Startup Weekend Columbus

    Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018

  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 Columbus

Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018

Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018
Event starts at 6:30 pm

107 S High St
Unit #200A
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Buy Tickets

Startup Weekend Columbus Returns!

We are excited to announce the next Startup Weekend Columbus on February 9 - 11 at Fintech71.

At Startup Weekend: You'll get to work alongside some of the top entrepreneurs, designers, coders, and innovators in Central Ohio. Columbus 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.

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!

Early Bird Tickets are available for a limited time! ($75 instead of full price of $99)

What's included:
  • A weekend long event to build and launch a business concept with a collaborative team
  • Space to work for the weekend at the beautiful Lumos Accelerator office in the heart of Downtown Columbus
  • Invaluable access to a community of entrepreneurs, mentors, and experts (even more coming soon!)
  • 3 dinners, 2 lunches, 2 breakfasts (We feed you good food.)
  • A sweet t-shirt
  • All the coffee, soda, energy drinks, and water you could ever need
  • An amazing experience and chance to get a taste of the startup world
Watch the video below to see what you can expect, and if you’re feeling inspired click on the “Buy Ticket” button now! What are you waiting for? Get your ticket before they sell out! 

We look forward to you joining us for another great event! In the meantime, also check out our blog at

(psssst, students! - use promo code STUDENT for $50 tickets. Student Photo ID required on the day of event)

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

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

No talk, all action!


Friday February 9th

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

6:30 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 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 10th

9:00 am
Start off the day right with a Yoga session led by our friends of Startup Weekend!

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

11:00 am
Mentor Meetings
Mentors help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

12:00 pm

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

2:00 pm
Fun Stuff!
We'll bring in cool new tech to demo throughout Saturday afternoon. A Hololens, drones, VR headsets, and maybe even a Tesla ;-)

3:00 pm
Mentor Meetings
Mentors help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

5:00 pm
Fireside Chat with Tom Burden
Fireside Chat with Tom Burden of Grypmat. Recently featured on Shark Tank.

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 11th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

11:00 am
Mentor Check-In
Mentors arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

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 Burden

Founder of Grypmat. At Grypmat, we design and develop hardware based aerospace safety equipment. Products used by NASA, and recently featured on Shark Tank.

Ryan Frederick
Principal, AWH & Director, Startup Grind Columbus & Director, i.c.Stars | * Columbus

I have had the privilege of helping many companies grow their sales, revenues, market share, and profitability. I have worked with companies across a variety of industries and of all shapes and sizes. I have helped startups grow from inception, to viability, through to sustainability. I have also helped to establish multi-national companies to improve and grow.

Matt Armstead
Executive Director, Founding Member, Board Member at Fintech71

Matt Armstead is a serial tech entrepreneur and Executive Director of Fintech71. He has co-founded several startups in which he successfully sold; and he’s been in leadership of others which have failed or fluttered along the way.

Matt is an advisor and founding partner of Root Insurance. He’s also an angel investor in tech accelerators, including Lumos Innovation, in which he has run, co-founded and/or mentored nearly 50 startups. Matt also work’s with Singularity University helping global corporations on disruptive innovation.

Having previously worked for Fair Isaac and Experian, Matt has an affinity for big data, predictive analytics; and a growing interest in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Dan Rockwell
CEO, Big Kitty Labs

Dan is a startup-launching engine that keeps big kitty purring by applying his passion for helping businesses leverage their technology to provide a superior experience for their customers. He is a regular speaker and mentor at Startup Weekend Columbus, hosts and organizes the monthly Wakeup Startup series, and fuels innovation at The Ohio State University.

Event Judges

Alex Purtell
Program Director at Fintech71 + Accelerator Director at Lumos Accelerator

Program Director at Fintech71 + Accelerator Director at Lumos Accelerator

Bob Wiggins
Senior Vice President Venture Acceleration, Information Technologies at Rev1 Ventures

A serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist, Bob brings exactly the right experience know-how to help entrepreneurs and emerging high-growth IT companies succeed. From market and product validation to gaining first customers, to raising capital, he’s been there and done that. It’s a job that he enjoys.

