Business development / Entrepreneurs / Startups

Project Olympus Show & Tell gave Pittsburgh founders a chance to network and problem solve

A dozen startup founders pitched ideas for addressing issues ranging from finding a parking spot to treating opioid overdoses at the annual CMU event.

Adam Knapp presents a pitch for ParkOr. (Courtesy photo)
When you present at the Project Olympus Show & Tell, you must come prepared not to try and sell a product, but to answer one question: What problem are you trying to solve?

A dozen entrepreneurs — some Carnegie Mellon University affiliated and others not — this week pitched their ideas for addressing issues such as opioid overdoses and finding parking spots to an audience of 200 that included more seasoned founders.

Kit Needham, director of Project Olympus and CMU’s assistant dean for entrepreneurial initiatives, told the annual event is intended to offer entrepreneurs the opportunity to introduce young companies to the Pittsburgh entrepreneurship ecosystem and remind alums that the university’s resources are still at their disposal.

“The range of topics was fairly extensive,” Needham said. “We had life sciences, we had apps to help women with postpartum depression, how to find parking, how to prevent opioid deaths. I mean, it just was extremely diverse.”

Two startups that stood out to Needham were Resilient Lifescience and Manakin, which both have CMU alumni founders with Resilient Lifescience cofounder Brad Holden and Manakin founder Vaishnavi Yathirajam. Resilient Lifescience is developing a wearable product to stop opioid overdoses by injecting naloxone into users. Manakin is developing a sensor that can detect pathogens in the air.

“With Resilient Lifescience, [Holden] has only been at it for a year, but he just got funding — major funding” from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, Needham said. “And the Manakin sensor will be able to tell you when the chance for infection is present, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it.”

Ultimately, Needham said that the strength of the Show & Tell for those who participate is the chance to learn, teach others about the problems they’re trying to solve, and maybe walk away with a new mentor or investor.

“We have scientists, we have investors, we have the press,” Needham said.“There are lots of folks there who have connections and want to support our startups and by coming here they can get visibility, connections and introductions.”

Here are all the startups that presented at the 2023 Show & Tell:

  • AdSkate
  • Auntie.AI
  • Certably Solutions
  • Edulis
  • Fluid Reality
  • Manakin
  • Magnify Bioscience
  • OneBar
  • ParkOr
  • Piximo Robotics
  • Resilient Lifescience
Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
Companies: Resilient Lifescience / Carnegie Mellon University

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.


What roles do gender and race play in the IT job market?

This Week in Jobs: Sketch out a new role with these 28 tech career opportunities

Looking for a resilient career? Check out these 13 local orgs

What’s the state of local tech economies? Attend this webinar on Dec. 12

Technically Media