Conturo Prototyping is a crazy place. They create the first few versions of new components so that inventions can be perfected and turned into new products. Right now, while you’re reading this, they’re building parts for new products that you probably haven’t even imagined, and they’re still a very young company. This week, John sits down with Scot MacTaggart to explain his company’s rapid success, the challenges of cash flow, and the business of building parts for autonomous trucks and mechanical lungs, and trying to level up so he can equip the International Space Station.
This week we’re talking strategic investment with our old friend Kevin Kelly, CEO of Rhabit Analytics, and Doug Reynolds, EVP of Development Dimensions International (DDI), who counts technology and innovation efforts among his responsibilities there. They came in the Epicast Studios to talk about their collaborative efforts, as DDI’s Venture Fund has now made a strategic investment in Rhabit, and to let Scot MacTaggart ask everything you ever wanted to know about strategic investment arrangements and the motivations behind them.
We did a show with Idea Foundry’s Jason Jones a few months back, but then lost the whole thing when our road kit ate the recording. Jason is a good sport though, and agreed to come back in to redo the show when he had time. We got him back into the studio, and halfway through, something major blew up on the utility pole and knocked out all the power on our block. NO EXCUSES IN THE PODCAST GAME THOUGH - we did the rest of the show with AA batteries and cell phone lights. You’ll be glad we did! Jason is a great guest, and Idea Foundry does important innovation and economic development work. Applications for their Equitable Entrepreneurship program (EE) are now being accepted through August 18th, and you are really going to want to tell someone about it.
This week’s guests are incredible! We have Toni Murphy, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast, and Bill Flanagan, the iconic host of WPXI TV’s Our Region’s Business - and they’re in to talk about their work with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. Specifically, they’re here talking about “Our Next 75”, the Allegheny Conference initiative that brought a diverse crowd of 1000 locals into one room to talk about what the area needs to grow and thrive for the next 75 years. The trio gets into the methodology behind the effort, the brand and message work necessary to make sure that it’s successful, and where things go from here.
After starting businesses across various fields, including robotics and software, John Feghali has now turned his attention to something for the younger generation. His latest venture is called Toaster Party, and this week we’re talking about how they are marketing their new product, Toaster Pets Animation Studio. John sees his whole career as a mission to make life’s best things available to everyone - and the Toaster Pets product is no different. The Animation Studio addresses one of the biggest requests that young people make of their parents: they want to make online videos. John says his cartoon video kit allows them to express themselves earlier, but in a safe and anonymous way. He adds that the storytelling process and a “build-on-your-failures” mindset prepares young people for the many jobs that will require the skills this product develops.
Super fun show this week! Milena Roucka - who wrestling fans will know better as WWE’s Rosa Mendes - comes into the studio to talk about Totally Fit Mama, the business she started with her partner Courtney Daylong. During the course of conversation, she manages to drop a number of motivational and endearing truths about all the major changes in her life the past few years, including the birth of her daughter, her retirement from WWE, the breakup of her relationship, and adjusting to a new life in a new city.
Kurt Schnieders has had the kind of career that most of us can only dream of. He is best known for having been the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Dick’s Sporting Goods, and before that he was the CIO of L Brands, the corporate parent of Victoria’s Secret. This week, Kurt stops into the Epicast Studios to talk to Pitchwerks host Scot MacTaggart about his post-corporate life as a consultant, the trends he sees in the technology space, and the frightening details of the stroke that he suffered in December of 2017. Kurt explains something most of us will never fully understand - the corporate CIO’s work day - and what the product, marketing, and sales landscape looks like from his perspective.
This week our good friend Aaron Watson, the host of Going Deep with Aaron Watson and the CEO of Piper Creative is here to demystify LinkedIn and social content strategy for all of us. Aaron and his partner Hannah Phillips have done a great job in developing their message, and in the short time that Piper has been in operation, they have learned to articulate the value of their services in a way that it seems truly effortless. Aaron is the first one to explain that that effortless appearance is actually the product of - you guessed it - tons of repetitions over long periods of time to get things right. Check out this week’s episode to learn a few of his LinkedIn and social video secrets, and to get a peek at some of the well-established philosophies at work behind these new tactics.
Our friend and prior guest Zak Slayback has written a new book called How to Get Ahead. Scot devoured it - cover to cover - in a couple of days, and found it to be well written and perfectly framed for those people that are looking for clear steps to follow in careers and business. This week, Zak tells us about how he took personal definitions of success into consideration in writing the book, he gets into how his collaboration with McGraw Hill Education publishing formed, and really explains the power of the personal website and email list that he recommends so strongly. Expect all that and a lot more this week, as these two fast talkers compare notes about the current state of career development!
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!