Startup Weekend Athens, OH

    Friday, October 23 - 25, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
  8. Blog
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Startup Weekend Athens, OH

Friday, October 23 - 25, 2015

Friday, October 23 - 25, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Ohio University Innovation Center
340 W. State St.
Athens, OH 45701

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Southeast Ohio's Best Way to Learn How to Start a Business

Have the next great idea?  Come to Startup Weekend Athens!  The event is open to any and all who have an entreprenuerial passion.  All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers.  Don't have an idea but just want to learn how to start a business?  No problem!  Your skills will benefit another's idea. Following the opening pitches, teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 49 hour frenzy of business creation.  The weekend culminates with presentations in front of a judging panel of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Whether entrepreneurs launch companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their realm, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.


Friday October 23rd

5:30 pm
Arrive at the Ohio University Innovation Center; 340 W. State St.; Athens, OH and get checked-in

6:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Begin
Should you choose to pitch - now's the time

9:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

10:00 pm
Begin Work
Get to work - the building closes at 11:55pm!

Saturday October 24th

8:00 am
Arrive at the OUIC for simple breakfast & coffee

8:30 am
Begin Work
Get to work!

11:00 am
Mandatory Check-In & Coaching
Report to 103 before coaches drop-in to your work spaces. Seek them out and use them!

12:00 pm
Have you pivoted? What do you need help with? Network, ask questions, seek help from coaches.

2:00 pm
Coaches Depart - Offsite Work Hours
Stay or go - your call! This is a good time for customer validation outside the building. Or, optional work hours at Create_space or Athensworks.

6:30 pm

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work until 11:55pm.

Sunday October 25th

8:00 am
Arrive at the OUIC for simple breakfast & coffee. Then, get to work!

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm
Grab and Go Lunch
Keep working!

2:00 pm
Coaches Depart
Thank them and get their contact info!

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:00 pm
Final Presentations and Judging

5:00 pm
Dinner and Awards

6:30 pm
Wrap-Up and Go Home!


Mike Blackwell
SVP, Entrepreneur Development

Mike leads Rev1 clients through a rigorous process of Concept Validation, delivering the advice, guidance, tools, and sometimes the capital to eventually build inspiring products and services. Mike is the former CEO of ShareThis (formerly Nextumi), one of the most popular tools used on the Internet. While at the company, he built the team and created the ShareThis product that was used on over 25,000 web sites to share and syndicate web content to other popular social web sites and communication channels. He has spent the last 20 years of his career growing with the Internet consumer starting in dial-up customer service ultimately leading the charge of AOL's search technology group before becoming part of the executive leadership at two startup companies.

Mike has built a strong reputation as a builder. He has intimate knowledge of consumer behavior online and very practical experience in building heavily used consumer centric Internet product solutions.

Prior to joining ShareThis, Mike helped manage and grow companies that have become household names such as CompuServe, Netscape, and America Online. He most recently held the position of Chief Executive Officer at ShareThis and formerly was Senior Vice President of Products & Services at HighSpeed America, a broadband infrastructure company. Prior to that Mike had a very long and successful career with CompuServe, Netscape and AOL where he led the AOL Search Technology Product Development and Netscape Product Management. AOL and CompuServe Search had unprecedented revenue and usage growth under his leadership. In the CompuServe days Mike received accolades for running their customer technical support group which was recognized by Tom Peters in one of his books concerning exceptional customer service models. Later, Mike moved through various product groups including VP of Web Services, AOL Web Properties, Media Solutions and AOL Search. Mike was a contributor to patents related to AOL Instant Messenger and the Netscape Browser and headed up the AOL Search Technology Team's relationship with Google.

Event Judges

Larry Triplett
Triad Labs, Co-founder and President

Larry Triplett co-founded Resource Systems while in college and built it into a nationwide enterprise that was acquired by Cerner Corporation in 2011.  In 2004 he was instrumental in forming MCBI, a non-profit business incubator serving 10 counties in Southeast Ohio.  MCBI has helped hundreds of businesses expand while increasing employment  in the region.  In 2011, he co-founded the East Central Ohio Tech Angel Fund, a private/public collaborative that helps Southeastern Ohio’s entrepreneurs find private equity investors.  The fund has been recognized as one of the best performing angel investment funds in the nation.  

In 2013, he helped create, “GROW”, a collaboration between Zane State College and MCBI designed to help businesses identify and expand upon growth opportunities.  His efforts helped Zane State College’s Center for Workforce Solutions and Entrepreneurship expand its impact on the local economy and workforce.  

