Getting Started with Entrepreneurship as a ChangeMaker - ChangeMaker Session #1 Reflections

ChangeMaker Recap Blog #1 - Horizontal

The Big Idea Center's  ChangeMaker Series kicked off on February 22.  This new program is a 5-session body-of-knowledge masterclass program designed for students at any level and in any discipline who are interested in exploring what innovation and entrepreneurship (I&E) can mean for them.  Key concepts, disciplines, frameworks and tools of I&E are brought to life through guest speakers who have all been on their own changemaking journeys.   

In the first session of our ChangeMaker Series, students learned about the foundational theories of Lean Startup as they were joined by inspirational guest panelists. These guest panelists – who all started their changemaking journey here at Pitt – shared stories of what it means to be a changemaker as well as their own unique innovation and entrepreneurial paths.

Key themes covered and student takeaways included:


Getting Started with Entrepreneurship

Anyone can be a changemaker! Innovation is an iterative process and entrepreneurship is a mindset. Although entry into entrepreneurship seems like an enormous hurdle, many endeavors begin with an air of curiosity and a drive to step into uncertainty. Embracing uncertainty with a passion for discovery and tackling smaller problems allows you to continually progress your idea and achieve realistic goals. Mistakes are inevitable. Don’t take L’s as Losses – take them as Lessons and you will always be making progress.


Student Takeaways:

  • The biggest barrier to innovation and entrepreneurship is getting started – but you don’t need to have all the answers yet to start jumping in! Take one step at a time; you won’t get it perfect on the first try but with time you’ll refine your idea as you strengthen your “entrepreneurial muscles”.
  • It’s normal to execute on your idea while shrouded in a cloud of “what-ifs” and doubts – all entrepreneurs experience this!
  • To create a meaningful impact, first understand the end goals that consumers are looking to accomplish to then innovate around fulfilling these “jobs-to-be-done”.



“At the heart of all change is a focus on the well-being of people.”

Finding an opportunity to innovate can be a daunting process. In a world of infinite possibilities for innovation, one of the best places to find opportunity is from within. Consider the things you’re passionate about and search for common problems around your areas of interest. It’s important to identify the intersection of your passion, your motivation, and how you are going to make a positive, impactful change in society. 


Student Takeaways:

  • While it’s good to remain open-minded to others’ feedback about your idea, understand that you have complete ownership of your vision and thus determine where you want to “steer your ship”. It’s important to remain resilient as you go along your path, especially in the face of criticism and doubt.
  • There is no “right” way to make a change. There’s a lot of good to be done in every area of the universe – start diving in where you can! There are multiple valid routes you can take to create a positive difference in the world. By viewing changemaking in this way, you’ll shift away from “choice paralysis to true imaginative freedom”!
  • “Inspiration and innovation emerge from unexpected places.” Explore interests outside of your professional/academic expertise – even looking to your hobbies can lead to creative and entrepreneurial endeavors!


Thank you to all our panelists for sharing your journey, wisdom and advice with the next generation of changemakers here at Pitt!


Panel Speakers

Panel Host: 

Joanna Sutton, Entrepreneur in Residence at the Big Idea Center


Guest Panelists:

Kyle Guinness (CBA '20), Co-Founder of Revitalize Energy

Joe Maggiore (MD/PhD '27), Founder/CEO of Conduction

Blake Dubé (ENGR '17), Founder/CEO of Aeronics


While the deadline has passed to register for the Spring 2024 ChangeMaker Series, we encourage you to participate in our Fall 2024 ChangeMaker Series when registration opens in late summer! Participating in and successfully completing the ChangeMaker Series is a prerequisite to joining the full ChangeMaker Scholars Program. 

If you are interested in receiving updates about our ChangeMaker Scholars Program that will be launching Fall 2024, please fill out our ChangeMaker Scholars Program interest form below and we will keep you updated on the program development and its launch in Fall 2024.