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Friday, May 20, 2022

Silicon Valley Trek 2022

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship Returns to Silicon Valley for Its Annual Trek

After a two year delay due to Covid-19, the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, along with the CMU Graduate Entrepreneurship Club (GEC), hosted its Entrepreneurship Trek in Silicon Valley, CA last week--May 9-13, 2022. The annual Trek, which usually occurs in January, aims to introduce the graduate Swartz Fellows, undergraduate Innovation Scholars and GEC student members to various CMU alumni startups and venture capital firms in the Bay Area to help build a lasting network. 

This year's Trek included students from this year and last year's cohorts and included visits to companies such as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Monarch Tractor, Carta, Cobalt Robotics, Suki, Eightfold, Neeva, Clear Labs and Rapid Robotics. Also visited were venture capital firms: Accel (founded by CMU alumnus Jim Swartz), Benchmark, Andreessen Horowitz, K9 Ventures and Fusion Fund.  

A highlight during the Trek was a visit to CMU's Silicon Valley campus, where the students had an outdoor lunch, then heard from Baek Kyoum Kim (2016 Innovation Scholar), general partner at Hashed, and Bob Dobkin, Chairman of the Dobkin Intuitive Foundation and Founder and CTO of Linear Technology. The Robert and Kathleen Dobkin Intuitive Foundation awarded a grant to provide strategic support for the Swartz Center's VentureBridge accelerator program in 2019.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Solvvy Founders

Zoom Drives Contact Center Expansion with Acquisition of Solvvy

Zoom Video Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ZM) has announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Solvvy, a leading conversational AI and automation platform for customer support. Together, Zoom and Solvvy will offer elevated customer service experiences to a global enterprise base and work quickly to capitalize on new opportunities in contact center and customer support. Solvvy is co-founded by CMU alumni Mehdi Samadi, SCS PhD and Justin Betteridge, SCS Phd.

Read more at GlobalNewswire.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022


OtterTune Raises $12M in Series A Round

Carnegie Mellon University spinout, OtterTune, announed that it has raised $12M in a Series A funding round led by Intel Capital and Race Capital. Also participating was Accel, which led the young company’s seed round last year.

OtterTune is a database automation and optimization platform that observes runtime metrics and then carries out machine learning to recommend and deploy configuration settings, improving performance, uptime and efficiency.

Read more at Pittsburgh Inno.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

CMU Makes The Top Five in Unicorn Founders

CMU Makes The Top Five in Unicorn Founders

Recent research conducted with the help of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Venture Capital Initiative, and posted via LinkedIn by Ilya Strebulaev, professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business | Venture Capital & Private Equity, shows Carnegie Mellon University in the top five for universities likely to produce Unicorn founders.

Read more on LinkedIn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Arieca Team

Arieca Announces $6.5M Series A Funding Round

Arieca Inc., the leader in liquid-metal based thermal interface materials for high performance computing and high power semiconductor devices, has announced a $6.5M Series A funding round, co-lead by Nissan Chemical Corporation and 412 Venture Fund, with participation from ROHM Co. Ltd., Monozukuri Venture Funds, Mountain State Capital, Innovation Works and Carnegie Mellon University. The company will use the investment to accelerate product development and scale up manufacturing of its Liquid Metal-based thermal interface materials (TIMs).

Arieca is co-founded by CMU alumni Navid Kazem and Carmel Majidi. Read the press release on Arieca's news page.

Read more at Pittsburgh Inno.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Vai Viswanathan

Spotlight on CMU Alumnus Vai Viswanathan: Voxel Raises $15M in Series A Funding

Voxel, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence (AI)-powered, workplace safety company, has secured $15M in new funding. The company uses computer vision and AI to identify hazards, risky behaviors and operational inefficiencies across workplaces.

CMU alumnus and 2019 Swartz Fellow Vaibhav Viswanathan, joined the company in 2021 as a Computer Vision Lead.

