Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 2018 Co-CREATE was a hit for its participants and the attendees of the CREATE Fest. The program brought together a small group of entrepreneurs and helped them elevate their brand and business over a 10-month cycle. This included grants, work space, education, mentorship, and community engagement opportunities.
We spoke with one of our Co-CREATORS, Byron Nash, Pittsburgh-based musician and well-known guitarist. During his time with Co-CREATE, he learned the see himself as so much more than just a musician.
Q: How would you describe this year’s CREATE? Would you call it a success?
A: To me, the Create Festival was a total success. My involvement was much deeper this year as I performed, had a closing speech, was part of Co-Create, and displayed a 360-degree video project that I’ve be working on with Darin DiNapoli. Judging from the public’s feedback, it was a total success.
I loved the range of art and tech projects. I also liked the panel discussions on art, business, and progress – all topics I’m extremely interested in.
Q: What are the most important lessons you learned during the span on the 2018 Co-CREATE program?
A: I have barely scraped the surface. I’d say from the seminars and networking events it really drove home for me to define my identify as a businessman and brand.
In the beginning I was a little shy about being around so many different styles of businesses and entrepreneurs because I was the only musician. I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously.
As time went on, I realized that I am indeed a businessman, brand, promoter, and go-getter with a firm grip on how to push myself to come up with creative ideas and concepts. I became comfortable with the idea that I was much more than a musician. I started researching business information, bought a ton of books, and was reading like a fiend. I educated myself on everything: branding, marketing, internet sales and promotion, personal growth, high performance habits, etc. I changed my company BNDEEPendent Music from a sole proprietor to an LLC because of what I learned with Co-CREATE.
Seminars and working closely with my Co-Create team helped me fine-tune these skills and apply them in a way that inspired me to redefine myself. It was eye-opening and did nothing but light a serious fire under my already ambitious tail.
Q: If given the chance, would you have done anything differently?
A: I’d say I would have pushed a little harder on networking with people in the very beginning. Over time I opened up and felt more comfortable, but I just think I could have been more assertive from the start. That was a lesson learned.
There was a turning point in December of 2017 where I decided to dedicate more time to PTC and the program because it was the opportunity of a lifetime. I quit my second job to work harder on my business. Even on the days when I wasn’t there I was doing things to stay ahead. I would typically stay after the seminars were over and continue to work because my mind was in that mode and I didn’t want to lose forward momentum. Once January 2018 hit, I was all in.
Q: What advice do you give to future cohorts?
A: My advice is to stick it out. Ten months sounds long and can feel long, especially when you have a jam-packed schedule already. But it moves very quickly and you will be like, ‘Dang, that went fast!’
Learn. Listen. Absorb. It’s like free college. Talk to everyone you can. Ask questions. Figure out your business and take notes during seminars or ask for the templates. There is a lot of valuable information that maybe is advanced for you at the time, but will be very useful as you grow and develop. Become a sponge.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I am pushing harder in music. I am working on a solo acoustic EP, as well as another EP with my band Byron Nash & Plan B. I have a documentary that’s being made about my hustle and creative pursuits by Darin DiNapoli that we are about to wrap up in September.
In August, I have my own Double IPA beer coming out with Helltown Brewing called BLQ METAL. It will make its debut at the Fresh Fest on Saturday, August 11th at Threadbare Ciderhouse. That same day, Plan B is heading to LiveMusicpgh Block Party from 7-8 pm.
Saturday, August 18th at 5pm, Plan B is playing the Rum, Rock, and Reggae Festival Market Square. I’m also collaborating with the guys at Sparechange TV to help raise awareness and money for the American Cancer Society. The episode comes out late August/early September.
Thursday, September 6th, I’m hosting and performing at Federal Galley, which is my Service Industry Birthday Celebration featuring my signature margarita (The Nasty Nasherita) and my Helltown collaboration Double IPA, BLQ METAL.
Monday, September 10th, I’ll be hosting Acoustic Cafe – an open mic event at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls. It’s free and open to all performers. The last one I did was packed, so I know we are gonna blow this one out too!