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Events  |  Spotlights  |  Resources  |  Programs  | Partners |

March 26, 2021

And the Winners Are!
The CMU Swartz Center held its annual McGinnis Venture Competition on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. The competition was held virtually for the second time due to COVID restrictions. Among the final teams who pitched for $60K investments were a panel of esteemed judges from the community. The judges included:

Jim Jen (Innovation Works, AlphaLab), Illana Diamond (412 Venture Fund, LP), Raji Sankar (Choolaah), Ari Rabban (Phone.com, Inc.), Bruce Gebhardt (Pathfinder Capital Advisors), Ed Engler (VC, entrepreneur), John Levinson (Investor/Advisor), Zach Malone (Draper Triangle Ventures), Meredith Grelli (Wigle Whiskey), Alicia McGinnis (Audrey's Kitchen) and Jake Poliskin (Mark Cuban Companies). This year's sponsors were: Phone.com, Philips, Choolaah and Jerry and Alicia McGinnis.

The undergraduate track winners are: 

First place ($4K): Moonpy (Benjamin Graham) 
Second place ($2,500): The Student Community (Snehita Sana, Nina Zanarelli)

The graduate track winners are:

First place ($25K): Mach9 Robotics (Alexander Baikovitz)
Second place ($15K): Clean Sea Robotics (Stefan Zhu, Danny Vedova and Evan Myers)
Third place ($10K): Savor Robotics (Emily Ellis and Connor Colombo)

Find out more about the winners and read about the competition in the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The McGinnis Venture Competition is made possible by a generous endowment from Gerald E. McGinnis, founder of Respironics.

Refiberd team: Sarika Bajaj (center); Mingyue (Ida) Wang (left) and Tushita Gupta (right)
Refiberd Wins Best Bootstrap Award at SXSW

Refiberd, co-founded by CMU alumni Sarika Bajaj, Tushita Gupta and Mingyue (Ida) Wang, won the Best Bootstrap Company award at SXSW 2021, after pitching as a top five finalist in the Social & Culture category. The team also released their first pre-sale collection of embroidery made with Refiberd's recycled thread at the competition. Read more.
CMU Startup Hardly is Picking Up Speed!

Tepper MBA alumni, Allison Braund-Harris ('20) and Roger Harris ('20) have had quite the week! Hardly participated in SXSW's pitch competition as an alternate, was listed in the Venture Summit West Top 180 Innovative Companies, and featured on Dallas's Spectrum News. On March 25, Hardly is a semi-finalist for AlphaLab Gear's Hardware Cup, and Hardly's innovation story will air on the Question Authority podcast. Allison hopes that this attention will lead to pre-seed funding for their suite of IoT products.

Hardly's products help remote workers regain focus and control. Learn how Hardly makes any desk into a smart desk here. Sign up to be notified when products launch.
The James R. Swartz Entrepreneurial Leadership Series presents: Virtual Fireside Chat with Co-founders of Mambu
Co-sponsored by: CMU Tech and Entrepreneurship

Monday, March 29, 2021
12:00 - 1:00 PM EST

*Registration required. A link to the Zoom webinar will be sent to all registrants the day before the event.

Join the CMU Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and the CMU Tech & Entrepreneurship community for a virtual fireside chat with CMU HCI alumni and Mambu co-founders Eugene Danilkis (CEO), Frederik Pfisterer and Sofia Nunes.

, the Berlin based SaaS cloud banking platform, serves fintech start-ups, telcos and top tier banks including ABN AMRO, N26 and OakNorth, Globe Telecom and Orange. The company, which just raised $135M, operates on six continents and is changing the way financial institutions operate and innovate. As the industry leader in cloud banking, Mambu is taking on the $250B market of banking technology worldwide, and services more than 180 customers with over 33M end users.

Find out more about the founders. 
Virtual Talk with Xfund: Starting a Startup - Pandemic Edition

Tuesday, April 6, 2021
5:30 - 6:30 PM EST


Come meet Patrick Chung and Brandon Farwell of Xfund, the Harvard-affiliated early-stage venture fund that identifies and supports founders just like you. Xfund just announced its $120 million third fund. Xfund and its partners were the first investors in companies like 23andMe, Kensho, Plaid, Segment, Guideline, Robinhood, Gusto, Patreon, Andela, and others.

