It’s free. One of the biggest and ostensibly most creative music and arts fests in the country, and still… it’s free. From day one – that’s June 7th this year – and for ten straight days, the Three Rivers Arts Festival will entertain hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the globe. And in case you missed it, it’s free!

This year, stars like India.Arie will be added to the long list of those who performed or presented at Three Rivers. Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Wilco and the Black Keys are in the books alongside Allen Ginsberg, Spalding Gray, Keith Haring and Nam June Paik as those who helped make it the festival it is today. As a matter of fact, #TRAF has been delivering world-class visual and performing art since 1960.

How can Pittsburgh do that? They have a lot of help. Sponsors, such as title sponsor Dollar Bank. Add donations and the government money that goes to Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. But the biggest reason they can keep it free and do such a great job?

Volunteers.

Volunteers are at the heart and soul of almost every great festival. There are parking lots to manage, guest questions to answer, artists to assist and children to entertain. But those are only some of the jobs done – during the event itself. Many, many volunteers are added to the staff throughout the planning year, helping recruit vendors and determine which food truck goes where on the site. With three locations across downtown Pittsburgh, it’s a big task.

People volunteer for a number of reasons – giving back, getting free tickets, camaraderie, experience – you name it. When organizers are looking for volunteers, there’s one kind of person that sticks out: the ones that want to do this year after year. That’s because volunteers are entrusted with a lot of information and having to retrain a new team can be costly.

Worse yet: when data leaves with the person who donated their time. It can take days or weeks to try and recreate the knowledge that departs when the person does. That’s why PS Solutions created an inexpensive system to manage the entirety of what’s happening on the back-end of a festival.

It’s called Chute Festival. And if you are a volunteer, ask the team if they use our system. It can save a lot of headaches and help them operate more efficiently. Because if you care enough to donate your time, you care enough to ensure that the festival survives and remains healthy.

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When startups reach the key milestone of securing Angel or Venture Capital, their new partners are looking both for a series of deliverables but also a great return on their investment. One of the many questions they ask during the pitch process is generally ‘how long before you’ll need another infusion of capital?’ They love it when the response is … “a long time.”

Once that infusion is safely secured, how do smart entrepreneurs make the most of it? STRETCH. Find the best value for the money on every project. And that includes custom developed software.

In the early 2000s, the key to this savings was to off-shore development. Fast and inexpensive services sprung up across Asia and Eastern Europe, putting hundreds of thousands of software engineers to work… outside of the US.

“Americans are just too expensive,” was the cry.



What we learned, however, was that it’s not really American developers that are so untouchably expensive, but the US major cities that pushed up the prices. The developers in rural areas and small cities are actually quite affordable. Plus – they speak your language, understand your culture, and live somewhat near your time zone (if not in your time zone).

The Whole

Entrepreneurs often judge the viability of outsourcing based on hourly rates they are paying. This can be misleading. When you pay for the least expensive person to do the job, you seldom get the best. Then you wind up paying more for senior team members to work through the problems created by the less-experienced.

Here are three other ways that the whole can end up bigger than the sum of its parts (ie: it’s more expensive to offshore than it looks):

The Where

Where you are does make a difference. If your developers are in major cities with high cost of living, you’ll simply spend more than you will when the teams live in places where the cost of living is lower. It’s just logical. And it’s been proven out time and time again on projects we’ve delivered.

But it’s not just the cost of the developer. It’s the cost of your time. That’s why we encourage you to take advantage of our US-based developers, and keep from going:

  • Time Zone Zany: I’ve never met an entrepreneur that wasn’t exhausted. Burning candles at both ends, they manage their business, their product, their employees… they have a hard time managing developers who live 12 hours away.
  • Partner Panicked: I’ve also never met an investor who preferred that the code she just invested in be developed or stored over seas in a distant land, subject to different law and different court system.

    Just because you need to stretch your investment dollars, don’t cheap out on software development. Be responsible. Keep development in the US by working with rural and small city teams. Consider the whole of your investment, and give us a call.

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    Strummer Bob Fields Heads Up Sales in Pittsburgh

    When you’ve been serving the IT industry since 1981, have deep roots in your region and throughout the Midwest, and, to quote Chuck Berry, can play guitar like ringin’ a bell, well, you’re bound to be a rockin’ success.

