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 workshops run throughout the academic year. Teams looking for talent and talent looking for teams can CONNECT at these events.

Attend Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, our kick-off to our CONNECTS events!

Thank you for attending the 2021-22 CONNECTS.
Check back for the 2022-23 CONNECTS schedule.


Join the CMU Entrepreneurship Slack to connect with fellow entrepreneurs

Tactical Steps to Launching Sales

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


 EST
Presenter: Bryan Whittington, Evergreen Business Services
Virtual
Presentation

Come learn how to:

  • Quickly capture interest & curiosity of prospect
  • Know your leading & lagging indicators
  • Reverse engineer the required output from indicators for the following:
    • Activity level
    • List size
    • Team size
    • Time commitment

The Challenge of Innovation in Healthcare – An Industry Crippled by COVID-19

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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


Presenter: Ginny Pribanic, MedRespond, LLC

Virtual
Presentation

St. Patrick's Day, 2020, is when COVID-19 dramatically changed healthcare in the US.  Hospital were overwhelmed with ICU patients needing ventilators, stressing a system already short on resources.  Non-essential services were stopped.  Hospitals suffered major financial losses, estimated at over $300B in 2020.

For telehealth innovators, this was a boon.  But for so many innovators, getting the attention of hospital executives was an impossible climb.  We'll look at winners and losers, and what it could mean for healthcare innovation over the next decade.


Tax, Business and Accounting Issues for Startups

Thursday, January 20, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


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

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


Accelerating Your Startup via Corporate Partnerships

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmire Ventures

Virtual
Presentation

Listen to a number of corporate partners discuss different ways to collaborate with their organizations to accelerate your startup.  This can range from first customer programs to strategic investments.  Participants will include companies currently working with the Swartz Center's Corporate Startup Lab (CSL).  The panel will be moderated by investor, professor, and director of CSL Sean Ammirati.


Practical Business Negotiation for the Early Stage Company

Wednesday January 26, 2022
12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Eric Kline, Troutman Pepper
Virtual
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 considerations as you bring on your first employees, negotiate early contracts, move toward financing the company and consider 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.


Legal Considerations for Social Entrepreneurs

Thursday, January 27, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Eryn Correa, Correa Legal
Virtual
Presentation

The legal landscape for for-profit social enterprises is still developing. How can you ensure that your business is fulfilling its mission without exposing yourself to additional risk? In this seminar, learn what the law requires so you can make sure you are protected while doing good in the world.


START SMART LAW: How to Start a Business on an F-1 Student Visa

Thursday, January 27, 2022

5:00 p.m. -6:30 p.m. EST

Virtual via Zoom

Presenter: Panel
Presentation

  • 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

Students with an F-1 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. (In the past we have also talked about other visas, including H1B).


Growth Hacking Tactics in 2022

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Joey Rahimi, aikenhouse.com
Virtual
Presentation

Learn online marketing for startups.


Landing Your First Five Customers

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Alex Salazar, Neotribe Ventures
Virtual
Presentation

Finding your first customers is one of the single most difficult milestones for any new technology company and requires skills most founders don't yet have.  At this stage,  the product is typically too early for traditional sales, and yet, unlike typical product feedback meetings, you still need to push customers to commit to buying. In this presentation, we'll discuss a set of techniques to help you find those first five, pilot customers-- without having to hire a salesperson.


Building a Successful Team

Thursday, February 3, 2022

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


Presenter: Kit Needham, Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship 

Virtual
Presentation

Got an idea for a startup but need to find co-founders or teammates? Worked on a business startup as part of a class project and want to pursue it afterwards – with or without some of your classmates? Want to join a student startup team and know what to expect or ask for? Learn successful techniques to help your team create a solid foundation that can help your startup thrive, attract funding and avoid problems in the future.


Accounting for Start-Ups - A Beginner's Guide

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Christine S. Ferguson-Rau
Presentation

Startup business owners can be a lot of things — an attorney, a designer, an engineer, a CS Ph.D., or a skilled woodworker. What they usually aren’t is an experienced bookkeeper or accountant. Properly tracking your financial transactions is part of being a business owner, whether you have a startup or an established business.

Startup business accounting can be particularly important since it’s likely that you’re operating your new business on a tight budget. Even if you’re lucky enough to have millions backing your business, your investors are going to want to know what you’re spending their money on. Join us to talk about the "back of the house" for a start-up!


