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Going Deep with Aaron Watson

Aaron Watson's show is a forum for having meaningful conversations about the passions, fears and problems of people from all walks of life. Guests talk about entrepreneurship, ultimate frisbee, finance and lifestyle design. Guests include Nathan Chan, Kevin Kelly, Bill Peduto, Morgan Housel, Noah Kagan, Tucker Max, and Barry Ritholtz.
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Dec 10, 2018

Jim Gibbs is the CEO & Co-founder of Meter Feeder, a low cost payment and enforcement solution for small to mid-sized governments.

 

Jim’s startup is modernizing the way that people pay for parking and has already been through Y Combinator in the winter of 2016. The company is headquartered in Braddock and can boast a considerably lower burn rate than companies that stuck around in the Bay Area.

 

In this conversation, Aaron & Jim discuss the how he sells into municipalities, why his technology is revolutionary, and how the Pittsburgh scene has evolved.

 

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Jim’s Challenge; Get outside your circle and interact with new groups.

 

Connect with Jim

Twitter

LinkedIn

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out all the previous interviews we’ve done with Pittsburgh’s movers and shakers.



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Dec 3, 2018

Toni Murphy is a VP at Comcast Business and can teach you a lot about leadership.

 

At Comcast, Toni leads a team of more than 150 across four states. She is a force in shaping cultural transformation at the company by leading the creation of the Keystone Region’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. She also acts as executive champion for its Black Employee Network.

 

Prior to Comcast, Toni worked in Investment Banking at UBS and the Gores Group.

 

Aaron and Toni discuss how she mentors hundreds of people, the impact her mom has had on her work ethic, and how to win inside a corporation.

 

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Toni’s Challenge; Go find one person and say, “I know I don’t know as much as I should know about you, tell me more.”

 

Connect with Toni

Linkedin

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 263 with Audrey Russo where we discuss the nation’s oldest tech trade association, how careers evolve, and the Pittsburgh tech scene.



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Nov 26, 2018

Kevin Sousa is the chef and owner of Superior Motors, an American restaurant that opened in July 2017 in Pittsburgh. It was named one of the World’s 100 Greatest Places by Time Magazine, a Top 10 best restaurant in the country by Food and Wine Magazine, and the best new restaurant of 2018 by Pittsburgh Magazine

 

The restaurant was partially funded through Kickstarter, setting a record for a restaurant by raising $310,225 to break ground

 

Kevin was previously the chef/owner of Salt of the Earth, Union Pig & Chicken and Station Street Food.

 

In this conversation, Aaron and Kevin discuss how his current successes have been informed by his failures, how Kevin’s work is tied to his interest in social progress, and the best ways to foster a team environment that supports everyone.

 

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Kevin’s Challenge; Don’t judge people.

 

Connect with Kevin

Twitter

Instagram

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 146 with Bill Fuller where we discuss the Big Burrito Group, the Pittsburgh food scene, and how restaurants work.



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Nov 20, 2018

I solicited my friends for advice and wisdom they wish they had when they were 27.

Nov 19, 2018

Priya Amin is the cofounder of Flexable, a company that specializes in providing pop up childcare at professional & personal events, offices, and retail stores.

 

Priya discovered this need when she became a mother and realized she was missing out on networking opportunities and events because of her need for childcare. Together with previous guest Jessica Strong, she founded Flexable to solve the problem and create a more inclusive business community.

 

She holds an MBA from the University of Arizona, and previously worked as a product and brand manager at IBM and Nestle.

 

In this conversation, Aaron & Priya discuss how to hone your presentation skills, the founding story of the company, and how to create a more inclusive community.

 

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Priya’s Challenge; Find cool & innovative ways to be inclusive

 

Connect with Priya

LinkedIn

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out;

 

Episode 75 with Jessica Strong where we discuss Whetstone Workgroup & new models for coworking.

 

Episode 274 with Erica Peterson where we discuss teaching Moms how to Code.

