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.
Dr. Jonathan Weinkle is a well-traveled and experienced physician who wrote a book about certain soft skills that doctors can develop and use to become more efficient, and ultimately build better relationships with their patients. Scot read it, and immediately thought “this book is really about how to listen, and how to ask follow up questions to solve your customer’s true pain”. So this week, Jonathan’s in the studio, and the two men dig deeper on the traditional ways that we listen to each other, and how to develop a problem-solving mindset that combines listening and thoughtful follow-up questions.
Sports teams spend a lot of time and money on their annual drafts, trying to get their hands on top talent at rookie prices. It’s exciting. Done well, it can literally change the trajectory of your team forever. This week’s guest is Katie Grimm, Pittsburgh director of Venture for America, and VfA brings that kind of excitement to the startup scene by making similarly promising talent available to entrepreneurial ventures. In this episode, Scot MacTaggart talks to Katie about the sports draft analogy as a way to simplify the pitch and clarify the value that Venture for America brings to the 14 cities it supports.
DEEP DIVE! American Gas Lamp Works is a small Pittsburgh manufacturing company that dates all the way back to 1963. Like any business, the company has had to grow and adapt over that time. This week, Wendy Stover and Patrick Jardini come in to tell us how AGLW has adapted before, and is now doing it again. The conversation touches on pivoting to new sales channels, expanding the number of options available, maintaining “uncomfortable honesty” in communications, and giving the online buyer an easy way to customize their purchase.
This week’s guest was once homeless, and now he’s an award-winning business consultant, philanthropist, and community leader. He has won pitch competitions, been recognized by Congress, and was recently ranked in the Las Vegas 40 Under 40. Siloh Moses was barely off the streets himself when he started feeding the hungry in his hometown of Las Vegas, and from that first pot of spaghetti, Serving Hope LV began to take shape. His consulting practice is called WeWin360, and while his methods may have become sophisticated over time, the purpose is simple: using business as a force for good. Siloh helps each CEO to find the charitable mission that suits them, and helps them to excel in pursuing it.
In Western Pennsylvania, even people who don’t work in startups and entrepreneurship know this week’s guest Catherine Mott, and Blue Tree Allied Angels. We’re excited to have Catherine in the studio with Pitchwerks host Scot MacTaggart, talking about angel investment, including common mistakes that startup founders make, due diligence, matching up to the right angel group, and what Catherine looks for in a CEO.
This week’s guest has led, mentored, coached and advised more people than nearly anyone you’ll ever meet. Ray Milhem has spent the past year as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Lonprox, a startup that has developed a local positioning technology for indoor applications. Before that, he was VP of Enterprise Software Solutions and Cloud Deployments at ANSYS, the head of engineering for a Boeing subsidiary, a CTO at another startup, a VP at Motorola, Senior Director at Nokia, and the list goes on. Ray Milhem has seen leadership in large and small companies. He’s in our studio this week, talking to Scot about bringing your moral compass to work and leading with integrity.
This week, Scot is talking to Mary Jayne McCullough, founder of Global Wordsmiths, and MJ has facts on top of facts to explain how easy it is to underestimate the number of people in your audience - prospects, customers, constituents, etc - that prefer a language other than English. And when she explains how simple her team has made it to reach those people, you may reconsider your group’s lack of a language access strategy. MJ also tells Scot about the socially conscious aspects of her business model, in what seems to be a key differentiator between Global Wordsmiths and their high-volume competitors.
RoadBotics CEO, Carnegie Mellon professor, and veteran entrepreneur Mark DeSantis is our guest this week, sharing educational and inspiring insights with Scot MacTaggart in an extended edition of the Pitchwerks podcast. RoadBotics is an AI company, focusing on the “big and boring” problem of road inspection and analysis, saving municipal clients millions and millions of dollars. In just 20 months they have built a list of 80 clients and raised millions of dollars.
