Startup Global continues quest to reach small businesses-Project Olympus - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Startup Global continues quest to reach small businesses

Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurial community can serve as a model for other cities trying to foster a dynamic startup culture, Deputy Commerce Secretary Bruce Andrews said during a visit on Tuesday.

“Pittsburgh has a fabulous, innovative ecosystem,” Mr. Andrews said. “There’s a real focus on attracting new companies and seamless interaction between the universities and startups.

“There’s a reason so much is happening here.”

Mr. Andrews was at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the latest installment in the Commerce Department’s Startup Global initiative, which was conceived as a way to connect entrepreneurs across the country with federal resources about which they might not otherwise be aware.

Along with CMU, Startup Global in Pittsburgh included the University of Pittsburgh’s Innovation Institute, Idea Foundry, Innovation Works, the Pittsburgh Technology Council and Thrill Mill.

Tuesday’s sessions were focused on surviving in a global marketplace, which Mr. Andrews said is something companies, even small ones, should be thinking about from day one.

“If they’re not thinking about it, their competitors will be,” he said.

A strong local example of a company that has been successful making the transition to a global marketplace, he added, is Downtown-based juvenile product company 4moms. The story goes that two of its top executives traveled to London with the hopes of making connections and landed U.K.-based baby products company Mothercare via old-fashioned cold-calling.

Mr. Andrews said the challenges facing women- and minority-owned small businesses are among the Commerce Department’s priorities.

“We are focused on expanding access to everyone. We know there are untapped markets with huge amounts of potential,” he said. “There are communities that have not been included as well in the innovation boom, and we need to make sure we are promoting entrepreneurism wherever we can.”

The next phase of the Startup Global initiative will be taking the feedback from its various community events across the country to create a set of best practices guidelines, he said.

“We are a customer service organization, and the American business community is our customer,” Mr. Andrews said. “Our biggest challenge is getting the word out.” Read More»

By: Kim Lyons,