Startup Weekend Women Chicago

    Friday, June 20 - 22, 2014

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

Friday, June 20 - 22, 2014

Friday, June 20 - 22, 2014
Event starts at 6:30 pm

Starter School
30 N Racine
Suite 210
Chicago, IL 60607

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CHICAGO! Are you ready to be part of the inaugural Startup Weekend Women’s Edition?

We’re assembling 100 of the most talented women and men for an exclusive edition of Startup Weekend on June 20 - 22, 2014!

Startup Women, UP Global’s latest initiative, is a comprehensive effort supported by The Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Google for Entrepreneurs to reach more female entrepreneurs and support their endeavors across all of UP Global’s programs, which includes Startup Weekend.The entrepreneurial talent we see from the women in our community is inspiring, and we are excited about co-hosting an event that will showcase co-creation of the most innovative minds in Chicago.The Startup Weekend Chicago experience is being re-imagined. Our intention is to provide an event where men and women can connect, combine and renew each other's resources and capabilities to create value through new forms of interaction, service and learning mechanisms. 

Startup Weekend Chicago Women's Edition presented by Ms.Tech 

Attend a MVP Bootcamp June 9th to get us all in the building mode.
Chicago coaches and mentors guiding teams from ideation to co-creation.

Meet 100+ talented and diverse people and build long-lasting relationships.
Join a global community of over 45,000 Startup Weekend alumni.

Get one-on-one time with thought leaders in your community.
Pitch to like-minded people committed to launching a startup in 54 hours.

What is a Startup Weekend?
An event in which a people meet to work together to create a startup in 54 hours.

Why a women-focused Startup Weekend?
The entrepreneurial talent we see from women in Chicago is inspiring, and we are excited about creating an event that will showcase it.

Is there a theme for the event? 
No, you can create whatever you like!

How big are the teams? 
Teams of 2 to 5 (men or women) should be formed.

What if I sign-up alone or don’t have a group? 
Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone attending. We will help everyone form and there will be lots of time to mingle and get to know other attendees.

How much does Startup Weekend Women Chicago cost?
We are asking for each participant to pay $99 which will help us cover some of the food costs.

Is it possible to get a ticket to  attend the presentation session at the end of the weekend?
Yes, are selling tickets for $25 to see the demo presentations.

Who is this aimed at?
Women and men of any age with programming, design, user experience, business or project management skills.

What do I need to bring? 
A laptop, and a desire to contribute! You must be able to attend Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Can men attend?
Yes, 100% diverse collaboration.

What language can I code in?
Anything you desire!

I can't code, can I still attend? 
Yes! In fact, a well-rounded team of different skill sets is what we would like to see (Think Hipster (designer), Hacker (programmer) and Hustler (marketing and business - growth hacker).

I'm still not sure if I should go...
There is great opportunity for women to get more involved and test their ideas, this is an opportunity to reinvent our environment and build conditions for both women and men to thrive and do more of what they love. 

Refund Policy:  No refunds will be granted within 7 days of the event if food and drink have already been ordered. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

About Startup Weekend: Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs.  Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations.  Participants create working startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurials. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education.  Whether you are looking for feedback on a idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup.
Terms of Participation Agreement: It is our job to provide you with an incredible networking and learning opportunity. Our intention is that you meet some amazing people that you might actually start a company with, build relationships with coaches, and learn from your peers. The event is intended to be a collaborative forum for sharing, learning, building, and having fun. As such, by registering as a participant, you acknowledge that any ideas shared by you or anyone else over the course of the event are contributions to the overall experience and community. If you as a participant are worried about someone stealing your ideas, please reconsider your participation in the event itself or simply refrain from sharing specifics about your idea.  As a member of your startup community, you agree to to be inclusive of any and all people and their ideas. You agree to act professionally, treat everyone with respect, and treat the event facilities with proper care. You agree that you are responsible for any accidents or damages that you cause. You also agree to not hold Startup Weekend, your local volunteer team, or any of the event supporters liable for any loss, damage, injury, or any other unforeseeable incident. By Participating at the event, you grant Startup Weekend permission to capture photo/video of the event. You can find the exact legal terms on our FAQ Page but to summarize, we want to share your success with the world.

