Carnegie Mellon University
meredith gerelli connects

CONNECTS

Our CONNECTS seminar 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 seminars run throughout the academic year. Teams looking for talent and talent looking for teams can CONNECT at these events.

New this year:

  • McGinnis Venture Competition Focused Seminars (Fall 2023)
    • Applying for the McGinnis Venture Competition? Attend these seminars to help prepare. These are noted in the seminar descriptions

All CONNECTS events will be hosted in-person at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, Tepper Quad, 3rd Level. A virtually option will also be available.

Advanced registration is required. Zoom information will be sent before the event to all registered attendees. Please note that the session will be recorded.

Join the CMU Entrepreneurship Slack to connect with fellow entrepreneurs

Startup Funding: Prizes, PRIs, Philanthropy

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Leah Lizarondo, CMU Swartz Center

Presentation

Join us at the upcoming CONNECTS workshop, for an overview of some alternative funding strategies tailored for startups that may target B-Corp status and have social, economic, or environmental impact.


Transitioning and Transacting Low to Mid Market Privately Held Companies

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Meredith Grelli, CMU Swartz Center & Laurie Barkman, M&A Advisor and CMU Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship

Tepper faculty members, Laurie Barkman and Meredith Meyer Grelli, will walk through selling smaller companies from both the buy and sell side of the transaction.


Applying AI to Save Lives 2.0: Harnessing Generative AI to Enable Drones to be Self Aware

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Anthony Bartolo, Principal Cloud Advocate Lead, Microsoft

Explore the exciting world of artificial intelligence and its impact on people's lives. Discover how tools like Generative AI, OpenAI, and Copilot are changing the way we access information. Dive into the collaborative efforts of Microsoft, the startup Indro Robotics, and the Canadian Coast Guard, as they work together to make drones self-aware for search and rescue missions. Learn about the crucial role played by Generative AI in this project and how it's shaping the future of technology.

This session provides a look at the fascinating intersection of AI, startup initiatives, and life-saving efforts, offering valuable insights into the innovative potential of these technologies.


START SMART LAW: STARTING A BUSINESS WITH AN F-1 Student VISA

Tuesday, January 23, 2024
5:00 - 6:15 p.m. EST
Virtual
Panelists:            

  • David Kalson, Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, Director of the Emerging Business Group
  • Larry Lebowitz, Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, Director of the Immigration Group
  • Linda Gentile, CMU, Director, Office of International Education

Presentation

Students with a Visa can legally start businesses as well as work on a startup team. Come learn the details of how to do this without violating your student status and immigration options after graduating.


Finding Follow-on Capital

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Ben Garber, 7 Mile Advisors

Presentation

"We've very excited about your company, but it's just not a fit for us right now." Sound familiar? In this workshop you'll learn how to use tools currently available to all CMU students to run the same process used by investment bankers and venture capitalists to target next round investors. We will cover profiling your company and potential investors, available resources and how to use them, getting prepared and what to expect when raising capital. Fundraising is an arduous process. Engaging the right audience can make it easier.


Tax, Business and Accounting Issues for Startups

Thursday, January 25, 2024

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Carissa Habsburg & Megan Rechenberg, Sisterson & Co. LLP

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


How to Know That You are Ready for an Investment

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Christine S. Ferguson-Rau, Ferguson Financial Consulting

Presentation

Learn a checklist that will help you decide if you are ready to raise capital for your startup.


An Entrepreneurs' Guide to Managing Legal

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Dave Mawhinney & Craig Markovitz, CMU Swartz Center

Presentation

Having a productive, efficient and effective relationship with legal counsel is very important for an entrepreneur.  How do you select the right firm?  Manage the work?  Control costs?  Get maximum value and valuable advice?  This interactive session led by seasoned entrepreneurs will provide tips, hints and advice for having a happy, productive and mutually beneficial relationship with legal counsel.


Pitching: An Investors Perspective

Thursday, February 1, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Catherine Mott & Sreekar Gadde, BlueTree VC

Presentation

Understanding human behavior is the key to many successful activities. This discussion will remind founders that there is a formula for knowing your audience and pitching effectively to that audience


CANCELLED: Equity Crowdfunding - the VC alternative, risks, rewards, and when should you do it?

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Maggie Zheng, Wefunder

This event has been cancelled. 

Understand what equity crowdfunding means and why an increasing number of startups are opting for this over raising venture capital. Learn the benefits and tradeoffs of community rounds and why mission driven companies should consider this type of raise.


