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Stanford University's Entrepreneurship Program Looks at CEE


In January 2018, Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship program held a class on the "Czechia and Slovak Venture Capital and Startup Ecosystem," which many prominent Czechtech members attended, and which featured Barbara Pivnicka, Hon. Consul of the Slovak Republic and angel investor. 

To view highlights, visit:

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Notre Dame Invasion of Silicon Valley at AutoVino


Are these Notre Dame ESTEEMS and MBA students selling smiles?  Wow!  They cornered the smile market.

What a good looking group of winners……. all at AutoVino in Silicon Valley!! 

Please find a few comments about our local guests under the second photo on the right.

Some of the notable local Silicon Valley guests of the Pivnicka's for the Notre Dame ESTEEM/MBA program at AutoVino were seated, from far left to right, Roger Sramek, serial entrepreneur; Dr. Geeta Kadambi, award-winning patent agent and McCloskey Prize sponsor; Buddy Burke, (orange shirt), Presentations/Pitches expert at Apple & UC Berkeley; and ESTEEM mentor, Richard Hatfield (royal blue shirt), founder of Lightning Motorcycle, the fastest production motorcycle in the world (218 mph), all electric. 

Seated far left front row, Peter Redford, serial entrepreneur (TV, media, 30 patents); Miroslav Tenkl, West Coast Director, CzechInvest Investment Agency; Dr. Ramesh Raskar, Director, Camera Group at MIT Media Labs, entrepreneur, winner of the 2016 $500,000 Lemelson Prize.

To the left of the red post, Joe Camarda, ND alum and Regional Director, Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Managment; Richard and Barbara Pivnicka, ND and AutoVino hosts; standing behind Joe Camarda and not visible in this shot, Whitfield Diffie, winner of the 2016 $1M Turing Prize for Computing. 

Foreground, in leather chairs, on left, Ian Sobieski, Chairman and co-founder of the Band of Angels, interviewing Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla Motors, educator, and role model. 

Dark blue car in right foreground is the automobile of Jony Ive, Chief Designer at Apple.  




Congratulations to the Turing Prize Award Winner

Barbara and Richard Pivnicka present a bottle of champagne to Whitfield Diffie, winner of the 2016 $1m Turing Prize for Computing--the Nobel Prize of Computing--who is a regular attendee at Czech Tech programs. Whit is flanked on the far left by Matt Fritzie, graduating from Notre Dame with a Masters of Entrepreneurship, Frank Timons, Founder of the Pier 88 Fund, Whit's wife Mary Fischer, and Nadia Correa, also graduating from the Notre Dame Masters of Entrepreneurship Program ……following tech presentations for the evening's attendees and guests,…. including 4 Notre Dame MBA's and 39 Masters of Entrepreneurship.


Welcoming Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman Europe of Microsoft

Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Jan Muehlfeit (red pocket square) visits with Czech and Slovak startups, and some prominent CzechTech leaders, innovators and inventors.

Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Jan Muehlfeit (red pocket square) visits with Czech and Slovak startups, and some prominent CzechTech leaders, innovators and inventors.

On June 10, Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman Europe of Microsoft, from Prague (above, center with red pocket square) visited Czech-Tech, the people network between Silicon Valley and the Czech Republic, which was founded by Richard and Barbara Pivnicka in 2000. Several of the Czech technology startups in Silicon Valley, e.g., Hubert Palan's ProductBoard, Jan Tkac of Presentigo, gave presentations to the Czech Tech group and received suggestions and observations from Jan Muelfeit, Roman Horacek of CzechInvest, and Richard and Barbara Pivnicka who mentor startups and are angel investors. Other guest participants of Czech Tech included: Ben Holbrook, Founder/CEO of Level One, which he successfully sold, David Wilkins, Chairman of VizN Energy, a revolutionary battery company, and Philip Ross, Co-Founder/CTO of MycoWorks, a revolutionary product packaging and materials startup, which organically grows mushroom roots to fit the finished product, and Hicham Jorio, a prominent investment advisor.

During Jan Muehlfeit's meetings in Silicon Valley, arranged by Czech Tech, Jan, who has expertise and interest in education, was enthusiastic to hear the extraordinary results from the Kahn Academy, the free video educational platform giving free educational courses on line to 10 million students worldwide, and offered to advance their agenda. Members of Czech Tech were delighted to meet the Chairman of Europe for Microsoft one on one, who was an encouraging mentor for the day, to one and all.