Come with questions about starting a company and raising money during a pandemic!
Click Here to Register
Olympus Show & Tell

Thursday, April 15, 2021
4:00-4:45 PM (Presentations)
4:45-5:30 PM (Virtual networking)


Project Olympus Show & Tell events are hugely popular venues that provide a window into the many exciting developments at Carnegie Mellon University and connect students and faculty with the wider business and entrepreneurial community. See the event flyer.
Apply by April 2!
2021-2023 Undergraduate Innovation Scholars Program

The CMU Swartz Center has opened applications for its 2021-2023 cohort of Undergraduate Innovation Scholars. Undergraduate students from across CMU may apply beginning March 5, 2021 through April 2, 2021. This two-year program fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, provides mentoring opportunities and seeks to increase the number of successful startup companies initiated by or involving CMU's undergraduate students. The two-year program includes academic coursework, work experience at a startup, networking and mentorship--given and received. 

Find out more, view the flyer (pdf) and apply by April 2, 2021 at 11:59 PM.

Register for an info session:

*Students must register to receive the Zoom information.

  Tuesday, March 30, 2021

12:30 pm; EST - Register
5:00 pm; EST - Register 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

12:30 pm; EST - Register 
5:00 pm; EST - Register 


See the full Spring 2021 schedule here.
Can't make a CONNECTS seminar? Watch on our YouTube channel. 

99 Tartans Makes Seed Investment in Arieca for $120K

The 99 Tartans team is excited to support Carnegie Mellon alumnus and Arieca CEO, Navid Kazem, with a $120K seed investment. Navid holds a masters in civil engineering and Ph.D. in computational mechanics and soft robotics. Navid was also an Innovation Fellow in the Swartz Center's Innovation Fellows program.

Arieca is a materials technology company solving heat management issues for the electronics, aerospace and automotive industries with Thubber, a thermally conductive rubber. Thubber has the mechanical properties of a soft silicone and heat conducting properties approaching stainless steel.

The mission of 99 Tartans is to partner with the highest potential, early-stage CMU alumni companies and accelerate their success through access to capital and networks. Please visit and find out more.
Info Session

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
7:00-8:00 pm; EST


99 Tartans is embarking on a road show to increase awareness among CMU alumni into what 99 Tartans is and how alumni can help to promote and enhance the reputation of CMU entrepreneurship. Learn how to begin investing in CMU startups with 99 Tartans by attending this information session and Q&A.

The mission of 99 Tartans is to partner with the highest potential, early-stage CMU alumni companies and accelerate their success through access to capital and networks. Please visit and find out more.
CMU GEC CMU UEA Scottie Ventures CMU Summit
Announcing the CMU T&E Alumni Job Board!

Explore exciting opportunities from fellow CMU alumni and founders.
View and post jobs here.

The focus of the CMU Tech & Entrepreneurship is to connect the CMU community, alumni and students, building an entrepreneurial culture and providing resources for the community to succeed. There are multiple region-based chapters within the group. Find out more

Affordable Engineering and Technical Talent for CMU Startups

Are you a CMU startup looking for great engineering and/or technical talent at low cost?

Slingshot is a global startup incubator that offers mentored internships to CMU startups by extremely gifted high school students across the globe. Over the past year, the founders at Slingshot have identified and validated that there is huge, untapped industry-grade engineering talent in the form of high-school students across the world; students who lack access to quality, real-world CS opportunities.

With Slingshot, interns receive solid, real-world software engineering experience that lets them take their skills to the next level, while founders like you get a team of highly talented engineers to help you prototype and perfect your technologies at low cost. It’s a win-win match.

Learn more to begin hiring amazing talent at low cost. 
Design Talent Needed for sovaSage, Inc.

sovaSage Inc., an AI-based patient management telemedicine platform founded by CMU professor Will Kaigler, is looking for help with designing branded literature suitable for its customers to market the sovaSage service to customers. Excellent design talent and an innovative approach to problem solving are all that are required! Send inquiries to wkaigler@sovasage.com

Swartz Center Education and Resources

No matter what phase of the entrepreneurship cycle you're in, there are programs and resources at the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship that will take your idea to the next level. Find out more.

Project Olympus Incubator Program

The Swartz Center's Project Olympus incubator program welcomes all students, faculty, staff and alumni from all schools at any stage, including social enterprise and life-style business ideas. Find out more. Sign up for Expert Office Hours.



Undergraduate Innovation Scholars
The Undergraduate Innovation Scholars program fosters innovation and entrepreneurship and seeks to increase the number of successful startup companies initiated by or involving CMU's undergraduate students. This two-year program integrates academic coursework, work experience in a startup company, networking and mentorship. Find out more.
Visit the CMU Swartz Center website. Make a donation.
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Carnegie Mellon University Swartz Center For Entrepreneurship
5000 Forbes Avenue | Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890

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