Startup Weekend Chicago

    Friday, May 11 - 13, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Sponsors
  6. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Chicago

Friday, May 11 - 13, 2018

Friday, May 11 - 13, 2018
Event starts at 6:30 pm

mHUB Chicago
965 W Chicago Ave
Chicago , IL 60647

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Your idea in 54 hours

Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with?

Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

What do you need to bring?

Lots of energy! You'll pitch your own idea or listen to others, then vote on the most interesting ideas and form teams with diverse skill sets. You can come with friends, but you’ll get the full experience if you participate in separate teams. Remember, it’s all about the team.

Your idea should be something you have not previously worked on. The idea you pitch and the problem you set out to solve can span social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. Over the course of the weekend you'll be challenged to create a prototype of your MVP, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer. You'll get feedback, iterate, and likely pivot your approach entirely! Important: You cannot have worked previously on your idea.

Techstars Startup Weekend is a full weekend long experience. Your ticket includes:
  • 7 full (and delicious) meals over the course of the weekend
  • Benefits and discounts from our global partners
  • One-on-one time with amazing mentors
  • A new network of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs eager, like you, to change the world.
  • All the internet and coffee you can consume.

Watch the video below to see what you can expect, and if you’re feeling inspired click on the “Buy Ticket” button now!

Still have questions, feel free to reach us at “”.

Don’t wait any longer and join the Techstars Startup Weekend movement!

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Friday May 11th

6:30 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

7:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:20 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

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
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Saturday May 12th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Sunday May 13th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

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

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

Troy Henikoff
Managing Director, MATH Ventures

Troy Henikoff is Managing Director of MATH Venture Partners. Troy was a Co-founder of Excelerate Labs, which became Techstars Chicago in 2013. He also helps manage the FireStarter Fund, teaches Entrepreneurship at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Business, is on the board of the Chicago-land Entrepreneurial Center. Prior to Techstars Chicago, Troy was the CEO of, President of Amacai, and co-founder and CEO of Troy built the technology for Jellyvision (creators of “You Don’t Know Jack!”), was the President of Systemetrics, and his first company was Specialized Systems and Software. Troy has an undergraduate degree in Engineering from Brown University and a Masters Degree in Project Management from Northwestern.

Parissa Behnia
CEO Sixenses Strategy

An executive who is well versed in designing customer focused business strategies that drive results A right-brain/left-brain innovative thinker who uses creativity and data together to craft the path to revenue.A leader who excels at building partnerships, building relationships and negotiating to create business and customer win-win. A confident, effective leader with deep-seated experience in motivating and managing teams in their execution of strategies. An advisor/mentor dedicated to nurturing and promoting talent. Passionate about supporting and investing in dynamic founders.My strategic mindset can be applied to any vertical.

Jimmy Odom
Acting Assistant Director, Illinois Department of Central Management Services

Born and raised on Chicago's South Side, Jimmy Odom is a Chicago serial entrepreneur who also aids the region's non-profits in their pursit of constructive inclusive economic growth programs. Currently serving as the Director of Inclusive Entrpernueship with ChicagoNEXT, a unit within World Business Chicago, with the support of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, Jimmy helps funds local non-profits developing programs to spur entrepreneurship across all areas of the city. 

Rumi Morales
Advisory Board Member Chamber of Digital Commerce

Rumi Morales is a pioneer in identifying, investing and cultivating the emerging technologies that will define our economy's next generation. 

An early specialist in digital currency, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies, Rumi is also a leading early investor in artificial intelligence, deep learning, predictive analytics, and quantum computing as they will affect traditional industries.

A proven entrepreneur herself, Rumi established the Global Markets Institute during her tenure at Goldman Sachs, and also launched a leading economic research firm in Singapore. She began her career in venture capital in London, Kuala Lumpur and New York, and has invested across three continents and lived in seven countries.

Currently based in Chicago, Illinois, Rumi is actively involved in that city’s burgeoning technology and entrepreneurial community.

Akshat Thirani

Akshat is CEO and co-founder of Amper, an industrial IoT startup that's digitizing manufacturing and bringing transparency in the supply chain. Amper has raised capital from top investors like Slow Ventures, SOSV, 1517 Fund and several prominent angel investors. Akshat and his co-founders were part of Alchemist Accelerator, a venture-backed business incubator focused on accelerating startups whose revenue comes from enterprises. Amper has also been part of HAX, the top hardware accelerator where startups live in Shenzhen and go from prototypes to production in a 4-month program. Akshat is passionate about building a zero-waste supply chain and working on bio-inspired and sustainability-focused product design. Akshat graduated from Northwestern University, and apart from growing Amper, spends his time rock climbing and bouldering. 

Coaches and Mentors

Rebecca Sholiton
Co-Founder and CEO of Wise Apple

Rebecca is Co-founder and CEO of Wise Apple, a venture-backed business that is disrupting the Lunchables market with a completely fresh and customizable on-the-go snacking solution.  Prior to founding Wise Apple, Rebecca ran her own business in Peru building educational programs for female entrepreneurs operating in the food, restaurant and textile industries. Her clients included the Goldman Sachs Foundation, USAID, the Multilateral Investment Fund, and micro-finance institutions across LATAM. The programs Rebecca managed have impacted more than 2,000 women-led businesses across three countries. Rebecca launched her career at Deloitte Consulting in its Strategy & Operations practice.
Rebecca has an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and degrees in Finance and History from the University of Texas at Austin.