Top Czech Entrepreneurs and VCs

In April 2014, Czechtech organized a reception welcoming special guest from Prague, Ondrej Bartos of Credo Ventures, and three Founders/CEOs, Jakub Nesetril of Apiary, Vince Steckler of Avast and Rastislav Turek of Pexeso.

Another 2014 Czech Tech spring event had Jack Porter, founder of Forward Accelerator, and 8 time startup CEO, give a presentation on "Startups" and Rastislav Turek, Founder and CEO, give his pitch on his startup, Pexeso, to 22 special guests, graduating Masters in Entrepreneurship, and 3 graduating MBAs from the University of Notre Dame.

Photo by Roman Kasan. From left to right: Jakub Nesetril, Rastislav Turek, Richard Pivnicka, Vince Steckler.

Photo by Roman Kasan. From left to right: Jakub Nesetril, Rastislav Turek, Richard Pivnicka, Vince Steckler.


Silicon Valley Trends in 2014

In November 2013, CzechTech co-sponsored, "Silicon Valley Trends in 2014" a panel discussion and networking reception, which was moderated by the Czech Ambassador to the United States, Petr Gandalovic, and which featured thought-leaders from Kerio TechnologiesAvast and GoodData forecasting trends that will shape local companies and industries in 2014.

In February 2013, CzechTech organized a reception featuring StartupYard, which welcomed the visit of more than 20 Czech and Slovak technology entrepreneurs involved in internet, mobile, e-commerce and software endeavors as they toured Silicon Valley.


CzechAccelerator reception

In 2010, CzechTech, in cooperation with BayCzech Professionals and CzechInvest, organized a reception at the Plug and Play Tech Center, where CzechTech members were given a unique opportunity to meet new participants of the CzechAccelerator Program, representatitves of CEITEC and the South Moravian Innovation Centre, among many others.



Startup Pitches at Tesla Motors

Florian Brody, Visuvi Inc.

Florian Brody, Visuvi Inc.

At Tesla Motors, Chris Boone, on the left, the CEO of Visuvi, mesmerizes CzechTech members with a demonstration of his award-winning search engine for images, which uses images to find identical/similar images, for use in the medical image, eCommerce, and social networking fields.

Also Frantisek Hrabal, CEO of Coda Development from Prague presented his simple solution to keep all tires fully inflated all the time (see Coda is the winner of the 2008 AIE Tech Award in Detroit, the 2009 Tire Technology of the Year Award at the Tire Technology Expo in Hamburg, and a 2009 finalist in the Business Plan Pitch Competition at the Global Tech Symposium at Stanford University.

After a presentation by representatives from Tesla Motors, most of the members went for a spin in the Tesla Roadster, the state-of-the-art all electric roadster, while others admired the new Model S sedan prototype while sipping the finest beer in the world.

Photo, compliments of Jiri Barta, Owner, Pacific Digital Image.

Photo, compliments of Jiri Barta, Owner, Pacific Digital Image.

Richard and Barbara Pivnicka's Tesla Roadster, the only Roadster with diplomatic license plates.


Peter Palecek, Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Karel Sykora, Richard Pivnicka, Cathie and Pitch Johnson of Asset Management, the venture capital firm and George Orbelian.

Peter Palecek, Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe, Karel Sykora, Richard Pivnicka, Cathie and Pitch Johnson of Asset Management, the venture capital firm and George Orbelian.

The Editorial Director in the December 2008 issue of Gentry magazine described those present as from "...a guest list that would make many a journalist at The Economist swoon." The guest of honor was the Chairman of Microsoft Europe Jan Muehlfeit, a 47-year-old ex professional tennis player, who speaks to his audience with all the energy and enthusiasm of being on the court awaiting that next winning shot. He palpably bubbles with positive intensity, bouncing about the room as he discusses staying competitive in the 21st century. He said, "I love Silicon Valley. It's like an intellectual playground." and concluded his address at the Pivnickas by discussing a subject which he has studied at length - happiness: "The countries with the highest levels of happiness will be the ones which will succeed over the next few decades."