See what it's all about

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Friday June 20th

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 June 21st

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 June 22nd

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!


Jessica Gandham

Jessica is a cofounder of Packback, a Chicago ed-tech company that rents digital textbooks on-demand for $5 or less per day, in addition a range of other resources and tools to help make textbooks more affordable and accessible for college students. Jessica runs design and user experience for Packback, and has been diligent about instilling a user-centric thought process into Packback's product development. Jessica spent the last year gaining experience in the operational side of venture capital, as an in-house designer at both Listen and Lightbank. One of two designers chosen to participate in the inaugural class of Lightbank's design fellowship, Jessica provided design consultation for such companies as Fooda, Snapsheet, Bevel and the Keywell Foundation. After Lightbank, she moved to Listen Ventures, a boutique brand consultancy and angel investment firm that provides early-stage companies with strategic branding and design. Through being a design cofounder of a start-up and a designer for portfolio companies in two VC firms, she has strengthened her belief that design is an integral part of building a successful early-stage start-up and has the power to accelerate the company's growth rapidly and sustainably by creating emotionally powerful, engaging brand experiences.

Event Judges

Daniela Bolzmann
Co-Founder & CMO

DANIELA BOLZMANN Co-Founder CMO at WeDeliver Daniela, an entrepreneur with expertise in community development, was head of Product Marketing at edtech startup, SymbalooEDU. She helped launch their US product and grew their community to 200k+ engaged educators worldwide. A graduate of the Miyahlo School of Business at CSUF and Founder of SocialSkoop, a digital marketing agency consulting 200+ restaurants & retailers in California. As CoFounder and CMO at WeDeliver she uses her powers to help businesses of Chicago connect with the local community through delivery. She is in the TechStars class of ‘2014 and also serves on the council for Ms.Tech, a group dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs gain access to the resources they need most.

Adam London

Adam is a manager in the Corporate Development group at Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) where he focuses on M&A, business development, and strategy. Prior to Groupon, Adam was a member of the investment team at Lightbank--an early stage venture capital fund. A graduate of the University of Michigan's Organizational Studies Program, Adam's began his career at the Boston Consulting Group and is a co-founder of Letters to Success (an education-focused non-profit) and @TheLunchRead.

Maria Christopoulos Katris

Maria Christopoulos Katris is the CEO of Built In, a network of hyperlocal platforms which enable startups to connect, share and grow. The company currently operates three sites in Chicago (, Los Angeles ( and Denver (, and is headquartered in Chicago. The Built In platform facilitates member connections, provides a platform to promote news, operates a job board to hire talent and hosts highly curated events--at a hyper-local city level-with one shared goal--to help digital companies (and thereby communities) grow. Maria’s responsibilities include strategic planning, sales, business development, hiring, marketing, community development and events. Maria is an intrapreneur and entrepreneur who has 12+ years' marketing, strategy and consulting experience and has worked in diverse industries including: healthcare, technology and in-home services. Previously Maria was the Executive Director of TiE Midwest, the Chicago chapter of a Global not-for-profit organization dedicated to high growth entrepreneurs. Immediately prior to joining TiE Midwest, Maria founded Nanny Boutique, a Chicago-based nanny placement agency, which she sold within 2 years. Maria has strategic experience working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a strategic analyst to the VPs and CEO. Prior to that, she spent four years as a healthcare consultant at Arthur Andersen and Huron Consulting Group. Maria has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Miami University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Maria serves on the advisory boards of, the Chicago Innovation Awards, TechWeek and Social Media Week Chicago. Maria and her husband live in Chicago with their 2 daughters, Alexandra and Georgie.

