Larry Gioia at Going Deep Summit 2018

Larry Gioia

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) consultant, founder of Dynamic Paddlers, Connection U Meetup co-founder: this is Larry Gioia, but to a CEO, small business owner, everyday citizen — this may not mean much. Minimalist business cards, firm handshakes…what does it mean when you walk away? Name the last person you shook hands with. Look for the last card you were handed. Can you remember? Can you find it? The answer is likely no.

Larry Gioia is reinventing the way we introduce ourselves. No more serious interactions. He emphasizes that “we’re not in suits. We’re not exchanging business cards.” We’re business people. Employees. Entrepreneurs with seven-day-a-week schedules. There’s so little time to solidify a meaningful relationship with potential colleagues and creative partners. A business card does the trick, doesn’t it? Gioia thinks otherwise, because it’s about connecting with one another, not networking, because “networking is not working.”

He stresses the importance of making time to listen to others, to hear their story. In three simple steps, Gioia reveals his strategy to make strong connections:


  • Open your aperture. Widen your lens. “Think different,” he says, so that you can “go deeper today” and make new discoveries about the person you’re talking with. Who knows what the connection will bring?


  • Find your tribe. “Who are the people you can count on?” A support system will surround you in an environment that cradles your creativity.
  • Give yourself. “All of yourself. Your heart, your head…give it away and expect nothing in return.” Meet people without any intentions to foster a meaningful, human relationship. Gioia sends an email or text everyday to let someone know that he’s thankful for their existence and what they bring to the table.



His live-or-die-by motto is “ABCD” — Always Be Connecting the Dots. Being a connector means establishing valuable relationships that provide a landing ground for mutual creativity between two people, even a group. Find that person. Find that group. In the web of networking, your line will be lost, stuck in the tangle of the hundreds of other entrepreneurs a single person has met. Be a connector and you’ll never be forgotten.



Written by Callie DeMasters


Want to attend the next Going Deep Summit?

Ian Rosenberger Talks Next Chapter for Thread International

Ian Rosenberger

“The trick is to stay alive long enough to figure it out.” ~ Ian Rosenberger


Rock climbing? Professional racing? Bull riding? No, we’re talking start-ups.


They are the unsung heroes of your favorite main street shops, online consulting, software programs, creative media groups; these are the teams of people who want to work with you, listen to your concerns, and create productThread Internationals or services that exceed your expectations. And that’s what Ian Rosenberger of Thread International is all about.


Piper sat down with founder Rosenberger to discuss dodgeball, photography, their Kickstarter campaign, and the value of persistence in the professional world. Thread has partnered with clothing and accessory companies from Aerie to Reebok.


In 2010, Rosenberger was conflicted. Port-au-Prince had just suffered a catastrophic earthquake. So he hopped on a plane and a bus to do something about it. On a second trip to Haiti that year, he and another photographer met a Haitian boy, Tasi, who inspired Rosenberger to “set the ball rolling.”


He truly feels he’s found a purpose with Thread. Ian Rosenberger doesn’t want to change just the material world, but the health of the whole planet. A priority of the company lies in encouraging green production by using trash thought to be useless, thrown to the Haitian roadside. With this, Rosenberger has found a purpose in it, turning it to treasure — to your backpack.


Ultimately, this process teaches the unemployed in a vibrant, flourishing start-up environment. There is nothing more valuable than this experience. Rosenberger is making quality employment and workforce preparation a reality for many Haitians. In order to improve our winning odds against worldwide poverty, Rosenberger has made it Thread’s mission. Helping people, the world, and our organizational setbacks, Thread does not exist just for storage on your back.


It’s more than that. Hear more about the story of the company on his Kickstarter page, A Better Backpack and on episode 54 of This Is Piper.

written by: Callie DeMasters (@szafirowe)

Legal Sifter, AI, and the Law

Legal Sifter

Legal Sifter is a Pittsburgh-based artificial intelligence company focused on the law industry. We met with Kevin Miller, the CEO, to discuss companies embracing artificial intelligence, raising capital in Pittsburgh, and taking the reins of a startup.

