Last Thursday, Idea Foundry exhibited at Thrival Festival’s Innovation Marque with some of our portfolio companies, Solinius, Kopo, and FIT Farms. The theme of the event was “Humans X Tech” and the evening was filled with engaging dialogue about the role new innovations can play in our lives and the lives of others. Among the keynote speakers was Wiz Khalifa, local rapper turned national celebrity, who performed in Thrival’s music festival later in the weekend. Wiz spoke on topics such as the benefits of medical marijuana and the effect of music streaming platforms on the music industry, but one topic that I found very interesting was Wiz’s thoughts on Pittsburgh’s development. Since the theme for the evening was innovation and it is a major facet of Idea Foundry, this topic seems most fitting. Pittsburgh has received a lot of attention of late as a tech-savvy, innovation hub, with a growing scene for young people. As a native of Pittsburgh, Wiz Khalifa recognized Pittsburgh’s changes and is hopeful that they will benefit the young people here. This includes having an open environment for youth to express themselves and pursue what inspires them. Wiz concluded with, “I feel like Pittsburgh is moving in the direction of guiding those people, and making people’s lives much better.”
We echo Wiz’s sentiment. Idea Foundry supports Pittsburgh’s transformation into a global innovation hub to increase accessibility to technology, inspire future generations, and raise the quality of life in the region. We are proud to contribute to Pittsburgh’s development. Our CEO, Mike Matesic, probably couldn’t name many Wiz Khalifa songs if you asked him, but he and Wiz do share one important characteristic. They are both from Pittsburgh and have watched its development. Mike likes to show off the painting of a steel worker that hangs in our offices, saying that it is to remind us of Pittsburgh’s history as a hard-working steel town (Fun Fact: it once hung in a bar Mike’s family used to operate in Southside). He has taught his team that it is important to remember that Pittsburgh was resilient after the heyday of steel ended, adapting to the changing times. This adaptiveness allowed Pittsburgh to transform into an innovation headquarters. Given its many universities, world-recognized research facilities, and the large technology companies such as Google and Uber who have moved into the area, it all makes sense. However, these ideas weren’t on the horizon when Pittsburgh’s steel mills were bustling. It is through watching Pittsburgh’s adaptiveness and development, like Mike and Wiz do, that we see the true innovation potential of Pittsburgh.