Startup Weekend Chicago

    Friday, February 26 - 28, 2016

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
Buy Tickets

Event Alerts and Updates

Get the latest on Techstars Startup Weekend, Chicago, and other local events through Techstars Startup Digest.

Oops! Double-check that email address.

Startup Weekend Chicago

Friday, February 26 - 28, 2016

Friday, February 26 - 28, 2016
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Tech Nexus
20 N Upper Wacker Dr
Chicago, IL 60606

Buy Tickets

Startup Weekend Chicago

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday February 26th

6:00 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 February 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

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 February 28th

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!


Tom Silva-Speaker
Principal - Silva Brand

Tom Silva is a brand humanist and steward going back 18 years. He has run PR, advertising, online marketing, brochures, billboards, film, video and social media for leading firms in the financial services, real estate, property management, healthcare and brokerage sectors. His work as a publicist, creative director and strategist in branding has been recognized with the Webby from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the International Academy of the Visual Arts Award, three Silver International Davey Design Awards, the Summit International Creative Awards in 2008, the Silver Trumpet from the Publicity Club of Chicago, and the 24th Annual Healthcare Advertising Award. Tom’s writing about business and branding is featured in Thomson Reuters’ Inside the Minds series of books and in his regular column for the Huffington Post.

In addition to his branding work, Tom is a working filmmaker and musician whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone, PBS, iTunes and by the Art Institute of Chicago.

Tom holds a Master of Arts from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Film from Columbia College.

Event Judges

Karl Muth
Lecturer / Consultant

Karl T. Muth has served as a mentor to startups for the Thiel Fellows program, the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator, and other organizations and advises several startups and a handful of venture capital shops. Years ago, he co-founded one of the first startups to benefit from a Google Grant (2003).

Karl is a Lecturer in five disciplines at Northwestern University (Economics, Law, Organizational Behavior, Public Policy, and Statistics). He studied law at the undergraduate level in the Netherlands and holds American graduate degrees in law and business, the latter with a concentration in economics from the University of Chicago; he wrote his M.Phil./Ph.D. at the London School of Economics.

Andy Abbott
Chief Technology Officer

Andy is a Co-Founder and CTO at BookedOut (, and also the Founder and Group Leader for Chicago .NET Developers meetup. Andyboasts over two decades of software engineering experience, with extensive knowledge of advanced development technologies and patterns, including nearly ten years of architecting projects for multiple cloud infrastructures. Outside of his business responsibilities, Andy enjoys sharing his engineering and entrepreneurial passion with the community through speaking engagements, consultation, and mentoring of local startups.

Matt Meltzer
Founder & CEO, Sage Corps

Matt is the founder of Sage Corps, a global entrepreneurship program that sends top college students and young professionals abroad to work with foreign tech startups for 8-12 weeks. When he isn't touring global startup ecosystems with Sage Corps, Matt acts as an advisor to startups and dabbles in angel investing as well. Prior to Sage Corps, Matt was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP where he practiced commercial litigation. Matt graduated from Northwestern Law School and received his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Most importantly, Matt spends his weekends touring Chicago construction sites and fire stations, thanks to his demanding sons Lucas and Ari.    

Ricky Hirsch

Ricky Hirsch is the creator and founding partner of Think Jerky. Originally born and raised in Highland Park, IL. Hirsch is deeply rooted in Chicago with a love for its culinary community. After graduating from the University of Michigan, he ventured to New York to work in finance. He bought his first company in 2006, which he sold to travel the world in 2008. Upon returning from his adventures abroad, he worked for himself trading equities, while also considering how to expand into the field he loves: food. In 2013, he followed his passion and founded Think Jerky, partnering with nationally and locally renowned chefs to create a sustainable, delicious, and healthy chef-crafted jerky.

Coaches and Mentors

Henry Vasquez
CEO Tribe

Henry Vasquez is a 4-time entrepreneur that has lead technology companies through their early stages of growth. He's built two 7-figure revenue startups, two venture-backed startups, and created over 100 software applications. He is currently the CEO of Tribe, an enterprise productivity startup and alumni of the Techstars Chicago program.

Joe S
Developer at Rocketmiles

Joe is a developer at Rocketmiles, and has competed in eight hackathons, including winning first place at the first Startup Weekend Government edition and an AngelHacks in Seattle.  Previously he worked at Amazon and Microsoft.  Most of his recent personal projects are front-end sites, and he's enthusiastic about the future of JavaScript

Nancy Schuetz
Data Driven Strategist

Nancy Schuetz is the managing director and founder of Mettacite. She has developed consultative sales relationships with clients that include small private companies and Fortune 500 corporations in various industries, such as hospitality, manufacturing, and retail. Some of her former and current clients include State Farm Insurance, BMO/Harris, AIG, Rock Resorts, Corinthia Hotels, AMR Resorts, John Deere, Sears Holdings, Ceiba del Mar Resort and Spa, and Clairvoyix.

Levi Baer
Experience Designer

Levi Baer is an independent consultant and experience designer who builds superpower teams and collaborative communities. He loves using games to solve challenges both big and small, whether it be personal efficacy, team cohesion, or collaboration within and between organizations. He serves part-time as an adjunct instructor with the Communication Studies department of DePaul University.
He is also active in the Chicago startup scene and in 2014 Levi founded Coffee & Conversation, a Chicago based community of entrepreneurs and innovators who value collaboration and face to face communication.

Karen Goldner
Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at WBDC

Karen has spent over twenty years working with, in and for small businesses. She has worked in for-profit and non-profit early stage investment organizations, including creating and managing the first for-profit technology-focused angel fund in Northeast Indiana. Karen served as Interim President of a $6 million defense manufacturer that was owned by her investors. Prior to that, she managed a community development loan program for the City of Fort Wayne, and served as Fort Wayne’s Director of Economic Development. Karen earned her Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Nebraska.

Sean Corbett
CEO Crafty Machine

Sean has been creating digital products for multiple decades. He has been called on to provide insights on new business creation in local and international forums. He is a passionate technologist and digital craftsman with experience in mobile technologies and application development across a variety of platforms and organizations. He participated in the TechStars incubator program in Boston with HaveMyShift and is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s engineering school where he concentrated on computational robotics and artificial intelligence.

Kimberly Kuhn
Manager at Leapfrog Online

Kim puts the user experience first in everything she touches. With a background in design and 5 years of experience in digital advertising, she knows how consumers respond to what they see. She loves working on new ideas, problem solving, and is never scared of a challenge. Show her an app, website, or ad and you're always sure to hear some constructive feedback.

Siôn Owen
Ringmaster, Pitch Circus

Siôn Owen is the Founder and Ringmaster of Pitch Circus, Chicago's freshest presentation training outfit. Siôn’s mission in life is to kill boring presentations before they kill us first. He fine-tuned his pitching skills while launching new products and training sales teams at tech companies Nokia and ShopperTrak. Now continuing his mission at Pitch Circus, Siôn specializes in teaching entrepreneurs and professionals how to get more creative and persuasive with their presentations to help their big ideas stick.

Michael Woyan
Social entrepreneur, collaborator, brand curator and strategic enterprise architect

Michael Woyan has over twenty-five years of entrepreneurial and strategic experience with concentrations in social enterprise, finance, banking, hospitality, real estate, technology, marketing, branding, project management, business plan and presentation development.  A creative problem solver, he especially enjoys collaborating with entrepreneurs helping them translate their vision to execution and facilitating successful outcomes.

Victor Kung
Founder at Tandem Designs

Victor started Tandem Designs, a creative agency that builds websites for startups. He is passionate about community building, having interned for 1871 and helped create the University of Chicago's student entrepreneurship group Edge UChicago. In college, he co-founded Reliefwatch, a cloud-based system that helps medical organizations track inventory. He has worn many hats along the way, from technology, business development to product management.

Cliff Helm

Cliff runs his own law practice dedicated to supporting and encouraging new businesses in Chicago. In practice, he challenges the ideas that the law is a barrier and that the law is unapproachable. Cliff graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an active participant in Michigan’s entrepreneurship culture as a student-attorney for small businesses in the Detroit Metropolitan Area. Prior to this practice, he worked with musicians, artists, and entrepreneurs with a not-for-profit legal organization.

Kirk Lashley
Senior Software Engineer @ Rocket Miles

Kirk is a technology entrepreneur and senior software engineer with over 18 years of professional software development experience. He has experience in the all aspects of the software development life-cycle, and has successfully managed over 90 web application projects since the late 90s. He co-founded WeDeliver (Startup Weekend 2012, Techstars Chicago 2014), a same-day, on- demand delivery platform for businesses from idea to exit (acquired by Deliv, June 2015), with over $75K in monthly revenue. Kirk lives at the crossroads of technology, design, entrepreneurship and faith. For the last 5 years he has been a technical adviser to startups in Chicago and the Caribbean, and is actively involved in both startup ecosystems. He currently works at Rocketmiles as a senior engineer, bringing his passion and expertise to another Chicago tech company.

Grant Omohundro
CEO at Wolf Cry Wolf

Grant is the founder and CEO of Who Cry Wolf, a clothing brand that is redefining fashion and what it is that we allow our clothes to say about us. When not working on his startup, he does freelance graphic design work which includes but is not limited to logos, merchandise, business cards, and websites. He is a graduate of Missouri State University, where he got a Bachelor's of Science in Entrepreneurship.

Juan Saldana

Juan Saldaña is an entrepreneur, designer, inventor, educator and technology innovator. He currently serves as a Business Counselor with the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC), the leading Hispanic business, networking, advocacy and development organization in Illinois. In this role, Saldaña helps small businesses with licensing and strategic planning needs. He hopes to inspire entrepreneurs and help them achieve success with assistance from the IHCC team. Previous to joining the Chamber, Saldaña has been in leadership roles for financial, government, retail, food and educational institutions.    His greatest passion is empowering entrepreneurs to create successful growth companies. At his previous venture, LeadRock LLC, Mr. Saldaña applied the design-thinking framework to develop a business model for private and public organizations to collaborate seamlessly commercial real estate projects. Currently, Mr. Saldaña applies his system(s) and design thinking experience for tech and tech-enabled start-ups. He holds a certified scrum master certification (CSM) from the Scrum Alliance and intends to coach founders and assist cross-functional teams on agile methodologies to implement business growth campaigns.

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

  • Ryan
  • Carlos
  • Roy
  • Maggie


Nirav Amin

Event Blog

See Full Blog

We haven't written any posts yet. Stay tuned!