Legal Sifter

LegalSifter is on a mission to bring affordable legal services to the world by empowering people with artificial intelligence. Kevin Miller joined the startup to help prove the business model and scale the company. The concept was originally developed by some college students. Kevin was brought in to build a legitimate business.

Previously, Kevin has served as Chief Operating Officer Industrial Scientific Corporation, helped launch an online version of Argosy University, and spent half a decade at FreeMarkets, in the global sourcing and procurement software space.

FreeMarkets was the last Pittsburgh startup to go through a major IPO. DuoLingo looks like it might be the next to make it to a public offering.

In this discussion, Aaron and Kevin discuss artificial intelligence replacing vs augmenting humans, Kevin’s distinct career arc, and the climate for raising capital in and outside of Pittsburgh.

Kevin is also a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio.

Piper Creative Squad

Our intern, Callie DeMasters was there to help set up the equipment, take photos, and post to Piper’s Instagram story.

The Pittsburgh Airport Car Service that You Should Try

Axle Travel founder & CEO Bharath Krishnamoorthy has launched a new transportation startup in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their Pittsburgh Airport Car Service is a cheaper alternative to rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber. They accomplish this by sending a car to pick you up and bring you to a shuttle that takes you most of the way to the airport.

This solution for longer range travel is first-of-its-kind and a big win for Pittsburgh.

Axle Travel

Axle was incubated in the 2017 class of Techstars Mobility. Bharath Krishnamoorthy co-founded the company with his friend Shawn Vo after leaving a job as a lawyer.

Previously, “B” graduated from Columbia Law School. Now he is the founder of a transportation startup.



If you use this Pittsburgh airport car service, let us know.

Jeff Lizik Photo Shoot

Jeff Lizik

Piper Creative conducted a photo shoot with Jeff Lizik, the CEO of Z Brand. Jeff is going through a digital rebrand and getting more serious about his Instagram content.

Hannah took charge of the photo shoot and told Jeff to do his best Beyonce smolder. TJ was there to record everything and document a day in the life of the business.

Jeff Lizik

Jeff Lizik took over as president and CEO of Z Brand, the downtown Pittsburgh ad agency, in 2017 from Goldie Ostrow.

Jeff learned digital marketing from starting his own online business with no funds beyond bootstrapping and no idea how to attract customers online. He read all of the marketing books and took all of the online marketing courses.

Jeff used basic digital marketing principals to grow his first business to over $4 million in revenue.

He has also build a strong team to surround him. We’re excited to be working together.

TJ Hall

This is the first episode that was both shot and edited by TJ Hall. TJ is a rising senior at North Allegheny High School.

Meeting Mark DeSantis & Recording a Tammy Thompson Keynote

Mark DeSantis

No business meeting is exactly the same. Today’s video is a great example. We went from beta testing our new keynote service for Tammy Thompson, to recording a podcast interview with Mark DeSantis.

Tammy grew up in poverty and spoke to an audience of dozens about her experience with homelessness and trauma. Mark Desantis talked about starting multiple companies and walking to a different path as an entrepreneur.

Tammy Thompson

Tammy had previously been a guest on the podcast. After seeing our media skills in action, she hired us to record a keynote that she gave. It went really well.

Tammy has been speaking around Pittsburgh for years, but never recorded her talks for digital consumption. She does see the value of producing media because Tammy created a documentary about the psychological effects of poverty called “We Wear the Mask

We’re excited to work with Tammy further in the future.

Mark DeSantis

Mark DeSantis is Pittsburgh-famous. He ran for mayor of the city in 2007. He’s had multiple successful technology startups, including kWantix, an energy hedge fund, kWantera, a GE Ventures-backed energy predictive analytics company, and Think Through Learning, a venture-backed online tutoring company.

Currently, Mark DeSantis is running his newest startup, Roadbotics. During a podcast interview, Aaron and Mark discussed how he got interested in road maintenance, the commercial use of artificial intelligence, and the challenge of being an entrepreneur.

The name for our vlog cam from a powerful statement that Mark made towards the end of the interview.

“The World isn’t Designed for Entrepreneurs”

We agree.

To choose the path of entrepreneurship is to choose to struggle. To choose for your friends and family to be confused by what you’re doing. To choose a different timeline than most of your peers.

