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Calling All Student Entrepreneurs: The Swartz Center Presents the Spring 2018 CONNECTS Series

The Carnegie Mellon Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship opens its doors to the public once again for the CONNECTS Series. Each semester, the series invites students interested in taking their ideas from conception to commercialization to a lineup of speakers, panel discussions, workshops and networking events. The series dedicates itself to connecting students across Pittsburgh and members of the public together throughout the academic year.

The CONNECTS Series will kick off with a presentation on Customer and Competitor Discovery via Database Research with Ryan Splenda, Carnegie Mellon’s Business and Economic Librarian, in Posner Hall Room 322 on Thursday, January 18 from 12:30-2 p.m.

Registration can be found online via the CONNECTS Entrepreneurship Seminar Series form prior to the event.

The spring 2018 CONNECTS Workshops include:


Customer and Competitor Discovery via Database Research
Thursday, January 18, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Ryan Splenda, CMU Business and Economic Librarian

Good market research informs the planning of any entrepreneurial venture and underlies its success. This workshop, that will incorporate demonstrations and hands-on activities, will show how to maximize the information resources available from CMU‘s libraries. Bring your laptop.


Advance Your Internet Selling Power
Tuesday, January 23, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Laurie Barkman, Chief Marketing & Business Development Officer, Burns White LLC

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
Thursday, January 25, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
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
Tuesday, January 30, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Afshan Khan, 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 CMU 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
Thursday, February 1, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
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 salesperson 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.


Start Smart: Company Formation
Thursday, February 1, 2018 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh
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 road map that covers recommended structure, operating agreements and other formation issues. If you have a startup and would like to participate in the workshop, contact kit@cs.cmu.edu. If you are a law student interested in participating, contact SAD111@pitt.edu.


Lean Startups
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Gates Hillman Center 4405
Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, CMU Swartz Center

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: Starting a Business with an F-1 Visa
Tuesday, February 6, 2018 from 5:30-7 pm in Tepper, Room 322
Presenter: Panel Discussion

Join us for a panel discussion that will address how students with an F-1 visa can start a business or work on a startup team without violating their student status.


Business Model Canvas
Wednesday, February 7, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Dave Mawhinney, CMU Swartz Center

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.


Tax, Business and Accounting Issues for Startups
Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: William Richardson & Carissa Habsburg, Sisterson & Co. LLP

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


Start Smart: Raising Capital
Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 5:30-7 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
  • Funding from incubators/accelerators, government and foundations

Financial Modeling
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Gates Hillman Center 4405
Presenter: Phil Compton, CFO - SingleSource Property Solutions

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.


How to Pitch to Angels
Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
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.


Start Smart: Raising Capital Part 2-Negotiating Term Sheets
Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh
Presenter: David Lehman & 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.


Agile Product Development
Tuesday, February 20, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Sean Ammirati, 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 who have taken advantage of these techniques.


Splitting the Equity Pie & Other Aspects of Equity Compensation
Thursday, February 22, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Frank Demmler, 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.


Insurance for Startups: What Do I Needs and When?
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Gates Hillman Center 4405
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.


Understanding Convertible Debt
Thursday, March 1, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Adam Kelson, Saul Ewing LLP

Convertible promissory notes are a common form of investment in early stage companies. Adam Kelson will lead a discussion of terms and conditions typically found in convertible notes, including interest, conversion mechanics and covenants.


Start Smart: Protecting Your Company’s IP Assets
Thursday, March 1, 2018 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: George Dickos & 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
  • First to file vs. First to invent: changes in US patent law

How to Access Resources from the Government
Tuesday, March 20, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Gates Hillman Center 6115
Presenter: Tim McNulty, Associate Vice President for Government Relations, 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.


Finding Follow-on Capital: Identifying and Engaging Your Next Investors
Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Benjamin Garber, MedExpress

"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.


Start Smart: Preparing for an Exit
Thursday, March 22, 2018 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the University of Pittsburgh
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.


Buy-Sell Agreements & NDAs
Thursday, March 29, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
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 (Confidentiality 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
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 from 12:30-2 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.


The Hustlenomics Way. Hip-Hop Business 101
Thursday, April 5, 2018 from 12:30-2 p.m. in Posner Hall Room 322
Presenter: Damola Idowu, EIC & Founder of Owners Illustrated Magazine

Join us for an interactive discussion on the business of hip-hop, its cultural influences, provocative marketing techniques and alternative distribution channels that has made it the dominant popular global music culture.


Start Smart: Social Enterprise-Profit with a Purpose
Thursday, April 12, 2018 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Newell Simon Hall 3305
Presenter: Stephanie Dangel, IPI, 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.