Greg Coticchia has a way of inciting mischief in the Epicast Studios, and this time is no different. This week, the serial-entrepreneur-turned-educator is behind the mic talking about product management, a very useful discipline for those businesses that have expanded past the startup phase, and now need to organize their efforts. One thing that sparks a number of different conversation points is the fact that product managers typically have no authority or staff, so they have to use data, trust, and negotiation to win people over and get the support that they need to make their product successful.
We got an invitation to take a road trip to Youngstown, Ohio to visit our friend Robb Myer from Comeback Capital (comeback.vc) at the Comeback Conference on May 17, and we took it. If you’re not familiar, Comeback Capital tells founders to “be what they are, where they are”, and encourages investors to think of the area from Pittsburgh to Indiana as a potential target for venture capital investment. There were a lot of people there, and a lot of activity, and we tried to strip out as much ambient noise and crosstalk as possible, but just like past conference recordings that we’ve done, this episode doesn’t sound like one of the interviews we do back at home base. We got some great insights from attendees though, including some that we know. Here’s a list of everyone featured this episode:
No one likes medical errors, and no one likes being bad at their job, but this week’s guest explains that lack of quality practice and insufficient access to hands-on training opportunities have created serious problems in healthcare. Dr. Doug Nelson is not a medical doctor. He’s a bioengineer and mathematician who took an interest in entrepreneurship after discovering a gap in the marketplace. This week, Doug tells Scot how he learned to give a great product demo, how he sells the value of Lumis, and the pair reflects on what makes practice and training more effective for the student.
This week’s a two-fer, as we talk about the business of professional consulting and also dig into the concepts and practices behind the economic development policy decisions that cities and states make as they move to foster entrepreneurship and create new jobs. Our guest is Courtney Zaugg, founder of Plaka (plakaassociates.com). Courtney is an economic development consultant based in Indianapolis, Indiana, and knows Scot MacTaggart after partnering with him and KRNLS on a couple of projects.
While visiting Pittsburgh on one such collaboration, Courtney brought her wealth of experience into the Epicast Studios, and shared information on how she became an independent consultant, and the differences between top-down economic development decision making and the “bottom-up” kind that Courtney recommends.
This week, college professor and entrepreneur Dr. John Stakeley comes in to talk to Scot about how our colleges and universities are teaching students about entrepreneurship, and reflecting on his personal experiences to tell that story. Dr. Stakeley teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University, and Chatham University here in Pittsburgh, and brings experience as an entrepreneur, an investor, an Army officer and much more. Scot uses the interview to learn more about how entrepreneurship curriculum programs are devised, and seeks John’s insights on how to lead the upcoming Pitchwerks Professional Sales Bootcamp (krnls.co/bootcamp) which starts June 10th.
In 2019, if you’re selling professional services or technology, you’re sharing articles and blog posts with prospective clients. Curated third party articles from reputable sources are the name of the game - and they’re a really effective way to underline your points and prove that your product or business is as good as you say it is. Our guest this week is Scott Rogerson, the CEO of UpContent, and his product helps companies to find these articles, sort the good ones from the bad ones, showing clients that you’re credible, and that they won’t regret choosing you. This episode, Scott comes in to explain the new rules of social proof and content creation.
One thing we haven’t given enough time to on this show? Sales engineers. It’s a lucrative career path, and the people that do that job play a vitally important role. Meanwhile, we’ve barely mentioned them. (Sorry.) We fix that this week by talking to Lisa Conturo of the German American Chamber of Commerce, who are making a conscious effort to bring the German apprenticeship model to cities like Pittsburgh. Lisa and the GACC have actually developed a nicely compensated sales engineering apprenticeship that combines classroom learning with practical on-the-job training (OJT) that gives the learner thousands of hours of experience before they graduate.
For a long time, Scot has been waiting for an opportunity to point to a really effective partnership that matches his own personal preferences. This week, John Chamberlin and Rachael Rennebeck of YaJagoff Media come in to do just that. YaJagoff Media is best known for the podcast of the same name, but their show is just one component of the larger media and marketing company that they built. It’s a full-time job from which they make their living. Rachael and John are very honest with Scot throughout the entire interview - including a discussion about how they had been arguing the entire day before coming into the studio - but they also explain how when it comes time to set their differences aside and get to work, they’re some of the best in the business.
Fair warning - this week’s show is marked explicit because it’s a little spicy. Not bad - it’s like a 1.5 out of 5 on the podcast scale - but still, you might get in a bit of trouble if you work at an uptight place and bust out the speaker system.
