So what is Thrival?
Thrival is an initiative of Thrill Mill, Inc. — a Pittsburgh-based independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to serving early stage entrepreneurs — the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival is an annual event featuring multiple days of immersive, innovation-focused programming capped by a two-day outdoor live music experience.
What do you get when you combine week of innovation-focused programs — featuring thought leaders, cutting edge technology, new ideas, and forward thinking approaches to 21st century challenges...punctuated by a weekend concert featuring some of the best emerging national music acts and top-tier headliners?
Well - you get Thrival. As an initiative of Thrill Mill, Inc. — a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that serves as an incubator and accelerator for early stage entrepreneurs — Thrival celebrated its “proof of concept” in 2013, welcoming 2,000 attendees for a day of innovation talks, entrepreneur pitches, and an evening concert featuring RJD2, De La Soul, Frightened Rabbit, and Formula 412. The goal: to shine a light on the new ideas and entrepreneurs that are fueling Pittsburgh’s 21st century economic resurgence.
In 2014, we grew. The concert welcomed 15 national and local recording artists, headlined by Moby and Portugal. The Man. Some 15 innovation events — including thought talks, a $25,000 pitch competition, workshops, panel discussions, and technology symposiums — galvanized over 7,000 people under the Thrival banner, and showcased the top thought leaders in the region who are ushering an era of new ideas and renewed energy.
In 2015, we grew even larger: 40 musical performances. 36 innovation events in six different neighborhoods, and a city-wide innovation “campus” welcoming the world to Pittsburgh. We also move concert locations to Pittsburgh's Hazelwood neighborhood — converting 10 acres of former industrial brownfield into a live music experience for 10,000 people.
This year, we're striving to be even better. We're refining our innovation platform, experimenting with a new and experimental live music blend, and exploring the most cutting-edge ideas, technologies, and stories that are defining our modern society.
As an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Thrill Mill created the Thrival Innovation + Music Festival with two goals in mind. First, Thrival serves as a revenue driver as a means for the organization to support local entrepreneurs with a portfolio of resources to grow their ideas — free of charge. All proceeds from the festival go to support Thrill Mill and its mission. The second (and equally important) feature of Thrival is the movement to introduce Pittsburgh as the world leader in post-industrial economic development.
The energy in Pittsburgh is magnetic. Our city is back. The city is now driven by a knowledge economy — a premier destination for young leaders, professionals, artists, makers, and entrepreneurs looking toward the next frontier. They’ve found it in Western Pennsylvania.
It has been a long time coming. In the 1980’s, the steel and heavy manufacturing industry — an economic pillar that has long-defined our region — collapsed. Thousands were left jobless. Many left the region. Pittsburgh became synonymous with decline. Yet, a group of leaders from both the public and private sectors set into a motion a multi-generational plan to help the region eventually recover from the shock of massive industrial decline. Over the course of decades, Pittsburgh evolved from a city of iron and steel to a city of medicine, education, banking, energy, technology, and now — entrepreneurs. The transition is barely recognizable to those who left years ago. Pittsburgh is no longer a 20th century cautionary tale. It’s a 21st century American success story.
Critical to this resurgence is the startup ecosystem — led by the city’s incubators and accelerators, as well as the the world-class universities. Within old warehouses and storage facilities have emerged new companies charting new courses, finding solutions in an increasingly competitive economy, and restoring the urban core of a city many thought would never recover.
Times have changed. The blueprint is drafted. Come listen and learn. Share your stories. Engage with others. Build the next best idea. Lead. Disrupt. Move forward. Thrival is the platform to create, innovate, and grow. See you in September.