The Top 5 Questions Emerging Franchisors Should Be Asking Themselves If They Want to Boost Sales

Welcome to BlastPoint’s IFA 2019 Roundtable Roundup – a 5-Part Series!

Startup franchises have a lot to get excited about. From groundbreaking healthcare and fitness services to alternative child enrichment programs to modernized pet care facilities, emerging franchise brands are testing long-established boundaries, changing the way people think about products and services across all aspects of their everyday lives, and generating revenue that’s far exceeding projections.

But on BlastPoint’s recent trip to Las Vegas for the International Franchise Association’s annual convention, we huddled with national and international experts to make sure we have a crystal-clear picture of what, exactly, our franchise customers are grappling within today’s market.

We’re happy to announce there’s good news. Tamra Kennedy, multi-unit franchise owner of Taco John’s, explains: “I expect that we will see more emerging franchisors in 2019 than ever before. With footsteps to follow and access to capital, startups should surge.”

But we also picked up a few friendly words of warning from the experts about what franchisors can expect in the year to come. Because the labor market is generally strong across the U.S., recruiting and retaining qualified talent will persist as critical hurdles. Keeping pace with technology, automating services that used to be delivered by humans, and adjusting to regulatory shifts such as tariffs and rising minimum wage costs will also remain at the forefront of franchisor concerns.

Lucky for emerging brands, like most startup entrepreneurs worth their salt, they’re inherently intuitive, responsive, nimble, and able to pivot swiftly when it comes to shifting consumer trends. And because startup franchises aren’t bogged down by traditional business philosophies, they come to the table willing to think outside the box.

Nevertheless, or perhaps because of their nontraditional approach, a lot of critical questions arose at our IFA Roundtable discussions in Vegas around what to do to boost early sales, which made for some good-natured yet fiery debate.

We homed in on the top five questions emerging franchisors were asking, and being asked, at the convention, and took a deep dive into these big issues to get solid answers. We think this roundup will serve as a guide to help our emerging franchise partners, and others, along the track to success.

Behold: The Top 5 Questions Emerging Franchisors Should be Asking Themselves (If They Want to Boost Sales!):

  1.     Is My Non-Consumer Website Crushing It?
  2.     Am I Making the Most of Customer Referrals?
  3.     Am I Using Item 19 to its Fullest Advantage?
  4.     Am I Adequately Investing in PR?
  5.     Does My Brand Exude a Personal Touch that will Convert Prospects into Sales?

Ready for the answers? Let’s get started!

Smart Power: Driving Technology Toward a Brighter Future

At BlastPoint, we believe that amazing things happen when smart people get together in a room and share their ideas. That’s how the best inventions are born, after all, and that’s why we’re pleased as punch to announce that we’ve joined forces with the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC) and the Smart Energy Power Alliance (SEPA)—smart people sharing smart ideas for a brighter future.

As new members of these progressive organizations that are leading the charge to modernize power, we look forward to collaborating with global leaders and driving technology to meet the energy needs of consumers across the country.

We’re especially honored—and very excited—for the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and get to work on SECC’s research committee on customer analytics, because bringing data about people and places to life is what the BlastPoint team does best.

We’ll keep you posted as this groundbreaking work progresses!    

SECC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to learn the wants and needs of energy consumers in North America, encourages the collaborative sharing of best practices in consumer engagement among industry stakeholders, and educates the public about the benefits of smart energy and energy technology.

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to working with electric power stakeholders through the most pressing issues affecting the growth and utilization of smart energy.

IFA 2019 Top Tech Trends Share Common Goal: Maximize Customer Convenience

The International Franchise Association’s 2019 Conference in Las Vegas (Feb. 24-27) delivered four invigorating days of education, motivation, and celebration. We flew out of Pittsburgh on a Saturday, eager to reconnect with our franchise partners from around the country who’ve been putting data analytics to work using BlastPoint’s site selection and employee lead generation tools, among others.

