Dan McCoy

Dan McCoy

Dan McCoy already won a gold medal for sled hockey in 2014 Sochi winter Paralympics. Now, he has his sights set on competing in adaptive kayaking. As he starts to train, Piper Creative is encouraging him to document the journey on YouTube.

While discussing his plans to vlog, Dan, Aaron, and Hannah discussed the basics of setting up a vlog and creating valuable content.

The most important thing for someone in Dan’s position is to press “Publish”. Instead of overthinking his strategy, he just needs reps at talking to the camera, editing, and sharing his content.

We’re not meeting with him to sell him our services. We just want to serve him and see him succeed.

It’s also going to be cool to share this “found footage” of Dan McCoy after he blows up.

 

Bill Flanagan on Pittsburgh Economic History

Bill Flanagan Pittsburgh

Piper Creative recorded a podcast with Bill Flanagan Pittsburgh has undergone a significant reinvention over the 30 years he has been a business journalist. He shared some stories of Pittsburgh’s economic history that few people know.

Bill hosts “Our Region’s Business”, a Sunday-morning business affairs program co-produced by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and WPXI-TV. He is also the Chief Corporate Relations Officer for the Allegheny Conference.

How did we make this interview happen? We actually have footage of us pitching Bill at the Pittsburgh Business Show. It’s a great look into the guerilla networking you have to do when you’re in startup mode.

Bill Flanagan Pittsburgh Perspective

Over the course of our conversation, Bill talked about how Pittsburgh has changed between the 1980s and today. Bill saw the local economy crater after many of the steel mills closed down and other large businesses moved their headquarters out of Pittsburgh.

A lot of the groundwork for the current boom was laid in the 1940s. Leaders like Mellon, Carnegie, and Frick founded schools and invested in industries other than steel. That took real foresight.

In the intervening years, investments in education, healthcare systems, and technology have given birth to a new “golden age” for southwestern Pennsylvania. Now Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Uber all have offices in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Pittsburgh needs to continue to maintain its long-term vision over the next two decades.

Providing Value

After conducting the interview, we continued to provide value by giving Bill some tips to improve the performance of his show, “Our Region’s Business”, on YouTube.

One piece of advice we offered Bill was to add End Screen links to all of his videos. He has such a rich library of interviews with business leaders around Pittsburgh. The digital tools available would make for compelling callback and deeper dives.

We are currently utilizing the end screens on our own videos, but believe we can get so much more creative with how they are utilized.

ARM Institute & Connection U Meetup #4

ARM Institute

Pittsburgh is already a leader in robotics thanks to Carnegie Mellon University and the companies on Robotics Row. The ARM Institute will further extend western Pennsylvania’s lead in this emerging technology.

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM) is an independent non-profit that won an $80 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. The grant is for funding efforts in robotics innovation and to accelerate growth in US-based manufacturing.

ARM Institute

The ARM Institute is further supported by $173 million in commitments from more than 100 members and partners in industry, academia, technology, government and economic development groups.

We interviewed ARM Institute’s Chief Operating Officer Jay Douglass about the genesis of the organization, how their work moves America’s technology forward, and whether we should be worried about robots stealing jobs from humans.

Jay was candid and compelling while opening our eyes to the realities of the technology.

Piper’s First Intern

After the interview, we interviewed and accepted the first intern of Piper Creative. Cong Lu, a graduate student at CMU, was interviewed by Hannah& Ashley. She impressed with her ambition, strong resume, and interest in getting outside her comfort zone.

Connection U Meetup

We ended the day by heading to Community Forge in Wilkinsburg. Community Forge played host to the fourth Connection University Meetup. The building used to be an elementary school that was shut down when the neighborhood fell on hard times.

Now, executive director Michael Skirpan and local residents are a remaking it into a community space for opportunities. Local businesses rent office space, provide after-school activities for kids, and fight gentrification.

Connection University loves featuring spaces like these at our meetups.

Dozens of super-connectors came to Wilkinsburg to expand their network, deepen relationships, and find ways to give to others.

We love every busy day like this. Excited for the future of Cong, Connection University, and the ARM Institute.

Playing Pickleball at the Pittsburgh Business Show

Piper was invited to record an episode of the Going Deep podcast at the 2018 Pittsburgh Business Show. This episode of our vlog covers our interview with Bill Laboon about cryptocurrencies, features John & Rachel from YaJagOff podcast, and our cold pitch to Bill Flanagan of Allegheny Conference on Community Development.

After hydrating with Salud Smoothies, we drove into Pittsburgh towards the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. A quarter of the convention hall had been rented by Higher Images, the marketing firm behind the Pittsburgh Business Show.

This was their 2nd year running the event and there was a moderately strong showing.

Our results

  • We recorded a great interview about Ethereum, Bitcoin, and other altcoins with Bill Laboon. Bill is a Computer Science professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Piper Creative met Bill Flanagan, who hosts a week business show named “Our Region’s Business”
  • We met Meesha Gerhart, a web developer & small business owner in Pittsburgh.

What do you love about conferences and live events?

Interviewing Civic Science founder John Dick

Civic Science

We did a podcast interview with Civic Science founder and CEO John Dick. Over the course of our conversation, Aaron and John discussed the challenges of recruiting technical and sales talent, the pros and cons of basing the company in Pittsburgh, and how empathy has played a role in understanding the 2016 presidential election.