He serves on several company boards and is currently on the United Way Board of Directors, the Bethesda Hospital Board, the Voinovich Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board, TechGrowth Ohio’s Investment Board, and is past President of the Zanesville-Muskingum Chamber of Commerce.  He has volunteered his time as a Big Brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, a church elder, a board member of the Southeast Ohio Symphony Orchestra, a board member of the Information Technology Association of Appalachian Ohio and many other organizations.  

He is a private pilot and enjoys running, biking, golfing, sailing, and building things in his workshop.  He and his wife, Debbie, reside in Zanesville, Ohio. 

Vic Matta
Associate Professor, Management Information Systems, College of Business, Ohio University

Vic Matta is an associate professor in the department of management information systems in the College of Business (COB). He was a finalist for the 2012-13 Presidential Teachers Award, was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award from the COB in 2009 and the Senior Class Recognition Award from the COB in 2010.

Matta is recognized for his use of student engagement techniques that are flexible and dynamic and has genuine concern for his students in management information systems. Though teaching complex subjects, Matta has developed teaching methods that inspire learning.

Dr. Vic Matta doesn’t hide his excitement when he says something he knows has blown your mind. He feeds off of it, encourages it, peppers you with questions to make you think about your own choices. Your answers, after all, fuel one of his greatest passions — data collection. Matta can’t help himself. He loves analysis, loves human reasoning, and loves teaching most of all.  He loves watching people grasp a new concept with his help, whether it is something tangible like technology or intangible like personal motivation.

Jennifer L'Heureux
Owner, Nelsonville Emporium

Local artist and entrepreneur Jennifer L’Heureux realized her dream of becoming a working potter in 2002 when she opened her studio in Nelsonville’s Historic Square Arts District. Spending its first 10 years of operation as Nelsonville Pottery & Gifts, the business features the work of dozens of artists and locally-made gifts. Now with a new name and a larger location, the Nelsonville Emporium has its eyes on the future.

Jennifer recalls that the move to a larger space within the Square was prompted “mostly because Nelsonville Pottery & Gifts seemed to be exploding with wonderful local goods and I really wanted to be able to focus more on how the shop was displayed.” She adds that the name switch has also helped increase business, as visitors to the Square often pegged the store as pottery only. “We changed the name to Nelsonville Emporium to be a collective selling place of goods.”

The back of the store features five working ceramic pottery wheels where Jennifer and five other artists work onsite in addition to locals who receive lessons. The store still offers handmade goods like jewelry, crochet, stained glass works, soap, clothing, beautiful ceramic dishes and more from over 85 local artists. She says part of her success is because, “people tend to value the artwork of their area.” Nowhere is this truer than in Athens County.

Ben Lachman
Principal, Nice Mohawk Limited

Ben grew up running through the woods of Southeastern Ohio and poking at computers. Today he chases his kids through the woods, and the computers he pokes at are made out of aluminum rather than plastic, but little else has changed. Ben has started two iOS and Mac software companies, is currently a partner at a local early stage startup, and runs a coworking space for independent professionals in Athens, Ohio. He's finally reached his thirties and sometimes has a mohawk.

Ben also advises past Athens Startup Weekend winners, Rapchat LLC, who are currently fundraising for their angel/seed round.

Lee Groeschl
Executive in Residence, TechGROWTH Ohio

Lee is a Venture Executive in Residence with Ohio University and TechGROWTH Ohio. TechGROWTH Ohio is part of the Ohio Third Frontier Program and is classified as part of the Entrepreneurial Signature Program.

As a Venture Executive, he works with both University and private technology inventors to commercialize their technologies through new venture formation and execution. He helps entrepreneurial teams navigate intellectual property protection, appropriate legal work, regulatory affairs, business planning, capital acquisition, technology licensing, execution, and exit strategy planning.

He was certified by NCIIA in 2014 as a Lean Launchpad Certified Venture Instructor and has led multiple teams on proper instruction for the lean innovation/venture process.

Coaches and Mentors

Michele Migliuolo
Venture Executive in Residence, TechGROWTH Ohio

Michele Migliuolo, a multi-decade advisor and coach to technology startups, is an entrepreneur who has co-founded five high technology companies in the semiconductor, medical device, and energy sectors. Michele received a Doctorate in Physics from the University of Rome (Italy), and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from the University of Rochester.

