Sean Ammirati

Director, Corporate Startup Lab at Carnegie Mellon


This week we feature an interview first launched on Startup Competitors, a partner of The Innovation Series. Mike Kelly talks with Sean Ammirati, a VC, distinguished service professor of entrepreneurship, and director of the Corporate Startup Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

Sean shares a bit of his history as an entrepreneur and the path that he took to get to where he is today. He also spends some time diving into the similarities and differences between traditional startups and corporate startups, the strengths, and weaknesses of each, and even some of the regulatory aspects of corporate startups.


  • The trend in recent years of large companies rediscovering their entrepreneurial roots
  • The importance of early customer feedback for both traditional and corporate startups
  • Traditional entrepreneurs don’t have to think about how their vision fits into a larger organization’s strategy
  • For corporate startups, one single “no” could be much more devastating
  • The feedback problem with corporate startups
  • The customer knows the problem. The entrepreneur comes up with the solution.
  • Collaborating as a corporate startup with competitors
  • The tools and techniques that work for both corporate and traditional startups

Past Interviews

David WongCME Group

Dr. Justin SchragerVital Software

Brian PoppeMutual of Omaha

Dustin ZieglerElevance Health

Dr. Joshua Vest, PhD, MPHIndiana University

Helen RobbH&R Block

Therese Fessenden NN/g, Microsoft

Brittni BoweringSPRINT Facilitator, AJ&Smart

Fabricio TeixeiraWork & Co, UX Collective

Jake KnappSprint, GV, Microsoft

Radhika DuttRadical Product Thinking

John ZeratskySPRINT, Make Time

Tobias van SchneiderSemplice, Spotify

Jeff GothelfLean UX Author

Taylor PalmerUX Tools, Neighbor

Daniel BurkaResolve to Save Lives, GV

Carie DavisYour Ideas are Terrible, Coca-Cola

Aaron LerchWhy designers and developers need to invest in being equal partners

Alex BillingsleyHow to get designers and developers on the same page