CMU: A Fascinating Atmosphere and Entrepreneurship Mentality

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Rui José and Miguel Corais, from the DISPLR team, have their office at Project Olympus in Pittsburgh since October 1, in the scope of the 2014 edition of the inRes Program. Since then, they have been participating in several conferences, workshops and strategic meetings. One of the moments they highlighted was the talk with Denis Meinert, CFO of Duolingo, and at a different level the presence at the workshop on Financial Modelling. This team also stressed the “fascinating” atmosphere and “entrepreneurship mentality” at CMU. “We are learning a lot, but we are also learning the value of what we have to share with others,” they stated. The expectations for the next weeks are extremely high. 

CMU Portugal: What were the most important moments so far?
Rui José and Miguel Corais [RJ and MC]:
We would highlight two moments this week. One was the talk with Denis Meinert, CFO of Duolingo, who discussed the importance of having a financial advisor in startups. He told us about his experience with the startup world and which financial information startups must present to investors. He had a lot of interesting stories to tell us about other startups he helped in the past. This talk gave us a whole new perspective of what being a CFO really means. Another interesting moment was the workshop about Financial Modelling where Phil Compton, CFO / CoFounder of the cyber security company Malcovery Security, talked about the basics of mapping financial projections and understanding how to incorporate assumptions, and discussed key terms such as burn rate, cash runway and EBITDA.

CMU Portugal: How do you describe your office at Project Olympus?
[RJ and MC]: Project Olympus is our base in Pittsburgh. This is an incubator with a nice work space that allows us to share experiences with other startups. It also gives credibility and grants access to a rich network of connections. Kit Needham, the person in charge of Project Olympus, has been particularly helpful in getting us in touch with relevant contacts.

CMU Portugal: In what sense do you feel that this immersion is important for you as professionals and for your project?
[RJ and MC]:
Above all, the CMU atmosphere is absolutely fascinating, with so much going on all the time. The entrepreneurship mentality at CMU, the contacts we are adding to our network, the impact that workshops and seminars with successfully startups will have on our knowledge will help us to be better entrepreneurs and to build new know-how to make our startups successful. We are learning a lot, but we are also learning the value of what we have to share with others.
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CMU Portugal: What are the main expectations for the next weeks?
[RJ and MC]:
The expectations are high. We expect to contact with companies from areas like digital marketing, games and digital signage that can help our project, and we also hope to learn more about entrepreneurship and techniques that can help our startup evolve. 

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inRes, short for “in Residence,” is a very early stage acceleration program for entrepreneurial teams working in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), in Portugal, offered by the Carnegie Mellon Portugal Program.