Cost Efficient IP Strategies that lead to Massive Exits

Thursday, February 8, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Sreekar Gadde, BlueTree VC & Jason Somma, Attorney/Consultant

Presentation

Intangible assets currently account for 90% of the the S&P 500 index’s total value. For startups, the entire value is often based solely on intangibles. This session focuses on using efficient intellectual property (IP) strategies to drive business value (and investment opportunity) for your early-stage, high-growth, company. IP, in its many forms, as it often defines what differentiates you from your competition. Being able to describe this strategically can drive up valuations and acquisitions. 
 
Further, to better position a company, business owners must own their IP strategy and not just leave it to their legal counsel. In this session, we go beyond the basics of what patents, copyrights, and trademarks are, focusing instead on how to build an IP Strategy that leverages what makes your company unique to drive business value.


START SMART LAW: Building Your Team

Tuesday, February 13, 2024
5:00 - 6:15 p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenters: David Lehman and Dave Garraux ,K&L Gates

You’ve incorporated and just got into an accelerator. You are in discussions with a potential cofounder. Now what? Learn the ins and outs of staffing your startup, including employment law issues involving: adding co-founders; working with advisors; interns v. volunteers; employees v. independent contractors; invention assignments, non-disclosure agreements, non-competes, and the use of equity to attract and retain key personnel.


How Innovation Can Help to Heal Healthcare

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Jay Srini, SCS Ventures

Presentation

The damage from the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to disrupt healthcare for a very long time. The workforce stress includes high rates of burnout, psychological stress and suicide with reports that 90% of nurses are considering leaving the profession. This crisis poses an incredible opportunity for innovation, if we can get the attention of leadership overwhelmed by their current struggles.


Practical Business Negotiation for the Early-Stage Company

Thursday, February 15, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Eric Kline, Troutman Pepper

Presentation

Negotiating for a startup can be a “David vs. Goliath” battle and conventional strategies rarely work. Eric has advised early stage clients for 25+ years and will discuss important considerations as you bring on key employees, negotiate early customer contracts, finance the company and consider an exit. He will share with you strategies that have worked to level the playing field with bigger companies. Join us for an entertaining afternoon and some practical advice in startup negotiation.


Revolutionize Your Coding Workflow: Proven Strategies for Unleashing GitHub Copilot's Power in Startups

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option
Presenter: Alfredo Deza, Microsoft

Please Note: Speaker will be virtual for this event

Unlock the untapped potential of AI-assisted coding with our session on maximizing GitHub Copilot for startup success. Move beyond the hype and gain actionable insights into Copilot's functionality and best practices, ensuring your team harnesses its full capabilities in the dynamic startup landscape. Explore how AI transforms coding and learn how GitHub Copilot can redefine your development process.

This session underscores the importance of curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking in leveraging Copilot effectively, empowering startups to elevate their coding game. Seize the opportunity to reshape your coding future with GitHub Copilot, where the true power of AI meets the innovation-driven startup mindset.


Early-Stage User Acquisition and Marketing

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Matt Spettel & John LaGue, CoPilot

Presentation

Matt Spettel (CEO) and John LaGue (COO) of CoPilot break down the basics of acquiring your first 10, 100, and 1000+ customers as a consumer business. The talk will cover the basics of growth hacking, channel experimentation (across advertising, influencers, and partnerships), acquisition funnels, and unit economics.


How To Design For Production At Super Speed

Thursday, February 22, 2024

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Elijah Wiegmann, Spruce Pup

Presentation

The gap between early prototypes and production manufacturing can be a huge challenge. Making a plan, understanding constraints and working through puzzle problems in a light, agile way is the key to speeding up the process. Learn about different approaches to problem solving with an eye towards design and manufacturing.


CANCELLED: Insurance for Startups

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Laurie Kuzneski, Kuzneski Insurance Group

This event has been cancelled. 

Need insurance for your startup? Learn what you need and when you need it.


Keys to Building a Successful & Sellable Startup: Cashflow Forecasting & Digital Organization

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Kelley Lynch, Chief Financial Officer, sovaSage Inc.



Presentation

After creating the right product and hiring the right people, a company's next most critical elements needed to grow, thrive and have a successful exit strategy are Cashflow Forecasting and Digital Organization.  I initially created a Cashflow Forecasting model to help the company I was working with get out of the 2008 financial crisis.  Since then, I have worked with numerous companies and have easily adapted the model for each company's needs, which also included three successful exits.  You will learn how to make a 13-week rolling cash flow model that will give you better insights to your company’s operations, create different forecast scenarios, and be the basis of 12+ month cashflow forecast.  We will also talk about how being disciplined with your Digital Organization is needed to do cashflow forecasting and is crucial if you plan to bring in investors, bankers or pursue an exit strategy. The best part – this modeling is not intimidating to the non-financial oriented entrepreneurs!


