Dale McNutt’s dream to create a campus for entrepreneurs and startups is taking shape Uptown.
StartUptown at the Paramount Pictures Film Exchange (PFEX) is open for co-working. Six companies are in the throes of moving into the 6,400 square feet of space on two floors and a grand public opening is planned for early September.
WebKite has leased the entire second floor for its 22 employees. The startup, founded by Eric Silver, is developing a platform where anyone can turn a collection of items, data or products into a filterable list that’s publishable anywhere a YouTube video is embedded.
The first floor will be leased to individual entrepreneurs and smaller companies through an experimental membership-plus program that offers flexibility to growing companies, says McNutt. Among them are WorkDesq, a startup that helps top-tier freelance talent and employers connect, Imagine Careers, a software and services talent agency for tech and business professionals, Innovesca, a food tech company and In Medias Res, a documentary filmmaking team from Point Park.
“It’s no secret that East Liberty is where everything is happening, but Dale is special,” says Mike Embrescia, founder and CEO of WorkDesq. “He’s nurturing the startup environment, bringing in people who are really serious about creating a serious environment. “
For McNutt, the expansion of StartUptown is the realization of a five-year dream. McNutt created his first co-working space in a remodeled 100-year old building on Fifth Avenue. StartUpTown has been going strong, having helped startups like NoWait get off to a successful start through rent-free space.
The Paramount project expands on SU’s mission by providing additional space to serve the Pittsburgh entrepreneurial community while revitalizing the Uptown neighborhood, says McNutt.
The project came together through a combination of public and private funding, including a $1.2M redevelopment plan with assistance from the URA and site owner Alexander Denmarsh and $250,000 awarded to StartUptown through a Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County CITF Grant.
“We faltered for a couple years pulling together financing and staff but in the end we saved the building. It has been a cooperative endeavor all around,” says McNutt.
A red carpet, Oscar-worthy grand opening party will be held at StartupTown at the Paramount for the public on Oct. 2 beginning at 6:30 p.m.