Carnegie Mellon University

Resources for EIRs 

NEW Applicants

  1. Onboarding a New Applicant – Step by step process when meeting with a PROBE applicant for the first time.
  2. Customer Discovery PowerPoint -Tutorial on what Customer Discovery is and how to do it correctly. Usually this is the very first step with a new applicant. I walk them through the ppt and help them get started with hypotheses using the Customer Discovery Interview Guide and developing questions. I also help when I can with where to find people to interview. Otherwise, they may have trouble getting started or getting it right (common mistake, separating hypotheses from the questions needed to test them).
  3. Customer Discovery Video PresentationWe recommend that you send this video to the person you are working with and encourage them to watch it before your first meeting. This should help to orient and prepare them for the meeting. 
  4. Customer Discovery Interview Guide - This is the worksheet used to develop the hypotheses that are to be tested and the potential questions to be asked to determine if the hypotheses are true.
  5. PROBE Project Tracking and Status Worksheet (optional or in addition) Olympus/ICorps/ICF Planning and Roadmap Matrix - These are two documents that can be used to create the ‘roadmap’ over the life of the startup. Many want to have the high-level idea of all the components that can be worked on and a way of planning. However, for the vast majority that won’t get past customer discovery or competitive analysis, best not to focus too much of the other aspects. If you don’t have product/market fit, no point on working on the other aspects.
  1. Benefits of Working with Olympus – List of other resources available e.g. AWS Credits, and early invitations, etc. EIR Resource Folder.
  2. AWS provides a one-time $5k credit for 2 years. If they do not use all their credits in two years, they are lost for good.”  Once they apply, Kit receives an email to confirm they are with Olympus.

    *** If you need the application form, please email Matt Katsaros
  1. CONNECTS – This is a one-page compilation of all the CONNECTS and Start Smart sessions for the current semester. I often will recommend a few specific sessions because the shear number can be overwhelming. All presentations from current and past CONNECTS as well as YouTube tapings can be found here in the Swartz Center CONNECTS section. Sometimes there are ppts/videos that are very helpful even if they are not on the current semesters roster. Also found on our Website in the Entrepreneurship Resource section here.
  2. Student/Olympus Agreement – This is a one-page explanation of the program expectations. You should distribute it and review it at your first meeting and to the extent possible, get them to sign it. It should be uploaded in T360.
  3. How to Build a Start Up videos by Steve Blank

Team Building

Team Building Resource Tool – Simple one page planning worksheet for team members (type -skills needed, where to find them, when to begin looking; advisors, board.

Equity Allocation guidelines from Osage University Partners for university research startups where there are faculty and student co-founders (page 11).

Optimal Team size Statistics – One-page data that shows teams of 2-3 cofounders are most successful.  

Building a Successful Team CONNECTS PowerPoint. - This walks them through how to find and vet a potential team member. Addresses issues such as equity, what they need to get signed, etc.

Looking for Developers – One-page compilation of various ways that people have successfully found technical talent. This is helpful even for recruiting team members in general.

Founders Equity Pie Worksheet - Frank Demmler’s 5 page explanation on how to use this tool. I suggest it as a basis of objective discussions and recommend that each person fills out the grids independently and then come back together to discuss and (hopefully) agree on what the ratings should be. On our website in the Entrepreneurship Resource section here.

Advisors Equity: - How much equity should a founder be given and how should you structure the relationship? Founder's Institute Guide provides a sample agreement for the company and advisor to use as well as % given (with vesting) depending on the stage and type of advisor.

Student/”Intern”/Contractor Agreement: There are two versions – one for a project (not yet incorporated) and one for a company: This is a legal agreement prepared by a lawyer with a ‘fill in the blank’ for company or project specific information. If any team is getting another student or friend to help them, they should get this signed. It has provisions that the worker agrees to confidentially, non-compete, and assignment of any IP or other work that is being developed.