 

Episode 50 with Ilana Diamond her role in launching & leading AlphaLab Gear.

 

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Nov 12, 2018

Kate Zarvis has been in the beauty industry since she was 15 and got a job washing hair. Now, she owns her own nail salon that is growing rapidly.

 

Hannah and I cam by her salon to learn about how she’s doing it.

 

Perhaps the most interesting idea we touched on was the difficulty technology will have in disrupting her industry.

 

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Kate’s Challenge; Stop comparing yourself to other people on social media.

 

Connect with Kate

Facebook

Instagram

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 349 with Bri Conley where we discuss how she’s built a specialty boutique off of Instagram and Snapchat.



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Oct 22, 2018

Piper Creative CEO Aaron Watson was invited to speak to the Professional Sales Class at Duquesne University. Aaron made a point of driving home that every college student should establish a presence on LinkedIn and use it to find their next job.

 

2018 is the year of LinkedIn. It will likely never be as good again.

Oct 17, 2018

Dave Mastovich is the founder and CEO of Massolutions.

 

In this conversation talks about how he transitioned out of the corporate world into owning his own business and how he developed entrepreneurial tendencies while working in other businesses.

 

Dave has been on the cutting edge of utilizing the gig economy to build his business and has inspired his team to be creative, loyal, and scrappy through trust and freedom.

 

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Dave’s Challenge; Get comfortable in uncomfortable positions. The next time you catch yourself make excuses, take stock and redirect yourself.

 

Connect with Dave

LinkedIn

Website

dave@masssolutions.biz

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 269 with Brent Beshore where we discuss different styles of investing, the proper motivations for your work, and .



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Oct 15, 2018

Bri Conley is the founder of No. 14 Boutique in Lawrenceville, one of the few shops bucking the trend of “The Death of Retail”.

 

How?

 

By establishing great relationships with clients, staying on top of fashion trends to offer a distinct selection, and masterfully utilizing Snapchat and Instagram to create demand.

 

In this conversation, Brianne explains how she used Snapchat & Instagram stories to drive demand, what she felt like the market was missing when she opened her store, and how she’s blending ecommerce with in-store experience.

 

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Bri’s Challenge; Show up in person to get what you want.

 

Connect with Bri

Bri’s Instagram

No. 14’s Instagram

Facebook

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 295 with Nisha Blackwell where we discuss her handmade bowties business and episode 305 with Wendy Downs where we explore the blending of ecommerce and physical retail.



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Oct 10, 2018

Amir Banifatemi is the General Manager for Innovation and Growth at XPrize and is an Executive Advisor for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE & the ANA Avatar XPRIZE.

 

Prior to joining XPRIZE, Mr. Banifatemi began his career at the European Space Agency and then held executive positions at Airbus, AP-HP and the European Commission division for information society and media.

 

He’s previously managed two venture capital funds and contributed to the formation of more than 10 startups with emphasis on Information Technologies, Telecommunications, IoT, and Healthcare.

 

We talk about how the XPrize stimulates innovation, what the Avatar XPrize is pursuing, and how the teams in the competition are formed.



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Amir’s Challenge; Think about how our human evolution will look over the next two decades. Discuss this with others so we can call have a better future.

 

Connect with Amir

Instagram

Twitter

Linkedin

Avatar.xprize.org

avatar@xprize.org

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 240 with Kenny Chen where we discuss the impact of the AI XPrize, establishing a network in a new city, and Thrival 2017.



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Oct 8, 2018

Michael Hruska is a technologist with experiences spanning across standards, emerging technologies, learning, and science. He is a former researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and now provides technology, business model and innovation solutions to Fortune 500, government and startups.

 

His team has built award winning products and delivered solutions that support millions of users.  

 

Michael is an advisor/mentor to ed tech startups for GSV Capital.  Michael hosts a monthly entrepreneur meetup and other events to support local and regional entrepreneurship. He serves as a mentor and guide for a number of startups.  He also serves as an advisor the Robert Waters Trust Fund at the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to support entrepreneurship and early stage companies.