Finding Follow-On Capital: Identifying and Engaging Your Next Investors

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


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.


The Nuts and Bolts of Angel Investing

Thursday, February 10, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Presenter: Sreekar Gadde, Blue Tree Allied Angels

Presentation

Since the late 90’s, Angel Investing has grown from a cottage industry to a subsector of venture capital, investing $28 Billion annually in the US.  However, the industry is multi-faceted.  Angels can act alone or in groups, be sophisticated or unsophisticated, act as guardian angels or nuisance angels, form professional funds or use a crowd funding platform, but ultimately they are typically the capital that follows friends and family and bridges growing companies to the larger venture capital firms.  This session will describe the various subsets of the industry and focus on how to approach the more “professionally managed” angel groups/funds that will typically lead to successful co-investing and follow-on investing to help companies grow.


START SMART LAW: Building and Leveraging Your Professional Team

Thursday, February 10, 2022
5:00 p.m. -6:30 p.m. EST
Virtual via Zoom
Presenter: Panel
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. This session starts with how to find the lawyer that is the best fit for your startup and then gives some advice on rounding out your team and maximizing the value of the relationship.


The Lean Startup

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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


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.


Leveraging Partnerships with FDA during and after COVID-19 : Advice for Startups 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Dr. Elora Gupta, Drug and Device Advisory Group, and Dr. Courtney Williamson, AbiliLife

Presentation

The presentation will discuss the evolution of FDA engagement, responses, and newly formed guidance for medical products as they relate to the impact of COVID.


How to get Your Share of the Over $3.6B Non-Dilutive Federal Grant Funds to Help Commercialize Your Innovation

Thursday, February 17, 2022

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


Presenter: Kelly S. Wylam, Director, Innovation Partnership (IPart)

There are 11 different federal agencies offering over $3.6B in technology innovation, business assistance grants through the Small Business Innovation (SBIR) & Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs.  Understanding each agency’s mission and focus, their interests/topic, and navigating their project proposal demands to access these grant funds can be a daunting undertaking, alone.  Pennsylvania’s Innovation Partnership (IPart) can help demystify these programs, easing some of confusion – giving you a greater competitive edge for success in winning these awards.


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

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.


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.


Software May Eat the World, But You Still Need a Fork

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

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


Presenter: Matt Verlinich, Innovation Works
Presentation

For the last decade, investors, media and those who follow technology have been focused almost entirely on software. More recently, the buzz has shifted to IOT, robotics and manufactured products. Learn why CMU entrepreneurs are positioned to take advantage of the renewed interest in connected products and the resources available to help get their products from idea to market.


Hustlenomics Way Presents Superhero Designers

Thursday, February 24, 2022

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


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

Presentation

Learn how incredibly diverse people transform the ways you design products in the fashion, automotive and interactive software industries.

Highlighting; J Mays, Ralph Giles, Henrik Fisker, Earl Lucas, Feruz Jane, Ian Callum, Moray Callum, Karim Habib, Bill Giese, Argee Vasquez, Cliff Bleszinski and more!


Financial Modeling



Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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


Presenter: Phil Compton, Locomation
Presentation

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 test a startup idea in one day

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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


Presenter: Max Mirho, EntrepreNerd
Virtual

There's a lot of risk to building something, even if you've done a lot of investigation into the market. In this session, we'll go through how you can test your startup ideas in the market to see if anyone will buy what you're selling - BEFORE you spend any time or money making the product itself.


How To Design For Production At Super Speed

Thursday, March 3, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Elijah Wiegmann, Founder of Base Design Studio

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.


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

Thursday, March 3, 2022
5:00 p.m. -6:30 p.m. EST
Virtual via Zoom
Presenter: Panel

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

  • Do you really need a patent?
  • Difference between a provisional patent and a formal patent filing
  • Developing a patent strategy
  • Different ways to protect your company’s IP (patents, trademarks, etc)
  • 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)

From Classroom to Boardroom: Turning a Class Project into a Fully Fledged Corporation

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Alison Alvarez, BlastPoint
Presentation

CMU Alumni (TPR '16, SCS '07) Alison Alvarez will talk about the process of taking a project from a Tepper entrepreneurship course and building it into a company worth millions of dollars and serving dozens of large corporate customers. Her company, BlastPoint, creates persona driven analytics solutions that solve hard problems in predicting customer behavior.

