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Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Announces CONNECTS Series Lineup

The Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will once again be hosting its annual CONNECTS Series. Each semester, the series features presentations, panel discussions and workshops that prepare students for competitions, networking and entrepreneurial coursework.

CONNECTS is geared toward aspiring entrepreneurs and students interested in starting their own business, and was designed to enhance the experiential education of any individual interested in venture capitalism and entrepreneurship.

The overarching goal: to help student innovators take their ideas from conception to commercialization.

The 2016 fall CONNECTS Series lineup is kicked off by an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, which will be held in the Rashid Auditorium in the GatesHillman Center on Sat., Sept. 10. This day-long, immersive workshop will feature sessions related to connecting with the entrepreneurial community at Carnegie Mellon, idea generation, and the best practices of startup success.

Individuals can register for sessions via the online CONNECTS Entrepreneurship Seminar Series form. For more information, contact Melanie Simko at


The fall 2016 CONNECTS Workshops include:

Business Model Canvas

Wed., Sept. 14 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, executive director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship

The goals of this workshop are to identify and explain innovative business models. Find out what will work and what won’t for developing your business.

Service Design Thinking

Fri., Sept, 16 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Cameron Tonkinwise, Carnegie Mellon University Design

Introducing you to a range of design innovation techniques, this workshop will focus on Service-based Value Generation, strategies for understanding diverse people’s everyday practices and designing systems that support them in responsive ways.

Customer Discovery: How to Know if Your Idea is a Good One

Wed., Sept. 21 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Kit Needham, entrepreneur in residence at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship; founding director of Project Olympus

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.

Start Smart: Contract Basics

Thur., Sept. 22 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: David Lehman and Susan Altman, K&L Gates

This seminar will address what startup business owners should know about contracts and the contracting processes, including pre-agreements (e.g., binding and non-binding letters of intent, term sheets and memoranda of understanding), common terms in contracts and typical types of contracts (e.g., licenses, leases, corporate agreements, commercial and customer contracts, and employment agreements).

Creating a Successful Student Startup Team

Wed., Sept. 28 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Kit Needham and Bill Courtright, Carnegie Mellon University

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?

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.

Start Smart: Protecting Your Company’s IP Assets

Thur., Sept. 29 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: copyright, patents, trademarks and/or trade secrets, and first to file vs. first to invent: changes in U.S. patent law.

Design for Manufacturability

Fri., Sept. 30 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Gates Hillman Center 6115

Presenter: Elijah Wiegmann, Founder of Base Design Studio

Today's entrepreneurs understand the importance of design in creating the best products and services. Unfortunately, most try to "save up" for design, sometime in the future. If design is at the forefront of the process, it can actually save a ton of money, time and energy. Elijah will be discussing how, and his experience in bringing hundreds of products to market.

Franchise Opportunities

Wed., Oct. 5 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Chris Cynkar, Franchise Consultant, FranChoice

Stay tuned for more information.

Start Smart: Contracts Part II - Employees, Contractor and Other Personnel Matters

Thur., Oct. 6 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh, Barco Law Building, Room 109

Presenter: David Lehman and Mike Pavlick, K&L Gates

This seminar will address legal issues related to the different types of startup personnel, including students working on projects, unpaid internships, independent contractors and employees. The seminar will be followed by a workshop where startups will have the chance to meet with law students to develop a form of employment agreement and consultant agreement tailored for the specific startup.

Lean Startup

Wed., Oct. 12 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Dave Mawhinney

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.

How Time Based Advertising Works

Friday, October 14 from 3-4:30 pm in Gates Hillman Center 4405

Presenter: Marc Guldimann, CEO, Parsec

Brand advertising is broken.  The old Wanamaker quote "half my advertising dollars are wasted but I just don't know which half" has never been more true, and it's all the fault of the metric in use.  Impressions are a horrible way to estimate the resource that brands are after attention. In this session, you will examine how measuring the time that consumers choose to spend with advertising can revolutionize the media business.

Agile Product Development

Tues., Oct. 18 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Sean Ammirati, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship; Birchmere Ventures & Labs

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 that have taken advantage of these techniques.

Financial Modeling

Wed., Oct. 19 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Phil Compton, co-founder & CFO, 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

Thur., Oct. 20 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, seed and series A, B, C, etc. 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 Access Resources from the Government

Fri., Oct. 28 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in GatesHillman Center 4405

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.

Splitting the Equity Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation

Wed., Nov. 2 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Frank Demmler, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship; Innovation Works

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: Finding the Right Lawyer for Your Startup

Thur., Nov. 3 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Kit Needham and Stephanie Dangel, IPI, Pitt Law School

Finding the right lawyer is a key strategic business decision for a startup. Your lawyer can be one of your best business advisers OR a poor choice that costs you time and money. Learn the right questions to ask, how to avoid common mistakes and how to manage your relationship.

The Art of the Pitch

Fri., Nov. 4 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Des O’Connor, Innovation Works

Is your pitch effective to investors? Learn about the strategies, tactics and rationale for the successful investor pitch.

Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition

Wed., Nov. 9 from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Eric Close, TrueLearn

Interviewing for a job envisioned by someone else? Instead create a job by hiring yourself, finding a company to acquire and transforming the company into a disruption machine.

Become a business artist!  Express yourself by mastering the nexus of Entrepreneurship and M&A.  Opportunities for disruption and innovation are everywhere. Get into the game.

Creating a Successful Video Pitch

Thur., Nov. 10 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: Brian Staszel, Carnegie Mellon University

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.

Start Smart: Structuring 3rd Party Relationships

Tues., Nov. 15 from 5:30-7:00 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305

Presenter: David Lehman and Mike Pavlick, K&L Gates

Third-party relationships can come in a variety of forms, e.g. joint ventures, partnerships and licensing. Creating strategic partnerships can add tremendous value, if the partnership is structured properly. Since every partnership is different, startups must understand the differences between the forms and how to negotiate the best terms to ensure the partnership success.