Getting Legal Help

How to Shop for a Lawyer PowerPoint – Students in particular are a little intimidated by lawyers and/or reach out to family and friends to do legal work to save money. One of the top ten legal mistakes made by startups is not using a ‘startup lawyer.’ They can recover from poor marketing advice, but not getting the legal side correct can be expensive, time consuming and even fatal (Would you get an orthopedic surgeon to do your brain surgery?). This includes questions to ask lawyers and what type of answers you are looking for, as well as how to manage your relationship.

List of Startup, IP and Immigration Attorneys: - This is highly vetted list of attorneys that specialize in three categories. We do not recommend law firms – we recommend specific people. This list is reviewed by the Pitt Law School staff as well as every attorney in CMU’s general counsel’s office on an annual basis. Names are removed based upon complaints or actions that sometimes only CMU’s lawyers know about. This is one resource I don’t have much control over. It is not trivial to me to ask for review for a new lawyer to be added.


  1. There may be other qualified lawyers, but they have not been vetted by Pitt or CMU.
  2. Secondly, and very important, the team member can say to the lawyer that they got their name from Olympus, but PLEASE do not refer to a list. Other lawyers call because they want to be on the list and it’s a VERY awkward conversation, particularly when CMU’s General Counsel’s Office doesn’t approve the person. 
  3. Starting a Business with an F-1 Visa - FAQ: This is prepared by our Office of International Education.
  4. Parole (PowerPoint): - This is a program that was recently revitalized and really good news for internationals who want to start a business in the US: There is a doc describing the terms as well as a ppt that also covers some of the other VISA options.
  5. Kit’s Tips Document for what students can and cannot do until an F-1 or J-1 is on OPT.

Other Frequently Requested Resources

Resources for Black Tech Entrepreneurs – Organizations and funders that specialize in Black tech entrepreneurs.

Pittsburgh Coworking Spaces (.pdf) - Vetted properties that provide small, medium, and large spaces for companies to work.

Resources for Women Entrepreneurs – Links to organizations and funds that specialize in women entrepreneurs:

  1. Women's Startup Lab
  2. Female Founders Alliance
  3. Female Founders Fund
  4. Golden Seeds
  5. Article - New Venture Fund to back Women-led Startups

Videographers – List of videographers including their specialties recommended by various startups.

Maker spaces at CMU - Links to various maker spaces at CMU with description of availability, eligibility, equipment and how to access.


Sources of CMU Funding – The ProSEED program acts as an umbrella for several different internal seed grants in areas of research, teaching, student life, community service and campus programming. Every member of the CMU community (faculty, students and staff) is eligible to apply for at least one ProSEED grant in order to provide seed funding for their new idea. Note that many have application deadlines.

Spark Grant Program Overview

ProSEED Grants   

Other CMU Grant Programs

Evaluation of funding criteria (Blue Tree Allied Angels) - This document is the scoring sheet guide used to determine funding eligibility for BT as well as any other angel group. Note that many students immediately focus on getting funding. However, if asked what do they need money for, many don’t know – they’ve just been programmed to say they need it. Almost all are too soon.

Comprehensive Guides to Local/Regional Resources

Catalyst Connections – A local group to connect manufacturers with buyers has put together and maintains this comprehensive resource map of regional resources for startups and small companies created by Catalyst Connection. It has links to resources in the following categories: Community Support Organizations, Human Capital, Sources of Capital and Funding, Technology & Product Introduction, and Commercialization. Because it can be overwhelming, I use it as much to spark for myself a few recommendations that the startup can use – and generally let them know where to find it.  It is also on our Entrepreneurs Resource site under the title Maker-to Manufactures Asset Map. 

Steel City Startup Guide – Pittsburgh Startup DirectoryThis was created by Barry Rabkin and has categories on Startups and Job Opportunity Listings; Pittsburgh Startup News; Pittsburgh Startup Networking; Startup Communities; Startup Competitions; Pittsburgh Startup Services & Support; Pittsburgh Startup Funding.  Comprehensive, but I’m not sure how current it is. I think it best to share it with the startup but point out specific links you think would be most helpful. Otherwise, it is overwhelming. 

Last Updated: 9/1/23