THIS WEEK: Dr. Noah Snyder gives us an inspiring peek into Interphase Materials, a company that specializes in the many places where technology interfaces with biology, which makes for a wide-ranging set of applications. During this week’s show, Noah speaks with Scot MacTaggart about how Interphase improves outcomes in medicine, and improves the efficiency of both Navy ships and HVAC systems. Be sure to listen for Noah’s advice about customer discovery, the pitfalls of startup fashion, and the quest for true purpose he thinks is key to his happiness as well as his success.
Remember a couple of months ago when all of a sudden you got emails from every website you’d ever heard of, telling you that they were updating their privacy policies? You can thank the EU for that. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) got everyone’s attention, but apparently not long enough to make sure that everyone knows what it is and how it works. That’s where this week’s guest Mark Bursic comes in. Mark is the founder of Critical Syntax, a company that focuses primarily on WordPress websites, and on September 11th, 2018, he and his colleagues are hosting a webinar on this very topic. We asked Mark to come into the studio and give us a sneak peek at the information he’ll be sharing, and explain GDPR to the Pitchwerks audience.
This week’s show is an absolute monster. The Vezt platform is a way for artists and creators to raise money - similar to the way an IPO works - by putting the royalty rights for songs, albums or full catalogs onto an open market. This week’s guest is Steve Stewart, a music industry veteran whose credentials include 10+ years managing a little band called Stone Temple Pilots. But Steve now spends his days explaining the virtues of fractional ownership and Ethereum blockchain technology. This week also marks the first guest co-host in Pitchwerks history, as the multi-talented Lyndsey Smith returns to the studio to help Scot to measure Vezt’s appeal to musicians. Together, Steve, Lyndsey and Scot discuss the recording industry’s problems, Vezt’s attempts to solve them, and what the future may hold.
This week, Scot has the electrifying Lyndsey Smith in the studio for the first of two back-to-back appearances on Pitchwerks, talking about the music business and what she’s learned since she got started. Just as it is with startups and salespeople, i’s very difficult for a new performer to find their authentic voice when they’re starting out. Lyndsey knows this well, and she has some hard-earned and heartfelt advice for those that are starting out on their journey. Next week, Lyndsey will return as Scot’s co-host, and the pair will interview Steve Stewart to analyze a new blockchain-powered music royalties and investment program called VEZT.
If we called HiberSense one of the hottest startups in Pittsburgh, Jake Kring and Bob Fields would probably think we were just trying to work in some climate control puns. It’s a cool idea, and we’re really big fans. Seriously though - there’s a lot of good stuff this week, staring with the amazing opportunity that HiberSense has in the American climate control market. Bob and Jake share the story of how they came to work together - an initial set of meetings described by both as being pretty intense - and everything they’ve accomplished since then.
This week, Scot brings a friend of nearly two decades - Blue Bastion’s Andy Hicks - into the studio to talk about selling advanced cybersecurity measures for large clients, including Blue Bastion’s Managed Detection and Response service. Andy has been awarded as a top performer in pretty much every role he has held since he was old enough to earn a paycheck. He’s worked for some of the largest names in information technology and network security, and this week, we’re looking inside his head to see what makes him tick.
Bharath Krishnamoorthy - “B” for short - is one of two founders of Axle Travel, a data-driven ride pooling service that launches on July 24th in Pittsburgh. Beginning with a basic strategy of simplifying trips to the airport, Axle is a web-based application that will eventually consolidate longer road trips to a variety of destinations. This week, B and Scot talk about Axle’s unique experiences at Techstars, the difficulty they had making pivots from one model to another, and the ways in which they selected Pittsburgh and other markets they’ve considered.
This week: Day Bracey - one half of the Drinking Partners podcast - is in to talk about Fresh Fest, an entrepreneurial new beer festival he is launching with partners and friends. Since Day is our good friend and Epicast Network neighbor, we’re giving his new venture the Pitchwerks treatment! Scot and Day get into the details on what the festival is, and how they communicate their unique value to all the beer-heads that might be interested. Bonus this week: Watch the Drinking Partners and Fresh Fest social media accounts to see custom pitches that Scot came up with to change up Fresh Fest’s messaging and help his friends to sell more tickets.
Happy 4th! If you were going to buy a bedding set right now, what would you be looking for? No matter what answer you came up with, chances are that “high tech features” wasn’t on the list. It's unexpected. The industry is kind of in a rut. A long history and familiarity with this product makes us think about price first. This week, we meet Allison Howard, Founder & CEO of Auratek Textiles, who took her chemical engineering degree and unique observations on skincare and turned them into a long-term business endeavor that has spent years in development. Auratek is now ready to reveal itself as a performance fabric maker for skin care applications, and Scot sits down and speaks with Allison about how she got her new materials in front of the right people to get to this point.