John grew up in rural Pennsylvania and understands both country and cosmopolitan life. The data that he accesses through Civic Science gives him an even deeper understanding of the forces driving political preferences.

His data reveals that the media you consume and your socioeconomic status strongly influence how you might vote. It’s not as tied to independent thought as you’d like to believe.

How can we trust the data?

Civic Science is a thoroughly modern polling company that is built to be digital and mobile-first.

Unlike older polling companies like Gallup and Nielsen, Civic Science meets audiences where they are actually living their day-to-day lives.

Despite being in Pittsburgh, Civic Science does not spend much time celebrating the region or focusing on local media. Since they are not selling to many companies in town, they focus on getting their research into articles on Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg.

They also blog regularly and execute a thorough content marketing strategy.

Both Piper Creative and Civic Science know that content is the gateway to sales. As viewers, listeners, and readers come to rely upon your insights and findings, they become more and more open to working with you.

We just take different routes to the same goal. Civic Science focuses primarily on blogging, while Piper is playing primarily on YouTube, Instagram, and podcasts.

You should listen to the whole podcast interview on Going Deep with Aaron Watson. Then, you should listen to John’s interview on the Lefsetz podcast.

The podcast was recorded at StudioMe in East Liberty.

Inside the Mind of a Pittsburgh Creative

Pittsburgh Creative

Hannah Phillips is a Pittsburgh Creative to watch. She has been selling paintings since she was in her teens, ran a photography business in high school, and co-founded a creative agency at the age of 20.

In the 24th episode of #ThisIsPiper, she produces a meta-analysis of what goes into creating a vlog episode. The final product is stunning.

The subject of the episode is a podcast interview with Wendy Downs. Wendy co-founded Moop, a company that makes handmade waxed canvas bags. The bags are designed and hand manufactured, start to finish, in their downtown Pittsburgh studio.

Hannah was present to film the entire interview with a two camera setup. Afterward, she went home and stitched together the most complex edit in the short history of Piper Creative.

By showing how the episodes are constructed and the thought that goes into each subheader and musical interlude, Hannah communicated the immense value of Piper’s Documentary-as-a-Service offering.

Any company can inject the pillars of storytelling, creativity, and new media distribution into their brand to transform their position in the market.

Meeting with Zero Six Eight Cofounder Dan Bull

Zero Six Eight

After meeting with financial advisor Matt Blocki, Piper Creative headed downtown to meet with Zero Six Eight founder Dan Bull. We explored part of their office and discussed how powerful producing media would be for their business.

Zero Six Eight is named after the three numbers that represent Allegheny County for prisoners in a federal penitentiary. Dan’s coworking space and incubator serve ex-offenders who are working to reintegrate into society.

By connecting them with businesses and entrepreneurs, Zero’s model stimulates the economy and unlocks vast human potential.

Dan Bull spokes about what he is doing at Zero Six Eight at length during a session of the 2018 Going Deep Summit.

After setting up his story, he brought former hacker Damon Toey onstage to talk about his past and explain the challenges of reintegration.

Trust is the biggest factor in finding a new community after serving time.

 

Learning About New Century Careers

New Century Careers

It is frustrating to see so much negativity in the headlines. Piper Creative is hoping to inject a little more positivity into the world with conversations like the one we had with Neil Ashbaugh, Director at New Century Careers.

Lately, Pittsburgh has been in the news for robots and restaurants. But the city’s blue-collar roots run deep. Manufacturing is still an important part of the regional economy and New Century Careers is working to train the next generation of professionals in the industry.

In the New Century Careers facility, students spend 3-6 months learning the fundamental skills of a machinist. This often propels the students from minimum wage jobs into earning more than $40k per year.

This is an increasingly important mission, as studies have identified a critical shortage of entry-level machinists and other manufacturing workers. Local manufacturers are sponsoring the program in search of new, young people to hire.

In a sweeping discussion, Aaron & Neil Ashbaugh discuss the opportunities for good pay and consistent work offered by roles in manufacturing. The industry is facing a cliff over the next ten years as Baby Boomers continue to retire, leaving companies hungry for talent.

We also got schooled on the history of local manufacturing and the forces driving the local economy.

Luke Skurman After Raising $6.6M Series B

Luke Skurman

Luke Skurman is one of Pittsburgh’s brightest entrepreneurial talents. We sat down with the CEO of Niche.com for an exclusive interview. Luckily, the camera was there to capture the conversation.

Luke Skurman

After starting College Prowler from his Carnegie Mellon dorm room, Luke Skurman has spent over a decade building a massive digital resource for people making major life decisions.

He has re-branded to Niche.com and recently raised $6.6 million from Grit Capital Partners and Allen & Company. They are scaling their technology and growth teams and joining the ranks of Pittsburgh tech companies.

One of the most interesting insights Luke shared was that finding sales and marketing talent in western PA was actually more difficult than finding technical talent.

Hannah and I later said that this was inspiring to us. We hope Piper can be a farm system for the region’s best marketing, sales, and business development talent. Eventually, our ranks will spill over into the rest of the community.

A rising tide lifts and all boats.

Wendy Downs

After meeting with Luke Skurman, we met Wendy Downs, the founder of Moop Bags. She has a thoroughly modern e-commerce business for her handmade bags.