Topics covered:

  • Finding a co-founder
  • Building a prototype
  • Finding the right market
  • Lessons learned in pricing
  • Creating a network for fundraising

Leverage IP to Drive Business Value

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Sreekar Gadde & Jason Somma, Blue Tree Allied Angels

Presentation

Learn how an IP Strategy drives business value (and investment opportunity) for your early-stage, high-growth, company.  IP, in its many forms, defines what differentiates you from your competition.  Being able to describe this strategically can drive up valuations and acquisitions.  Thus, to better positions a company, business owners must own their IP Strategy and leave implementation of that strategy to their legal counsel.  In this session, learn the basics of what IP is, what an IP Strategy is and how to build an IP Strategy that leverages what makes your company unique to drive business value.


CANCELLED: The Art & Science of Negotiation

Thursday, March 17, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Catherine Shea, CMU Tepper School of Business

We negotiate daily in a variety of contexts: business, family and social.  Negotiations serve several purposes: (1) establishing new or renewing old relationships; (2) changing behaviors and expectations; and (3) resolving conflict and disputes. How effectively we negotiate exerts important effects on the quality of life we live and how successful we are at work. Why do we sometimes get our way, while other times we walk away feeling frustrated by our inability to achieve the agreement we desire?


This seminar covers several key principles for successful negotiation and conflict management, and is designed to address a broad spectrum of negotiation challenges that are faced by managers and professionals.

Learn strategies for claiming and creating value in negotiations, how to effectively prepare for a negotiation, how to avoid common negotiation traps and helpful phrases and questions to use in negotiations.


START SMART LAW: Hiring and Firing

Thursday, March 17, 2022
5:00 p.m. -6:30 p.m. EST
Virtual via Zoom
Presenter: Panel
Presentation

You have a cofounder. Now what? Learn the ins and outs of staffing a company, including hiring of employees and/or retaining independent contractors, interns and volunteers, important terms of employment or retention, restrictive covenants, and the use of employee equity to attract and retain personnel.


The Importance of Cash Flow and Digital Files

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Kelley Lynch, CFO & VP of Operations, Othot

Presentation

Profits and EBITDA are crucial to any company; however it turns out cash flow might actually be more critical, especially for small and fast growing companies as we saw last year during the stay at home orders during the global pandemic. Learn how to make a 13-week rolling cash flow model that will give you better insights to your company’s operations and be the basis of 12-month cashflow forecast.  Also learn how the discipline of cash flow modeling can help with your relationships with bankers and investors, current or potential. The best part – this modeling is not intimidating to the non-financial oriented entrepreneurs!


Addressing common questions surrounding Patent Law

Thursday, March 24, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: John Powers, Powers Intellectual Property Law
Presentation

In this talk, attorney John Powers will be discussing common questions inventors have surrounding patent law, so that they will be better armed if the market share they have created through innovation is threatened.  Having even a rudimentary understanding of this subject matter is vital to a technology business.  As most people don’t sleep with their doors unlocked, why would a company with valuable intangible assets, whose not considering trade secret protection, ignore the benefits of patent protection?


Franchising - Opportunities are Everywhere

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

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


Presenter: Chris Cynkar, FranChoice

Presentation

With nearly 3,000 franchise brands offering investment opportunities today, how can you determine a good one from a....not so good one? Join Chris Cynkar to explore the world of franchising and start to gain insight into the world of franchising. Chris is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Tepper School and is also a Franchise Consultant with FranChoice where he helps investors to find franchises that are well suited to their individual investment goals.


START SMART LAW:  The Legal Complexities of Social Enterprises

Tuesday, March 29, 2022
5:00 p.m. EST, Zoom
Presenter: Stephanie Dangel, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Presentation

This is a must-attend event for anyone interested in starting and running a company that blends profit with purpose. Learn about for-profit, non-profit and hybrid social enterprise entities and the legal issues related to each entity choice, including financing and employment issues.


Building a startup from 0 to 1: Operations and Fundraising

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

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


Presenter: Mar Hershenson, Pear VC

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.


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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


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!


Leveraging Compliance-focused Infrastructure to Build Faster

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.


