Carnegie Mellon University Skip to content

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

CONNECTS banner

CONNECTS

Our CONNECTS series enhances the experiential education of any individual interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. 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.

CONNECTS Through the Years


Entrepreneurship Bootcamp 

Creating a Successful Student Startup Team*

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Kit Needham, CMU Swartz Center/Project Olympus, & Bill Courtright, CMU
Register
*Bring your own lunch

Got an idea for a startup but need to find co-founders or teammates? Worked on a business startup as part of a class project and want to pursue it afterwards – with or without some of your classmates? Want to join a student startup team and know what to expect or ask for?

Learn successful techniques to help your team create a solid foundation that can help your startup thrive, attract funding and avoid problems in the future.


Start Smart: Protecting Your Company’s IP Assets

Thursday, September 29, 2016
5:30-7 pm
University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109, 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Presenter: George Dickos & Lauren Shuttleworth Murray, K&L Gates
Register

This seminar will cover legal issues related to intellectual property, including:

  • How to protect your company's IP
  • How not to infringe on another's IP
  • How to handle IP created by your employees, including non-compete clauses
  • Which IP protection to use: copyright, patents, trademarks and/or trade secrets
  • First to file vs. First to invent: changes in US patent law

Design for Manufacturability

Friday, September 30, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Gates Hillman Center 6115
Presenter: Elijah Wiegmann, Founder of Base Design Studio
Register

Today's entrepreneurs understand the importance of design in creating the best products and services. Unfortunately, most try to "save up" for design, sometime in the future. If design is at the forefront of the process, it can actually save a ton of money, time and energy. Elijah will be discussing how, and his experience in bringing hundreds of products to market.


Franchise Opportunities*

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
>12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Chris Cynkar, Franchise Consultant, FranChoice
Register
*Bring your own lunch

Stay tuned for more information.


Start Smart: Contracts Part II - Employees, Contractor and Other Personnel Matters

Thursday, October 6, 2016
5:30-7 pm
University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109, 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Presenter: David Lehman & Mike Pavlick, K&L Gates
Register

This seminar will address legal issues related to the different types of startup personnel, including students working on projects, unpaid internships, independent contractors and employees. The seminar will be followed by a workshop where startups will have the chance to meet with law students to develop a form of employment agreement and consultant agreement tailored for the specific startup.


Lean Startup*

Wednesday, October 12, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, CMU Swartz Center
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

The Lean Startup is a technical approach to generating and managing startups, helping to get an anticipated product or service into the hands of customers faster. Learn how to make your startup lean and efficient using entrepreneurial best practices in this seminar.



Agile Product Development*

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmere Ventures & Labs
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Learn an iterative and interactive framework to manage the process of building your startup's technology solution. Master specific tips for implementing this framework in your venture and hear case studies from local Pittsburgh companies who have taken advantage of these techniques.


Financial Modeling*

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Phil Compton, CoFounder & CFO, Malcovery Security
Register
*Bring your own lunch
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

If you’re going to start a company, mapping out your financial projections will be an important part of that process. Learn the basics and gain insight on how to incorporate assumptions and flexibility into a model.  Understand and be able to discuss key terms such as burn rate, cash runway and EBITDA which will allow you to more confidently support your projections to investors, Board and fellow team members.


Start Smart: Raising Capital*

Thursday, October 20, 2016
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Learn about the legal issues associated with raising capital through friends and family, seed and series A, B, C, etc. Discuss the following:

  • Structuring the investments to maximize growth
  • Opportunities available due to the new JOBS Act
  • Crowdsourcing and proposed SEC regulation
  • Funding from incubators/accelerators, government and foundations

How to Access Resources from the Government

Friday, October 28, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Gates Hillman Center 4405
Presenter: Tim McNulty, Associate Vice President for Government Relations, Carnegie Mellon University
Register

This session will provide an introduction to engaging state, local and federal government agencies and elected officials.  Topics will include potential funding sources, strategies for when and how to engage elected officials and when lobbying assistance could be valuable.


Splitting the Equity Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation*

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Frank Demmler, Innovation Works
Register
*Bring your own lunch
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Equity compensation can be a very mysterious concept for first-time entrepreneurs. Learn how to make critical decisions from the division of the Founders' Pie through stock option grants.


Start Smart: Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Startup

Thursday, November 3, 2016
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Kit Needham, CMU Swartz Center/Project Olympus, & Stephanie Dangel, IPI, Pitt Law School
Register

Finding the right lawyer is a key strategic business decision for a startup. Your lawyer can be one of your best business advisers OR a poor choice that costs you time and money. Learn the right questions to ask, how to avoid common mistakes and how to manage your relationship.


How Time Based Advertising Works

Friday, November 4, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Tepper 146
Presenter: Marc Guldimann, CEO, Parsec
Register

Brand advertising is broken.  The old Wanamaker quote "half my advertising dollars are wasted but I just don't know which half" has never been more true and it's all the fault of the metric in use.  Impressions are a horrible way to estimate the resource that brands are after attention. In this session you will examine how measuring the time that consumers choose to spend with advertising can revolutionize the media business.



Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition*

Wednesday, November 9, 2016
12:30-2:00 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Eric Close, TrueLearn
Register
*Bring Your Own Lunch

Interviewing for a job envisioned by someone else? Instead create a job by hiring yourself, finding a company to acquire and transforming the company into a disruption machine.

Become a business artist!  Express yourself by mastering the nexus of Entrepreneurship and M&A.  Opportunities for disruption and innovation are everywhere, get into the game.


Creating a Successful Video Pitch

Thursday, November 10, 2015
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Brian Staszel, CMU
Register

Is your video pitch effective for competing in an online business competition for entrepreneurs? Learn how to create a successful video and capture the attention of venture capitalists.

If you are planning to participate in the McGinnis Venture Competition, your first video pitch will determine if you advance to the second round!


The Art of the Pitch

Friday, November 11, 2016
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Des O’Connor, Innovation Works
Register

Is your pitch effective to investors? Learn about the strategies, tactics and rationale for the successful investor pitch.


Start Smart: Structuring 3rd Party Relationships

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman & Mike Pavlick, K&L Gates
Register

Third party relationships can come in a variety of forms, e.g. joint ventures, partnerships and licensing. Creating strategic partnerships can add tremendous value, if the partnership is structured properly. Since every partnership is different, startups must understand the differences between the forms and how to negotiate the best terms to ensure the partnership success.

Start Smart: Starting a Business with an F-1 Visa

Thursday, January 19, 2017
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Panel Discussion
Register

Join us for a panel discussion that will address how students with an F-1 visa can start a business or work on a startup team without violating their student status.

The panel includes:
David Kalson, Director of the Emerging Business Group, Cohen & Grigsby 
Larry Lebowitz, Director of the Immigration Group, Cohen & Grigsby 
Linda Gentile, Director of the Office of International Education, CMU


Customer and Competitor Discovery via Database Research

Friday, January 20, 2017
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Ryan Splenda, CMU Business and Economic Librarian
Register

Good market research informs the planning of any entrepreneurial venture and underlies its success. This workshop that will incorporate demonstrations and hands-on activities that will show how to maximize the information resources available from CMU ‘s libraries. Bring your laptop.


Advance Your Internet Selling Power*

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Laurie Barkman, Digital Marketing Executive
Register
*Bring your own lunch

Regardless of what you are selling, your business should be working to attract and convert customers. In this workshop, learn how to use sales funnel and customer journey frameworks to map an epic customer journey online.


Making Things Here*

Wednesday, February 1, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Ilana Diamond, AlphaLab Gear
Register
*Bring your own lunch

For the last decade, investors, media and those who follow technology have been focused almost entirely on software. More recently, the buzz has shifted to hardware and manufactured products. Learn why CMU entrepreneurs are positioned to take advantage of the renewed interest in physical products and the resources available to help get their products from idea to market.


Getting Started with Sales

Friday, February 3, 2017 
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Bruce Smith, Achieving Sales Results, LLC
Register

How do you grow your company when you lack customers or references? How do you hire your first sales person and manage them? Learn about startup sales and techniques that help you get in the door, close the sale and how to set sales goals.


Lean Startups*

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, CMU Swartz Center
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

The Lean Startup is a technical approach to generating and managing startups, helping to get an anticipated product or service into the hands of customers faster. Learn how to make your startup lean and efficient using entrepreneurial best practices in this seminar.


Start Smart: Company Formation

Thursday, February 9, 2017
5:30-7 pm
University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109, 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates
Register

Learn the basic legal issues that can occur with entity formation, including founder arrangements, founder employment arrangements, splitting the founder's equity pie, founder agreements and employee equity. The seminar will be followed by a workshop that will assist startups in the pre-company formation stage with developing a roadmap that covers recommended structure, operating agreements and other formation issues.

If you have a startup and would like to participate in the workshop, contact kit@cs.cmu.edu. If you are a law student interested in participating, contact SAD111@pitt.edu.


Setting Up Your Back Office

Friday, February 10, 2017
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: William Richardson & Carissa Habsburg, Sisterson & Co. LLP
Register

Learn practical tax, accounting and business considerations that startups face in their first year of operation.


Financial Modeling*

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Phil Compton, CoFounder & CFO, Malcovery Security
Register
*Bring your own lunch
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

If you’re going to start a company, mapping out your financial projections will be an important part of that process. Learn the basics and gain insight on how to incorporate assumptions and flexibility into a model. Understand and be able to discuss key terms such as burn rate, cash runway and EBITDA which will allow you to more confidently support your projections to investors, Board and fellow team members.


Start Smart: Raising Capital*

Thursday, February 16, 2017
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Learn about the legal issues associated with raising capital through friends and family, seed and series A, B, C, etc. Discuss the following:

  •  Structuring the investments to maximize growth
  • Opportunities available due to the new JOBS Act
  • Crowdsourcing and proposed SEC regulation
  • Funding from incubators/accelerators, government and foundations

How to Pitch to Angels

Friday, February 17, 2017
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Don Morrison, BlueTree Allied Angels
Register

Angels invest much more than VCs and at earlier stages, which means that angel investors may be a vital source of funding for your startup. Learn how to deliver a pitch that stands out from the crowd.


