Carnegie Mellon University
January 24, 2017

Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship Announces Spring 2017 Connects Series Schedule

The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship recently announced its spring 2017 lineup for the annual CONNECTS Workshop Series. Each semester the series features presentations, panel discussions and workshops that prepare students for competitions, networking and entrepreneurial coursework.

The series is geared toward aspiring entrepreneurs and was designed to enhance the experiential education of students interested in venture capitalism and entrepreneurship. The workshops and activities are intended to help student innovators take their ideas from conception to commercialization. Individuals can register for sessions here. For more information, contact Allyson Hince at

Taking place through April 2017, the spring 2017 CONNECTS workshops include:

Advance Your Internet Selling Power

Wed., Jan. 25 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Laurie Barkman, MSIA ’99, Managing Partner at Topanga Partners Private Equity

Regardless of what you are selling, your business should be working to attract and convert customers. In this workshop, learn how to use sales funnel and customer journey frameworks to map an epic customer journey online.

Digital Marketing: It’s All About the Numbers

Fri. Jan. 27 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Eric Boduch, Pendo

Learn how marketing has changed in the last 10 years while discussing the marketing stack of today, how to experiment and scale a digital marketing organization and look at how a high growth startup grew its revenues.

Making Things Here

Wed., Feb. 1 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Ilana Diamond, AlphaLab Gear

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 hardware and manufactured products. Learn why Carnegie Mellon entrepreneurs are positioned to take advantage of the renewed interest in physical products and the resources available to help get their products from idea to market.

Getting Started with Sales

Fri., Feb. 3 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Bruce Smith, Achieving Sales Results, LLC

How do you grow your company when you lack customers or references? How do you hire your first sales person and manage them? Learn about startup sales and techniques that help you get in the door, close the sale and how to set sales goals.

Lean Startups

Wed., Feb. 8 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, associate teaching professor of entrepreneurship

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.

Start Smart: Company Formation

Thurs., Feb. 9 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates

Learn the basic legal issues that can occur with entity formation, including founder arrangements, founder employment arrangements, splitting the founder's equity pie, founder agreements and employee equity. The seminar will be followed by a workshop that will assist startups in the pre-company formation stage with developing a roadmap that covers recommended structure, operating agreements and other formation issues.

Setting Up Your Back Office

Fri., Feb. 10 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: William Richardson and Carissa Habsburg, Sisterson & Co. LLP

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

Financial Modeling

Wed., Feb. 15 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Phil Compton, co-founder and CFO of Malcovery Security

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 your projections to investors, board and fellow team members.

Start Smart: Raising Capital

Thurs., Feb. 16 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates

Learn about the legal issues associated with raising capital through friends and family, and seed and series A, B, C. This workshop will discuss the following: structuring the investments to maximize growth, opportunities available due to the new JOBS Act, crowdsourcing and proposed SEC regulation, and funding from incubators/accelerators, government and foundations.

How to Pitch to Angels

Fri., Feb. 17 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Don Morrison, BlueTree Allied Angels

Angels invest much more than VCs and at earlier stages, which means that angel investors may be a vital source of funding for your startup. Learn how to deliver a pitch that stands out from the crowd.

Agile Product Development

Wed., Feb. 22 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, Birchmere Ventures & Labs, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship

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: Raising Capital Part 2-Negotiating Term Sheets

Thurs., Feb. 23 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109
Presenter: David Lehman and Henry Snyder, K&L Gates

Attend this interactive workshop to learn how to address the business and legal issues associated with making investments in startups, including negotiation strategies, valuation, founder and investor rights, vesting, management and exits. Participants will divide into two groups — one to represent the investor and the other to represent the company. Both will decide independently on the terms they want and then brought back together for the negotiation led by the lawyers.

Splitting the Equity Pie and Other Aspects of Equity Compensation

Fri., Feb. 24 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Frank Demmler, Innovation Works, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship

Equity compensation can be a very mysterious concept for first-time entrepreneurs. Learn how to make critical decisions from the division of the Founder’s Pie through stock option grants.

Insurance for Startups: What Do I Need and When?

Wed., March 1 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ruppert, Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC.

For startups running on a lean budget, obtaining the right insurance is essential. Learn about the unique risks that can arise when running your business, when you should address those risks and how they can be addressed with insurance.

Start Smart: Protecting Your Company’s IP Assets

Thurs., March 2 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109
Presenter: George Dickos and Lauren Shuttleworth Murray, K&L Gates

This seminar will cover legal issues related to intellectual property, including: how to protect your company's IP, how not to infringe on another's IP, how to handle IP created by your employees, including non-compete clauses, which IP protection to use, and changes in U.S. patent law.

Refining Your Elevator Pitch

Fri., March 3 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Mel Pirchesky, founder and President of Eagle Ventures

Learn how to perfect your elevator pitch, and more importantly, how to effectively articulate your value proposition to prospective investors.

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

Tues., March 7 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Gates 4405
Presenter: Benjamin Garber, MedExpress

In this workshop attendees will learn how to use tools currently available to all Carnegie Mellon 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. 

How to Access Resources from the Government

Wed., March 8 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Tim McNulty, associate vice president for government relations at Carnegie Mellon University

This session will provide an introduction to engaging state, local and federal government agencies and elected officials. Topics will include potential funding sources, strategies for when and how to engage elected officials and when lobbying assistance could be valuable.

Start Smart: Preparing for an Exit

Tues., March 28 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: David Lehman, K&L Gates

Acquisitions are the most common form of exit. Learn how to prepare the company for sale, including the due diligence process, sale process and potential auctions, the role of investment bankers, tax implications, typical structures, including earn-outs, employment and non-competition obligations.

Start Smart: Social Enterprise — Profit with a Purpose

Tues., April 4 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Stephanie Dangel, University of Pittsburgh Law

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.

Convertible Promissory Note — Understanding the Key Terms

Wed., April 5 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Peter Papagianakis, Business Law Firm LLC

Learn the basic legal issues and pitfalls of issuing convertible promissory notes for your startup. The following topics will be discussed: pros and cons of issuing promissory notes vs. shares of preferred stock to angel investors, discount and caps on valuation and their effects, mandatory conversion vs. optional conversion, reasonable interest rates, and legal documents accompanying the promissory note SAFE Agreement.

Buy-Sell Agreements and NDAs

Wed., April 12 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Daniel Lynch, The Lynch Law Group

Join Daniel Lynch as he gives an overview of the differences between agreements associated with corporations and LLCs. You will learn about non-disclosure agreements — when to use one and how to determine if your agreement should be one-sided or reciprocal — and the six trigger events that form the basis of an operating/buy-sell agreement: death, disability, divorce, bankruptcy, retirement and voluntary quit.

FDA Vision for Novel Technologies

Mon., April 17 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Dr. Elora Gupta, Drug and Device Advisory Group, and Courtney Williamson, AbiliLife

Engaging with FDA as a startup? Learn strategies and tools for streamlined product development with differentiated label.