 

This conversation runs the gamut from small town business to organizing a band to eating with Frank Zappa.

 

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Mike’s Challenge; Go do something new, with new people, in a new place. Get uncomfortable.

 

Connect with Mike

LinkedIn

Food Facebook Channel

Problem Solutions Website

 

Books Mentioned

Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want from Your Business by Gino Wickman

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 131 with Larry Gioia where we discuss #ABCD, Connection University, and how to make introductions for others.



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Oct 3, 2018

Sandra Mau is the founder & CEO of TrademarkVision, a startup doing visual brand protection. She and her team of machine learning engineers are developing a top visual search engine for trademarks and logos.

 

In this conversation, we talk about why she has another office in Australia, how the algorithm simplifies work for IP lawyers, and shares stories of scrappy startups at events.

 

Prior to starting TrademarkVision, Sandra was a Senior Computer Vision Research Engineer at NICTA doing R&D in computer vision, machine learning, and mobile projects.

 

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Sandra’s Challenge; Think about where you want to be in 5 years and then break it down into actionable steps you can take to accomplish it.

 

Connect with Sandra

LinkedIn

Twitter

Instagram

Trademark.Vision

Designs.Vision

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 334 with Alison Alvarez where we discuss geospatial data, finding a cofounder, and being a modern polymath.



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Oct 1, 2018

Dr. Gina Marchando is the executive director at DreamLife Recovery, a new addiction treatment program in Donegal, PA.

 

Gina has been treating patients for trauma, PTSD and the full spectrum of dissociative disorders for more than a decade and came back to Pittsburgh to after losing her nephew to an overdose.

 

In this conversation, we talk about addiction, psychotherapy, and the small steps we can all take to care for others.

 

Gina is particularly excited about the wide array of evidence-based treatment options that will be available at the new facility and the impact it can make on the region.

 

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Gina’s Challenge; Go out of your way to be kind to someone today.

 

Connect with Gina

LinkedIn

Facebook

Twitter

Website

1-833-330-LIFE


If you liked this interview, check out episode 151 with Dr. Matt Keener where we discuss psychiatric health, the impact telemedicine will have on accessing health care, and the Pittsburgh ecosystem.

 

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Sep 26, 2018

Traffic sucks. Luckily, smart people are looking into making cities smarter and reducing congestion.

 

Rapid Flow Technologies was spun out of Carnegie Mellon University with the goal of introducing new Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies into the marketplace. Rapid Flow was created to commercialize the Surtrac adaptive traffic signal control technology developed in the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon.

 

I spoke with CEO Griffin Schultz, who was brought in to lead business development efforts for the young startup.

 

Griffin has an MBA from The Wharton School at UPenn and has previously worked with successful tech startups, as the Assistant Deputy Mayor for the City of Philadelphia, and other offices in state and federal government.

 

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Griffin’s Challenge; Read about artificial intelligence.

 

Books Mentioned

Origin by Dan Brown

Life 3.0 Being Human in the Age of AI by Max Tegmark

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

 

Connect with Griffin

Facebook

LinkedIn

Twitter

Website

info@rapidflowtech.com

 

If you liked this interview, check out our episode Kevin Miller where we discuss artificial intelligence disrupting the world of contracts or our episode with Mark DeSantis where we discuss maintaining road infrastructure with cheap sensors and AI.

 

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Sep 24, 2018

Please go give us some love and let me know your favorite TD celebration.

Steelers Fans' TD Celebrations

Sep 19, 2018

Norma Nieto was the President of PIVOT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Impellia through mid-2017, and is currently working in multiple capacities for Impellia as a consultant. She currently has her own strategy and analytics consulting company, N-Squared Strategic Consulting, which helps clients harness the power of data and analytics to develop innovative strategies.

 

Impellia is a sports software and sensor-based technology company co-founded by former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Charlie Batch.

 

We discuss transitioning from a large corporation to a scrappy startup.