Agile Product Development*

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmere Ventures & Labs
Register
*Bring your own lunch
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Learn an iterative and interactive framework to manage the process of building your startup's technology solution. Master specific tips for implementing this framework in your venture and hear case studies from local Pittsburgh companies who have taken advantage of these techniques.


Start Smart: Raising Capital Part 2-Negotiating Term Sheets*

Thursday, February 23, 2017
5:30-7 pm
University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109, 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Presenter: David Lehman & Henry Snyder, K&L Gates
Register
*Optional for NSF I-Corps Site Teams to attend

Attend this interactive workshop to learn how to address the business and legal issues associated with making investments in startups, including negotiation strategies, valuation, founder and investor rights, vesting, management and exits. Participants will divide into two groups—one to represent the investor and the other to represent the company. Both will decide independently on the terms they want and then brought back together for the negotiation led by the lawyers.


Splitting the Equity Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation*

Friday, February 24, 2017
3-4:30pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Frank Demmler, Innovation Works
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

Equity compensation can be a very mysterious concept for first-time entrepreneurs. Learn how to make critical decisions from the division of the Founders' Pie through stock option grants.


Insurance for Startups: What Do I Need and When?*

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ruppert, Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC.
Register
*Bring your own lunch

For startups running on a lean budget, obtaining the right insurance is essential. Learn about the unique risks that can arise when running your business, when you should address those risks and how they can be addressed with insurance.


Start Smart: Protecting Your Company’s IP Assets*

Thursday, March 2, 2017
5:30-7 pm
University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109, 3900 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Presenter: George Dickos & Lauren Shuttleworth Murray, K&L Gates
Register
*NSF I-Corps Site Teams required to attend

This seminar will cover legal issues related to intellectual property, including:

  • How to protect your company's IP
  • How not to infringe on another's IP
  • How to handle IP created by your employees, including non-compete clauses
  • Which IP protection to use: copyright, patents, trademarks and/or trade secrets
  • First to file vs. First to invent: changes in US patent law

Refining Your Elevator Pitch

Friday, March 3, 2017
3-4:30 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Mel Pirchesky, founder and President of Eagle Ventures
Register

Learn how to perfect your elevator pitch, and more importantly, how to effectively articulate your value proposition to prospective investors. Presented by Mel Pirchesky, founder and President of Eagle Ventures, a Pittsburgh entrepreneur who has raised over $100 million of equity solely from high net worth individuals and the go-to guy in the region for entrepreneurial coaching on elevator pitches. Come prepared to work on your elevator pitch during the workshop.


How to Access Resources from the Government*

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Tim McNulty, Associate Vice President for Government Relations, Carnegie Mellon University
Register
*Bring your own lunch

This session will provide an introduction to engaging state, local and federal government agencies and elected officials. Topics will include potential funding sources, strategies for when and how to engage elected officials and when lobbying assistance could be valuable.


Buy-Sell Agreements & NDAs

Friday, March 24, 2017
3-4:30 pm
Gates Hillman Center 4405
Presenter: Daniel Lynch, The Lynch Law Group
Register

Join Daniel Lynch as he gives an overview of the differences between agreements associated with corporations and LLCs. You will learn about Non-Disclosure Agreements (Confidentiality Agreements)—when to use one and how to determine if your agreement should be one-sided or reciprocal—and the six trigger events that form the basis of an Operating/Buy-Sell Agreement: death, disability, divorce, bankruptcy, retirement and voluntary quit.


Start Smart: Preparing for an Exit

Tuesday, March 28, 2017
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates
Register

Acquisitions are the most common form of exit. Learn how to prepare the company for sale, including the due diligence process, sale process and potential auctions, the role of investment bankers, tax implications, typical structures, including earn-outs, employment and non-competition obligations.


Start Smart: Social Enterprise-Profit with a Purpose

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
5:30-7 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Stephanie Dangel, IPI, University of Pittsburgh Law
Register

This is a must-attend event for anyone interested in starting and running a company that blends profit with purpose. Learn about for-profit, non-profit and hybrid social enterprise entities and the legal issues related to each entity choice, including financing and employment issues.


Convertible Promissory Note – Understanding the Key Terms*

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
12:30-2 pm
Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Peter Papagianakis, Business Law Firm LLC
Register
*Bring your own lunch

Learn the basic legal issues and pitfalls of issuing convertible promissory notes for your startup. The following topics will be discussed:

  • Pros and cons of issuing promissory notes vs. shares of preferred stock to angel investors
  • Discount and caps on valuation and their effects
   
  • Mandatory conversion vs. optional conversion; reasonable interest rates
  • Legal documents accompanying the promissory note
  • SAFE Agreement

CONNECTS Series Schedules