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.
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!