    PS Solutions’ Robert (Bob) Fields may have taken a brief hiatus from IT during the Y2K hangover, but we’ll forgive him for that and chalk up 35 years to his investment in the tech industry. He actually started in IT recruiting for an IT consulting firm, but they soon uncovered his true talent.

    “I still remember the day, sitting in Pittsburgh, when I sold the highest billing rate for a consultant in the history of the company to a client in Washington, DC,” reminisces Fields. “I found that I really enjoyed the sales side of the house and spent the next ten years with that company advancing in that role.”

    He joined PS Solutions in November of 2015. It was a great fit from the get-go, with IT services and the oft-desired tech recruitment. Earlier positions with big companies kept pigeon-holing him into doing things he was good at but didn’t love. He loved account management and the people/problem solving balance it offered. And that’s the role he was looking for.

    “Moving to PS Solutions gave me that opportunity,” he said. “It also provided a bit of a homecoming back to a more agile, entrepreneurial, smaller, quality-oriented, regional IT consulting firm. The strong values make such a difference, in my happiness and in the satisfaction of our clients.”

    The Bob Special Sauce

    What is it, really, about being an account manager that Bob loves? It’s solving problems for the people within the companies he serves. When we asked him why he thought he excelled, he told us it came down to one thing:

    “I listen,” he said. “Many people are too quick to talk, to sell what they want to sell. But if you develop the skill of listening, you’re more certain to understand what is needed. If you have listened, your questions are much more on point, and the client knows that you get it.”

    Of course, you have to get to that meeting, right? The one where you get to listen? Opening that door can be a tough nut to crack.

    “I have been told by clients that they have given us a chance because of my persistence. In some cases, it was persistence over the space of years,” he says with a smile.

    The Band Behind the Man

    He may have spent his first three years in Erie, but Bob’s a Pittsburgher through and through. In high school he fell in love with writing, and only became a guitar player at 17, once he realized he would like to be able to play the music he wrote. Like every good teenage guitar player, he formed a band, and like every good sales person, he stays in touch. After all these years, and across a myriad of time zones, Bob stays in touch with different members of the band.

    Even with more than 30 years of teaching, recording and live performances under his belt, Bob still finds the magic of playing for a crowd. At one particular performance at PPG Paints Arena, PPG Place, he performed for about 500 people during a summer arts festival. “It’s like a glass castle, and when you catch it at sunset, with fountains reflecting the colors, it’s just magical.”

    Sometimes it seems that magic is his middle name. It’s actually Boyle, however, which leads him to play a lot of Irish tunes. This means that St. Patrick’s week can be especially busy, as he tries to give back to people of all ages. He developed a way to use new music technology, using a loop pedal to record and play rhythm parts and guitar synthesizer to represent the bass, fiddle, bagpipes, pennywhistle and other instruments. He involves his audience, looping in the seniors at retirement homes and the partakers at the bars. And getting them to sing along is half the fun!

    He especially enjoys serving the underserved. “It brings validity to what you’re doing. When you’re playing music it’s not about you – it’s what can you do for others.”

    You’ll often find him playing in contemporary music services at church, but he can play classical, rock and folk. He finds what his audience is hungry to hear, and that’s what he delivers.

    You could say that Bob is a listener and a problem solver, whether he’s at work or performing. It’s what makes him great at what he does, at home with this family, in the clients’ offices, or on the stage. To Bob, what you can do to make others’ lives more rich is the thing to do.

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    Trevor Hughes Joins the PS Solutions Wilmington Team

    PS Solutions has increased their Wilmington headcount… and it’s about to get much bigger if Trevor Hughes has anything to say about it.

    After five years in sales and business development for technology companies and recruiters, Trevor is putting his love of helping individuals and businesses achieve success to work for PS Solutions. Most recently with Proficient Learning, one of Inc. 5000’s fastest growing companies in 2018, he’s anxious to put the Wilmington office of PS Solutions on the tip of every North Carolina company’s tongue. After all, PS Solutions was also on the Inc. list before they opened the Wilmington office two years ago. He’d like to seem them regain that listing in the next year or two.