Michele is an Executive in Residence at TechGROWTH Ohio, a Venture Development Organization funded in part by the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier Fund. Michele is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ohio University where he teaches the Entrepreneurship Business Consulting course.   Recently Michele was Commercialization Alliance Manager at Innovation Works, the seventh most active seed stage investor in the United States, where he managed the relationships between member organizations to provide world-class commercialization expertise and take the lead on accelerating technology transfer of federal research performed at the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).   

Nathaniel Berger
Engineering and Design Expert, LIGHTS, Ohio University

Nathaniel is currently the Engineering and Design Expert for the Leveraging Innovation Gateways and Hubs Toward Sustainability (LIGHTS) program.

Previously, Nathaniel directed the CREATE_space, an Ohio University resource focusing on Creative Research Exploring Arts, Technology, and Entrepreneurship. His experience in fine arts and information technology has been ongoing for over a decade, working in the digital arena since 1997, producing both interactive and static media, and digital systems, specializing in interactive digital technologies research. Nathaniel works extensively with businesses, artists, entrepreneurs, students and educators developing objective specific solutions that both demonstrate the IT-centric and humanistic qualitative aspects of society. 

John Bowditch
Director, The Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab at Ohio University

John Bowditch is the Director and co-founder of the Game Research and Immersive Design (GRID) Lab in the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University. The GRID Lab was founded in 2004 with a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. John completed his undergraduate and graduate work in film, video, and multimedia at Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies (School of Telecommunications at the time). He has produced several award winning films, animations, games, and simulations over the last decade.   Professional research highlights include funded projects from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Ohio Board of Regents, and other private entities. In 2008, John was the lead designer and inventor of the Immersive Video Intel Network (IVIN), a multi-tiered imaging technology that has patents pending. In 2011, IVIN received money from TechGROWTH Ohio spinout of the university. While not integral to the day to day operations of IVIN3D, John has a super- shareholder stake in the company.

Christopher Keesey
Director, Design and Technology at Lexis Nexis

Christopher Keesey is the Director of Sales Training and Development for LexisNexis. He leads a global team that is responsible for improving business results through training and development. He also recently took over responsibility for customer training across core legal product offerings.  Christopher has spent over 16 years working to help organizations increase the knowledge and performance of their employees. He has led innovative project initiatives in training and learning for the US State Department, USAID, Chemonics International, Arthur D. Little, Academy of Educational Development, The Doctor's Company and many more. Christopher has also consulted organizations such as IBM, Microsoft, Maricopa College and Kelly School of Business on improving learning transfer via innovative delivery platforms.

Lauren McCullough
Program Manager @ NC Idea

Lauren is Program Manager for NC IDEA, a private foundation providing grants and programs to NC’s entrepreneurial community. As PM, Lauren is a central point of contact for NC IDEA’s Seed Grants program and plays a major role managing data and relationships for all NC IDEA Programs. Prior to working with NC IDEA, Lauren was a team member at ArchiveSocial, a Durham-based startup and a former NC IDEA seed grant recipient. Prior to relocating to the Triangle, Lauren worked as the Client Service Coordinator for the Ohio University Innovation Center. Lauren received her B.A. and Master’s in Public Administration from Ohio University where she also served as Graduate Assistant for TechGROWTH Ohio.

Christopher Crawford
Assistant Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship, College of Business, Ohio University

Christopher is an Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He was voted “Best OU Professor” in Athens News’ Best of Athens survey, 2014 (1st Place), 2015 (2nd Place). He received his Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville in 2013. His research interests include: new venture creation and growth; behavioral and corporate strategy; complexity science and agent-based simulation modeling applications to entrepreneurship; and understanding the mechanisms that generate power law distributions and outliers in social systems. His work has been published in Journal of Business Venturing, Small Business Economics, Journal of Management Inquiry, Journal of Organization Design, Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research, Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management, and Journal of Business Venturing Insights.

In a past life, he founded The Red Apple Consulting Company, served as Director of Marketing for Rexarc International, and was a clinical assistant professor of marketing and management at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for eight years.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Athens, OH team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.

Signature Sponsors

TechGROWTH Ohio is a program funded by the state Third Frontier program, Ohio University and industry sponsors to provide investments and business expertise for startup companies in southeastern Ohio. It is part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem that includes programs supporting university and regional technology commerc

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Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Athens is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Jen
  • Stacy
  • Tanya
  • Susan
  • Alexis
  • Lauren
  • Barbara
  • Mollie


Jen Simon
Executive Director, Regional Innovation, Ohio University

Jennifer Simon has an eye for what makes business and communities succeed. With more than 17 years of experience in creating environments for the success of new ventures, she has seen it all! 

Event Blog

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