Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Meet the UpPrize Impactful Technology Finalists

Three CMU startups are finalists in the upcoming UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge in the Impactful Technology category. BlastPoint (2016 McGinnis Venture Competition winner), co-founded by Alison Alvarez and Tomer Borenstein; Expii (NSF I-Corps Site Team and Project Olympus PROBE), founded by Po-Shen Lo, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences and Rubitection (Project Olympus PROBE), founded by Dr. Sanna Gaspard.

Each of the participating companies will compete for prize money at the final showcase event on March 30, 2017.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2017 McGinnis Venture Competition Winners Announced

photo of McGinnis Venture winners

Graduate Track

  • First Place: RoBotany is a robotic indoor vertical farming using automated robotics and software analytics to transform modern agriculture. Team includes Austin Webb, Austin Lawrence, Daniel Seim and Brac Webb.
  • Second Place: Teratonix converts ambient radio waves to electricity and provides a maintenance-free replacement for batteries in low-power IoT devices. Team includes Ivan Pistsov and Dr. Yi Luo.
  • Third Place: 101 builds active learning tools that promote student engagement in college STEM courses. Team includes Justin Weinberg and Igor Belyayev.

Undergraduate Track

  • First Place: Inventory Connection provides Direct Store Delivery (DSD) sales representatives with real-time inventory and point of sale data allowing them to stock their supermarket's shelves better. Team includes Kerolos Mikaeil and John Lipari.
  • Second Place: Juvi is an online marketplace for senior homes. Team includes Stella Han and Jason Huang.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

RoBotany and Inventory Connection Win the 2017 McGinnis Venture Competition

Hundreds packed Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 for the CMU Swartz Center's annual McGinnis Venture Competition, the cross-campus event that allows CMU's best and brightest student entrepreneurs to compete for $60K of investments.

This year's sponsor, Walmart Tech, along with several judges and coaches helped to make this event possible. The final round judges included: Mark Vanderhelm, Matt Grover, Rida Moustafa and Mustafa Harcar (Walmart Tech), Peter Boyce (Rough Draft Ventures), Liz Crawford (Genacast), Jerry McGinnis (Respironics), Alicia McGinnis (Audrey's Kitchen), Jim Jen (AlphaLab), Ed Engler (Pittsburgh Equity Partners), Eric Tarczynski (Contrary Capital) and Ilana Diamond (AlphaLab Gear).

The 2017 winners include:

Graduate: RoBotany, Austin Webb (first); Teratonix, Ivan Pistsov (second) and 101, Justin Weinberg (third).

Undergraduate: Inventory Connection, Kerolos Mikaeil (first) and
Juvi, Stella Han (second).

CMU Swartz Center executive director Dave Mawhinney presented Jerry McGinnis, founder, CEO and chairman of Respironics, and his daughter Alicia with a special gift in honor of the 20th anniversary of their transformational gift to CMU.

READ more about the 2017 winners

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ModCloth Gets Acquired By a Division of Walmart

Online clothing retailer Modcloth, founded by CMU alumni and husband and wife team Susan Gregg and Eric Koger, has been acquired by e-commerce company, according to a report by the women’s news blog Jezebel. is owned by Walmart, the largest retailer in the country.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Inc.'s List of America's Top Student-Run Businesses Includes Two CMU Startups

CMU's RoBotany, founded by Tepper School of Business student Austin Webb and 101, have been named to Inc.'s 2017 List of America's 16 Top Student-Run Businesses. Both startups are also Project Olympus PROBES and finalists in the upcoming McGinnis Venture Competition.

Vote to help both teams compete for the title of "Coolest College Startup." 