Amidst all the networking, inspirational keynotes, expert-led roundtables, and much-needed sunshine, we were floored to hear the many ways franchisors are leveraging technology to shape everything from financial reporting to customer service to employee training.

The consumer landscape is changing—and fast. A new generation of potential customers longs for instantaneous convenience when it comes to exploring and purchasing products and services. In order for franchise businesses to stay revenue-positive over the next five to ten years, they have no choice but to evolve with these consumer demands.

How will they do it? By embracing tech. Below are the Top Tech Trends we took away from IFA 2019:

Utilize Data or Get Left Behind

According to David Long, CEO of Orangetheory Fitness, who spoke on Sunday during the Emerging Franchisor Bootcamp, one of the most important things emerging franchises need to do to be successful is to use data to make decisions like:

  • Where should I locate my next store?
  • How big should it be?
  • Where will I find qualified employees to support my business?
  • What kind of person is my target customer?

David Long should know. Orangetheory saw explosive growth since its 2010 launch. Beyond the wireless, wearable heart monitor devices that members use to get real-time data about their workouts, Orangetheory uses a Business Intelligence (BI) portal that delivers instantaneous reports about customer usage and attendance. This means employees can reach out to someone who hasn’t shown up for class in a while, find out why, and address their needs head-on. One-on-one relationships between franchisees and their customers—made possible because of data—remain strong, so customer retention rates remain high and profits continue to rise.

With companies like BlastPoint that aggregate big data in this way, franchisors are building business infrastructures that are guaranteed to work reliably and smoothly for their franchisees, long before build-out is even considered.  

Let Artificial Intelligence Do The Heavy Lifting  

“AI is revolutionizing franchising,” says Domino’s SVP and Chief Digital Officer, Dennis Maloney, who shifted his thinking about the pizza company several years ago. Now Domino’s considers itself an e-commerce company that delivers an experience, not just a pizza.

Guided by the brand’s new image, Domino’s has enjoyed widespread success leveraging artificial intelligence to make features like their zero-click ordering app and hotspot delivery service available to improve that customer experience.

Chatbot technology, ever improving, has enhanced a variety of consumer transaction platforms, making voice-automated interaction quick and convenient. Food ordering, delivery trackers, automatic payments, targeted email marketing, data storage and even data security are being automated by AI and predictive analytics, creating personalized, relevant transactions consumers find useful. Autonomous vehicle delivery is being tested in certain markets, and it’s sure to find its way into the mainstream in the next few years.

Augmented Reality & Gamification Will Strengthen the Workforce

If you’ve ever tested out a new hairstyle using a selfie and an iPhone app before actually going to the salon to get the cut, you’ve interacted with AR. Facial recognition technology is being used by companies such as L’oréal to let customers try on makeup virtually. Sherwin Williams Color Tools let users try paint colors digitally, too, before buying, based off of photos of their homes.

But, explains Amar Dhaliwal, Chief Operating Officer of Atheer, enterprises that span the automotive, utility, manufacturing and even insurance industries are piloting AR technologies to improve employee effectiveness and, thereby, consumer safety.

Embracing AR is expected to help franchisors create interactive training videos for new franchisees and front-line employees, giving them real-life scenarios they can learn to solve—safely and efficienty—in real-time, which will no doubt spill over into improving customer convenience.

Training programs inspired by video games, says Sam Caucci, Founder & CEO, 1HUDDLE, will keep Millennials and Gen Z employees “fired up” about coming to work, because they’ll think creatively about their jobs “through the lens of a game.”

1HUDDLE is turning onboarding from paper-heavy studying manuals to 10-level interactive games, inspiring new hires to reach the next level, compete with others, and conquer goals. As any business leader knows, engaged employees drive higher profits.

“What all this technology allows franchisors of all sizes to achieve,” says Rogelio Martinez, CFE, CEO of Fast Cloud Consulting on IFA.org, “is the ability to manage global operations from anywhere, around the clock.”

We look forward to guiding our franchise partners as they decide which tools to use on their journeys through this exciting technology revolution.