This week, we talk professional art direction with Mark Ramdarass, who has recently moved to offering fractional services after building up a great list of brands that he has contributed to, including VaynerMedia, Nike, Michael Kors, Adidas, Budweiser and more. A graphic designer by education, Mark is here to make more sense of creative roles and art direction for those of us that aren’t trained in it, and to help us make sense of how it figures into the larger communications strategy of a business or brand. Find him on LinkedIn and reach out if you’re interested in more information!
The last time Vivek Kumar was in the studio, this fine program was celebrating its 40th episode, and Qlicket was primarily selling into the hospitality space. A lot has happened since then, including the addition of John Goldschmidt, who brought a history of sales, business development, and customer success. The company has been tested several times, and in several ways, since Vivek’s last visit. This week, Vivek and John come in to speak with Scot MacTaggart about pivots and struggles, and the huge month-over-month gains that they’re now seeing since they’ve adapted and survived.
This week’s episode has it all! Journalism, market validation, crowdfunding, Donald Trump, tasers, rocket-propelled grenades, the NFL, coal mines and steelworkers! Our guests this week are Matt Stroud and Carmen Gentile from Postindustrial Media, and they sit down with Scot MacTaggart to talk about the Kickstarter campaign they are doing with Scot and his partner Olga Pogoda, for a product that they are reluctant to call “slow news”. The trio talks about the value of telling “the full story” in the postindustrial region, which they define as the Rust Belt and Greater Appalachia, and use 2016 election coverage to illustrate the difference between what is available now, and what they seek to provide in the future. The campaign starts 4/22/2019 and will run for 30 days!
Curtis Wadsworth has been working in patent law for the last 12 years, and if he has his way, his new product Dorothy is going to change that field forever. This week, Scot MacTaggart gets under the hood of Curt’s very young patent search company to help Curt and Dorothy to get ready for the market. Just based on the sheer number of hours that law firms spend on patent searches, and the money they pour into that labor, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that Dorothy will get a warm reception from IP attorneys throughout the country when its user interface is finished. Curt and Scot put their heads together to make sure that it all goes according to plan.
A great analytical mind steps into the Epicast studios this week as Prashant Ambe, president of TiE Pittsburgh - a nonprofit startup support network - gets behind the microphone. Prashant starts with his 3-axis theory on career development, recommending diversity in cultures, skills, and industries. After that, he shares recipes that build successful businesses, the importance of taking responsibility for your own path, and a deep dive into the history and mission of TiE and its Pittsburgh chapter. Be sure to check this week’s episode out!
This week, Scot is on the road in Columbus and talks to Matt Wald, President and CEO of the Columbus Collaboratory. Matt has a few surprises up his sleeves, like when he lists the giant organizations that have co-invested in the Collaboratory, or how difficult it can be for any organization to pivot to compete with digital-native firms. Matt explains how executive leadership of the 7 founding companies created the Columbus Collaboratory, how reluctant executives should look at their options, and what is waiting for them if they don’t build a good plan from the outset.
Kelauni Cook is the founder of Black Tech Nation, and we’ve been trying to get her into the studio for some time now because we have seen her sacrifice firsthand. Kelauni has made some real sacrifices to get where she is today. The Howard University grad is a software developer, a community builder, and now - a funded non-profit executive looking to create a space for black tech workers, who often find themselves feeling isolated. Kelauni talks to us about how she got here, what comes next, and how big of a factor time management is playing in her life now that she and BTN have built some momentum.
This week, Alison Falk gives us a glimpse of the future by explaining her advocacy of “sex tech” - and no, it isn’t just VR and robots. Alison is the brains behind SexTechSpace (.com), a digital publication that talks about everything related to the intersection between technology and human sexuality. Alison talks to Scot MacTaggart about her mission, the “boring realities” of building an industry, and in doing so details a very credible vision of future of what will eventually be a multi-billion-dollar space. Alison has one master’s degree and is a candidate for a second, and while she does that and runs SexTechSpace, and on top of all that, she runs Women In Tech Pittsburgh. Don’t miss this episode!
An entrepreneur who is 50% player, 50% coach, and 50% cheerleader, Kit Mueller is a hurricane of can-do builder spirit and supportive energy - with a definite mischievous streak - and Scot enjoys his company tremendously. Kit has had an open invitation to come to the Epicast Studios and appear on the Pitchwerks Podcast since the show started, but he has always suggested others for the show instead. This week he finally comes in and talks about what he thinks real mentorship looks like, and tells us about his efforts to bring the Startup Boost program to Pittsburgh, working with our friend Jim Gibbs and serial entrepreneur Mitch Turck. Applications for the first cohort will be closing soon, so if you’ve got a young company you might want to listen to this show right away!
