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Startable Pittsburgh

Startable Pittsburgh • Empowering Young Entrepreneurs • Creating the Innovators of the Future!

Startable Pittsburgh™ is a free program that teaches high school students entrepreneurial and maker skills. Students work in teams to design, prototype, build, brand, and market products of their own creation. Participants earn a stipend, keep all profits from their products, and pitch for more funding at our final event.



HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.

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December 2018
My favorite part of the program was having the ability to work freely and decide what I wanted to make, all while having the guidance and resources to go above and beyond my initial thoughts of my products.

About the innovation

What is Startable Pittsburgh?

Startable Pittsburgh™ is a program of Innovation Works, which provides free business startup programming for teens and access to our nationally ranked accelerator communities, facilities, mentors, and founders. Our curriculum encompasses the philosophies of Lean startup methodology and the engineering design process. 

Startable teens gain a wide rage of skills through the course of the program and beyond. Participating students will learn electrical, mechanical, computer, and industrial engineering basics from experts in the fields. They gain experience forming equitable partnerships, managing meetings, creating and executing project timelines, and budgeting.

Together participants create a prototypes, product packaging, and marketing materials. They then sell, present, network, and acquire further funding for their businesses. The program culminates in a final community event, where friends and family can see product demonstrations and cheer on the competitors in the Pitch Competition.

All of this amazing work is built on the foundation of community. Working in several locations, with many community entities allows for students to continue tapping into local resources and utilize these long after the program ends.

The support students receive during the program includes cash stipends, lunch and snacks, transportation, supplies, tools, networking connections, and potentially more cash investment. Beyond these, returning students can benefit from internship opportunities and our Alumni in Residence program. 


Pitch Practice Makes Perfect
Erin presents her first iteration of her business pitch. She practices in front of her peers at AlphaLab, one of our partner spaces. 
In 2018 students and mentors participated in an ongoing research study led by the Human Computer Interaction Institute at CMU. Students were able to see cutting edge innovative hardware being developed on the collegiate level. 2019 Startable students will continue participation in this study.
Startable Final Event and Pitch Competition
Students tabling at the Startable Final Event and Pitch Competition. This well attended event allows students to demonstrate their prototypes, sell their products, and pitch for more funding during the Pitch Competition. 
Students Become Mentors
Moses, a student in the 2019 cohort, shares his skills with a group of budding entrepreneurs. Startable students have many opportunities after the program for internships, alumni residencies, and community building. 
Making and Breaking Molds
Norma utilized mold making techniques she learned in a Startable workshop to create components for her innovative fashion line. She was able to create a mini-manufacturing run of her product line, quicker, and more precisely using this new-to-her process.
Design Studio
Artist and Entrepreneur Ashley speaks to students about prototyping designs for the Fashion Industry at the Homewood-Brushton CCAC partner location.
Learning to Code
Students learn the basics of coding language in this Startable workshop with mentor Ryan.
2018 Pitch Competition Winners and Esteemed Judging Panel
Corde, Storm, and Anabelle pose with the judges after taking the top three prizes at the 2018 Startable Community Event for their business pitches. 
Winston and Milcah doing sound engineering at the YMCA Lighthouse, one of Startable Pittsburgh's partner locations. 
Speed Mixer - Networking Event
Startable students enjoy quick two minute rounds of intros and discussions, in this mixer event. They are seen here, flexing their soft skills with hand shakes, business card exchanges, and elevator pitches all while networking with fellow entrepreneurs. 
Design Mechanics
Using Fusion360, Luke works with Startable Mentor Justin to reiterate on a hood enclosure for his product, a Pitch Pod. The concept was a secluded practice space with a smart mirror and playback features, that could be used in practicing presentations and business pitches. 
3d Modeling Analog Style
All set up for 3d modeling with oil clay. Students learned basic sculpture techniques, and then created two part silicone molds from their creations. They were able to use these techniques in creating their final products. 
Storm enjoys the workshop at AlphaLab Gear, using the floor to trace out a large pattern for her prototype. The community resources and spaces of Startable's home-base and partner organizations provide ample room to make large designs come to life. 
Color theory, design concepts, and logo design! It's a team effort to develop a brand. 
A cohort of 10 girls, soldering components to micro-controllers and tweaking some C++ code. They worked to build computer and electrical engineering skills through a series of Startable workshops and will use those in developing a product prototype. 
A cohort of 10 girls, soldering components to micro-controllers and tweaking some C++ code. They worked to build computer and electrical engineering skills through a series of Startable workshops and will use those in developing a product prototype. 
Devin, 12 years old, building her first computer from components sourced from thrift stores and a Raspberry Pi. She used her machine to program Arduinos and prototyped a fortune teller device. 
Startable Pittsburgh's 2019 Flyer. 

Implementation steps

Bring Startable to your Community!

If you'd like to serve as a Mentor for Startable, fill out the job application on the Innovation Works Website.

If you'd like to bring your students (of any age) for a tour of our facilities, let us know!

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