Lessons in Power: Top 5 Takeaways from DistribuTECH 2019

We at BlastPoint are still buzzing after an awe-inspiring week in New Orleans at the energy industry’s leading annual conference, DistribuTECH 2019.

Because we’re an analytics company that’s committed to making big data available to everyone, we’re proud to serve the power sector in a unique way—helping utilities provide better customer service using fresh, instant insights. And yet, we know there’s always more to learn.

Since we continuously strive to deepen our understanding of the energy industry in order to meet our clients’ needs, we knew DistribuTECH would be the place to go. From the moment we touched down on Louisiana soil, we dove headlong into All Things Energy, learning everything we could from the biggest influencers in the industry while sharing what we know about leveraging data to benefit the greater good.

Keynotes and workshops on everything from microgrids and clean energy to cybersecurity and vegetation management dazzled us all four days (Feb. 4-7). Networking opportunities with representatives of the biggest electric, gas and telecomm companies took place over every delicious meal in the vast, sunlit halls of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

We spent time in the Knowledge Hubs — specialized zones dedicated to in-depth exploration of niche power grid issues, and explored the Initiate! floor, which showcased new energy startups and student innovation. There were offsite field trips to solar farms and over 500 exhibitors offering more leading-edge products and services than we could possibly digest.

Over the course of our visit, we made connections that opened up opportunities, like an exciting partnership with our new friends at SECC, the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, with whom we’ll participate in a research program studying customer segmentation later this year.

We’re invigorated by the people we met and the projects we’ll be tackling. But we also took away valuable lessons about the utility sector that will shape the way we think about our business and how we connect with our customers going forward.

Below are the five greatest lessons we learned at DistribuTECH 2019:  

1. Establishing and maintaining customer trust continues to top utility companies’ list of priorities.

Every energy provider wants to leverage the powerful benefits of data. Many are already using it to enhance the customer experience and optimize service delivery. But as our society throttles ever more deeply into the global information revolution, we all must reckon with one, unavoidable reality: critical, and often personal, pieces of data about customers are already circulating in the ether.

That data is available to companies to use to their advantage, but it’s up to those companies to guard and protect people’s private information. If they don’t do so responsibly, they’ll lose customer trust. At BlastPoint, we believe the key to maintaining customer trust will be through responsible information stewardship, and we can help companies establish protocols to achieve that.

 

 

2. Analytics is the underlying force driving operational & financial outcomes.

Utility companies are seeing incredible growth opportunities open up—and they’re experiencing quantifiable results—when they utilize data to make strategic and budgetary decisions.

But there is so much data being generated. Overwhelm and confusion seem to set in at the point where companies try to figure out what to do with it all. Which means that analytics support teams like ours at BlastPoint are fulfilling a growing need. The more data that’s available, the more companies will want to access it; and the more companies access it, the more they will need to organize and understand it.

3. Analytics make it possible for companies to understand their customers—and therefore their industry—as dynamic and continuously evolving.

People’s lives are constantly changing, which means the customer journey is constantly changing. Utility providers can aim to regularly augment their data in order to keep up with those ever-developing customer stories. That will allow them to, more easily and effectively, meet shifting industry and public demands. For those of us in the data aggregation business, that means we have a responsibility to our utility partners to foster long-term relationships that are built on trust.

4. There is a huge potential for utilities to grow their product and service offerings.

Energy efficiency, demand response and customer convenience are easier to improve upon and spread to new customers when companies use data analytics strategically. Targeted marketing through customer segmentation is one-way proper data usage makes that possible. Responsive engagement is another.

But the sky is truly the limit; once utilities see the value in analytics, they understand its potential. As the market shifts, companies can generate new ways of using data to keep up with developing trends.  

5. Bad data is just a fact of life. That doesn’t mean you have to live with it.

Utility companies often possess quite a bit of data. Unfortunately, they apply it narrowly and in specific situations. Take the road crews who fix power outages at specific street corners, for example. Perhaps companies don’t realize they could use the same geographic data across departments (for Marketing and Sales, e.g.) to enrich the level of personal service they could be offering.