Dima Elissa

Dima Elissa is CEO and founder of VisMed-3D, a medical 3D printing company. It creates anatomical replicas to assist surgeons with complex procedures, and other medical models and tools. She founded the Evanston-based company in hopes of creating a better pair of custom-made shoes for her business partner, who has spina bifida.Today, their company prototypes forceps for eye surgeons, creates lifelike models of a patient’s spinal column for medical students, and converts pre-surgery MRI scans into 3D models of soft tissue to help surgeons find weak spots that might be undetectable on a flat screen.“Every day we’re learning something,” Elissa told Blue Sky. “We’re not linear thinkers.”She is also president and CEO of tech consulting firm Visual Media, LTD and teaches entrepreneurship at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest in Chicago. She serves on the boards of Ms. Tech, Women in Bio, World Business Chicago and is on the STEM steering committee for the Aparecio Foundation, which provides mentoring to high-achieving, low-income female high school students.
Elissa has an MBA from Texas A&M University. @dimaelissa

Don Bora

Magda Maslowska

Coaches and Mentors

Laura Rokita

I like coffee, sarcasm, and country music. Changing the way young professionals network with @LoopMeetings. Proud alum of @SandboxInd and @Lab42Research.

Amanda Yang

Amanda Yang is founder of Clear the Path, a cycling apparel line that provides ladies with cycling tips and tricks to encourage people to live a happy and healthy lives. She also spends her time working on big data problems at Sears, looking at a combination of industry data and e-commerce info to help drive business decisions and strategy.

Helen Livingston

With nearly two decades of expertise in custom software development, workflow automation, web applications and user experience, Helen is gifted with a mind that is equal parts business woman and technical director. A trustworthy collaborator, Helen consistently provides organizations with the most advanced and innovative technology solutions to streamline operations and automate internal business processes. She is often invited to various speaking engagements, panel discussions and participates on many school advisory boards regarding digital curriculums. She is nationally recognized in the retail and education industry as a technology expert, specializing in user experience, custom software, web based applications, digital marketing and social media. She takes great pride in aligning herself with various non-profits and charities with a specific focus on children and encouraging young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A mother of two, Helen also enjoys collaborating and sharing advice with other entrepreneurial moms on how to strike a healthy balance between life and work.

David Kadavy

David Kadavy is author of the #18 Amazon best-selling book, Design for Hackers: Reverse-Engineering Beauty. Prior to writing Design for Hackers, David founded the Design departments at two Silicon Valley startups, and freelanced for clients such as oDesk, PBworks, and UserVoice. David also launched numerous other projects on his own, none of which failed hard enough to be worthy of mention in this bio. Since the debut of Design for Hackers, David has traveled the world, speaking about design and entrepreneurship, and mentoring startups, including those at 500 Startups. David writes about Design, Productivity, and Entrepreneurship here, and has an awesome newsletter you can sign up for here (you’ll get free stuff if you do). Aside from writing and speaking about design, David is also an avid “Lifehacker,” and still gets all giddy when they cover one of his articles, or ask him How [He] Works. David used to live in Silicon Valley, but he doesn’t anymore. Crazy, right? He left. I know. Yeah, we hear he’s hidden away on some street in Chicago lined with trees and brick buildings. Homeless? No, that’s not what we meant. He has a place. Also, when it gets too cold in Chicago, he usually runs off to South America for a couple of months.

Kristin Garcia

Rity Upadhyaya

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Women 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

  • Natalya
  • Nicole
  • Nirav
  • Cate
  • Adam
  • Andy


Mandela Schumacher-Hodge Dixon
Kapor Capital Founding Portfolio Services Director | Forbes 30 Under 30 | TEDx Presenter

Mandela is a passionate go-getter, leader by example, and champion of big dreams backed by massive action. She is committed to doing work that fosters a social good, and is excited by the power of entrepreneurship, technology, and community-building to be a catalyst for personal transformation, societal development, and global improvement.

Experience: Founding Portfolio Services Director at Kapor Capital | Forbes Contributing Author | Global Director of Education Entrepreneurship Organization | Tech Startup Founder | Public Speaker | Blogger | Educator

Adam Haun
Region Director

Fan of smiles and collector of hugs + high fives. Techstars Startup Programs

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