 

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Norma’s Challenge; Don’t be afraid of a startup. Change can bring someone great out of you.

 

Book Recommendation  

Lead and Disrupt: How to Solve the Innovator's Dilemma by Charles A. O'Reilly III & Michael Tushman

 

Connect with Norma

LinkedIn

Twitter

Website

norma.b.nieto@gmail.com

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 338 with Courtney Williamson where we discuss developing a prototype for a new invention, scaling a medical device company, and getting approved by regulators.



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Sep 17, 2018

Idea Foundry has invested in over 200 companies and generated $1B in direct economic impact for the region. The Pittsburgh-based, non-profit economic development organization focsues on creating living-wage, high-opportunity jobs by investing in and working alongside entrepreneurs to grow.

 

Previously, Mr. Matesic was Chief Executive Officer for two start-up companies and Chief Financial Officer for MetalSite, Inc., participating in the rapid growth of the company and public registration process.

 

We discuss investing in businesses, where Idea Foundry gets its funding, and how Mike & his team help companies grow.

 

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Mike’s Challenge; Ask yourself “What is it enough?” If you don’t know, you’ll never stop or change.



Connect with Mike

LinkedIn

Facebook

Twitter

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out previous episodes with Idea Foundry portfolio companies like Ian Rosenberger, Anthony Vennare, Ryan Gayman, Josie Cellone, and John Thornton.



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Sep 11, 2018

Craig Markovitz co-founded Blue Belt Technologies, a spinoff from the Robotics Institute at CMU, in 2003 and thirteen years later was a key member of the deal team that led to a $275,000,000 acquisition. During his years in business, Craig has launched companies, raised capital, and managed operations in businesses spanning from pre revenue and 18 employees to multi-million in revenue and 150 employees.

 

Today, he is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence in the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship and an Assistant Teaching Professor of Entrepreneurship in the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.  

 

We discuss his experience building a team, his thoughts on fundraising, and touch on the peculiar position of deciding what to do after your company is acquired.

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 303 with Luke Skurman where we discuss building a tech company in Pittsburgh, raising a Series A, and the challenges of building a team.



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Craig’s Challenge; Do something out of your comfort zone.

 

Connect with Craig

LinkedIn

Website



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Sep 6, 2018

Startups are always a distinct journey, but the DeCicco brothers have been on a particularly wild ride.

 

I trekked into Manhattan to interview Kitu Life Super Coffee CEO Jim DeCicco about founding a beverage company with his brothers, getting investment from founder of WeWork, and building a distribution system.

 

He left a job on Wall Street in August of 2015 and has been on a hell of a ride ever since. Jim appeared on Shark Tank with his brothers in a February 2018 episode seeking a $400,000 investment in return for a 4.5 percent stake in their business.

 

While they left the tank without a deal, they went home with a wealth of positive feedback, advice, exposure, and lessons learned from their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

 

Give their coffee a taste and get inspired by their hustle.

 

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Jim’s Challenge; Work hard, be nice to people. Practice radical transparency. Say what’s on your mind.

 

Connect with Jim

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 226 with Ed Latimore who writes, studies physics, and boxes heavyweights.



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Sep 4, 2018

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Aug 27, 2018

The Shop Local Movement is gaining steam, while our banks have gotten even more impersonal. How do things change?

 

George Cook believes he may have an answer.

 

His company, Honeycomb Credit, is building a platform for small businesses to borrow directly from their own community and loyal customer base. This creates affordable credit lines entrepreneurs and competitive returns to community members.

 

In this conversation, we discuss how George’s background in community banking informs his startup and the transformational impact that community lending can have on regional economies.

 

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George’s Challenge; Buy local. Find ways to support your community’s economy

 

Connect with George

LinkedIn

Instagram

Twitter

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out episode 301 with Rich Lunak where we discuss Innovation Works, southwestern PA investing, and how Rich got into the role.



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Aug 22, 2018

Eight years ago, 100,000s of people died in the Haitian earthquake. Many people donated money, but Ian Rosenberger was compelled to do more.