Utilities recognize the disconnect between operations data and marketing teams. What they haven’t taken advantage of yet is the power they wield that would allow them to fine-tune and augment the data they already have—even if it’s messy, and even if there are glaring gaps in the information. They can update and organize it using sophisticated analytics culled from various public sources, through the support and guidance of companies like ours. And when they do, new possibilities for projects and new sources of revenue reveal themselves.

We exist to position utilities so they can quickly embrace and respond to these new opportunities as soon as they arise. And we’re excited to be a part of this moment in history as the zeitgeist in the energy industry takes hold, guiding utility teams as they converge with data analytics.

We look forward to deepening the connections we made at DTECH, collaborating with new friends from around the globe, and putting the lessons we learned to work over the course of the coming year.

The # 1 Problem Facing the Energy Industry…And How BlastPoint Is Solving It

Carbon emissions, energy efficiency and grid reliability are just a few of the major issues facing the energy industry today. What’s more puzzling and challenging for utility providers, however, are the elusive, human customers lurking behind them all.

Humans can be a finicky bunch.

Gauging what utility customers think about power resources, anticipating the actions they will—or won’t—take in response to those attitudes, predicting the best way to interact with them meaningfully, and keeping customers satisfied, and therefore loyal, continue to persist among the top challenges facing energy providers today.  

As advancements in technology make alternative power sources more widely available, competition demands that utility companies adjust by developing fail-proof customer satisfaction strategies. As business author and management guru Michael LeBoeuf famously says, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”

But with the homeowners and business leaders of today more tech savvy than any previous generation, and with more choices available to them than ever before, getting—and keeping—their attention requires precise messaging with guaranteed delivery.   

So, how can utility companies reach and engage their customers to keep them satisfied and loyal? As every marketer knows, the journey begins with knowing your audience.

Unfortunately, power companies often know very little about the people they serve, and that limits their ability to interact meaningfully with them. For too many customers, communicating with their utility company comes only when there’s a problem with their service or a complaint to be lodged.

Power companies should engage first, and positively. But how? Certainly, getting the word out about a power outage, boil notice or service interruption is commonplace, and utilities have no problem alerting the public through radio and TV announcements when these emergency issues arise.

But informing customers about service upgrades, insurance programs, power-savings plans, or available rebates remains somewhat elusive. Yet it’s these kinds of supplemental programs and services, which fall outside of the regulated rates utilities are allowed to charge by law, that allow them to grow revenue.

To spread the word about profit-increasing programs, sales and marketing teams could and should design beautiful web pages with snappy headlines and great graphics that outline all the benefits of special programs. But it’s difficult to get customers to spend any time perusing those pages, regardless of their content.

“Even for traditional energy-efficiency programs that have been around for decades,” says K.C. Boyce of Marketstrategies.com,fewer than two-thirds (61%) of customers say they’re aware of their utility’s offerings.”

It’s no wonder. According to Greentechmedia.com, the average person spends as little as eight minutes per year interacting with their utility company’s website. People want to pay their bills and get on with their lives.

Utility marketers know this, but they’re often forced to resort to snail-mail inserts that get sent out with monthly bills to reach their customers. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution, akin to shooting arrows into the dark, that’s both expensive and unreliable.

Unless, of course, companies know who, exactly, they’re targeting. Yet energy providers typically have access to very limited customer information, like names, addresses and usage data.

What’s actually available, however, with the help of data companies that use analytics and digital assets, is so much more. Data that’s powered by geographic insights, culled from Census information and rich online histories, now make it possible for utility companies to learn more than they ever thought possible about the people they serve.

BlastPoint’s user-friendly platform reveals real-time insights that give utility companies “A-ha moments” about their customers and their not-yet customers, making it clear how best to reach them. Using heat maps, scoring algorithms, segmentation, ranking and filtering techniques, the shroud of secrecy between companies and customers has finally been lifted.