The Hustlenomics Way: The Toyz Story

Thursday, February 29, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Damola Idowu, EIC and Founder of Owners Illustrated Magazine

Presentation

Hustlenomics Way presents the Toyz Story. How the creation of the intersection of Hip Hop culture and cars gadgets and video games launched Toyz Magazine in 2007. This helped Wole Idowu reach Carnegie Mellon University at 15 in 2012 and appear on CNBC in the 20 Under 20 Transforming Tomorrow documentary with Peter Thiel.

The Toyz journey has designers like Ralph Gilles and artists like 50 Cent intersecting in the industry with coverage that overlaps culture with commerce. Working with Epic Games and EA Games and Esports in 2008!!! Video games by Microsoft on the cover of a hip-hop magazine. They pioneered the intersection of hip-hop and technology.

Damola will discuss how this has become a movement to empower a generation of millions on the same path to become at least 6 figure earners in tech and entrepreneurs with their creativity. Learn how storytelling and content creation and user-generated content for video games opens up pathways to Tech!!!!


Franchising - Opportunities are Everywhere

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Chris Cynkar, FranChoice

Register

With more than 3,000 franchise brands to choose from, how can you determine a good one from a....not so good one? Join Chris Cynkar to explore the world of franchising and determine the right questions to ask to determine franchise opportunities that best fit your objectives.  Chris is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School, a past Franchise Consultant with FranChoice as well as investor in 5 different franchise brands over the past 13 years.


Building a startup from 0 to 1: Operations and Fundraising

Thursday, March 14, 2024

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual Option

Presenter: Mar Hershenson, Pear VC

Please Note: Speaker will be virtual for this event

Register

You’ve probably heard the phrase “0 to 1.” But how does a founder actually get to 1? What happens in that messy in-between zone? What’s the first thing you should do when you’re at 0? Mar will lend some much-needed clarity to this messy early part of the startup journey, breaking down concretely what it means to go from 0 to 0.5 and 0.5 to 1.


START SMART LAW: – Part 1 – The Fundamentals

Thursday, March 21, 2024
5:00 - 6:15 p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates

Register

Learn about the legal and economic/business issues associated with raising funds from:

  • Friends and Family
  • Seed Funding (including from University, government and Non-Profit Funding)
  • Incubators and Accelerators
  • Angel investors v Venture Capitalists
  • Series A, B, ….

This session is a prerequisite to understanding and participating in Part 2 – Negotiating the Term Sheet.


START SMART LAW: Startups v. Investors: How to Structure your Capital Raise – Part 2 - Negotiating the Term Sheet Workshop

Tuesday, March 26, 2024
5:00 - 6:15 p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman and Oded Green, K&L Gates

Register

Join us for a fun negotiation exercise in which you’ll play the role of startup or investor. We’ll begin the evening with a quick overview of the legal issues associated with investing in startups. We’ll then divide into investor and startup groups, who will meet separately with lawyers to decide on the terms they want. We’ll end the evening with a negotiation led by these lawyers and workshop volunteers who will play the part of founders and investors.


START SMART LAW: Worst Mistakes Made by Startups

Tuesday, April 9, 2024
5:00 - 6:15 p.m. EST
Virtual
Panelists: TBA
Moderator: David Lehman, K&L Gates

Register

A panel of lawyers will share the ‘horror stories’ of mistakes that startups have made and the consequences. Learn from the mistakes of others so you can avoid the pitfalls.

Designing a Product Culture

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual

Presenter: Brad Eiben, Carnegie Mellon University

Presentation

Learn why and how to:

  • Understand customer needs
  • Defining and prioritizing problems
  • Generate ideas for solutions
  • Prototyping and testing
  • Leading your team along the way

Business Model Canvas: A Practical Guide

Thursday, September 14, 2023

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Craig Markovitz, CMU Swartz Center

Presentation

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition. 

Many aspiring entrepreneurs have heard of the business model canvas, but few actually use it correctly.  This workshop will focus on the proper techniques to leverage the full value of this important tool for business planning and validation.


Valuation and Capitalization: It’s Not Fake News

Tuesday, September 19, 2023
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Matt Kirmayer, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP

Presentation

Come hear Matt explain the basic math for determining ownership and financing of a startup company at formation and among the members of the founding team. He will also explain how valuation caps and discounts work in SAFEs as well as the math used to understand priced preferred stock financings. Matt’s goal is to identify and explain the many misconceptions about what the numbers really mean in the startup world.