Presenter: Jason Cahill, AWS
Presentation

Many startups see security accreditation as a challenging endeavor. At AWS Security is job zero. They meet the most stringent global security accreditations. You’ll see how AWS has created workbooks and templates that can help any public sector organization and the startups that serve them, architect an environment to meet their specific compliance regulations.
One of the great things about cloud is that AWS customers inherit all the best practices of AWS policies, architecture, and operational processes built to satisfy the requirements of our most security sensitive customers.


START SMART LAW: Worst Mistakes Made by Startups

Tuesday, April 19, 2022
5:00 p.m. -6:30 p.m. EST
Virtual via Zoom
Presenter:  Panel

  • Deborah Walker, Innovation Works
  • David Kalson, Dentons
  • F.J. Lucchino, Lucchino Law

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

Acting and Thinking Like an Entrepreneur – More Important Now than Ever!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Rebecca U. Harris, President, RUH Consulting, LLC

Presentation

The need for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and entrepreneurial thinking is critical as we continue to navigate through the aftermath of COVID-19, turbulent global affairs, and an economy which is adapting to a new virtual reality. 

It is in times like these that acting and thinking like an entrepreneur, regardless of your academic discipline or current career status, is more important than ever. Challenging times in uncharted waters requires agility, ingenuity and the ability to pivot and embrace opportunities which may be far-reaching but have the potential to yield unlimited upsides.
 
Join us for this interactive presentation where you will activate your ‘inner-entrepreneur;’ where we will work together to come up with out-of-the-box solutions to current challenges and those not even yet imagined. Come with an open mind and the drive to make change through entrepreneurial thinking!


START SMART LAW: Introduction to Startup Law

Tuesday, September 14, 2021
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. EST
Presenters: David Lehman, K&L Gates, and Reed McManigle, CMU CTTEC

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.


Customer Enchantment through Design Thinking

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Brad Eiben, Carnegie Mellon University
Presentation

This workshop is for everybody involved in the development of products or services, from engineers to senior management.  We’ll work through the process of empathizing with customers and designing solutions to problems that affect them – and will make them love your product.  Discover the importance of principles like Genchi Genbutsu and the 5 Whys in accurately defining problems.  Learn how ideation and prototyping techniques are used to help quickly convert a problem to an opportunity.


Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

Thursday, September 16, 2021

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

 EST
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.


Customer Discovery: Is My Idea a Good One?

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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

 EST
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.


Exploring Eight Types of Entrepreneurship

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

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


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

Presentation

Thinking about entrepreneurship? Join Laurie Barkman, Founder of SmallDotBig, as she discusses entrepreneurial career options and how to find the right fit for you.


Federal SBIR/STTR Process and How Startups Can Take Advantage of Free Money

Thursday, September 23, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Ralph Hershberger, Madera Associates LLC
Presentation

Learn the history of SBIRs, the various funding from Phases 1 & 2 and which agencies participate and discuss the current template, review process and how a startup can secure free funding through the government.


Pitching Innovation to the C-Suite



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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

 EST
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 Structure Your Capital Raise – Part 1 – The Fundamentals

Tuesday, September 28, 2021
5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

 EST
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates
Presentation

Learn about the legal and economic/business issues associated with raising capital through Friends and Family, Seed Funding and Series A rounds. This session is a prerequisite to understanding and participating in Part 2 – Negotiating the Term Sheet.

  • Structuring investments to maximize growth
  • Funding from incubators/accelerators, angels, VCs, government, and foundation

Show Me the Money: Monetizing via IP Licenses

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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


Presenter: Matt Kirmayer & Daphne Higgs, 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.


Business Model Canvas: A Practical Guide

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
 EST
Presenter: Will Kaigler, 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.


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

Tuesday, October 5, 2021 

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
 EST
Presenter: David Lehman and Adam Kelson, K&L Gates

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 workshop volunteers playing the part of founders and investors and two of Pittsburgh’s top startup lawyers.


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

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Kelly Coyne, Chalet

Presentation

There has been a fundamental shift in recent years regarding:

  • Fundraising Terminology - Does Series A mean the same thing in Silicon Valley as Denver? (Spoiler: it doesn't.)
  • Fundraising Milestones - What matters more for an early stage startup patents or traction?
  • Fundraising Expectations - How many customers do you need to raise a Seed round? (not zero) Does your product need to be fully functional before Pre-Seed? (in most cases, absolutely) What is the lowest ARR requirement for most institutional Series A raises? (Much higher than you would think!)