Armed with this new information, utility companies are determining which type of customer will respond better to a Facebook ad versus direct mail. They’re targeting environmentally-conscious customers with green messaging, and budget-conscious customers with cost-savings messaging.

“In the near future,” writes Jeff Hamel, Director of Global Energy and Enterprise Partnerships at Google, on Utilitydive.com, “utilities will be able to provide a richer, more personalized energy management experience to consumers—from alerts about storms and outages to reminders to pay a bill and easy ways to further save energy—to offer a more holistic view of home energy use. This is the level of transparency and engagement consumers are craving.”

Energy providers and their marketing teams don’t need to wait for the future. The ability to understand more about their customers already exists. The time to start building tactical strategies that reach them effectively, keep them engaged and prompt them to adopt revenue-building products and services is now.

DistribuTECH 2019

We’re escaping the Polar Vortex in Pittsburgh! Can’t wait to time travel to spring in NOLA for DistribuTECH 2019! 

DistribuTECH is the utility industry’s leading smart grid conference and exposition, covering automation and control systems, energy efficiency, demand response, renewable energy integration, advanced metering, T&D system operation and reliability, power delivery equipment and water utility technology.The 11-track summit brings industry thought-leaders from all over the world opportunities to network, share knowledge and problem solve with worldwide utilities and product and service providers.

Shifting Past Roadblocks in a Data-Driven World

SHIFTING PAST ROADBLOCKS IN A DATA-DRIVEN WORLD

The BlastPoint team spends a lot of time sitting with organizations discussing what their location intelligence needs are. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job because I love helping people solve problems. Sometimes the organizations we work with are big. But most of our customers are small to medium-sized business (SMBs) and nonprofits – whether it’s retail franchisors churning their great local business into a regional or national organization, food security advocates searching for residents most vulnerable to hunger, or small university administrators in pursuit of better serving their students and community. I love offering tools that work for these seemingly disparate groups. It’s seriously gratifying.

Last week we got to travel out of the office for a meeting in New Kensington, a small rust-belt city where community development leaders and university administrators are ambitiously working together to rebuild a local and regional economy that has been in decline for several generations. Any drive through Western Pennsylvania is an experience in rapturous landscape wrapped around the bones of abandoned infrastructure. In this case, the destination was a room full of brilliant and generously hearted people searching out a path forward for economically disenfranchised residents of their idyllic little Allegheny Valley city.

This wasn’t the first meeting we’ve had in a room full of people with huge ambition and even bigger heart. And in every meeting, there is a common theme – people have all the information they need to create a plan for success. They know we are in the midst of a data revolution. Across every industry – nonprofit and for-profit alike – there is the awareness that gut-driven decisions can’t compete with data-driven decision making. When it comes to site selection, economic development, technological innovation, targeted marketing, strategic business development, structuring social support services, everyone already knows: The information is there to make smarter decisions. If it’s not used, a crucial opportunity is being missed – a potential death knell for small organizations.

So why do our customers, who have the will, the imagination, the commitment, and the niche expertise, not implement data-driven decisions? Well, for two reasons:

1) Time: At this particular meeting one stakeholder raved about how much useful information the American Community Survey gives her access to but then lamented, “…you crack it open and then what? We don’t have time to parse through it, even if it is freely available.”

Data is a process. Deciding what questions to ask of the data takes time. Analyzing data takes time. Even outsourcing data to consultants takes time – days, weeks, oftentimes months – before results can even begin to be seen.

2) Money: Another stakeholder in this meeting disclosed that they were currently waiting on the results of a $250,000+ contract with a consultant from another city to move forward with site selection for one of their current projects. He didn’t expect to see the results of that expenditure for another three months.

Most SMBs and non-profits don’t have that kind of money and they certainly don’t have that kind of time. The margins are small when an organization is small and the work is time-sensitive.

