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.

Check back for our spring 2023 CONNECTS schedule!

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 the day 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

Getting Dirty with Product Design

Tuesday, September 13, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Brad Eiben, Carnegie Mellon University
Presentation

Learn design thinking with a hands-on approach toward problem solving and learn the importance of getting dirty alongside your customer.


Investment Banks: What are they Good For?

Wednesday, September 14, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Peter Finn and Adriana Salazar, Cowen

Investment banks can be value-add partners to growing companies as they hit various inflection points in their journey. How can startups benefit from the services that investment banks deliver and what is the most efficient way to engage with them? Importantly, what should founders look for and expect from an investment banking relationship? As the leading investment bank for high growth companies, Cowen has been “ahead of the curve” in our institutional commitment to delivering the full range of services required by fast growing, entrepreneurial businesses, with dedicated resources across research, asset management, and investment banking capabilities.


How to Know That You are Ready for an Investment

Tuesday, September 20, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
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.


Customer Discovery: Is My Idea a Good One?

Thursday, September 22, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Kit Needham, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship
Presentation

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.


START SMART LAW: Introduction to Startup Law

Thursday, September 22, 2022
5:00 - 6:30 p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenters: David Lehman, K&L Gates & Reed McManigle, CMU

Join us for a lightning round of Q&A with top startup and intellectual property lawyers. We will kick off the evening with a quick overview of the most common startup legal issues: contract law, IP protection, raising capital, entity formation and employment law and exit planning. Then you’ll get to ask YOUR most pressing legal questions.


Business Model Canvas: A Practical Guide

Tuesday, September 27, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Craig Markovitz, CMU Swartz Center
Presentation

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.


Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

Wednesday, September 28, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
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.


The Lean Startup

Tuesday, October 4, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
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.


Exploring Blockchain Technology and Potential Applications

Wednesday, October 5, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: David Kroger, Cowen

Cowen Digital’s presentation looks over a variety of core topics including what is a blockchain, the future of the internet, decentralized finance, non-fungible tokens, and more. This comes at a time when institutional adoption is rapidly growing and allocating hundreds of millions towards development and talent.


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

Thursday, October 6, 2022
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Kelley Lynch, ,
Presentation
Excel Sheet

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!


START SMART LAW: How to Handle Your (and Others') Intellectual Property

Thursday, October 6, 2022
5:00 - 6:30  p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates, 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 (copyrights, trade secrets, patents, trademarks, etc)
  • Do you really need a patent?
  • Difference between a provisional patent and a formal patent filing
  • Developing a patent strategy
  • How to handle IP created by class projects when one or more of the student team members want to pursue commercialization
  • 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)

Early Stage User Acquisition and Marketing

Tuesday, October 11, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Matt Spettel (CEO) and John LaGue (COO), 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.


Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Creating Value with IP

Wednesday, October 12, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Matt Kirmayer & Pete Gutsche, Perkins Coie
Presentation

Perkins Coie LLP attorneys will discuss the legal fundamentals involved in monetizing your intellectual property (IP) during this panel. The seminar will cover the basics on the “big three of IP” – patent, copyright, and trademark – and how you can use legal agreements to protect and monetize your IP, including a discussion of common IP licensing terms and conditions.


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

Tuesday, October 25, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
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.


CANCELLED: Splitting the Founder’s Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation - Rescheduled for the Spring 2023 Semester

Wednesday, October 26, 2022
12:30 – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Frank Demmler, Startup Whisperer, 2 X Frank Entrepreneurial Yoda-for-Hire

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 LAW: HOW TO FORM YOUR STARTUP COMPANY, PART 1: THE BASICS

Thursday, October 27, 2022
5:00 - 6:30  p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates, Stephanie Dangel, University of Pittsburgh & Law School
University of Pittsburgh Law School Students
Presentation

Learn the basic legal issues involved with new company formation, including choice of entity (LLC, C-Corp, social enterprise options such as non-profit (501c), Benefit Corporation, and B Corps certification, and other company structure alternatives, basics of founders agreements, splitting equity and employee vesting. We’ll start the evening by hearing from lawyers and a startup who will share their experiences forming startup companies. This is a prerequisite for participating in How to Form Your Startup Company – Part 2


Financial Modeling


Tuesday, November 1, 2022
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Phil Compton, Locomation
Presentation
Cap Table
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.


Early Stage Fundraising from Silicon Valley Investors: Terminology, Milestones, Expectations

Wednesday, November 2, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Kelly Coyne, Grit Ventures
Presentation
Please Note: Speaker will be virtual for this event

 


CANCELLED: Launching Hardware Startups with Monozukuri, The Art of Making Things in a Creative Way

Thursday, November 3, 2022
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Nobuhiro Seki, Monozukuri Ventures

Hardware is no longer hard: Manufacturing in a Japanese way has become more accessible for startups, especially when it comes to low-volume production with good quality. Come learn how you can get started!


Creating a Successful Video Pitch

Tuesday, November 8, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Brian Staszel, Carnegie Mellon University
Presentation

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.


Pitching Innovation to the C-Suite


Wednesday, November 9, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
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.


START SMART LAW: HOW TO FORM YOUR STARTUP COMPANY, PART 2: LEGAL ROADMAP WORKSHOP

Thursday, November 10, 2022
5:00 - 6:30  p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates, Stephanie Dangel, University of Pittsburgh & Law School
University of Pittsburgh Law School Students
Presentation

Your team will be matched with one or more law students to design a “legal roadmap” that will recommend the best entity option for your startup and the basics of a founders agreement – 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 a description to sad111@pitt.edu by Friday, October 21.**


Agile Product Development

Tuesday, November 15, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
In Person: Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, 3rd Level, Tepper Quad/Virtual: Zoom will be sent the day before event
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmire 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: Building and Leveraging Your Professional Team

Tuesday, November 15, 2022
5:00 - 6:30  p.m. EST
Virtual
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates, Stephanie Dangel, University of Pittsburgh, Kit Needham, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship & Rhonda Schuldt, University of Pittsburgh's Big Idea Center
Presentation

In addition to your cofounders and team members, startups need a knowledgeable team of professionals from a variety of fields who are experienced working with startups. This includes your lawyer, accountant, insurer, and banker as well as advisors. This session will start with how to find the lawyer that is the best fit for your startup and then give some advice on rounding out your professional team, recruiting advisors and maximizing the value of the relationship.

Upcoming CONNECTS Events

Laurie Barkman
connects audience
Alison Alvarez



START SMART LAW Sponsored By

ipi_logo-300x69-min.png

Big Idea Center

kl_gates_logo-300x69-min.png