THE INNOVATION INSTITUTE: Global Entrepreneurship Week Comes to Pitt


The Pitt x CMU Global Entrepreneurship ends Nov. 15.

By Nick Zarras, Contributor

Next week marks the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), for which people in more than 170 countries take part in thousands of events and competitions to inspire millions to engage in entrepreneurial activity. Beginning on Monday, Nov. 12, Pitt will partner with Carnegie Mellon to host several interactive events for all students, both graduate and undergraduate, to connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and investors.

The Pitt x CMU collaboration presents the unique case of two universities combining efforts for GEW. The Big Idea Center for student entrepreneurship at the Pitt Innovation Institute, and Carnegie Mellon’s Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, have pooled their resources to ensure that all students will get the best experience possible, including a little friendly competition. Starting next Monday, all students from both campuses will be welcome to participate in the event’s events and competitions. Registration is already open and can be accessed online.

Kicking off GEW will be Steel City Startups, with TED Talk-style presentations from four Pitt and CMU startup success stories, followed by a facilitated Q&A. The event will take place on Monday, Nov. 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall on Pitt’s campus. Each startup will give a 10- to 15-minute talk on the opportunities and challenges they may have faced getting to where they are today. Utkars Jain and Adam Butchy will present on Heart I/O, Nicki Zevola will present Future Derm, Matt Kesinger will present Forest Devices, and Courtney Williamson will talk about Abilife. They will provide some great takeaways for students who have ideas of their own, especially since many of the speakers are current or past Pitt or CMU students. Anyone may attend Steel City Startups, and a networking reception will take place at the start of the event.

On Tuesday, the action moves down the road to Carnegie Mellon’s brand new Tepper Quad, where the PDMA Pitch Competition will take place. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., eight top teams, two graduate and two undergraduate teams each from Pitt and CMU, will have 90 seconds to pitch their innovative ideas to an expert panel of judges. Qualifying has already taken place and the teams are all set, but anyone can register and watch the friendly competitive spirit between the two Oakland campuses. The winning teams will receive cash prizes as well as various re- sources from sponsors.

Wednesday comes back over to Pitt, where Pittsburgh Good Neighbors: Social Impact Fireside Chat will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the O’Hara Student Center. The Fireside Chat will revolve around Ian Rosenberger, founder and CEO of Thread International. Rosenberger’s journey began when he visited Haiti and saw how much plastic waste there was. Thread International creates thread from these recyclable bottles and sells it to larger companies such as Patagonia for use in its products. It is a great example of a successful “social enterprise” company that can help others solve a problem while also turning a profit. Anyone is welcome to join a conversation with four Pittsburgh investors who have helped Thread International’s journey from idea to impact: Zach Malone of Draper Triangle, Nicole Muise-Kielkucki of Idea Foundry, Lisa Kuzma of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, and Matt Madia of Bridgeway Capital.

On Thursday, registration is still open for the Startup Job Fair. Hosted by CMU, the job fair is the only event of its kind in Pittsburgh that is specifically for students looking for positions with startup companies. Any Pitt student can attend, with attending startups looking to hire full-time, part-time and interns from a wide array of majors.

Finally, on Friday, Pitt students can register for a site visit with startup Niche or Treatspace. This will let students hear what it is like working for a startup from the teams themselves.

Global Entrepreneurship Week offers many options for Pitt students to find their inner entrepreneur, and the Big Idea Center encourages everyone to take part.