Mike Neilson is succeeding as an electrical hardware entrepreneur - without any background in it!
If you’ve ever doubted yourself at work, be sure to listen to this week’s show. Mike Neilson’s fields of expertise before setting out on his own were business software and marketing. Two years ago, he launched a product called Switcheroo (switcheroo.com), and it required very different expertise - electrical engineering, intellectual property, industrial design, manufacturing, distribution and retailing.
Mike’s story is a great one, perfect for The Pitchwerks Podcast. It’s about making a plan and sticking to it - adapting when necessary - until all the tasks on the list have been checked off, and you’re finally satisfied.
Mike Stafiej tells us the plain truth about his strategy - including his mistakes.
Mike Stafiej, the president of PICLIF(.com), knows that a lot of disruptive young B2B companies start off with the assumption that they will continually need to check in on their clients over a period of time - a model where a lot of “account managers”, “customer success” people, and “client satisfaction” staff need to be hired.
Mike set PICLIF up to be different. Together with his trusted advisors, Mike built PICLIF to grow quickly. The company uses a B2B technology sales model to sell to funeral homes, but rather than pinning their hopes of success onto a large scale field team’s ability to upsell and after-sell, they are working a high-speed market penetration strategy instead.
The young president didn't grow up in the business. He candidly admits that he's "still learning" about PICLIF's market, clients, and ultimate end users - and that in the past, he had confused the clients with the ultimate end users. Mike's open nature and humility are helping PICLIF as it quietly grows into a disruptive force in an overlooked industry.
How do policies get set? Through meetings and research.
GIS Associates is a government-relations firm, and vice president Peter Madaus has been there for 18 years. If you don’t know what that means, or what he does, you’re not alone. Apparently a lot of people have this problem, so it’s good we’re doing a show about it.
Like a lot of lobbyists and government consultants, Peter doesn’t enjoy prospecting and selling. He’s totally comfortable working with representatives and senators, but when it comes to approaching prospects and seeking out new work, he’s just like the rest of us. Peter and Scot talk about using a “referral first” strategy for initial conversations, and also spend time discussing how entrepreneurs might use government relations services.
Years of civic tech work are paying off - Resistbot has found a huge audience.
This week, Scot goes to San Francisco to chat with his old friend Jason Putorti, a well-known and respected interface designer & civic technology innovator. Several of his past projects have been aimed at solving issues in civic engagement, but his latest one is creating a nationwide buzz.
Created in collaboration with Eric Ries and a large and cast of volunteers, Resistbot (text RESIST to 50409) connects users to elected officials whenever the mood strikes. It’s different from Jason’s past civic tech projects, in that there’s no website, mobile app, or specialized interface - Resistbot is a chatbot that works over whatever SMS chat app you already have on your phone. For bonus points, it works on Facebook Messenger and Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices too.
You have to love the tagline "Deliver Results Without Increasing Overhead"!
For some reason, everyone loves talking about money. They want to hear how to save it, how other people spend it, how to make more of it. Time is another question though. You start telling people how to save time - or how you spend your own because you can’t make any more of it - and they roll their eyes at you.
So, FINE. This week’s guest is David Oshlag. He’s a successful marketer, product manager and consultant who has mastered the art of saving both money and time. About five years ago, David and some friends started W5 Templates (W5Templates.com), an offshoot business from their original venture, Project Marketing Associates (projectma.com) that gave small teams and businesses some easy, dashboard-y CRM and project management tools to save time and money.
Everybody needs Sam on their shoulder, rooting them on.
This week, Samantha Bute Hartzman from Invest in Her (weinvestinher.org) stops into the Epicast Studios for a fun show with good chemistry. The two talk about the pitch competition Invest in Her is known for, the problem it is intended to solve, and how people get ready.
Sam and Scot talk about Sam’s top frustration - women thinking they aren’t ready to pitch their businesses - at length. It’s a fun, frank, collaborative conversation where the host and the guest pull no punches as they try to find ways to help Invest in Her and address its core mission.
Krystle is back - and has her own shop now!
Old friend and past guest Krystle Nirschel was on the show about three months ago, and apparently caught the entrepreneurial bug during her visit. Originally invited on to talk about selling and producing marketing videos, Krystle has since gone out on her own, offering video, social media and ad buying services.
Two weeks into her new venture, Krystle already has three clients - and the company doesn’t even have a name yet. Krystle comes into the Pitchwerks to talk a little bit about naming her company, crafting her new pitch, and planning for the future.
Oh, and if you’re from GrubHub, she wants to talk to you. Mostly about food it seems.
Comedy is Work - Ask Ed Bailey & Day Bracey - The Drinking Partners!
Just like comic books, podcasts sometimes have crossover events. This is one of those. Ed Bailey and Day Bracey - better known as the Drinking Partners from Pittsburgh’s favorite podcast of the same name - bring their stand-up superpowers into the studio to share what it looks like when THEY have to give a "presentation for work"!
Whatever you’re looking for in a Pitchwerks episode - sales, marketing, entrepreneurial thinking - this one has it. Self-confidence? Check. Presentation advice? Yup. Product testing strategy? You know it. And a social media prize giveaway too!
There's a difference between renting space and joining a movement.
Want to know how hard it is to earn big grants? Ever want to look under the hood of the Pittsburgh startup scene? Are you able to detect a subtle South Park reference? Then this week’s show is for you.
Josh Lucas is the founder of Work Hard Pittsburgh, co-founder of Academy Pittsburgh, and as of this week he’s also received a Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) grant that will allow these organizations to expand into 9,000 square feet of new space as they continue their mission to build a sustainable co-op for startups and doers in Pittsburgh. Josh is bullish on the idea of the co-op over the co-working space, and is eager to share why his model is probably better for you.
Don't just assume your product deserves a place in the market. Prove it.
MIGHTY is on track to release a disruptive new product at the end of the summer, and thanks to an extensive testing campaign, CEO Jen Yosef has a great deal of confidence that the product will satisfy its intended market.
The story of that testing - confirming that the market is there - is helping to make MIGHTY a standout startup months before the live launch. This week, Jen and Scot talk about this market validation, about how MIGHTY is pitching to angel investors, and who the product is really aimed at. (Hint: It’s real estate agents.)
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