    “It’s exciting to be in a position to help young companies grow, especially focusing on the Cape Fear region,” said Hughes. “I’m researching all the companies from startups to those over $2 million in annual revenue, because that is where I think the software development services offered by PS Solutions can have the greatest impact.”

    Hughes will be focusing on three areas: recruiting technology talent; connecting PS Solutions’ developers with companies that need custom software; and promoting a new software product that the company is launching this spring, called Chute Festival.
    “I was drawn to the position because I love recruiting and selling technology solutions; both are needed in our region,” he said. “It’s rare to have a chance to also help launch a new product, so I’m really excited to reach out to the festivals across the southeast, too.”

    Chute Festival is a Cloud-based service that makes it easier for people who run fairs and festivals to be more efficient, managing their vendors, customers, team and invoicing. PS Solutions is officially introducing it this spring, with Hughes being at the center of the sales activities. He pointed to the incredible number of festivals in the Carolinas as a huge opportunity.

    When not networking, you’ll likely find Hughes where you find so many of Wilmington’s transplants: on the beach. Along with surfing, Hughes is a competitive open water swimmer. He regularly competes in the Pier to Pier swim on Wrightsville Beach, and takes part in the Swim the Loop event, which is 3 ½ miles of open water.

    “Like most people who choose to make Wilmington their home, I’m really excited to help keep it a great place to live,” said Hughes. He has two sons with his wife, who is a special education teacher in a Topsail Elementary School.

    “Wilmington is a great place to raise a family. We see more and more people choosing to want to live where they vacation, and the quality of life here is outstanding. I’m looking forward to helping PS Solutions offer more people a high standard of living through technology.”

    PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to keep software development in the USA. They focus on growing cities as a way to keep costs down without having to off-shore.

    For more information, contact info@PSSolutions.net

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    Trade shows, County fairs. Film festivals. Street fairs. Flea Markets. Job fairs.

    Events like these are a compendium of thousands of details. Vendors, payments, marketing, invoicing… keeping it all organized and easily accessible can be exhausting.

    PS Solutions to the rescue! We’ve recently released our own vendor management system, and we call it Chute – as in, parachute – because it eases your entry into the event. We were working with a Pennsylvania County Fair which faced problems when volunteers left the organization. The result was increased difficulty tracking and managing billings. The team at PS Solutions saw an opportunity to help event managers across the country easily organize, communicate about and manage their interaction with vendors.

    Here are just a few things we took into consideration when creating our event management system for festivals:

    A Bird’s Eye View: Event maps

    Chute Festival provides you with a computerized interactive version of your festival or fairground layout. It’s easier than ever to determine which spaces are still are rented and quickly pinpoint where each vendor will reside. Of course, it’s also easier to show which spaces are open and left to be sold, allowing you to quickly close the deal. Vendor reservations are laid out in color, making it a snap to identify who’s where.

    Better Communication: Email Systems

    Keep up communications with potential, current and even former vendors through our simple email management system that ties directly to the data in your system.

    Get Paid Faster: Cloud-based Invoicing

    Let Chute Festival take the stress out of billing. Generate customized Invoices on the fly to track and manage payments and accounts. With a few clicks, you can generate all invoices for a given event. And all the information is tied back to each vendor, giving you greater insight into where you stand financially.

    And if you use a different accounting – or event database — package, that’s no problem either. Chute provides easy export into PDF, .xls and CSV. With only a few clicks you can export an entire section of data in a pain-free process.

    Always On: Cloud-based Software

    There are so many advantages to having a cloud-hosted software solution. For example:

    No Limits: Host Scores of Events

    We don’t believe in capping your creativity or your success. So, go ahead. Host two events this year. Or three. Even if you want to expand your mapping footprint or layout, the costs for new maps are available at extremely low rates, allowing you to expand or reorganize without worrying about excessive costs. Whether you host one event or a dozen there are no caps when you use Chute Festival to manage your projects.

    Feel confident. As you grow, Chute Festival will grow with you.

    Want to learn more about how Chute can help you? Connect with us at info@chutefestival.com

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    Altoona, PA, 16601
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    Wilmington Development Center
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