Jan Muehlfeit and Richard Pivnicka

Jan Muehlfeit and Richard Pivnicka

The countries with the highest levels of happiness will be the ones which will succeed over the next few decades.”
— Jan Muehlfeit


CzechInvest visits Silicon Valley

Richard Pivnicka, and members and guests, Christina Ku, TriplePoint Capital, Magdalena Yesil, US Venture Partners and Norio Sugano, serial entrepreneur, Real Read, CEO


These members attended “sold out” back-to-back meetings to hear, among others, the CEO of CzechInvest, the Czech governmental investment agency, speak about the availability of six billion Euros that CzechInvest has to award as incentives over the next six years in technology, to everything from start-ups to mid-sized companies, which will help to grow a solid technology-based economy in the Czech Republic. Others speakers included, Dr. Tina Seelig, Executive Director, Stanford Technology Venture Program and recipient of Stanford University’s Excellence in Teaching Award who spoke about entrepreneurship education around the world; and Dr. Moira Gunn, host of Tech Nation and Biotech Nation on NPR, with a speech titled “Welcome to BioTech Nation ... My Unexpected Odyssey into the Land of Small Molecules, Lean Genes and Big Ideas.” These CzechTech members also welcomed several Czech representatives to the US from Czech Trade, CzechInvest, Czech Tourism, and the commercial consuls from the LA Consulate and Embassy in Washington DC.

CzechTech Award

Richard Pivnicka, the Founder/Chairman of CzechTech gratefully accepted the "Czernin Palace Bronze Medal" awarded to CzechTech for the organization's significant contributions in promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the US.


Welcoming First Lady

A special reception was organized for the First Lady of the Czech Republic, Livia Klausová. The former U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic, Shirley Temple Black, also attended.


President of the United Nations visit

At the Pivnicka reception for the President of the United Nations, Jan Kavan, donning his new Czechtech vest after a warm welcome.


CzechTech hosts CEO of In-Q-Tel, CIA's VC arm

CzechTech founders Richard and Barbara Pivnicka are pictured here with Roman Kasan, the CEO of Tiny Software Inc. (a company with offices in both Silicon Valley and the Czech Republic) and Gilman Louie, the President and CEO of the Central Intelligence Agency's venture capital arm known as The New York Times recently called Mr. Louie "one of the most successful computer-game developers of all time."

At the CzechTech reception held on May 3, 2002, Mr. Louie gave a fascinating account of the investment criteria his company uses to evaluate new technology that may help serve U.S. national security interests. He also discussed some of the current projects in which his company has invested on behalf of the U.S. government.


Czech Prime Minister Reception

Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, in his newly awarded CzechTech vest, shows off his musical talents for his CzechTech audience during a November 2001 visit.

The spring 2001 CzechTech meeting/reception, held at the residence of Richard Pivnicka, welcomed twenty visiting Czech and Slovak CEOs and senior managers to Silicon Valley during their nine day trip. The CzechTech agenda included presentations by Mr. Ivan Pilny, Chairman of the Board of Cesky Telecom, and Mr. Miroslav Boublik, CEO of Amient, a financial software company from Silicon Valley.

Seen here with the Consul General's wife, Barbara Pivnicka, Hon. Consul of the Slovak Republic, are Steve Gerber, CEO of Zebu of Silicon Valley and Prague; and Peter Ulrich, the CEO of Qbizm, a software company which recently opened an office in Silicon Valley. 


CzechTech vests gifted to Mr. President Vaclav Havel

No, this wasn't a CzechTech meeting, but Madelaine Albright, former President Mr. Vaclav Havel, his wife and her daughter received CzechTech vests with “” embroided in gold fiber from Richard Pivnicka during a trip to Washington D.C. 

CzechTech drives all electric

In January 2000, the Honorary Consul General hosted a CzechTech meeting at which Stan Skokan, President of the Electric Vehicle Associations, spoke. Mr. Skokan brought with him his own electric car, one of fourteen he has built. Richard Pivnicka (in the photo with his EV-1) arranged for two additional EV-1s to be brought to the meeting for test-driving by CzechTech members. 

Richard Pivnicka with his EV-1.

Richard Pivnicka with his EV-1.