Carnegie Mellon University

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RI Seminar: Kevin Dowling
Learning Through Startups - What They Don’t Teach You in Graduate School

Kevin Dowling
Vice President of Engineering, 4moms

September 26, 2014, 3:30-4:30, NSH 1305

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There are various recipes for startup success and they include ingredients such as the business or technical concept, the team, skill sets, funding, and more. If any of these key ingredients are missing, the startup will likely fail. But none of these nuggets seem to capture the ineffable characteristics of what makes a successful startup. We hear about the big successes and think, wow - if I just had that great idea earlier, I could have done that. The short answer is that is unlikely. What’s missing in our technical education is an appreciation for, and the absence of, non-technical areas such as marketing, sales, supply chain, and finance. I will cover some of this from my own career, but also lessons from many friends and colleagues about startups.

Additional Information

Host: Sanjiv Singh

Appointments: Stephanie Matvey (

Speaker Biography

Dr. Dowling is the VP of Engineering for 4moms, a fast-growing Pittsburgh-based company that develops and markets advanced high-tech juvenile products. Previously he was Vice-President of Research and Development at Cambridge-based MC10, Dr. Dowling was responsible for driving MC10's high-performance stretchable electronics technology into products and applications. He built and led the engineering team, including supply chain and advanced technologies and led MC10’s IP activities. Before MC10, he was Vice President of Strategic Technologies for Philips Color Kinetics. Dr. Dowling joined start-up Color Kinetics as head of Engineering, leading a team through the design and development of many of Color Kinetics' most innovative and successful lighting and control products and a member of the senior management team as CK transitioned through an IPO in 2004 and acquisition by Philips in 2007 for $800M. Prior to Color Kinetics, Dr. Dowling was Chief Robotics Engineer for PRI Automation, the leader in advanced factory automation systems and software for the semiconductor industry. Dr. Dowling has more than 20 years of experience in advanced robotics engineering as a Research Engineer and Scientist at the Field Robotics Center of Carnegie Mellon University, where his projects included mobile robots for NASA and other organizations. Dr. Dowling has over 65 issued US Patents. He received his BS in Mathematics, and MS and PhD degrees in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University where he served on the Alumni Board and is now on the School of Computer Science alumni board. He has consulted for Apple, Chiron, Shell Oil, Caterpillar, and also has served on multiple Boards of Directors and advisory boards for both for-profit and non-profit companies.