International Business-Faculty & Staff News - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, March 2, 2012

International Business

CMU Brings Portuguese Startups to Pittsburgh

Carnegie Mellon is taking its entrepreneurial expertise abroad.

A new pilot Entrepreneurship-in-Residence (EIR) program at Carnegie Mellon Portugal, created in partnership with the University Technology Enterprise Network (UTEN), recently brought four Portuguese companies to Pittsburgh to help them extend their businesses to the U.S.

"Overall, the program was a tremendous success," said Lori Spears, associate director of Carnegie Mellon Portugal. "The companies were very pleased with the one-on-one meetings that were held and they felt as though the conversations will assist them in launching in the U.S."

A trip to the states was the third phase of the new incubator program that started last summer. The first two phases in Portugal provided mentoring and training in developing sales pitches to potential investors and customers. The seven-month training period also provided information on understanding markets and competition, university relationships, differentiation and segmentation, and partnerships for development and distribution.

The mentoring sessions were spearheaded by Tara Branstad, associate director of the Center for Technology Transfer and Enterprise Creation, Adjunct Professor Babs Carryer, an embedded entrepreneur with Project Olympus, and Dave Mawhinney, associate director of the Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship and an assistant teaching professor at the Tepper School of Business.

Four Portuguese companies - FeedZai, ObservIT, TreatU and Faces.in - traveled to the Pittsburgh campus in February for three days of intensive networking with companies, banks, attorneys, students and faculty.

FeedZai aims to enhance the real-time processing of information for organizations. ObservIt's dream is to be a market-leading company in computer vision technology. Treat U's goal is to improve patient's health care and reduce the costs of health care through a novel and versatile platform for targeted drug delivery. And Faces.in is a mobile social networking startup.

At Carnegie Mellon, the fledgling companies engaged in panel discussions with professionals specializing in immigration law, intellectual property issues and business development. They also collaborated with faculty and staff involved in CMU's Greenlighting Startups (www.cmu.edu/startups) initiative about entrepreneurial resources available to them.

The companies made presentations to potential investors and to 37 corporate executives during an Innovation Happens session at AlphaLab on the South Side. Innovation Happens, supported by Project Olympus, is a group of entrepreneurs and corporate executives who connect to network and see demonstrations from innovative start-ups.

Following the networking session, each company met individually with several potential customers, investors and clients.

The U.S. visit concluded with an International Showcase at CMU, where the Portuguese companies made presentations to potential clients and investors about their startups and the importance of setting up U.S. operations. The showcase was presented in collaboration with CMU Greenlighting Startups and sponsored by K&L Gates LLP.

"It's really too soon to determine if the companies will set up operation in the U.S. as a result of the EIR," Spears said. "However, all parties involved are committed to diligently working to ensure their success. We will be working very closely with the companies to provide guidance as various opportunities present themselves."

By: Piper Staff