Under the Peduto administration, the City of Pittsburgh has gone through some really interesting changes. One of them is the creation of the PGH Lab program, which partners startups with municipal agencies and authorities to run pilot programs and tackle real problems. Annia Aleman works in the city’s office of Innovation & Performance. Annia is the manager of the PGH Lab program, and this week, she’s in the studio telling us how a small new company with nothing but a prototype can get access to real users with real problems.
This week’s guest is helping to launch the Washington Area Business Incubator in Washington, Pennsylvania. Max Miller is a JD and an MBA, formerly of HJ Heinz, but now he’s a professor at Washington & Jefferson College, teaching entrepreneurship and related skills. Washington PA is a small town, W&J is a small college, and the strategy that they’ve developed along with other leaders in the area suits the people and opportunities of this small, somewhat rural area rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach.
How do you propose a large, complex project with a multitude of possible outcomes? We brought in an expert to answer that very question. That expert is Darrin Grove, the founder and CEO of Truefit, a development firm that has to pitch and plan such projects every day. This week’s show started with Darrin giving Pitchwerks host Scot MacTaggart a tour of his offices and development process, and then the two went to the Epicast studios to record this very special episode, where the two discuss sales qualification, the benefits of an iterative process, and Truefit’s historic headquarters.
Want to meet some of the most interesting and influential people in Pittsburgh, plus Pitchwerks host Scot MacTaggart? Grab a ticket for the PACE Inclusive Voices event at the Fairmont on April 13th. Born of the 1960s civil rights era, PACE empowers non-profits that strengthen the community, and the Inclusive Voices program connects ticket holders with CEOs, museum directors, and community leaders. Victoria Garner, Traci Thomas, and Hilary Ferencak are in the studio this week, pitching us all on PACE, the Inclusive Voices program, and the energy you get from talking to people from completely different backgrounds.
Our buddy Lisa Davidson is back, talking about all the various implications of how you manage your time as you try to build your book of business - and the result is a lot of fun. Lisa tells Scot about her own time management techniques, and how to balance the demands of managers, customers, and networking -- but the two old friends have a hard time staying serious the whole time.
Andy Chan’s a 23-year-old who broke his back playing football, and then tried to “walk it off”. For a year. This, coupled with an energetic personality and a strong desire to make something new, led he and his cofounder Connor Young to start VIT Initiative. VIT has all the buzzwords. They’ve launched a connected, cloud-enabled internet of things (IoT) workplace safety technology that reduces the risk of sprain and strain injuries. This week, Andy and Scot connect quickly and discuss starting a hardware company versus on that focuses on software alone, and they get into Andy’s interesting personal story.
Brad Kriel, founder of Velocity Robotics, is just coming off a regional victory in the AlphaLab Gear Hardware Cup, and will be moving on to the next round. The Hardware Cup is a pitch competition for early-stage hardware startups, and Brad is one of six US regional winners. The regional winners as well as the international winners are all competing to win the $50,000 grand prize, in the form of a convertible-debt investment by Startbot VC.
On this week’s show, Brad tells Scot MacTaggart about Autoset, a tool made by Velocity Robotics to make miter saw work more efficient. The two also spend time discussing how a return-on-investment (ROI) pitch gets made, and how Shark Tank can be bad for the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Very few people are working on a problem as large as this one! Mendel Bassman and his team of experts are working on ways to recycle used tires - recovering valuable substances like carbon black, oil and more. Mendel and Smart Tire Recycling recently won TiE Pittsburgh’s 4th Annual Startup Award & Business Mentoring Roundtable (BMR) Showcase, and are on a path toward major success. This week, Mendel talks to Scot about the practice he put in, the business plan he’s working, and what “supercritical fluid technology” actually means.
This week: a fun show with Tomer Borenstein, the CTO of Blastpoint, a Pittsburgh startup that specializes in providing usefully packaged geospatial data for people who need it. Economic development agencies, public utilities, franchisors and franchisees, car dealers and many, many more can use this kind of data to study their markets and devise strategic plans to serve them. Tomer and Scot also discuss the process the company followed in building its price schedule, a question that Scot gets from startups all the time.
