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.

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook

We love festivals. We love them so much we wrote a software system for managing them. More on that later, but as we enter June, the number and variety of festivals that happen across the US sky rockets.

We’ll be talking about festivals often over the summer, but we recently ran across a great list that identified the largest festival in each state. So, while we gather great stories about smaller local festivals we’ll highlight, we decided to get to know more about the big guys and share a couple that are near and dear to us.

Our home state of Pennsylvania hosts Musikfest in Bethlehem from August 1 – 11. Voted Best Music Festival in the USA Today Reader’s Choice Awards in 2019, more than 1.1 million people crowd into this historic city near Allentown to hear music – free and paid – over the course of ten days. It claims to be the largest free music festival, but it also features comedy and dance performances and a series of art installations. Some say it might be the best bargain of all summer events.


As we expanded into North Carolina, we began looking for the biggest event in our new state. We assumed it was the Azalea Festival in Wilmington. But no … it’s not flowers but food that draws southerners. The North Carolina Barbecue Festival is in Lexington, which falls between the Triangle and the Triad. Lexington has a population of about 20,000 – which blossoms 10-fold when chefs from across NC converge to demonstrate their BBQ acumen. It all happens in just one day – the last Saturday in October – but is a culmination of an entire month of BBQ festivities. A series of competitions, from the Tour de Pig cycling race to golf, fishing tournaments and a 5K run keep people flowing into town.

What these two festivals have in common is their reliance on volunteers. From planners to ushers, parking to ticket sales and set up/clean up, volunteers are what makes festivals work. That’s why so many organizers are turning to our newest software product, Chute Festival. It not only manages the schedules for volunteers, but it manages the information they come in contact with.

Who are your vendors? What’s the map of the site look like? Where are the closest parking options? And how do you manage your performers, livestock, and food?

Often, it’s in the heads of those who volunteer. But with Chute Festival, organizers keep the data that remains in the minds of volunteers. Volunteers come and go – they are committed, until they’re not. In order to keep the information about every last detail, it needs to reside – accessibly – in the Cloud so that future events run as smoothly as the last.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Chute Festival can help, email us at info@chutefestival.com

Follow #PSSolutions on social media
LinkedIn | 
Twitter | 
Facebook

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.

    Follow #PSSolutions on social media
    LinkedIn | 
    Twitter | 
    Facebook

    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

    Follow #PSSolutions on social media
    LinkedIn | 
    Twitter | 
    Facebook


    Wilmington, NC – April 9, 2019 — PS Solutions, a software development firm with offices in Wilmington, NC, as well as Pittsburgh and Altoona, PA, last month released a new app designed to help identify those at risk for committing suicide which utilizes the renowned Columbia Protocol. This free smartphone app provides instant access to simple questions which have been successful in helping identify suicide risk. Blair County, PA was the first to develop an app using the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale (C-SSRS) and provide local contact information to nearby crisis centers. The app is now offered in North Carolina and can be customized to connect directly to local crisis centers.

    “North Carolina’s suicide rate is higher than the national average,” said Wayne Hippo, co-founder of PS Solutions. “That’s one of the reasons we wanted to bring this free app to the attention of our citizens and those who serve this community. It’s a way to help members of our community who need it most.”

    The free iOS and Android app provides access to the C-SSRS, which prompts a few simple questions that gauge when an individual is at risk for suicide then recommends an appropriate level of mental health support. The list of questions can be answered within a few minutes. App users are also offered contact information for crisis centers, which can be customized to include local contacts.

    “We need to get everyone in our communities asking these questions,” said Dr. Kelly Posner, Director of the Columbia Lighthouse Project, “Just think of how many lives we can save if every parent, police officer, teacher and neighbor downloaded and used this app.”

    More than 20 years of research validates relevance and effectiveness of the C-SSRS. Seen as the gold standard in assessing suicide risk, it is globally. For people who have thought about suicide, simply being asked these questions can come as a relief. One study found that asking the questions reduced distress in depressed respondents.

    According to a March 2019 study conducted for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the increase in the national suicide rate from 2016 to 2017 was the largest annual increase in nearly 20 years. Suicides rose by 4% from 2016 to 2017 and 22% from 2008 to 2017. Worldwide, almost 1 million people die by suicide each year; one life lost every 40 seconds.

    The idea for the app came from Blair County Pennsylvania, and it is the first county to offer customized local information. Other regions are encouraged to provide local crisis centers contact information, which is based on a user’s phone location. Information on app customization is available through email: info@PSSolutions.net.

    PS Solutions is a software development firm headquartered in Altoona, Pennsylvania, with offices in Pittsburgh and Wilmington, North Carolina. PS Solutions takes a creative approach to solving companies’ technology problems, employing a diverse group of software and project management professionals to develop software in the U.S.

    Follow #PSSolutions on social media
    LinkedIn | 
    Twitter | 
    Facebook


  • Pittsburgh Tech Council

    FIND OUT MORE

    NC Tech

    Altoona Development Center
    1601 Eleventh Avenue
    Ste. 201
    Altoona, PA, 16601
    814-942-7888

    Pittsburgh Development Center
    1500 Ardmore Boulevard
    Ste. 500
    Pittsburgh, PA, 15221
    412-731-2123

    Wilmington Development Center
    2109 Capital Drive
    Ste. 170
    Wilmington, NC, 28405
    910-399-6820