Start Smart Law: Introduction to Startup Law

Thursday, September 21, 2023

5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. EST

Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates & Stephanie Dangel, Univ. of Pittsburgh Law School

Using a checklist that will be distributed, we’ll introduce the key legal needs and issues for a startup: founders’ agreements, equity splits, company formation, handling IP, raising capital, building a team, etc. Then you’ll get to ask YOUR most pressing legal questions.  This session and checklist will be the basis of future Start Smarts, which will go into each of the issues in more depth.


Customer Discovery: Is My Idea a Good One?

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Kit Needham, Project Olympus, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

Presentation

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition.

Have an idea or a technology that you think solves a big problem? Before you start building your product, learn how to correctly do “customer discovery” so you create a solution that customers will want and pay for. Saves time, prevents unnecessary pivots, and sets the stage for your first pilot.


Uncovering Ideas with Strategic Design

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Megan Guidi, The ViB Group/CMU

Presentation

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition.

“That’s a great idea!” is an exclamation we’d all like to hear from our leaders, instructors, investors and users. But are great ideas just lucky strikes? Or is there a structured way to explore possibilities and generate ideas? In this seminar, we’ll focus on the types of strategic design methods used to uncover ideas, discuss how to implement these in your own practice and try one or two!

You’ll:

  • Learn how to identify where you are in the process of having a “great idea”
  • Appropriately target methods to your work
  • Get FREE access to a virtual strategic design tool-kit

Please come ready to follow-along and participate in interactive activities (this will not be a passive session).


Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

Thursday, September 28, 2023

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Len Caric, Carnegie Mellon University

Presentation

Why interview for a job when you can be the CEO of your own company after graduation? No ideas for a business? No problem, acquire an existing business and be in control of your future.


Exploring Eight Types of Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual

Presenter: Laurie Barkman, M&A Advisor and CMU Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship

Presentation

Thinking about entrepreneurship? Join Laurie Barkman for a discussion about entrepreneurial career options, success factors, and how to find the right fit for you.


Pitching Innovation to the C-Suite

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual

Presenter: Melissa Murphy, Carnegie Mellon University

Presentation

One of the most common complaints of corporate entrepreneurs is being blindsided by questions from outside their areas of expertise. Even well-prepared corporate entrepreneurs have higher-stakes conversations than traditional startup CEOs with stakeholders coming from narrower perspectives.

Before pitching the idea, think about it from the perspective of the functional areas of leadership in the C-Suite. Through what lenses will the most powerful decision-makers in the company view new ideas?

Join us for a lively discussion about better ways to prepare for pitching innovation to the C-Suite, the much higher communications burden placed on intrapreneurs in the early days of innovation and how to better leverage tools such as the Pitching Innovation to the C-Suite Canvas.


Agile Product Development

Thursday, October 5, 2023
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmere Ventures

Presentation

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 Law: How to Handle Your (and Others’) Intellectual Property

Thursday, October 5, 2023

5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. EST

Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, George Dickos & Lauren Murray, K&L Gates & Reed McManigle, CMU

Intellectual Property is an asset to be protected. This session will cover how to deal with IP issues, including:

  • Different ways to protect your company’s IP (trade secrets, patents, copyrights, trademarks, etc.)
  • How to handle IP created by class projects when one or more of the student team members want to pursue commercialization.
  • Developing a patent strategy.
    • Do you really need a patent?
    • Cost a patent: Legal fees and other filing expenses
    • Difference between a provisional patent and a formal patent filing.
    • Tips on searching the US Patent Office Database (for prior ‘art’ e.g existing patents)
    • What to expect after filing a patent (Time and expenses)

Science vs. Art in Pricing and Revenue

Tuesday, October 10, 2023
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Laura Forth, Go Further, LLC

Presentation

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition.

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition. The science of pricing involves systematic analysis, data-driven methodologies and profit-maximizing techniques. The art of pricing encompasses the intuitive, creative and strategic aspects of setting prices. Every good revenue model requires a bit of both.

This workshop blends the 'science' of market-proven best practices with the 'art' of creative strategies, helping entrepreneurs build a confident revenue model.


The Lean Startup

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual

Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, CMU Swartz Center

Presentation

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.


Financial Modeling

Thursday, October 12, 2023

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Phil Compton

Presentation
Cap Table Example
Financial Model Template

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 projections to your investors, Board and fellow team members. Includes both a financial model template and a user-friendly simple cap table.


How to Win Friends and Influence Judges: the lost art of the Question & Answer experience

Tuesday October 24, 2023
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Adam Paulisick, maad labs/CMU

Presentation

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition.