If you’re not familiar with the Hardware Cup, it’s time to get familiar. Startups that make physical products are getting hot again, and the Hardware Cup is the leading pitch competition for entrepreneurs in that space. The Pittsburgh event is coming up on February 28th, so we invited Hardware Cup event coordinator Kayce Karlo to come into the studio and talk to us about what makes this event so special, what kinds of companies have competed in the past, the prizes and support the winners get to claim, and what’s going on in the United States with regard to building and making physical products.
Jon Providence is the Vice President of EagleDream Technologies, who holds the #1 spot among resellers of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the Northeast United States. It’s a very competitive space - there are 58,000 other AWS resellers out in the world, and considering just because of Boston and New York City alone, the Northeast is an incredibly competitive territory. Jon talks to Scot about how EagleDream climbed to the top spot, makes a few predictions regarding what the future might hold, and even tells us how he makes those predictions, providing instructive examples from history that tell us what we might expect from the future.
This is a special bonus episode of Pitchwerks, provided in addition to our usual Wednesday programming because EagleDream has just announced a partnership with KRNLS, the firm that Scot started with Olga Pogoda to help businesses grow. KRNLS is handling EagleDream’s launch in Pittsburgh, providing value-add tools and discounts to Amazon Web Services clients in the area.
If you’re interested in such things, check out krnls.co/eagledream
Hey kids! Do you like brilliance? Wanna know how to plan for change so it doesn’t kill yinz? This week we’ve got Ben Mosior, founder of Hired Thought, who was recommended to us by some of the smartest people we know. He’s a “go-to” strategic thinker who practices Wardley Mapping, among other things - and since we didn’t know what that was, we asked. It’s a huge, wide-ranging discipline that studies and diagrams complex systems to understand them, so we only focused on a couple of aspects of it for this episode. Ben explains the relative value of mapping - which includes efficiency and savings you get from doing things in a strategic order of operations - and then helps Scot to understand the evolution of ideas from genesis to commodity.
Francois Gau has managed major initiatives for some huge worldwide corporations including Honeywell and Kennametal, but he started out as an accountant and innovator in Toulouse in Southern France. He now owns Levy Industrial, which helps companies from $25 - $200 million per year to upgrade their processes and integrate their departments so that they can attract new clients, keep existing ones and multiply their revenues. In this extended-length episode, Francois tells Scot MacTaggart about his “sweet spot” method for quickly identifying opportunities for improvement, the value of ethnography (cultural study), and a practice he swears by called “hard listening”. These tactics have served him well over the years, and resulted in major improvements for manufacturing and industrial firms as well as their clients.
Trained as a lawyer, teaching classes in the Duquesne University MBA program, dragging a track record of high-dollar deals around with him, Mark Santo has seen a lot. This week, he visits Scot and Buzzy in the new podcast studio at the Pittsburgh Technology Council, looking out to the common outdoor area of Nova Place. Mark and Scot talk about right and reasonable timing and methodology in taking a business into the global international market, today’s competitive landscape, and how a young professional should prepare for the changes that are unfolding in the world.
LOTS OF GREAT STUFF THIS WEEK as Dr. Courtney Williamson, CEO of Abililife, checks into the Epicast Studios to talk to Scot about being the head of a medical equipment startup that is already assisting Parkinson’s patients in 40 of the 50 states after just a few short years. Courtney’s mom had Parkinson’s, so she assembled a team and invented the a product that could help with some of the physical challenges of the disease. The Calibrace+ is now accepted by Medicare and private insurance under prescription from a doctor. Courtney and Scot hit it off big time in this interview, hitting on the risks that passion presents to entrepreneurs, the importance of valuing process and time management, and of course Steve Urkel and Family Matters. Check it out!
This week, we’ve got one of those guests where it’s hard to figure out if we can - or should - cover everything he has done in his career. Andy Hannah is the CEO of Othot, an AI / machine learning company that assists colleges and university by predicting how likely it is that a prospective student will be a good match for one school or another. Andy has been a CFO and a college professor as well, and has been noteworthy for his success in startup fundraising over the last 25 years. Even better, he attributes his success to building good relationships, good karma, and doing what you say you’re going to do. You’re going to love this episode.
For the second week in a row, we’ve got a doctor in the house! This week our guest is Alan Martello, who used his PhD in Electrical and Electronics Engineering to bootstrap, build and operate a company called Horizon Control, which he exited in 2011. Alan has spent a lot of his time helping entrepreneurs since then, and from those efforts, the Entrepreneur Coloring Book was born. It’s a simple and direct set of exercises for entrepreneurs (and business development people!) to set their direction. This episode features discussion on bootstrapping, finding meaning, and how your locale can affect your beliefs and expectations.