 

Ian co-founded Thread International, which has shipped nearly 200,000 lbs of recycled plastic out of Haiti to be processed into fabric. This has also created jobs for Haitian families and represents a forward thinking solution to issues of poverty..

 

Currently, the Thread Team is busy running a kickstarter campaign for a line of backpacks and other workweek essentials made with this important social mission.

 

We discuss traveling to Haiti, the doubts and stress that comes along with running a company, and the value of professional persistence.

 

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Ian’s Challenge; Say Yes.

 

Connect with Ian

LinkedIn

Twitter

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out previous interviews with Thread investor Zach Malone, fellow sustainable fashion entrepreneur Nisha Blackwell, and handbag entrepreneur Wendy Downs.

 

Mentioned

God Grew Tired of Us

 

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Aug 20, 2018

It’s estimated that 50% of the population will be working independently by 2020. If this comes to fruition, the demand for shared space will continue to rise at a fast pace in the next year. According to some estimates, there could be up to 37,000 Coworking spaces worldwide by the end of 2018.

 

I sat down to discuss with Zach Ciccone, Principal & Head of Growth for the Beauty Shoppe.

 

Beauty Shoppe is an urban coworking company centered on a culture of service excellence and the belief that creating a richer workday for the individual directly benefits the surrounding social and professional community.

 

They are growing into new markets beyond Pittsburgh and transforming historic buildings into vibrant and beautiful workplaces. Let me know on Twitter where you work (@AaronWatson59).

 

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Zach’s Challenge; Take a risk. Get into a new environment.

 

Connect with Zach

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

LinkedIn

Website

 

If you liked this interview, check out our episode with Wes Shonk where we talk about whiskey, bartending, and building a specialized skill set.



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Aug 15, 2018

Alison Alvarez knows a lot about a lot.

 

In just 30 minutes, she taught me about Charleston, West Virginia, the power of geo-tracking, and how she does market research. We didn’t even get into Japanese literature.

 

Alison is the CEO and co-founder of BlastPoint. She has spent years building big data tools for large companies and became convinced that more affordable and accessible solutions should exist.

 

She has emerged as an expert consultant regarding large geospatial data systems, lecturing around the country to teach people how to use data tools for themselves, and developing a library of free interactive coding lessons.

 

She currently sits on the advisory board of Y-Combinator’s Valor Water



If you liked this interview, check out previous tech CEO interviews like TrackMaven CEO Allen Gannett, AlphaLab Gear alum Avi Geller, and CivicMapper founder Emily Mercurio.



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Alison’s Challenge; Try building new skills outside of your core focus. Stretch yourself.

 

Book Mentioned

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

 

Connect with Alison

LinkedIn

Twitter

Facebook

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Aug 13, 2018

Ingrid Cook is SHzoom’s CEO. The company is an insurance-tech startup with a patented technology focused on automotive repairs.

SHzoom was designed to revolutionize the way the industry handles minor fender benders.  Rather than driving from shop to shop or waiting hours for a single estimate from a claims adjuster, SHzoom allows the end user to point and click for multiple repair cost estimates from nearby shops!

Aaron & Ingrid discuss the arduous patent process, the importance of a strong network, and the way a single moment of inspiration can change your life.

 

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Ingrid’s Challenge; Do something that you fear doing every single day.

 

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If you liked this interview, check out previous interviews with folks from Ascender like Mark DeSantis, Kenny Chen, and Lynsie Campbell.



Underwritten by Piper Creative

A digital agency that provides strategy, delivery, and analysis specializing in a few key service offerings.

Documentary-as-a-Service (Vlogging 2.0)

Instagram Content Production & Account Building

Podcast Production, Strategy Consulting, and Guest Acquisition

 

If you aren’t creating or curating content regularly, your clients and customers might forget you’re open for business.

YouTube

Instagram



Subscribe on iTunes | Stitcher | Overcast | PodBay

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