Read more at VentureBeat.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Intuitive Founders 1 to N

First In-Person Meeting of Intuitive Founders 1 to N with Olympic Gold Medalist, Matt Grevers

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship celebrated the first in-person meeting of the Intuitive Founders 1 to N Program, which took place during the weekend of April 29 – May 1, 2022 in Phoenix, AZ. The founding cohort of twelve alumni founders from CMU, Berkeley, MIT and Stanford representing six startups (Acoustic Wells, Agot.AI, Ladder, Mach9 Robotics, Parthean, and Tym) participated in problem solving activities, mindfulness training, physical fitness and team building exercises. A highlight of the weekend was a talk and Q&A with four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers.

The Intuitive Founders 1 to N program is a peer advisory program for founders providing comprehensive entrepreneurship, mindfulness and physical fitness training.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Nadia Susanto

Golfer Shoots at Making Courses Virtual

Carnegie Mellon University women's golf co-captain and Innovation Scholar Nadia Susanto is chipping away at using virtual reality to help golfers study courses prior to playing them. Still early in development, Susanto's app, GolfReality takes raw data from a yardage book—incorporating angles, distances, slopes and surfaces—and relays that information into virtual reality.

Nadia is graduating with majors in business administration from the Tepper School of Business and human-computer interaction from the School of Computer Science. She is also the founder of Bivi, an education platform that pairs the talents of college students with younger students.

Read more at Carnegie Mellon University.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Digital Dream Labs

Digital Dream Labs Lands $2M Bridge Round

Pittsburgh-based Digital Dream Labs Inc. (DDL), makers of the popular Cozmo and Vector children-geared programable robotic toys, has landed a $2M bridge round investment—its largest to date—as the company sets its sights on a possible Series A funding round.

Read more at PittsburghInno.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Kit Needham

Innovation Works and Carnegie Mellon Conclude Fifth Annual AI & Robotics Venture Fair

Carnegie Mellon University and Innovation Works, a North Side-based seed-stage investment firm, hosted the fifth annual AI & Robotics Venture Fair on Monday at the Fairmont Pittsburgh downtown.

Kit Needham, assistant dean for entrepreneurship initiatives at CMU and the associate director of Project Olympus, gave the opening remarks at the event, which spanned over two hours.

Read more at PittsburghInno.

Friday, April 29, 2022

CSL Demo Day 2022

The Corporate Startup Lab Hosted Its Spring Demo Day

The Carnegie Mellon Corporate Startup Lab, an initiative of the CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, hosted its Spring Demo Day at the Tepper School of Business on Wednesday, April 26, 2022 with its corporate project sponsors to celebrate the student teams on a successful semester. The teams, representing a diverse group of CMU graduate students from six CMU colleges, pitched and shared what they learned about corporate innovation while working on their Minimally Awesome Product in
the program.

The CSL Demo Day was attended by its 2022 sponsors: Optum, numo, Giant Eagle, Bosch, Microsoft and Philips, along with students and friends of CSL.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Agility Robotics

Agility Robotics Raises $150M Series B Led By DCVC and Playground Global

Agility Robotics, a creator and manufacturer of robots designed to work alongside people in logistics and warehouse environments, has announced that it has raised $150M led by DCVC and Playground Global. Agility’s robots provide unique value to businesses by augmenting the human workforce’s productivity, efficiency and wellness. This capital raise will accelerate Agility’s R&D and scale its robot production.

Agility Robotics CTO and Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Dr. Jonathan Hurst says, "Agility’s robots are—by contrast—built to be versatile, cost-effective and durable helpers to people.

Read more at Agility Robotics.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Duolingo's viral TikTok account earns it 'Social Marketer of the Year' award from Ad Age

Global media publication Ad Age has named Duolingo (NASDAQ: DUOL) the Social Marketer of the Year as part of its sixth-annual Creativity Awards. Ad Age said Duolingo took home a top spot in one of this year's award categories due to Duolingo's TikTok account and the rapidly growing fanbase it has built on the platform since late September.

Read more at Pittsburgh Business Times.

Friday, April 22, 2022


Design Alumna Launches VICE VERSA

Alanna Fusaro, an alumna of Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design (BFA ’14) and 2019 cohort participant in the Swartz Center's VentureBridge program, recently founded and launched VICE VERSA, a shoe brand specializing in heels that fold into flats. The shoes, which “walk the fine line between engineering and fashion,” were the result of a design process that included trips to factories around the world, CAD modeling, 3D prints and mechanical quality testing with Boeing engineers. 

