Carnegie Mellon University
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VentureBridge Program

The VentureBridge program is an initiative of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship exclusively focused on helping Carnegie Mellon alumni founders succeed in their entrepreneurial ventures. The program provides seed funding, office space, access to a large network of mentors and innovators, and help with startup growth and future larger scale fundraising rounds.
  • If you are a founding team, with a CMU co-founder, working on an idea, we’d love to hear from you.
  • The application cycle for the VB '23 cohort opens in February '23. Subscribe to the Swartz Center weekly newsletter to receive updates. 
  • If you’d like to partner with Swartz Center as a sponsor, please contact Aleksandar Petkov, VentureBridge Program Manager.

"By providing free office space, connections to investors, highly skilled mentors, and a cohort of fellow founders, Venture Bridge gave my team all the building blocks we needed to get our company off to a strong start. To this day, the connections we made and lessons we learned during Venture Bridge help us raise funds, acquire customers, and grow our team." - Matt Spettel, DeltaTrainer (VB ’19)

"VentureBridge helped us take our product from beta to launch in a few months. We got so much value from the mentorship component and our three amazing advisors who truly shaped Sightseek's path. The support doesn't end at Demo Day - Namrata continues to connect us with investors and new opportunities on a weekly basis." - Anna Fuller, Sightseek (VB '20)

"To me, the most valuable aspects of this program were the relationships we built with like-minded individuals and mentors and the privilege of receiving real-time feedback from world-class experts across multiple fields." - Ricardo Londono, Organoid Therapeutics (VB '20)


A Special Thanks to

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Summer Accelerator

Introduction

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The summer programming (virtual and in-person in SF and NY) includes talks by prominent investor & founders, such as Jim Swartz (Accel Partners), Lane Bess (Bess Ventures), Scott Dietzen (Pure Storage), Bill Gurley (Benchmark), Matt Rogers (Incite), Matt Humphrey (Quiet Capital), and many others, introductions to successful experts, and a number of founder roundtables, mixers, and dinners.

Companies also receive investment in the form of a SAFE note and in-kind services, read the Benefits column.

Benefits

  • 12 Week Summer Programming
  • $25,000 Investment by Carnegie Mellon
  • Introductions to angel investors, venture capital firms, accelerators. customers, suppliers, and CMU-affiliated companies
  • Matching with specific mentors
  • Incubation space in San Francisco, New York, and/or Pittsburgh. 
  • Invitations to attend different workshops and events located in the heart of Silicon Valley, New York, and Pittsburgh. 
  • $25,0000 in Amazon Web Services credits and $5,000 in Amazon Web Service consulting services. 
  • HubSpot for Startups Partner benefits (All-in-one CRM, Sales, Marketing, and Services plans)
  • $5,000 in Retool Credits
  • Introductions and opportunities to work with Swartz Center patrons

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for VentureBridge:

  • Teams must have at least one CMU affiliated alumni founder. 
  • If the affiliated founder is a CMU student they need to be eligible to and graduate by end of Spring 2023.
  • If accepted the team must commit to the full summer programming (in-person and virtual events) and attend Demo Day.

Application Process

Applications for the Summer 2023 Application cycle are not open yet. 
  • All applications must be fully completed and submitted by the application deadline and late entries will not be considered. Applications must include a pitch deck and a 2 minute video pitch.
  • Applications are reviewed by the VentureBridge Selection Committee and the strongest startup candidates are invited to present virtually to the VB Selection committee.
  • After the selected teams have presented the VB Selection Committee evaluates the best candidates and 5 - 8 teams are selected and invited to participate in the Summer Accelerator program.
  • Candidates invited to the program have a week to confirm their acceptance of the invitation.

Mentor Matching

Introduction

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The VentureBridge program hosts multiple Mentor Matching events throughout the year. These events bring founders (student and alumni) together with a network of experienced and vetted alumni who have agreed to mentor founders. Startups of all stages are encouraged to apply to be a part of these sessions. 

The Mentor Matching sessions take place in the Spring, Summer and Fall.

Benefits

Nabla Ascent Venture Bridge

  • Opportunities to network and connect with CMU Alumni, mentors, and prominent entrepreneurs. 
  • Each startup is paired and matched with 2 - 3 Mentors
  • Engage and connect with fellow CMU entrepreneurs 

Eligibility Criteria

  • Startups must have one CMU affiliated (Student, Faculty, Staff, Alumni) founder
  • If selected you must present and follow through with the mentor matching process. 

Application Process

  • The next Mentor Matching session will take place in Spring 2023.
  • Mentor Matching Sessions are hosted in the Fall and Spring Semester.  
  • Startups are required to apply and provide information on their team and startup to facilitate the mentor matching process. 
  • Once selected all startups will pitch their idea and startup in 2 - 3 minutes in person followed by opportunities to network and connect with the mentors. 
  • Following the event startups will select a group of mentors they would like to work with and if the mentors are interested the pair will be matched.
     

VentureBridge Team

VentureBridge Team

  • Namrata Banerjee, VentureBridge Director, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Aleksandar Petkov, VentureBridge Program Manager, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Dave Mawhinney, Executive Director, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; Executive Director, Donald H. Jones Center for Entrepreneurship; Associate Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship

VentureBridge Advisors

  • Bob Dobkin, Chairman of the Dobkin Intuitive Foundation, Founder and CTO of Linear Technology
  • Gabe Fenton, President, Intuitive Private Equity Group
  • Sheryl Root, Program Director of III's MSTV program, Associate Professor of the Practice for the M.S. in Software Management program
  • Jon Cagan, Faculty director Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, George Tallman and Florence Barrett Ladd Professor, Mechanical Engineering;
  • Lane Bess, Principal and Founder at Bess Ventures and Advisory
  • Marcel Depaulis, Chief Technical Officer at Proofpoint
  • Peter Clarke, Talent Partner at Accel Partners
  • Will Sanders, Tech and Entrepreneurship Alumni Group

Testimonials

"When we first entered the VentureBridge summer accelerator, we had just incorporated our company and were not much more than an idea and barebones pitch. Through the program's weekly seminars and extensive mentorship, we were able to build a coherent company business strategy, access resources for our R&D work, and transform our idea into an exciting and growing start-up. VentureBridge was transformative for Refiberd, and we would definitely recommend the experience for anyone in the early stages of their start-up." - Sarika Bajaj, Refiberd (VB '20)

"The VentureBridge program supported the EKTO VR team through a substantial market pivot during a time of complete global uncertainty. By participating in the program, we were able to execute a live stream product reveal that received worldwide attention and put us on the path to building strong relationships with partners, customers, and investors alike." - Brad Factor, EKTO VR (VB '20)

"The CMU network is very powerful and VentureBridge has made it extremely accessible for us. The entire team is always available to help us out, be it with introductions, reviewing content, or offering us advice across the various startup dimensions." - Vishakha Gupta, ApertureData (VB '20)

“VentureBridge contributed momentum and structure during Onyx’s critical early days; they also introduced key investors who were part of our first round.” - Andrew Seid, Onyx (VB '19)

"VentureBridge provided us with a lot essential resources a startup needs to grow from 0 to 1. The right mindset we developed during the VB program has been benefiting us ever since." - JJ Xu, TalkMeUp (VB '18)