Entrepreneurial Outreach in Pittsburgh: Meet Googler Mike Capsambelis

By Bill Reeve | Staff Writer | Product Inclusion

Mike is a senior member of Google's product management team. He is responsible for developing solutions that connect consumers with retailers and products from around the world. Prior to Google, Mike spent over 15 years leading product development at a variety of software companies, commercializing novel technologies for the media, finance, healthcare, intelligence, and defense industries.

Mike is passionate about how innovation and entrepreneurship can elevate communities and regions. As a member of Google's Community Outreach team, he collaborates with organizations that serve nonprofits and small businesses. Mike has organized, hosted, and spoken at events for minority and women entrepreneurs, youth entrepreneurs, and nonprofit organizations.

Outside of Google, Mike is the founder of Awesome Pittsburgh, a micro-grant organization that awards $1,000 each month to the person or organization with the best idea for bringing more awesomeness to the Pittsburgh region. Mike mentors startups participating in Alphalab's accelerator program and serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Film Office, which generates economic benefits for the region by bringing film productions to Pittsburgh.

How did you begin working at Google?

I started at Google a little over 7 years ago. I had been working in the tech industry for about 15 years prior to that, and I was happy to join the team here in Pittsburgh.

I appreciate having the opportunity to positively impact the lives of billions of people. Before coming here, I worked on many amazing technologies. But they did not have the scale, reach, and impact on the daily lives of people that Google does.

What are your roles and your passions?

I lead the product management team responsible for the data that powers Google Shopping.

I am also passionate about entrepreneurship. I believe that building and growing small businesses can have a big impact on the lives of people and the health of their communities. As a member of Google Pittsburgh’s Community Outreach team, I strive to connect more people with the entrepreneurial ecosystem and with the tools, platforms, and opportunities that Google offers.

Can you share what entrepreneurial outreach means to you?

For me it means bringing skills, knowledge, and access to the people building and growing their own businesses. It's about equipping them with the tools and expertise to overcome challenges and help their businesses thrive.

What inspires you most about this work?

Seeing entrepreneurs take what they've learned, run with it, and do bigger things is probably the most satisfying part of this work.

For instance, during a program I organized for minority-owned businesses (Connecting Urban Entrepreneurs), Wahad Ansari built a website for his barber shop. A couple years later he showed me a new website he built for his Professional Barber Institute: http://www.professionalbarberinstitute.com/.

What advice can you give to people who want to get involved in Google-supported entrepreneur outreach programs?

Google offers many resources through programs like Google for Startups, Grow with Google, and the Google Digital Coaches. We have just announced our first Pittsburgh Digital Coach, Kyshira Moffett.

I’ve learned that it’s best not to wait for the right program or opportunity to come to you — sometimes you have to create it yourself. Think of a way that you can make an impact, and then just go do it!

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