Read more at Design.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Will Kaigler

Will Kaigler Presents at the AlphaLab Health New Portfolio Showcase

AlphaLab Health held its virtual New Portfolio Showcase event on April 20, 2022 to celebrate the completion of the sixth-month program for its second cohort. Will Kaigler, founder and CEO of sovaSage and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, was among the presenters at the event. His company is reinventing sleep therapy—disrupting the $4B Obstructive Sleep Apnea market.

Other presenters included founders of Carnegie Mellon University companies, MindTrace and  Naima Health.

Find out more about AlphaLab Health and how to apply for the next cohort.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Justin Shaka

Rebion Awarded $1.0M by the NIH to Study Longitudinal Monitoring of TBI in Athletes

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has awarded Rebion a two-year, $1.0M SBIR grant to research traumatic brain injury monitoring. Co-founded by Tepper School of Business alumnus and Swartz Entrepreneurial Fellow Justin Shaka, Rebion (Rebiscan, Inc.) is a medical-device company building and further developing neuro-ocular scanning devices.

Read more at Newswire.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Advanced Optronics

Advanced Optronics Wins $47K At the Rice Business Plan Competition

This past weekend, Advanced Optronics, co-founded by CMU's Jay Reddy, Professor Maysam Chamanzar and Ruth Segall, competed at the 2022 Rice Business Plan Competition, pitching the company to hundreds of investors and industry experts. The team brought home $47K in prizes and have the checks proudly displayed in their startup garage at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship.

Also the second place graduate track winner in the 2022 McGinnis Venture Competition, Advanced Optronics is providing a solution to empower surgeons to perform less traumatic insertions and preserve residual hearing. The team will use the prize money to fund a summer internship program and is currently seeking motivated, summer interns for a variety of technical and business roles.

Email Jay Reddy if interested.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Strength in Numbers

Celebrating Diversity Month - Strength in Numbers Reunion

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship was honored to welcome back the inaugural cohort of the “Strength in Numbers” program for a reunion on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 to celebrate the completion of the program, which began last Fall. The celebration included the mentors and program coordinators who have been instrumental in helping to support and empower the companies to succeed since joining the program.

'Strength in Numbers' is a "hands-on" initiative aimed at supporting women and minority owned small businesses in Pittsburgh neighborhoods beginning with Wilkinsburg and Homewood, helped the company founders build their accounting and finance capacity and their on-line presence through the use of websites and landing pages, while connecting them with CMU students, CMU alumni and community mentors. 

The companies have been invited to continue their involvement in Fall of 2022 by enrolling in our new Family Business Program focused on women and minority led family businesses. Meredith Meyer Grelli, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Tepper School and founder of the family businesses Wigle Whiskey and Threadbare Cider and Mead, will lead this joint Tepper/Swartz Center initiative. Meredith attended the reunion and outlined the goals and activities of the new Family Business Program.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Antonina Simakova

CMU's Project Olympus Spotlights Life Sciences and Big Exits at Its 25th Show & Tell 

The latest crop of startups from the incubator that helped give Duolingo its start presented their progress so far last Thursday, when Carnegie Mellon University’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship hosted its 25th Project Olympus Show & Tell. The event showcases the latest success stories and entrepreneurial efforts from the CMU community within the Project Olympus program.

One of many initiatives out of the Swartz Center to foster university entrepreneurship, Project Olympus provides support and resources to faculty, students, recent alumni and staff looking to turn research or other academic projects into startups.


Friday, April 8, 2022

Nesra Yannier

NoRilla Founder Nesra Yannier Featured: Adding AI to Museum Exhibits Increases Learning

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) have demonstrated a more effective way to support learning and increase engagement. They used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a new genre of interactive, hands-on exhibits that includes a virtual assistant to interact with visitors.

Nesra Yannier, HCII faculty member and head of the project, as well as the founder of NoRILLA, is helping to lead these efforts. NoRILLA is a mixed-reality system bridging physical & virtual worlds to improve learning five times.

Read more at Carnegie Mellon University.