But folks like Aaron, Hannah, and Mark DeSantis wouldn’t have it any other way. We need to make our mark. We need to see our plans and dreams come to fruition.

Salud Juicery Photo Shoot

Salud Juicery

We’ve been trying to eat more healthy food as we build our company. Salud Juicery makes that easy with delicious juices, smoothies, and acai bowls. Their menu of superfoods also looks really good, so we’re helping them produce content for their Instagram page.

In this episode, Hannah and intern Nick sample some smoothies and take a bunch of photos at the Salud Juicery in Oakland.

Salud Juicery Story

Ginny Corbett started Salud Juicery in 2013 before the juice and smoothie craze was in full effect. She’d been working as a licensed psychotherapist and was tired of just prescribing pills.

Ginny’s research into how nutrition could impact mental health lead to her current entrepreneurial venture. After opening her first juice bar in Sewickley, Ginny opened a second location in Shadyside a year later.

Now, the business is expanding rapidly with locations around Pittsburgh and in State College.

Ginny gets to educate people about the healing properties of foods every day.

Always Connecting Dots

Later, Aaron and Hannah met with Tori Meglio and Josiah Gilliam. Josiah and Tori are bringing their unique skill set of business savvy, strong network, and operations experience to help local nonprofits adapt and grow.

Tori is best known for being a Pittsburgh-born connector. Tori first met Aaron when she was Director of Operators at Studio AM, a creative community-centric business in Homestead. They’re both alums of the University of Pittsburgh, too.

After Studio AM, Tori had a brief stint in tech consulting before joining Salud Juicery as the Director of Business Development. She’s focused on the company’s franchising efforts.

Josiah serves as the Program Manager for Pittsburgh’s My Brother’s Keeper network. This work focuses on regional efforts throughout Allegheny County to support youth in distressed communities with a strong focus on African American men and boys.

He took on this role in response to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s acceptance of President Obama’s challenge.


Tammy Thompson – Important Conversation

Tammy Thompson

Piper Creative came to the Circle of Greater Pittsburgh Office to meet with Tammy Thompson. Tammy Thompson is the new Executive Director of Circles and calls upon her experiences with trauma and poverty to help others.

She joined Circles because it was the type of program she needed when she was in a low point. The program’s core value is in the community and network of people that are developed. A strong social network is essential for support, perspective, and unity.

Tammy was very honest with us about the trauma she experienced as a child. Her family came to Pittsburgh looking for work and a better opportunity. When their fortunes turned, they faced homelessness.

Tammy eventually pulled herself out of poverty and built a career in real estate. But, after the 2008 housing crisis, she went in search of work with deeper meaning.

Now, she’s focused on serving others and teaching the basic of financial literacy that should be in every student’s curriculum.

In addition to learning finances, Tammy Thompson focuses on treating the root causes of poverty. It is essential to address trauma and loneliness in order to change people’s lives. Circles of Pittsburgh helps to address those core issues.

We wish Tammy luck in her new role as Executive Director.

Intern Meetings

Later, we conducted our weekly intern meeting. There, our new interns Nick & Aaron introduced themselves and the focus they plan to bring to the internship.

Finally, we ended the day with an interview at Commonplace Coffee. Callie heard Hannah talk at a local high school and followed up to participate in our internship program.

She rocked the interview and showed a poise and competence beyond her years. The potential is apparent and we are really excited to serves as a part of Callie’s development.

Our favorite days at Piper Creative are the ones with lots of meetings and great people.

Pittsburgh Twitch Phenom Brad Driscoll

Brad Driscoll

Brad Driscoll is a great friend to Piper Creative. He’s helped us a lot with our SEO and is a great digital marketing mind. In addition to understanding Facebook ads and Clickfunnel, Brad is also one of the biggest Pittsburgh Twitch streamers.

He built an audience of 10,000s by conducting a 365-day challenge to stream consecutively without interruption.

Hannah and Aaron went up to the Industrious Pittsburgh coworking space on a Sunday morning to record a podcast interview with Brad.

We discussed his Twitch channel, starting an SEO business with his brother Bryan, and what he’s learned from Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams.