Chicago Startup Weekend Education

    Friday, September 26 - 28, 2014

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

Friday, September 26 - 28, 2014

Friday, September 26 - 28, 2014
Event starts at 6:00 pm

National Louis University
122 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL

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Chicago StartupWeekend Education

Last year marked the very first StartupWeekend EDU in the Midwest.  With upwards of 80 participants and another 40 judges, coaches and final product demonstration attendees, a dozen new education ideas were developed into actual products in one 54-hour weekend  (learn more and watch the finals here).  And two products, Fantasy Geopolitics and EdVentory, continued on to become hot new edtech start-ups with successful Kickstarter Campaigns, honorifics from EdSurge, admission into accelerators like 4.0 Schools and actual school clients!
We are excited to build upon this in 2014 and have partnered with our friends at Educelerate to organize a one day conference on education and innovation on the Friday of StartupWeekend EDU at our same venue.  You can register for the Educelerate Conference separately through their Eventbrite here (email your SWEDU ticket to for an additional discount or buy them together on our site).

Proceeds from the Educelerate Conference will go toward a special challenge for the StartupWeekend EDU team that best addresses the unique challenges of Non-Traditional Students.  Additional prizes for the winning team includes:
  • Free admission and travel to 4.0 Schools' Essentials multi-day workshop (covering up to $500 in travel costs); 
  • Free two month membership at 1871 and an invitation to meet with the head of the new DV X EdTech Incubator there; 
  • Interview with the head of the Kaplan Techstars EdTech Accelerator (we won't hold it against them that its in New York); 
  • Interview with the head of West Coast Relations at Pearson Labs for insight into the next Pearson Catalyst cohort; and 
  • A meeting with a brand new, top secret education focused venture fund from one of the largest groups in education.
Whether you are a new or long-time educator, administrator, or an entrepreneur, developer or designer with an interest in education, we welcome you to join us at SWEDU!


Friday September 26th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in at the lobby

7:00 pm
Welcome & Dinner
Review agenda for the weekend, eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

8:00 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 September 27th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

12:00 pm
Thanks Lettuce Entertainment and WowBao!

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
Thanks Big Bowl

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 September 28th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

11:30 am
Keeping your brains fueled and bellies filled until our afternoon pizza order arrives

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

3:45 pm
Pizza Party!
Thanks Pizanos!

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:00 pm
Judging & Awards

8:00 pm
Wrap-Up and Head Home

Event Judges

Nivine Megahead
President, National Louis University

In March 2010, Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., became the 11th president of National Louis University, bringing more than 20 years of experience in making higher education more accessible for students of all backgrounds to one of the Chicago area’s oldest and most innovative nonprofit universities. A clinical psychologist by training, Dr. Megahed has been a faculty member at the Georgia School of Professional Psychology, a campus dean at the American School of Professional Psychology in Hawaii and been president at multiple institutions including IMPAC University in Punta Gorda, FL, the University of Sarasota, and Kendall College in Chicago. Dr. Megahed’s current strategic priorities at National Louis include veterans’ education, new frontiers in digital education, and growing the University’s leadership in community based applied research focusing on schools as a central base for community transformation. She serves on multiple boards including the Academy of Urban School Leadership, Restoring Sight International, and Illinois Campus Compact. Dr. Megahed is also a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, The Commercial Club, The Chicago Club and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Neal Sales-Griffin
Co-Founder of the Starter League

Neal is the co-founder and CEO of The Starter League, his sworn purpose is to solve meaningful problems through technology, and empower everyone he can. Learn more about Neal directly by reaching out to him through twitter...@nealsales.

Alan Drimmer
Chief Academic Officer, Apollo Education Group

Dr. Alan Drimmer is the Chief Academic Officer at the Apollo Group focusing on academic innovation and educational research initiatives. In previous roles as an educator, Drimmer served as President of Western International University, Provost at University of Phoenix and President of American InterContinental University. Drimmer began his experience in university operations at UNext/Cardean University and previously worked as a management consultant with McKinsey and in government with the United States Treasury Department and the Department of State. Dr. Drimmer received his B.A., M.A., and Ph. D. from the University of Chicago, an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and was appointed as a Fellow at Harvard University’s Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and received Harvard College’s Derek Bok Teaching Award for distinction in undergraduate instruction.

Lucy Gray
K-12 Education Consultant

Lucy is an experienced consultant and observer of educational innovation, working with a variety of people and institutions on modernizing education. Her career began in the Chicago Public School system where she taught primary grades and she went on to serve in various capacities related to educational technology at the University of Chicago's Laboratory Schools, Urban Education Institute and Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education. She has received the distinctions of Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher. In 2007, Lucy founded the Global Education Collaborative, a 18,000+ member network for educators interested in connections, collaboration and project-based learning. She expanded on this work by co-founding the Global Education Conference with Steve Hargadon, which has highlighted some of the most innovative educators and thinkers in the global education space. Steve and Lucy also have launched another virtual conference in 2013 focused on STEMx education.

Coaches and Mentors

Eric Bjerstedt
VP Product, GetSet

Eric likes to create products that address big problems. In 2006, he joined Chicago-based startup PrepMe and led the development of the first adaptive learning platform resulting in a successful acquisition by Ascend Learning in 2011. Currently, Eric is VP of Product for GetSet, where he draws on his background in linguistics, art, and tutoring to lead a talented product team. He has a B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Chicago.

J.T. Allen
President and CEO, myFootpath

As the founder and CEO of myFootpath, JT is a strategic leader with particular insight in both college and K-12 education sales and marketing, including prospective student lead generation and call center services as well as more general technology planning.

Tim Haitaian
CFO & Co-Founder, RedShelf

Tim is the co-founder of RedShelf (Virdocs) and is the details guy, managing operations, finance and business development. RedShelf is helping the learning community transition from print to digital, partnering with publishers and higher-ed institutions to create, distribute, and consume digital content.

Danielle Chutinthranond
UX Lead, GetSet

Danielle is currently the Lead UI/UX Engineer at the Chicago-based education startup, GetSet. Danielle previously served as a UX Designer/Developer at onPeak and as a web and software developer at McMaster-Carr. Danielle received her bachelors from the University of Chicago with subsequent studies at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Bob Tripathi
Founder & CEO, Instant E-Training (Digital Marketing Training)

Bob is a versatile and skilled marketing manager with 9 years of hands-on experience leveraging the power of search marketing, social media marketing, and demand generation strategies to drive acquisition and build brands.

Jonathan Eyler-Werve
Instructor, DevBootcamp

Jonathan works to make technology serve the common good as a technologist, designer and social entrepreneur. He teaches Web Development at Dev Bootcamp.

Jessica Tenuta
Co-founder and Director of Design, Packback Books

Jessica is a co-founder and director of design at Packback Books, a Chicago ed-tech start-up that she co-founded as a college junior and which today is revolutionizing the textbook industry with the concept of short-term rentals of textbooks for $5 or less. Jessica is also an instructor at the Startup Institute and was a Lightbank Design Fellow.

Steven Maguire
Head of Engineering, Packback Books

Steven has been building web software since 2004. Currently, he is using his powers for good redefining the textbook industry for both students and publishers at Packback as Head of Engineering. Previously, he helped transition the recently acquired TrainSignal into the trusting hands of Pluralsight. At TrainSignal, he served as a technology team leader, engineer and product owner, where he contributed a fair amount of C#, JavaScript & PHP code and flexed his UX muscles to build a game changing subscription based online learning platform.

Arjun Venkataswamy
Instructor at the Starter League

Arjun is a developer and instructor in Ruby on Rails and agile methods for web development. He also holds a teaching certificate from Northwestern University and is a former high school math teacher for Chicago Public Schools.

Julian Miller

Karui Wang
Data Engineer at eSpark Learning

Data engineer @eSparkLearning , @SplashChicago teacher and @UChicago alum doing it theoretically.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Chicago Startup Weekend Education 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

  • Christopher
  • Steve
  • Andy


Nirav Amin

Jessica Falkenthal
Education Community & Growth Marketing Strategist

Jessica Falkenthal leads growth marketing, community building and experience design for education startups, schools and nonprofits. She serves on the SXSW EDU Launch Advisory Board and CUE SF Board.
Jessica loves creating engaging education experiences and  previously managed a dozen online learning communities, coached early-stage education entrepreneurs, grew the Startup Weekend Education program worldwide, founded her own education startup, led professional development workshops for hundreds of educators, and designed and taught technology classes for the Boys and Girls Club and 4-H Youth Development programs. She is also a community organizer for the SF Edtech Happy Hour, 4-H, Startup Weekend Education, and Education Startup Digest.

Event Blog

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