This past Friday, 300 attendees gathered in The Shop, the former garage turned event space in Homewood, for a pancake breakfast where they got a sneak peek at the innovation-themed event series XchangePgh has planned for the coming months.
Starting in March, XchangePgh — a collaboration stemming from community organizations such as RustBuilt, maad labs and the Creative Bureau’s organizing efforts — will be offering events designed to convene technologists, entrepreneurs and other startup stakeholders on a deeper level. Kit Mueller, one of the cofounders and co-organizers of XchangePgh, told the kickoff’s attendees that the goal is to offer accessible programming that supports the ambitions of entrepreneurs throughout the region.
“XchangePgh is meant to be this event series that highlights the amazing things going on, under the assumption that if we all work together across sectors and neighborhoods and industries, we can actually make this as great a community as possible,” Mueller said.
This will come in the form of four events:
- XchangeIdeas, a hackathon held in March
- XchangeInnovation, a week of digital and physical events in April
- XchangeValue, workshops taking place in October
- XchangeAwards, an awards ceremony to celebrate outstanding entrepreneurs in November
In the interest of accessibility, the organizers are hoping to make 70% of the programming free, they said. The event’s organizers also acknowledged that by nature, business relationships can take on a transactional nature, but the XchangePgh series wants to foster dynamics that strengthen the overall community. Should everything go according to plan, the event will be an annual occurrence in the Pittsburgh ecosystem.
Attendees can expect speakers with Pittsburgh connections, networking opportunities, and for the XchangeAwards, the opportunity to vote on who should be honored as a person or company going above and beyond in the region.
Mueller told Technical.ly that although the organizers have been hosting events for years, over the last year, they decided to seek out community feedback about what a beneficial, singular series would look like. That means if you’ve been involved in the entrepreneur and or tech communities for years, this could be a good opportunity to share your experiences. But if you’re new to the area, it could also provide the opportunity to meet your fellow entrepreneurs.
The overall theme, Mueller said, is “innovation” — which covers a lot of territory with regard to what the region has to offer.
“We have four chances to not only highlight our strengths but work on some of the challenge areas in our region,” Mueller said. “By the definition of innovation, we need to expand and make it more impactful and more inclusive. We’ve got to do it together.”
So many #Pittsburgh legends in one place! It’s a full house at @XchangePgh ! pic.twitter.com/dWfdAwN0kk
— Dr. Andre Samuel 👨🏽🔬 (@DrAfro71) February 3, 2023
Moving forward, one of the things that’ll make this series stand out, Mueller said, is that it’ll be built in public. In this context, he explained that means the organizers are creating the series with complete transparency and are requesting feedback from the community every step of the way.
The preview event “was just a taste of all the amazing things going on in the city,” Mueller said. “And we’re hoping to involve as many people that are either leading these communities right now, or will be inspired to do so tomorrow.”Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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