Here in the rust-belt, we know what it means to be left behind as an economy changes. Boom time for the steel industry was so long ago that the people who experienced it are long past their working years. But here in the rust-belt something really fascinating is happening… the economy is changing again. And this time, with a clear-eyed vision about what happens when we don’t participate, communities are searching out ways to become a part of that change.

BlastPoint exists because we don’t think time or money should be the roadblock anymore.

We think that the data revolution can be for everyone and we think the data revolution can be good to everyone.

We think that the data revolution can include every organization that wants to participate.

It’s a joy to be a part of organizations transforming themselves, transforming their work. Bringing real, useful, effective solutions to people is fun. When we sit down to meet with people coming from organizations with very different missions and very different kinds of work all at the same table together, we show them a SaaS platform for translating big data into usable, readable, comprehensible knowledge in real time. Eyebrows raise. Shoulders drop. We’ve removed the roadblocks. And ideas about all of the problems that BlastPoint might help them solve start flowing.

Pitchwerks Interviews Tomer Borenstein!

Scot MacTaggart from Pitchwerks Podcast spent some time with Tomer talking about the ins and outs of BlastPoint. Aside from trying to learn how to properly say Tomer’s last name, the duo discussed how BlastPoint’s user-friendly geospatial data has been helping economic development agencies, public utilities, and both franchisors and franchisees – among others – to be able to study their markets and more carefully plan ways in which to better serve them. Tomer and Scot also discussed the process BlastPoint followed in building its price schedule – an important question startups want to know

Open Letter to GeekWire

This is an open letter to the people at GeekWire (Hi!). We heard about your contest to find a new headquarters and we are excited to see that Pittsburgh is a finalist. We’re BlastPoint, a Pittsburgh-based startup and we specialize in helping regular people use maps to find insights about locations. We just want to say that you should definitely choose Pittsburgh! It’s a great place for tech and a really special place to live. But don’t just take our word for it. We have data to back up why you should choose Pittsburgh over Raleigh (nah), Cincinnati (uh-uh), or Denver (our mountains are less pointy).

We would also like to say thanks to Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science for submitting a proposal on behalf of Pittsburgh. [Alumni high-five!]

To help you make the best data-driven decision you can make, we used our software to look at comparative data for Pittsburgh and our competitive cities. Borrowing some of the techniques we used to evaluate locations for Amazon’s HQ2, we can see that Pittsburgh has the edge in several categories based on our data for 30-minute drive times from each city’s center. Here’s what we found:

FOOD
Fuel for February: Shivering at the idea of coming here in winter? Fear not, GeekWire peeps, we are home to Primanti Bros. and Fat Head’s Saloon. Their sandwiches and grub will keep you warm for the month of February and beyond – guaranteed. We also have other eclectic dining experiences, such as Superior Motors, a former Chevy dealership turned into a fine-tuned restaurant in the city borough of Braddock, one of the remaining areas in Pittsburgh where an active steel mill still exists. Bon Appetit also rated our very own Morcilla one of the top 10 new restaurants in America. If eating animals isn’t your thing, we have vegetarian and vegan restaurants in most neighborhoods (we recommend B52 in Lawrenceville). Pittsburgh also has the most bars per capita in the entire United States which our boozy, busy SouthSide neighborhood can attest.

Pittsburgh beats both Cincinnati and Raleigh in number of bars and restaurants. Denver is ahead, but we bet our food tastes better anyway.


TRANSPORTATION
Cars Need Not Apply: Pittsburgh has a good public transportation system with its busway and burgeoning cycling community. Our neighborhoods are highly walkable, bikable, and connected by short bus rides. And free bus rides, too, in the Free T Zone. If you’re feeling particularly daring and energetic to explore Pittsburgh’s winter topography, buy some crampons and traverse portions of our neighborhoods using the Steps of Pittsburgh, over 700 sets of city-owned steps, some of which are actual city streets!

For their commute, Pittsburghers use the bus and walk far more than Cincinnati, Denver, and Raleigh. They also own fewer cars, at 14.8% of households not having a vehicle.