Eric Vazquez
Chicago City Technology Officer

Eric Vazquez is a native Chicagoan and previous Startup Weekend Winner. Grateful for an opportunity to serve the people of Chicago, Eric is responsible for bringing together technology across departments, identifying and exploiting new technologies and driving overall Office technology strategy.

Cameron Croft
Founder of Asenda

Cameron Croft is an active social entrepreneur, lifelong learner, and believes technology is a powerful force for good. He is the Founder of, and President of the All A-Board Alliance, where he promotes nonprofit service as the best way to develop leaders. A natural connector with experience in engineering, finance, and education, he’s helped companies like Eventbrite, Shiftgig, Sofi, and Youtopia launch and expand into new markets.

Danny Schuman
President at Twist

Danny is a former ad agency Writer/Creative Director/Group Creative Director.
He is the current Founder/Owner of strategic marketing consultancy Twist.

Twist works with small, medium and large brands, as well as nonprofits, to help them understand who they are, who they should talk to, and what they should say.

Danny is the author of the new book 
The Worst Business Model in the World: A new Kind of Guide for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, available on Amazon at the end of May.

Mike Edmonds
VP Ecosystems

Mike is the co-founder of Moonshot by Pactera Digital, a global services company that designs around the intersection of customer behaviors, emotions, and emerging technologies to bring customers and businesses closer together. Mike leads a team of digital product managers helping brands use design thinking and lean innovation to discover, design, and deliver experiences that are lovable, valuable, and feasible. Mike has over 13 years’ experience working with B2C and B2B organizations on a global scale, in the US, China, and Europe, across a range of industry verticals including retail, CPG, high tech, automotive, logistics, foodservice distribution, petroleum distribution, quick serve restaurants, gaming and betting, and government agencies. Mike is also an Adjunct Professor of Digital Product Management at DePaul’s School of Computing and Digital Media. 

Vitaliy Kuznetsov
Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Discover World

Over 15 years of experience in the technology sector with a proven record of user-centric product management leadership through full lifecycle of shipping award-winning products. Passionate product builder, delighting customers through design and innovation, building and inspiring results-oriented teams with talent- nurturing and supportive culture.

Amish Desai
Head of Experiences at Moonshot

Amish is the Head of Experiences and oversees Moonshot’s Experiences efforts across Moonshot’s organization. With 16 years of Experience Design & Innovation experience spanning the Design Thinking spectrum from user research to development, Amish brings a wealth of expertise for strategically designing digital and physical experiences. His depth in design ranges from reimagining entire digital ecosystems to creating engaging digital experiences for brands such as Allstate, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Sanford Health, GEICO, Discover Financial Services, HSBC, and Destination XL. Having experienced and grown teams of various sizes within agency, in-house, and startup environments, Amish has focused on creating new models for monetizing user experience services and creating frameworks for sharing compelling user stories for B2B and B2C clients. Amish's work has been featured in, Fast Company and Venture Beat for his various perspectives on the strategic and competitive nature experience design brings to the c-suite. Amish holds a B.S in Cognitive Science and Human Computer Interaction from the University of California, San Diego and a M.S. in Human Computer Interaction from San Jose State University. As one of Moonshot’s Executives, Amish’s team defines next-generation experiences using the human-centric practices of Design Thinking, Lean Innovation, and  ambient technologies. His team runs Moonshot’s experimentation lab - a dedicated space for the creation of new internal perspectives and products.

Judy Li
Platform Associate Energy Foundry

Judy Li oversees platform activity at Energy Foundry, an early-stage venture fund
based in Chicago. She manages Energy Foundry’s investment deal flow,
strategic partnerships, brand presence, and toolbox of resources for portfolio
companies. Prior to Energy Foundry, Judy conducted over a hundred energy
efficiency assessments and sold dozens of retrofitting projects for a local startup,
Verde Sustainable Solutions (now Verde: Energy Efficiency Experts). Before
moving to Chicago, Judy spent a year in Beijing as a Princeton in Asia Fellow
with the Natural Resources Defense Council China Program. There, she worked
with Chinese cities on sustainable urban development, particularly around
transportation and land use. Judy received her Bachelor of Science cum laude
from University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in Environmental
Science and Environmental Economics & Policy, and a minor in Energy
Resources. She loves cooking with friends, scuba diving and cycling.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Chicago 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.



Organizing Team

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

  • Cynthia
  • Sue Nicole
  • Kevin
  • Matt
  • Maggie
  • Juan


Cynthia Macias
Programming Manager

Cynthia Macias is the Membership Relations Manager at mHUB, Chicago's first innovation incubator for physical product development and manufacturing where she is in charge of building a diverse community of hardware entrepreneurs and innovators. Her passion is supporting entrepreneurial communities by connecting entrepreneurs with the resources they need to launch their ideas and grow their business. Prior to moving Chicago, she was part of the Startup Weekend organizing community in DC for four years, starting with organizing the first Women's Edition event in that community. She was also part of a DC-based startup, Startup Angels, where she developed and implemented programs to educate angel investors to invest in early stage startups across the U.S. and around the world. Cynthia also worked at a boutique consulting firm managing projects across Latin America and West Africa supporting a variety of economic development initiatives. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, she strengthened women-led small businesses. 

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