Jim Krenn is the creator and co-host of the successful “No Restrictions” podcast, now produced by the team at the Pittsburgh Current. He has stayed local to his hometown of Pittsburgh and still remained successful in his entertainment career, which now spans more than 30 years. Jim Krenn will always be a comedian -- many Pittsburghers think of him as the personality that put the WDVE morning show on the map, others as the backbone of Nickelodeon’s cult hit “Action League Now!”
This week, Jim comes into the Epicast Studios to talk with Scot MacTaggart about his many innovative and entrepreneurial reinventions - from his new “Yinzer” line of cards and candy to a brand-new live show in December that will feature him doing musical impressions - and the mindset that he uses to stay grounded so he can succeed.
It’s October, so let’s talk about Scarehouse, the nation’s top haunted attraction! Scot’s friend Katie Dudas - aka Dudders - is the sales and marketing director for the all of the various Scarehouse projects and attractions, and this week she opens her playbook all the way up for Pitchwerks listeners. Immersive experiences, data analytics, geography, social media, customer reviews, and what regular retailers can learn from attractions like Scarehouse and its sister properties -- everything’s on the table. If you’re in the area, be sure to thank Katie for sharing her insights by checking out the Scarehouse “Scream District” in Pittsburgh’s Strip District all this month!
From the individual operator working a sales or marketing job on their own, to the major ad agency or corporate brand, everyone’s in the media business right now. This week’s Pitchwerks features Andrew Knox of AKM Productions. AKM is the company behind a couple of media production toolboxes, such as Remaster Media and Kontent Core, and Andrew is the CEO and founder behind all of it. With Remaster Media, Andrew is looking to give content creators a fast way to master their products, and with Kontent Core, he provides professionally produced clips through an efficient self-service window. Andrew talks to Scot about making your own material, the complexities of licensing tracks, and what he has learned from building all of these products.
There was a time, not that long ago, when selling ads and sponsorships in a “pro-cannabis lifestyle magazine” would have sounded like an insurmountable challenge in Western Pennsylvania. Things are changing though, because Gina Vensel is bringing Sensi - a free, pro-cannabis lifestyle magazine - to her hometown of Pittsburgh. Gina has assembled the sponsors and advertisers necessary to make Sensi Pittsburgh successful, and this week she answers Scot MacTaggart’s questions on messaging, strategy and how Gina and her team target prospective clients as they build the Pittsburgh version of a well-known publication.
This week, we get a call from New York City! Elyce Henkin jumps on the line with Scot MacTaggart to talk about how marketing and advertising work in the world’s most competitive theater market. Elyce is the director of partnerships and brand experience at AKA NYC, and her firm handles the marketing for major Broadway shows like Come From Away, The Prom, and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Elyce and Scot spend quite a bit of time talking about how important it is to find and use an authentic voice and approach when you’re marketing art with a specific message and point of view, and also analyze how partnerships are formed with brands like Kenneth Cole.
If you’re not familiar with the Awesome Foundation or Awesome Pittsburgh, then you have to check out this week’s show. If you go to an Awesome Pittsburgh pitch party, you’ll leave with a smile on your face, after seeing a bunch of locals proposing off-the-wall civic improvement ideas in search of a $1,000 grant. This week’s guest is Scot’s friend Mike Capsambelis, a founder and trustee of Awesome Pittsburgh who gets to vote on these pitches, and a very smart guy who oversees projects at Google. Mike explains what kinds of pitches they get, how they judge them, and what he thinks you should do if you want your project to be selected.
Later this year, Ingrid Cook and the SHzoom team will bring their long-awaited “Uptime” product to market to assist fleets with minor accidents and other types of service. Uptime’s release is the latest milestone on a 10-year journey that began when Ingrid had a regular job working for someone else. Along the way, Ingrid’s team has assembled a portfolio of patents, performed extensive customer discovery and market validation, and taken a beta version of the offering to test users. This week, Ingrid comes into the Epicast Studios to talk to Scot MacTaggart and the Pitchwerks audience about self-discipline, to debate about luck, and talk about some of the other paths that SHzoom could have taken.
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!