranging from freshman to post-doctoral students. 

Equally overwhelming has been the response from Pitt alumni and members of the Pittsburgh startup community, more than 80 of whom have volunteered their time to be mentors, judges and guest speakers. To date, nearly a third of the participating Blast Furnace teams have been accepted into local Pittsburgh business accelerators through an extremely competitive application process.

With this tremendous early success under our belt, we approached the Pitt crowdfunding portal, EngagePitt, about pursuing a campaign to solicit contributions to help us expand the program, enhance our recruitment efforts, better outfit our new Blast Furnace physical space inside Webster Hall, and provide additional resources to the participating teams to help them move their ideas from concept to a company.

We are humbled and grateful for the fantastic response from alumni, faculty, Innovation Institute staff and members of the local startup community. Through your generous contributions of  your time, talent and money, you are making a difference in building the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship at Pitt.

I hope to see all of you at the Blast Furnace Demo Day, June 9, at the William Pitt Union Kurtzman Room, beginning at 5 p.m. Register here. If you are interested in becoming part of the Blast Furnace mentor network, please contact me at


Greg Coticchia Hail to Pitt!

We're humbled

April 14, 2016

The reaction to our crowdfunding campaign for the Blast Furnace student accelerator has been amazing. Having quickly reached our expanded goal with three weeks still remaining in the campaign, we are once again setting our sights higher. Our new goal is $15,000. Achieving this goal will allow us to expand the number of cohorts we offer in the coming year and provide the teams with additional resources to take their ideas from a concept to a viable business working in tandem with an experienced mentor. Our third cohort of Blast Furnace is currently underway, and once again we have a promising group of  teams.You are invited to attend the Demo Day where the students will pitch their ideas to a panel of VIPs from Pittsburgh's startup scene. Demo Day is scheduled for June 9 at the William Pitt Union, lower level, at a time to be announced. Once again, thank you for your support of student entrepreneurship at the University of Pittsburgh.

Thank You!

March 30, 2016

The response to our campaign to support Pitt student entrepreneurs has been beyond our wildest expectations. We were hopeful of reaching our $5,000 goal within the 45-day campaign, but in no way did we expect to exceed our goal in the first week! Thank you to all those who have donated so generously for believing in the mission of the Blast Furance to provide Pitt-preneurs with the tools and resources they need to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. And a double thank you to those of you who, in addition to your monetary support,  have offered to serve as a Blast Furnace mentor or guest speaker. Buoyed by the strong response to our campaign, we are doubling our goal to $10,000! Reaching this new goal will allow us to offer additional Blast Furnace cohorts in the 2016-17 academic year. It will also allow us to bring in more speakers with national renown to educate and inspire our students. We will also be able to significantly enhance the amenities and resources of the new Blast Furnace space in Webster Hall and make it a place that draws in students and is conducive to innovative thinking and cross-disciplinary collaboration.

Kind regards, Greg Coticchia Innovation Institute Executive in Residence and Director, Pitt Blast Furnace

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