HOUSING
An American Dream: Pittsburgh is one of the handful of cities in the United States where the American Dream isn’t a contradiction. With its social mobility and affordable housing prices, Pittsburgh is one of the few cities in the U.S. where you can afford to buy a house for under $1000 a month. We can hear you crunching numbers now, thinking about all the money you can save or spend on that new Tesla or Kaiser Encore earbuds.

Living in Pittsburgh is cheap and that’s amazing. That is reflected by the fact that income and housing prices in Pittsburgh are in sync with one another, while houses in Denver and Raleigh are more pricey.


COMMUNITY & CULTURE
From Rust to Shine: Pittsburgh is one of the only Rust Belt cities to be able to revive itself from a collapsed industrial empire to a beacon for tech entrepreneurs and giants: Apple, Uber, Facebook, Google and Amazon, to name a few. This innovative embrace of modern enterprise – with the helping hand of its top-notch universities – has made the Steel City a media darling for food, culture, and affordability in the past decade. Pittsburgh’s tech ecosystem is robust and diverse with connections spanning throughout city. Bakery Square in East Liberty is ground zero for Google, University of Pittsburgh’s Human Engineering Research Laboratories, and UPMC Enterprises. Lawrenceville is where CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) resides along with some of the fastest-growing robotics startups in the country. Both these neighborhoods were ranked #1 by both Lonely Planet and Money magazine as the coolest neighborhoods in the nation. Think of what that industrial history meets tech and healthcare prowess does to a city – your Pittsburgh neighbors and future friends know the value of good work and a cold beer but will check in on you too when flu season hits. Pittsburghers are known for our friendly and welcoming nature – even Travel+Leisure agrees and puts us at #7!

Educational attainment levels in Pittsburgh are second only to those in Raleigh, but not by much. UPMC and University of Pittsburgh are the drivers of our large healthcare employment sector, bringing the best and brightest to our research labs where the life sciences and technology meet.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about summer. As gray as February may be in Pittsburgh, our amazing mild summers more than make up for it. Don’t think you’ll be here for the summer? We’ll see. Our world-renowned arts festival lasts three weeks and brings national and international artists to the stage every night. For free. North and South Parks each have free live music each weekend. Our AAA public radio station WYEP is a monumental resource for new and live music and they, too, bring a music festival in June – also free!  And if there isn’t a baseball game with fireworks over the rivers on night, there is some kind of bridge festival going on. We have 446 of them, after all.   

For the sports fans among you, Pittsburgh is home to three beloved professional sports teams (we bet you know one of them), a soccer club, and three nationally ranked college basketball and football programs. Best of all, tickets are still affordable.  

So we’ll be straight with you. You come to Pittsburgh and you dig into life here, and Pittsburgh’s gonna give back to you. Know how we know? Because a lot of us came back. We left for school and jobs on the East or West Coast…and we came back. We came back to greenspace, affordable houses with backyards, dive bars next to four star restaurants, good schools, reasonable commutes, and good neighbors. But if you come, we’re going to expect you to be a good neighbor too – just like our most famous alum Mr. Fred Rogers asked of us from the time we were little. It’s a beautiful day in our Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Won’t you be our neighbor?

BlastPoint Founders Speak at GPNP Summit

BlastPoint founders Alison Alvarez and Tomer Borenstein recently spoke at the Greater Pittsburgh Non-Profit Partnership (GPNP) Summit on October 5 with their talk entitled, Big Data: Uses in Other Fields, Application in Nonprofit. Alison and Tomer explored how large companies think about big data and how non-profits can translate these ideas into the purpose and mission of their operational and policy development – without the price tag of hiring experts or expensive analytic tools. The session covered concepts like indexing, segmentation, and forecasting, and showed how real examples from the world of marketing and analytics are within reach of anyone with the right tools. One of these tools, BlastPoint, produces a data visualization that can be used for presentations and proposals quickly – in a matter of minutes – saving hours of time and stress. Also included in the talk was an introduction to sources of free data and, for the technically savvy, access to a free iPython notebook.