By Mike Hruska, Problem Solutions
This western Pennsylvania region is rich with history as one of the places that built America. The early steel days were rich with technological innovations, including the use of the Bessemer process and others, that were copied throughout the steel industry and the world. Johnstown (Cambria County) and the surrounding counties outside of Pittsburgh have evolved industries, weathered economic storms, survived floods and been resilient throughout history. These communities are filled with the DNA of creative makers and innovators allowing the area to survive and thrive.
Much like our bigger brother to the west, Pittsburgh, Cambria County and the surrounding region are now reinventing themselves in their own way.
Cambria County and surrounding counties are made up of ingredients that range from skilled trades and manufacturing and defense expertise to a growing technology and entrepreneurship community that are bringing a new lifeblood to the area. Johnstown and the surrounding region are entering a new phase, combining these ingredients in new ways to create global innovations. Simultaneously, four higher education institutions in Cambria County, with more than 7,700 students and more than 1,100 faculty, graduate nearly 1,500 students annually, providing a growing talent pipeline…as long as these graduates are provided jobs somewhere in western PA!
Cambria County and the surrounding counties are full of growing and stable employers like North American Hoganas (hundreds of employees in the region), JWF Industries (more than 460 employees), GAPVAX and Gap Environmental and Pollutions Control (220 employees) and many, many others. An entrepreneurial ecosystem is building momentum where the talent, opportunity, ideas, funding and support align to create the capacity for growth and new venture creation. A potential for combining existing and new companies with the talent and output of the higher education in this region provides a path to follow Pittsburgh’s lead in its renaissance. There is a capacity to not only grow existing staple businesses, but to build new ones in the unique entrepreneurial ecosystem of the Cambria County region, with a connectivity to Pittsburgh capable of impacting the world.
There are great successes within the Johnstown region startup community that are getting attention and building momentum! There are even more progressing through the different stages of the Cambria County Entrepreneurial Ecosystem. Here’s a sample of some recent startups with movement:
• Wrist support device for computer users
• Founded by Dave Luciew
• Raised over $260k on IndieGogo campaign
A wrist support technology, called Wristocat, developed by Dave Luciew, raised $360,000 on Indiegogo and is launching across the country.
Revolutionary Electronic Design
• Maker of boutique liquid distribution
hardware/software for e-cig industry
• Founded by Josh Brown and Tom Young
• Appeared on Shark Tank and several
rounds of funding
Revolutionary Electronic Design (RED) was featured on Dragon’s Den (Canada’s Shark Tank) in September and received one of the highest offers ever on the show! RED, maker of the Juicy Box technology (www.juicybox.co), develops hardware and software for boutique e-cigarette liquid distribution through a customer co-creation model for vape shops and the convenience store market. Many more will be ready on April 30th at the Startup Alleghenies event at 7 Springs Mountain resort.
This region is in the early stages of the next phase of evolution of the Cambria County regional ecosystem. We are lucky to be close to Pittsburgh geographically. There is a great opportunity to follow the models of success allowing Pittsburgh to evolve and grow and apply them in a “right-sized” way to the regional ecosystem outside of Pittsburgh.
There are many things going on here that are a start to building an interconnected ecosystem with Pittsburgh. Come and join us at one of them as a guest, or even as a speaker, to spread your knowledge and expertise into the western PA entrepreneurial ecosystem and help build a more vibrant future for all! We love visiting events in Pittsburgh and would love to welcome you at one of our events soon!
Bridge to Pittsburgh
Sponsored by a Department of Defense grant to Cambria County
Aims to develop opportunities that benefit both communities through enhanced collaboration
Contact: Mike Artim, Intrignia Incorporated,
Regional (multi-county) capacity building effort focused on developing the next-generation entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region
Host of Right Here, Right Now
Entrepreneur Summit — April 30, 2018
Monthly meetups of over 320 members trying to help each other start or grow their business
Quarterly meetups of nearly 100 people sharing knowledge about technology
Pitt Johnstown Idea Lab
Area for entrepreneurship classes and events
Annual PiTTchFest Event
Event that helps early stage companies pitch and find funding
Laurel Highlands Leadership Meetup
Monthly meetups of over 125 members to help each other grow themselves and their teams as leaders
Project Management Meetup
Johnstown Satellite of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Project Management Institute meetups dedicated to building expertise in project management skills