Throughout 2018, we will be celebrating today’s new class of reinventors, inspiring people who defy convention while redefining their impact on our world. From city planners to philanthropic entrepreneurs, artists and more, we are spotlighting interesting people doing amazing acts of reinvention.
To understand the genius behind Eve Picker’s startup, Small Change, it’s helpful to look at a neighborhood from a banker’s perspective, and to think back to 2002. An Australia-born urban designer and architect, Picker had her eyes on a crumbling 19th-century bank building in Pittsburgh’s struggling East Liberty neighborhood, which was dotted with vacant buildings and neglected storefronts. The old neo-Romanesque tower was hollowed out, with nothing much left but the walls — and one of them sported a gaping hole. But Picker believed that once the century-old building was rescued and renovated, it would anchor a revitalized East Liberty. She saw possibilities. Bankers, operating under a thicket of regulations, saw risk.
Over the course of a decade, Picker managed to save the building and is remaking it into co-working spaces. It's now part of the newly trendy East Liberty — a destination for shoppers and diners. Getting there wasn't easy, though. To make good on her vision, Picker had to stitch together 12 different sources of funding. It was a long and torturous effort.
Picker’s funding ordeal sparked a plan to reinvent financing for urban-renewal projects. Her three-year-old crowdfunding startup, Small Change, gives small investors everywhere a chance to put their money behind urban construction projects and reap the rewards.