Meet Dave Mawhinney of Carnegie Mellon, our partner

The Beginning of Entrepreneurship at CMU

Meet Dave Mawhinney, Executive Director of The Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University  Dave Mawhinney was an entrepreneur long before joining the Carnegie Mellon University team and is excited to introduce new entrepreneurship programming for the university.

Before his return to CMU, Dave founded multiple successful startup ventures including: Premier Health Exchange (acquired by Medibuy), Hawk Medical (acquired by McKesson) and Industry.Net (merged with AT&T Business Network to form Nets, Inc.). He then became a general partner of PNC Technology Investors before moving to his next venture, mSpoke, an internet content and advertising recommendation engine that was acquired by LinkedIn in 2010. He served as the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of mSpoke. Dave most recently won a Pittsburgh Inno Fire Award as a champion for innovation and advocate for the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Pittsburgh.

So who is Dave, really?

As a Pittsburgh native with deep roots in the region, Dave grew up watching his grandfather work in the steel mills along the rivers of Pittsburgh. He witnessed the mass exodus of workers and people from the region resulting from the sudden decline of the steel industry. Seeing this was one of the things that initially drove Dave to entrepreneurship; he wanted to put Pittsburgh back on the map. Mawhinney says that he "wanted to make Pittsburgh a great place in whatever small way I can," and continues to contribute to this day through both his business ventures and programming.

The Internet didn’t exist.

    Or at least it didn’t exist in the same way you or I know now. During his time at CMU, Dave was fortunate enough to meet his business partner, Don Jones. After finally talking Don into starting a company, the pair went on to become leaders in the early 90s .com boom. During this time, Dave and his team were able to build the largest business-to-business website on the internet.

    Dave consistently tried to tap into the Carnegie Mellon network but found that at the time, the university was very research-focused and uninterested in the entrepreneurial ventures that Dave was chasing. Mawhinney was frustrated by this and wanted to help spark change. He came back to CMU as an Adjunct Professor teaching undergraduate Intro To Entrepreneurship. Dave’s job was to motivate students to get excited about entrepreneurship 

    Did you ever associate Carnegie Mellon University with the iPhone?

    Probably not, but that’s okay! Most of us associate the iPhone with visionaries like Steve Jobs or Tim Cook, but the person who built the first four iPhones - with a team of CMU engineers, I might add - was CMU alumnus, Matt Rogers. Matt later left Apple to go found Nest labs, which is now Google Nest. 

    Shared experiences like these help Dave to highlight the success of Carnegie Mellon University’s entrepreneurs and the huge opportunity that entrepreneurial education and resources can provide. Dave works on opening pathways for students to consider alternative opportunities to the typical consultant or investment banker career track. 

    Now that you know Dave, be sure to give him a wave around campus and ask him about his next project! Stay tuned to learn more about Dave's journey and hear more about exciting, new programming on the horizon.

    Adam Paulisick

    Founder at SKILLBUILDER & (fmr @BCG @Nielsen — acquired 3x). Prof @teppercmu, MHCI & exec ed at Gates School of Comp Sci. Founder @TheShopPgh

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