CONNECTS-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Carnegie Mellon University


Our CONNECTS series [.pdf] enhances the experiential education of any individual interested in starting a company. Tailored mainly for students to help take their ideas from conception to commercialization, the workshops run throughout the academic year. Teams looking for talent and talent looking for teams can CONNECT at these events.

Spring 2014

Benefits and Perils of Using Open Source Code for Your Startup

Date: Monday, February 10
Time: 12:00 to 1:00 pm (brown bag lunch and learn)
Location: Gates Hillman, Room 4405
Open-source software makes its source code publicly available for free modification and distribution by users. There are two major misconceptions about open-source software: it is hard to make money using it, and because it is ‘free’, there are no restrictions on using it for commercial purposes. There have been a number of recent CMU startups, however, that have figured out ways to commercialize their research using an open-source model.
Elijah Mayfield, graduate of the Language Technologies Institute and CEO of LightSide Labs, will share his experience with commercializing open-source software in educational technology. He will discuss how LightSide was founded, the open-source licenses they explored and chose to use, and the benefits and hurdles that they encountered when using such licenses. He will also talk about best practices for building software that interoperates between open-source and proprietary code, especially focusing on viral open-source licenses such as the GPL.

CMU’s Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation will also be available to answer any questions.

Financial Modeling

Date: Wednesday, February 12
Time: 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Location: Posner Hall, Cooper Auditorium

Dean Zarras, President and CEO of Logic9s, will introduce ClearFactr, an easy to use SaaS application combining a Self-Describing Spreadsheet, a powerful financial simulator and a way to easily share and monitor everything with others. Come see how much easier it can be to develop and understand a complex financial model using software specifically built for the task all running in a web browser. Your mind, and your wallet, will thank you.

Creative Entrepreneurship

Date: Friday, February 14
Time: 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Location: Posner Hall, Room 152

Join us for an inspiring discussion aimed to help you understand the crazy world of entrepreneurship. The event will be led by Taylor Davidson, a 2004 Tepper alumnus and NYC venture capitalist at kbs+Ventures, which invests in early-stage, enterprise technology. Taylor recently co-wrote a book called Creative Entrepreneurship, which curates the perspectives of leading entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.

Building and Growing an Entrepreneurial Team

Date: Monday, March 3
Time: 12:00 to 2:00 pm (brown bag lunch and learn)
Location: Posner Hall, Cooper Auditorium

Building, growing and motivating teams is essential for success in entrepreneurial ventures, and for bringing innovations to market thru organizations. Teams failures are often cited as the most prevalent failure mode. Many of dysfunctions and disconnects occur during the startup and development stages and then acceleration/growth.  

This workshop focuses on the underlying principles and best practices (from many years of trying), supported by some observations from the world of organizational behavior. We will discuss real situations involving startup and growth stage teams, dealing with both addition and subtraction. The workshop will end with a moderated and interactive panel of entrepreneurs who have had direct experience in multiple companies. Be prepared to ask questions!

Splitting the Equity Pie

Date: Thursday, March 20
Time: 1:00 to 3:00 pm
Location: Gates Hillman, Room 6115

Find out how to split the equity in your startup among your founders and founding investors. This workshop is led by Frank Demmler. Frank has more than 25 years experience advising entrepreneurs and angel investors. He is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon and is the Vice President of the Entrepreneurial Services Team at Innovation Works.

Do It Right the First Time (Setting Up Your Back Office)

Date: Friday, April 25
Time: 2:00 to 4:00 pm
Location: Gates Hillman, Room 4405

Learn practical tax, accounting and business considerations that business owners would face in setting up their business in their first year of operations.

This workshop is led by William M. Richardson, CPA, a tax partner with Sisterson & Co. LLP, where he heads up the firms Emerging Growth Niche Team.  Bill joined the firm in 1987 after four years in a national CPA firm.  He has extensive experience working with companies at all stages of growth and is responsible for federal/state tax compliance planning for his clients. Bill also has a consulting focus on merger and acquisition transactions.