Join me for this session on fundraising from venture capitalists and make sure that you are set up for success before your first pitch email.


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

Thursday, October 7, 2021
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
 EST
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.


The Lean Startup

Tuesday, October 12, 2021


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

 EST
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.


Today’s MBA Student is Tomorrow’s Entrepreneur

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Cindy Padnos, Illuminate Ventures
Presentation

Recent research by Illuminate Ventures shows that over 80% of MBA students are drawn to entrepreneurship and more than half to careers in venture capital, but most do not have the support or access they desire. As a result, there is a compelling reason for students to understand the barriers and how to overcome them as well as for educators and investors to better understand the aspirations and needs of these students. The presentation will share the key findings of the survey, including the key differences between male and female attitudes toward entrepreneurship in particular.


How to Test a Startup Idea in One Day

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

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


Presenter: Max Mirho, EntrepreNerd

There's a lot of risk to building something, even if you've done a lot of investigation into the market. In this session, we'll go through how you can test your startup ideas in the market to see if anyone will buy what you're selling - BEFORE you spend any time or money making the product itself.


START SMART LAW: HOW TO FORM YOUR STARTUP COMPANY – Part 1 – The Basics

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. EST
Presenters/Participants:

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


Getting Started With Startup Ethics

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Dror Yaron, Ethics MVP

Developing your company ethics, and putting it into action can be straightforward, practical and even fun. Ethics MVP is designed to support entrepreneurs in communicating values and ethics - and operationalizing them - as part of their startup’s value proposition.

Ethics differentiates your company to key stakeholders. Starting early sets you up for long-term success. You understand that, but could use a little boost getting started? Join us. We’ll get you started with startup ethics.


Creating a Successful Video Pitch

Thursday, October 21, 2021

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


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!


CANCELLED: Agile Product Development

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmire Ventures


View on YouTube

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 FORM YOUR STARTUP COMPANY – Part 2 – Workshop

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

 EST
Presenters/Participants:

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 22.


Creative Techniques: Examining & Eliminating Barriers to Business Growth

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Lisa Salley, Arduro, Board of Directors


CANCELLED: Building a startup from 0 to 1: Operations and Fundraising

Thursday, October 28, 2021
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

 EST
Presenter: Mar Hershenson, Pear VC

View on YouTube

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.


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

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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

 EST
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.


Investor Presentations – Beyond the Pitch

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Jim Jen, Innovations Works and AlphaLab
Presentation

Come learn about what makes an effective investor presentation, including an overview of the content that most investors expect to see, how it fits into their investment analysis and potential pitfalls. In addition, learn about other factors that are important to raising investment and building investor relationships, especially now in this more virtual environment.


Using Digital to Achieve Business Goals

Thursday, November 4, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Laura Kelly, Dick’s Sporting Goods



Presentation

In 2019, there's no such thing as digital and IRL (in real life). Individuals and companies online presence is real life, and your online strategy should reflect that. Learn how to choose where to be online, how to establish measurable strategies that impact your business goals and how your digital and traditional strategies work together.


Financial Modeling



Tuesday, November 9, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Phil Compton, Locomation
Presentation

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. 


Common Sense Tips That Are Not Commonly Used For Working With Early Stage VCs

Thursday, November 11, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Peter Stern, Voyant Photonics
Presentation

An impolite analysis of how to structure startup plans and messaging to optimize their attractiveness to investors.  First time entrepreneurs often misunderstand what investors find interesting, as most of what you read about is not very accurate.  Peter Stern, having done very little of interest for a decade EXCEPT helping people raise money from early stage investors, provides an analysis of how to choose new opportunities or provide descriptions of existing opportunities that will more readily compel investors to write you a check.


Insurance for Startups


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Laurie Kuzneski, Kuzneski Insurance Group
Presentation

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


Tune Up Your Perfect Pitch

Thursday, November 18, 2021

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

 EST
Presenter: Daniel Teadt, Carnegie Mellon University

Learn how to maximize your speaking voice to make sure you are heard, felt and understood in every pitch meeting.  Voice expert Daniel Teadt will guide you in discovering how your voice can resonate with others and what it reveals about yourself, including solutions for finding your authentic sound, making the most of every word and enjoying the process of making your Perfect Pitch.

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