This week, Dr. Rasu Shrestha, MBA comes into the Epicast studios to talk about his role as an innovation leader at both UPMC and its subsidiary, UPMC Enterprises. If you’re not already familiar with UPMC, it’s a major healthcare organization that grew out of the University of Pittsburgh, and not long ago it became the largest employer in Pennsylvania. UPMC Enterprises is the creative arm, building products and businesses with entrepreneurs.
Dr. Shrestha is a kind-hearted, design-thinking innovator, working to improve healthcare through technology and innovation in the age of defensive medicine and courtroom thinking. In this episode, he tells our host Scot MacTaggart about the current state of healthcare, about his experience with entrepreneur pitches, and what he is ultimately looking for from the startup community.
Just like all the TV commercials and web banner ads have been threatening, cybersecurity threats are everywhere. This week’s guest wants to fix the real problem you’re facing: your coworkers. You know how they leave the doors unlocked and that one time, the one manager left their key in the door? They’re just as careless with information security. So, Jon and his colleagues built Wuvavi, a platform that trains and tests everyone in your office to avoid getting hit. Three years later, the company has a long list of clients, large and small, and is now considering how they will build their sales and channel strategies to take the company to the next level.
Jim Gibbs is back for the first time since Episode 1! Meter Feeder has grown and changed a lot in the year and a half since his last appearance. The company is done raising cash for now, they’re working on a couple of different strategies that has the company growing at a very aggressive clip. They’re working on parking operators, self-driving cars, and on frictionless rollouts in new cities. This episode is also good for Jim’s perspective on app ratings, on asking for money, and on Pittsburgh as a home base. If you’re not already subscribed after 70 weeks, get there. It’s time!
Have you wondered how to attract real sponsors? Melinda Colaizzi knows that business. She’s the principal at Pitch Consulting, the founder of the Women Who Rock festival, and she’s an accomplished musician herself. This week, Scot attempts to make the most of all the expertise Melinda brings into the studio. Their conversation includes strategies for selling sponsorships, the hard shift toward buying local, and the reputation the Magee-Womens Research Institute has built that makes it the perfect beneficiary of the proceeds from the Women Who Rock event.
Women Who Rock Benefit Concert: May 10, 2018 at Pittsburgh’s Hard Rock Cafe. More information at womenwhorockpgh.com
This week’s show proves that no matter what field you’re in, it has a lot of parallels with other fields. Our guests for this episode are Alyssa and Don from SciVelo, a unique organization affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh. SciVelo calls their work “commercial translation” - and it’s not what you think. Rather than translating between spoken languages, SciVelo translates the work of one set of professionals for use by others, specializing in the research work done at Pitt. Pitchwerks listeners should hear a number of interesting things, especially how the SciVelo team organizes its inventory, its prospects and its opportunities like any other business.
We never seem to have any lazy people on the show, do we? This week, it’s John Quayle, one of two partners behind the StartNOW Pittsburgh newsletter, the principal consultant behind Quayle Creative, and a very busy member of the Active X-It fund. He’s a good friend of our host Scot MacTaggart, and kindly accepted our request to come into the studio to help to decode what is happening in Western PA’s startup scene. The insights he offers are useful anywhere though, laying out some very useful insights for everyone who isn’t in San Francisco, Boston, or some other fully matured startup hotbed.
This week on The Pitchwerks Podcast we’ve got three young men working to save the world - Tanner Cook, Grant Halleran and Aakash Pathak from CleanRobotics. Together with host Scot MacTaggart, the team analyzes buyer motivations, end user education, and a two-tiered demonstration strategy for their product, Trashbot. Trashbot solves a problem you might not even know that you have - the complexity of proper recycling - by analyzing waste and sending it automatically to the landfill or the recycling plant based on a number of factors.
AMAZINGLY sharp conversationalist Priya Amin comes into the studio this week, prepping for an investor pitch competition and talking about Flexable, the startup that she and cofounder Jessica Strong have grown into a common presence at major employers and events in Pittsburgh. This episode was recorded just before Priya left for the New England Venture Fair, so she and Scot work on her NEVF investor pitch a little bit, while also making time to discuss cofounder relationships and expansion strategy.