Most people think that great presentations are finished when you have completed your pitch but that's just when the live-or-die moment emerges in the questions that come from panelists, investors, fellow entrepreneurs, or audience members to see if you are really doing something differentiated. This session will focus on how to inventory those likely questions, especially the ones that might get hostile, and proactively answer or crowdsource within your team the most differentiated answers.

  • You'll:
    Learn how to identify different types of hostile frequently asked questions (polar, open, closed, etc)
  • Explore answer patterns that result in urgency, heavy recall, and a variety of other desired outcomes
  • Get FREE access (30 days) to Skillbuilder.io to help easily crowdsource the best answers proactively to these tough questions for your pitch
  • Work towards the 10 most likely make-or-break questions you'll get LIVE!

Please come ready with a tablet or laptop to follow along, interact, and workshop your specific questions during this session.


Splitting the Founder’s Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Frank Demmler, Startup Whisperer, 2 X Frank Entrepreneurial Yoda-for-Hire

Presentation

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.


I'll fix it in Post! Editing Your Pitch Video

Thursday, October 26, 2023
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Brian Staszel, Carnegie Mellon University

YouTube Video

This seminar is recommended for anyone participating in the McGinnis Venture Competition.

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. This follow-up talk will focus on executing techniques anyone with a laptop and smartphone could do.

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


Start Smart Law: How to Form your Startup Company – Part 1 – The Basics

Thursday, October 26, 2023

5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. EST

Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates & Stephanie Dangel, Univ. of Pittsburgh Law School

Presentation

Learn the basic legal issues involved with new company formation, including choice of entity (LLC, C-Corp, Benefit Corporation, Benefit Company, Non-profits, and B Corps certification, and other alternatives), basics of founders’ agreements, splitting equity and employee vesting. We’ll start the evening by hearing from a startup lawyer and founder, who will share their experience forming a startup company.

This is a prerequisite for participating in How to Form Your Startup Company – Part 2


Start Smart Law: How to Form Your Startup Company – Part 2 – Workshop

Thursday, November 2, 2023

5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. EST

Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates & Stephanie Dangel, Univ. of Pittsburgh Law School

We will match your team will be matched with one or more law students who will work with you to design a “legal roadmap” that will recommend the best entity option for your startup and the basics of a Founders Agreement.  The roadmap will also provide guidance on other legal issues on your ‘checklist’ - all under the supervision of experienced startup lawyers!   This workshop fills up quickly, so if you want to work with a law student, please send the brief application to Stephanie Dangel  sad111@pitt.edu by Thursday 10/29.

Note: Participants in this workshop are not obligated to form a legal entity.  Rather, this workshop will help to prepare participants to form a legal entity if/when the timing is right for their startup. 


You Have a Term Sheet from a Potential Investor on the Table. Now What?

Tuesday, November 7, 2023
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Matthew Weinbaum & David Kalson, Dentons

Negotiating your first term sheet for a convertible preferred stock equity financing can seem daunting. The terms typically come from a potential lead investor that has participated in financing rounds with dozens, if not hundreds, of emerging companies. Understanding your cap structure and what terms to push back on are important factors in determining what structural and economic control the original common stockholders will retain in the company post-financing. The purpose of this discussion is to walk through the Series Seed / Series A financing process, as well as the terms that are routinely negotiated in these early-stage financings. Through participating in this session, we hope to provide founders (and investors) with a better understanding of what a ‘clean,’ neutral term sheet should look like and what is required to bring such a financing round to close. Appreciating what’s ‘market’ will help parties avoid wasting time and capital on unnecessary points, while honing in on the terms that are important and relevant to the company’s future success.


Recent Trends in Venture Capital and B2B AI

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual
Presenter: Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures

Presentation

Join Cindy Padnos, Tepper Alum, and BBA member and founder of Illuminate Ventures to hear how venture capital has evolved over the past 18 months, including where VCs are investing and how AI is impacting B2B software platforms and solutions. A short presentation will be followed by an open “ask anything” conversation where students can pose questions about topics like raising capital for a startup, becoming a VC or how startups are leveraging AI.


To Trust or Not to Trust: What Every Startup Needs to Know about Privacy and Cybersecurity

Thursday, November 9, 2023

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST

In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual

Presenter: John Funge, DataTribe

Presentation

Privacy and cybersecurity are no longer back-office tasks sequestered away from the core of a business. With a steady drum beat of high-profile security breaches and cases of customer data mismanagement, privacy and security are increasingly becoming board-level topics for companies large and small. They are both a threat and opportunity. This seminar will provide an overview of key privacy and cybersecurity regulations, trends and practices that every startup needs to know.

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