SO VERY MUCH THIS WEEK! Nick Comanici, the Chief Marketing Officer of Carney, comes in to talk about his perspectives on what works and what doesn’t. Nick has a couple of mantras. The first one - “Do the Hard Thing” - fits perfectly here in Pitchwerkstown. The second - “Email is NOT Dead” - has statistics and results to back it up. In a wide ranging conversation, Nick and Scot cover opinions on recruiting marketers, on building an email list, brand awareness versus funnel metrics, punk rock, movies, and overnight success schemes. You’re definitely getting your money’s worth this week!
Everybody loves Krystle - and part of that is because she’s a truly open book. When we last heard from Krystle, she had a different last name, had just quit agency life, and had gone out on her own. Her entrepreneurial adventures set her on the path to becoming the production manager on the first season of TV’s “Restored by the Fords”, and everything was going great. During this visit, Krystle talks about confidence, unexpected changes in your life’s plan, a new entrepreneurial venture, and some of the many nuances of social media and social listening. This episode is PACKED with good stuff!
This week, Scot indulges his obsession with materials startups by hosting Carmel Majidi and Navid Kazem, the founding team behind Arieca, who recently took up residence at Alphalab Gear. Arieca’s “Thubber” product is a soft non-brittle rubber product that can conduct heat or electricity. Regular rubber doesn’t conduct very well at all, and the few conductive rubbers that are currently available on the market are too brittle for the kinds of applications that Thubber was designed for. Scot talks to the two men about their plans to raise Thubber’s profile, drive adoption, and sell the new material to manufacturers.
It’s always fun to check in with the people that are doing REALLY difficult pitches, so we brought Ryan O’Shea, spokesperson for Grindhouse Wetware and the host of the Future Grind podcast (futuregrind.org) to come in and talk about ideas like human augmentation, implantable tech and biohacking. Ryan and Scot spend considerable time deconstructing the various things that make these ideas icky and foreign, despite their promise, and examine the ways that a product concept can move from being scary and foreign to being accepted and even ubiquitous.
This week, we take a look at DestyDo, a startup that recently launched after careful long-term planning and methodical execution. Cofounder Tyler Pratte is in charge of the company’s sales and marketing, and in his short visit to the Epicast studios, he offers Pitchwerks listeners a very clear picture of how orderly a startup can be. Tyler candidly discusses DestyDo’s partnerships, initial product outline, prototyping, market validation and messaging in an episode that might make some people very jealous.
It’s been nearly nine months since Josh Corcoran last appeared on Pitchwerks, and he’s been very busy in the interim. Josh and his friends at Spare Change (sparechange.tv) have begun their second season of their web series, which combines music and charity to create viral videos. The second season is more complex than the first, as the new season’s first episode sends the gang to Michigan in a loaner RV from Cruise America. The new season gets even more complex when you realize that Spare Change is about to launch a new series called Food Rescue Heroes, based on the popular 412 Food Rescue charity. This week, Josh takes us through what’s been changing, and how he’s managing everything.
This week, we take the show on the road! We’re at Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center to speak with some of the businesses represented on the floor of the Pittsburgh Business Show, where none of the booths has been prepped to be on the show. Scot speaks with seven different businesses, from food tech to coworking, to hear seven different pitches and how the booth representatives deal with probing questions under pressure. Featured companies include Darieth Chisolm’s 50 Shades of Silence, coworking provider Industrious, and our friend Priya Amin who happens to be working the Flexable booth when Scot comes calling.
If you’ve got your head in a rut, this episode is just what the doctor ordered. This week, Scot welcomes Dan Finnell into the Epicast Network studios to talk about MindMatrix, a sales enablement product...but the conversation covers a lot more ground than that. With 40+ years of sales and BD experience between them, Dan and Scot develop a fast rhythm early, and use it to laugh and commiserate on what makes the job hard, what makes it easier, and new ways to think about the challenges of a typical work day.
This week we’ve a real communications expert in the studio! Norm Goldberg is in the studio. Norm is one of two principals at ThoughtForm, a consulting firm that describes their mission as “beautiful clarity” as they help some of the world’s largest corporations to build and execute multi-layered strategies to improve understanding and collaboration in the corporate / enterprise environment. From the very beginning, Norm and Scot hit it off quickly, and the pace stays upbeat as a result.
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.