• A Few Days ‘Closer’ To Thrival Innovation + Music Festival ft. The Chainsmokers

    One week from today – Thrival’s 2-day music festival begins, capping off 3 days of innovation at Nova Place. What better way to end a week of amazing programming than with a concert featuring Billboard’s No. 1 on the Hot 100 List? We think the Thrill Mill team nailed it with the festival lineup this year, and we’re looking forward to checking out the music venue at Carrie Furnaces to hear The Chainsmokers, Chvrches, Thievery Corporation, Ty Dolla $ign, Daya + more play live!

    But before attending next week’s programming and singing along to “Closer,” we have one more interview to share with you featuring the one-and-only Dan Law, Executive Producer of Thrival Festival who’s dedicated his time to make sure this Thrival 2016 is the best one yet. Check out his interview below and see how his job has evolved over the years.

    Q: What do you want an outside party, someone who’s never heard of Thrill Mill and its initiatives, to know about Thrival?

    A: The first thing — right off the bat — is that Pittsburgh is on the comeback, and Thrival is a great time to engage with all of the people, initiatives, startups, and new ideas that are making our city a hub for 21st century ingenuity and innovation. And our weekend concert is going to AWESOME. Can’t miss it.

    Q: What do you want attendees (startups/innovators/creators) to get out of Thrival?

    A: There are so many outcomes we’d like to see, but I’ll narrow it down to a few. One, we want our attendees to discover and explore new concepts and ideas — and learn. Thrival is just as much a free education as it is a fun festival experience. Our innovation programming is almost entirely free of charge and open to the public. Two, we want to foster connectivity amongst a variety of attendees across industries and specialties. Folks should leave Thrival with a better sense of community, both locally and nationally, and be able to leverage Thrival connections for their both now and in the future. Three, attendees should be inspired by the concept of creative reuse. The city is transforming in an inspiring way, and the festival’s host sites are great examples of this evolution.

    Q: Why Pittsburgh? What is it about Pittsburgh that adds to Thrival’s successes?

    A: Pittsburgh is a special place. There’s no doubt about it. I’m not a native Pittsburgher, but it’s now my adopted home. I think “timing” is a key component for Thrival’s success. Pittsburgh is a living, breathing case study of how to compete in a new economy and marketplace. It’s a special time to be in the ‘Burgh, and a lot of smart, driven people are adding to the dynamics of a city that has very much reinvented itself over the past few decades. We’ve been lucky enough to harness all of this energy and give people a platform to engage with one another and with all of the cool things happening around here and around the country.

    Q: How will 2016 differ from previous years?

    A: Last year we grew very quickly and dramatically. It was a scenario in which we were concerned about whether we had the resources (both human and financial) to hold onto something that was scaling at such a fast pace. But we were able to handle it (thankfully)! This year, we’ve had more of a runway, multiple years of experience under our belts, and a community of innovators that have helped us craft and design this year’s festival. Specifically, we’re “right sizing” — which is just a fancy way of saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew.” We’ve decided to invest in three, full days of innovation, and instead of jumping out of the gates and expanding the outdoor concert to more days, we decided to keep it at two. Five days is enough to manage!

    In addition, we’re looking at Thrival as storytelling platform this year. With our themes being “Lost & Found,” “AuthentiCity,” and “The Ripple Effect,” we’re looking the broader narrative of resurgence, and not just focusing on specific industries. There’s something for everyone each day.

    Q: How are you different from your first Thrival Festival?

    A: To begin with, I’m no longer covered in beer from tapping kegs and running our bar operations. I’m also not running back and forth between box office operations and VIP tent hospitality, all trying to keep it working. I could be best categorized as a “super volunteer” during Thrival’s first year — which we planned in about three weeks on a shoestring budget. But I came back the next year as the full-time producer, and we’re here now! So a lot has changed, but a lot has still stayed the same. I’m still trying to figure out and solve problems!

    Q: Why Nova Place? What are you looking forward to the most?

    A: We were first attracted to Nova Place because it’s a space in which you can be really creative. I saw it as a blank slate and starting asking questions like “How could we turn thousands of square feet of a former shopping mall into an alternate universe with dozens and dozens of startups, activities, exhibits, and thoughts talks?” Moreover, the work the Faros team put into Alloy 26 helped make the choice a no brainer. We have a built-in amphitheater, a great environment, and we can feature Pittsburgh’s largest co-working space to a national audience. It’s very exciting.

    Q: Which keynote speaker, talker, exhibit, company is exciting you right now?

    A: I say this a lot, and it’s the safe answer, but I’m excited about everything. But I think there are few really cool features that people should mark down. Dancakes and their world famous pancake art will be here on Thursday, September 22. Our slate of keynotes featuring Dr. Bennet Omalu (subject of the film Concussion), Pulitzer Prize-winner Eugene Robinson, America Now! host Meghan McCain, and inventor wunderkind Ann Makosinski are going to blow people’s minds. They’re each amazing individuals in their own right, and having them come to Pittsburgh over the course of three days is fantastic. Additionally, we have the inventor of the hashtag, a talk on sports analytics with the Steelers, Penguins, and Arsenal FC (London), as well as host of other programming that is unique and compelling.