18 JUST BEING ABLE TO SAY WE WONthe UpPrize has been tremendous — really validating. I think it’s helped us sell our product. We set what we thought was a pretty ambitious sales goal of 10 customers by May 24. We ended up getting 11. UpPrize has opened us to people who might not have talked to us before. We’re getting lots of feedback and ideas and it’s been great. Even if we hadn’t won the money, that validation has been a really big boost all on its own. We are finalizing our next release. We have a minimally viable product out there, but we want to add a lot more features and make this as elegant as possible. To that end, The Forbes Funds and BlastPoint will partner to work with a group of 10 to 12 nonprofits to let them “test-drive the tool” and give us input on what works and what needs to be improved. For us to succeed, we need nonprofits guiding us along the way. Another thing we’re working on is building data literacy. I spoke at Pittsburgh TechFest about different ways developers can use geographical data to understand the world around them. We’re building presentations to educate others on the capabilities of data. We estimate that our tool will save nonprofits time and money by offering this information simply and directly. For example, segmentation allows an organization to recognize and market to its target audiences. Once you have that approximation, you can repeat the method for different areas. We work with organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania, such as the Allegheny Conference, Southern Allegheny Planning and Development, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and Bedford County Development. Something will happen in your region and you have the opportunity to shape the story with data. Our tool lets people do that. One of my favorite stories is South Central Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance (PREP) in Harrisburg. President Trump did a talk in Harrisburg to celebrate his first 100 days in office, and PREP got inundated with media requests. People were asking questions about job growth and unemployment in the area. PREP used BlastPoint to pull all the data. A special feature in our new system is Drivetime, which helps companies understand market potential. Most customers will drive to a store 15 minutes or 30 minutes down the road. But what if you don’t know how many potential customers are in your area? Drivetime allows companies to drop a pin on the map and see how many people live within a 30-minute drive from that point as well as how much education they have and how much of their paycheck they have left over after paying rent. We premiered that feature for the Charleston Area Alliance, a really big client for us. The Alliance is a nonprofit whose whole mission is to showcase Charleston, W.Va., as an area that’s great for business. That’s a tough sell, especially in West Virginia, which most people don’t think of as a place to relocate their factory. It’s a scrappy town with huge potential, and I’m hoping our tool will make that apparent. Alison Alvarez AstoldtoAmandaWalz,afreelancewriterbasedinPittsburgh TheUpPrizeSocialInnovationChallenge CharlestonAreaAlliance BLASTPOINT INACTION C O D Y S C H U L E R servesastheEntrepreneur ProjectManager atCharlestonAreaAlliance, a nonprofit community development organization in southwesternWestVirginia that employs 10 people. After discovering BlastPoint at theThree RiversVenture Fair in 2016,Schulerandhisteamsawanopportunityto usethecompany’ssoftwaretorevitalizethecity. “Whatwe’rebattlinginWestVirginiaisthe massmigrationofyoungprofessionalswho aremovingto other statesfor opportunities,” Schuler says. “Companiesthatarelookingto relocatewantto bewheretheworkforceis, and it’sdifficultto attractthemifour talentedyoung peoplearemovingaway. Butifyougetthemto stay andyoushowthatinthedata, youcanstart buildingsomemomentum.WeseeBlastPoint potentially helpinginthatway.” TheAlliancehasusedBlastPointto gather andvisualizedatato enticecompanieslooking for locationsto buildnewstores, factories andoffices.Thesoftwarehasenabledthemto attractayet-undisclosed, out-of-statecompany to setup shopinCharleston, bringingwithit jobsandeconomicopportunities.