Ryan Green and his team at Gridwise have won over some very tough rooms on their journey so far, from the early days at Alphalab to last year’s Techstars Mobility cohort. He knows his way around investor pitches and negotiations, but now he’s here in our studio! This week, Ryan and Scot talk about the basic workings of Gridwise, which raises the earnings potential of rideshare drivers by supplying them with better intelligence. Other topics include ways to increase brand awareness, what to look for in angel and VC investors, and the unexpected ways that drivers cooperate. If you have friends that drive for Uber or Lyft, make sure they check out this week’s show!
Those of you that like the harder content are going to love this week’s show with Maddi Love, the director of sales at WebKite. Maddi is a true professional that was raised under strict sales processes, and she’s now working to help sales and marketing teams to find what she calls “purchase-ready buyers” faster than ever. WebKite uses machine learning technology to compose hundreds of thousands of ads that attract buyers to specific items in your inventory, and the effects are stunning.
When you’re making a travel and leisure purchase decision, how do you gather your list of products and services to consider? This week’s guest has a strategy that seems pretty solid. Adam Kunes and Have Fun Do Good (havefundogood.co) work in the “volunteer travel” space, and they know that you’ll be attracted by great photos and satisfied customers - especially if those satisfied customers happen to be your friends and family. Adam and Scot start by talking about leaving a job you hate to start a humble new company (even if it’s in a “jank RV”), and move on to what the photography and video gives the prospective client, and the company’s history of rock-solid reviews.
THE OUTSOURCED SALES MANAGER HERSELF! Lisa Davidson is back in the house, and this time we’re talking about how to start a new job where you have to bring in new customers. Lisa and Scot talk about everything, from the time-honored 30 / 60 / 90 plan to setting a pace, showing progress through promising failures, and even a clever tactical approach that Lisa started out using with business owners, technical founders and operations managers. It’s always fun when Lisa’s around, and we think you’ll learn some things too.
This week’s guest is the San Francisco Bay Area’s own Rashim Mogha, a speaker and author whose new book “Fast Track Your Leadership Career” goes on sale the same day that this show is released. Rashim is an accomplished female executive, with experience in some of the world’s largest technology companies...but once upon a time, she was a junior associate whose superiors scooped up the credit for her ideas just like everyone else. Listen to find out about her evolution from that point to being an effective manager, then a mentor, speaker and author on women’s tech and leadership.
This week we hear from Rachel Reid, the young and driven founder of Subtl Beauty (subtlbeauty.com), and then starting tomorrow (9/20/2018) we will all be able to follow along in real life, in real time to see how her Kickstarter product launch fares. Rachel’s an open book. She shares a number of useful anecdotes about how a fairly risk-averse corporate employee moved on to build a company, a product line and a pitch out of a hack she put together just for her own life. Listen to the show and then - starting tomorrow - follow Rachel’s journey through Kickstarter to find out whether that pitch resonates with real customers.
Fun show this week, as Nadyli Nuñez and Scot MacTaggart have a bunch of laughs talking about the UpPrize pitch competitions, the well-funded and socially responsible results of the combined efforts of BNY Mellon and the Forbes Funds to empower people that are working to assist non-profits and at-risk populations. Nadyli is a great guest, serving up a buoyant enthusiasm as well as shrewd analysis as she explains how UpPrize got where it is now, and how the program plans to expand.
Holy hell, we made it. Episode 100. We decided against making too big of a thing about it. In fact, this would be a totally regular show if we weren’t drinking champagne. Staying fairly true to form though, we drank the champagne out of whiskey tasting glasses, and talked to our old friend Kenny Chen about how he might pitch the speakers and panels at this year’s Thrival Festival to the people who might not have thought about attending. Kenny’s been up to a lot since we last spoke to him, getting a title bump to “Innovation Director” at Ascender / Thrival, getting deeply involved as an XPrize ambassador, and even working with the United Nations on AI for Good initiatives. Kenny’s a tremendous person, and we’re glad he joined us for our biggest milestone yet.