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

LendingHome's Matt Humphrey Is Changing How We Buy Homes

CMU alumnus and LendingHome co-founder and CEO Matt Humphrey recently announced his plan to target the consumer mortgage market with loans for first-time homebuyers. At 29, the Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, former Project Olympus PROBE and Swartz Fellow has already founded a company, sold it and founded LendingHome.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

CMU's 101 Wins First Prize at SXSW's Student Startup Madness Tournament

CMU startup, Project Olympus PROBE and McGinnis Venture Competition finalist 101 won first prize at the Student Startup Madness (SSM) tournament, an official session at South By Southwest (SXSW) Interactive,  held on March 13, 2017. Founded by Ph.D. candidate Justin Weinberg and Igor Belyayev, 101 participated along with eight other university student startups, emerging as the best student digital startup in America.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pittsburgh Startups Win Over Investors

For startups in Pittsburgh, 2016 was a very good year. Overall investment in startups ballooned 34.6 percent to $376 million from $280 million in 2015, according to a new report by Innovation Works Inc. and Ernst & Young LLP. In addition, venture capital investment rose 8.1 percent last year to $235.1 million from $217.4 million in 2015.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Well Armed to Save Lives

CMU alumnus, RE2 Robotics founder and 2016 Carnegie Science Startup Entrepreneur Award recipient Jorgen Pedersen has his arms around the world. Robotic arms, that is, each lending a hand in critical ways. RE2's  technology employs mobile robotic devices that allows users to remotely and safely interact with the world.

CMU Swartz Center EIR Craig Markovitz is working with Jorgen on this groundbreaking company.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Duolingo Launches Course in Swahili

Duolingo CEO and CMU alumnus Luis von Ahn announced at the recent Design Indaba conference in Cape Town, South Africa, that the Pittsburgh-based language learning company will launch a course for English speakers to learn Swahili. It is Duolingo's first African language course and an important first step to opening up the continent, Ryan said.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Alumnus Connects "Internet of Things"

IoT startup Soracom, founded by CMU alumnus Ken Tamagawa, is a Tokyo-based company that provides low-cost, secure and manageable internet connection for smart devices. Soracom recently raised $22 million  to enter the U.S. and other markets. Tamagawa was named among the top 100 management leaders by Forbes Japan.

CMU Swartz Center EIR Craig Markovitz is working with Jorgen on this groundbreaking company.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Final Round Teams Announced for McGinnis Venture Competition

Round two of the 2017 McGinnis Venture Competition, sponsored by  Walmart Emerging Technologies, has ended and the final round teams have been selected. The teams are:


Amplframe-sharing lens
D-Power Net
• Nimbus


Hillside Hydro
Inventory Connections

The final live round and reception, which is open to all, will take place on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 at Carnegie Mellon's Tepper School of Business, Posner Hall (GSIA), rooms 322/324.

The McGinnis Venture Competition is made possible by a generous gift from the McGinnis family.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

CMU's Zenrez Raises $6M Series A

Zenrez, the consumer fitness platform co-founded by CMU alumni Matthew Capizzi and Noah Tovares (Swartz Fellows), has just announced it has received $6 million in Series A funding from ARTIS Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Transmedia Capital and others.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

CMU Startups Among Finalists in RBPC

Three CMU startups are among the finalists in this year's Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC), to be held on April 6-8, 2017. The RBPC is hosted and organized by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship. The CMU startups are:

RoBotany, Austin Webb (NSF I-Corps Site Team, Project Olympus PROBE, 2017 McGinnis Venture Competition finalist)

Forest Devices, Matthew Kessinger (NSF I-Corps Site Team)

101, Justin Weinberg and Igor Belyayev (Project Olympus PROBE, 2017 McGinnis Venture Competition finalist)

Last year, CMU's Gecko Robotics won $50K at the RBPC.

In addition to the above programs, each of the startup finalists have taken advantage of many other CMU Swartz Center programs.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Yelp Buys Nowait for $40 Million

San Francisco-based social media platform Yelp Inc. announced it has closed on buying Pittsburgh startup Nowait, a restaurant reservation app co-founded by CMU alumni Robert Myer (EIR, CMU Swartz Center) and Richard Colvin. A recipient of the Open Field Entrepreneurs Fund (OFEF), Nowait's app has grown to serve more than 4,000 restaurants throughout the U.S. and Canada.