Bob has a BS in economics from the University of Oregon and a JD degree from the University of Oregon School of Law, where he graduated first in his class. 

Bob practiced law for 13 years and then made a career change, joining a telecom startup that was acquired in the late nineties by WorldCom. Since then, he has led several software startups, and started a venture fund. He’s advised software companies, been an angel investor and a board member to a number of startups.

Gregory Tacchetti
Chief Information Officer at State Auto

Gregory (Greg) A. Tacchetti has been the State Automobile Insurance Companies (State Auto) Senior Vice President and Chief Information & Strategy Officer since August 2015. Greg was a co-founder and owner of AssureStart. He served as the Chief Executive Officer and President of The AssureStart Insurance Agency LLC since July 2014. He served as Senior Vice President of Property and Casualty Financial Operations of Safeco Insurance Company of America Inc. since February 2006. He served as the Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President of Fireman's Fund Insurance Company since September 11, 2008. Prior to joining SAFECO, he worked for GEICO in operational and product line positions for seven years.   Greg began his insurance career with GEICO in 1991. He served as Senior Vice President of P&C Business Process and Operations of Safeco Insurance Companies of Safeco Corp. since February 2006. He served as Senior Vice President of Field Planning of Safeco Insurance companies of Safeco Corp. from November 2004 to February 2006. He joined Safeco in 2001 as an Assistant Vice President of Personal Lines Underwriting. Before joining Safeco, he served as an Operations Director of Northeast Region of GEICO Insurance from July 1999 to September 2001. He worked as an Underwriter and Product Manager of GEICO. He served as a Director of The AssureStart Insurance Agency LLC since July 2014.Greg holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Maryland and an Executive MBA in Business and Finance and Strategy from the University of Washington.   In his current role, Greg has been charged with transforming the State Auto IT organization and developing overall business strategy. As part of a larger transformation effort, he is also crafting a long-term plan to build a multimodal IT organization that can work across the enterprise to create systems architecture and revamp business processes to increase efficiencies, lower costs of system ownership, and make State Auto’s offerings more profitable.   He was named “One of the top 15 People to Watch in Insurance Technology” in 2015 by Insurance Networking News.

Falon Donohue
Chief Executive Officer of VentureOhio

Falon Donohue is a community organizer, veteran and the Chief Executive Officer of VentureOhio, a for-impact organization created to facilitate a collaborative statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem and increase access to angel and venture capital for Ohio entrepreneurs. Prior to VentureOhio, and while serving her country in the Ohio Air National Guard, she began her career in technology solution sales and business development. Falon is an active member of the Ohio startup community and serves on several nonprofit committees.

Coaches and Mentors

Matt Carlson
Senior Manager, Design and Web at OCLC

For over 20 years Matthew has worked with both small and large businesses to craft engaging user experiences and designs. He brings a proven knowledge of branding, creative strategy and leadership to print and digital projects. From designing logos, laying out brochures, developing websites or mobile apps, to building and leading creative teams, he has the vision, creative direction and business understanding to ensure a successful delivery of all types creative projects.

Kevin Mack
Chief Experience Officer for BYBE

Kevin is the Chief Experience Officer for BYBE where he focuses on strategy, branding, and creative solutions for their customers. His background includes creating user experiences around web interfaces and the crafting of large-scaling websites and applications. Kevin is the co-founder and organizer of The Columbus Web Group where he actively participates in growing and educating the community around design, development, best practices and standards for the web. You can find him on Twitter (@nicetransition), YouTube (, CodePen (, or GitHub (

Mackenzie King
Director, User Research and Design

Mackenzie believes in customer led innovation and has worked with clients across industries to help them integrate their customers' voices in their innovation process from the fuzzy front end of a business challenge to co-creating a design strategy or business model, to iteration and implementation.  She has engaged physicians to design smart devices that integrate into complex hospital informatics systems; NYC students to create a hip hop-themed college prep high school, Millennials to design the car of the future and community leaders to envision an innovative live-work development. With over 10 years experience, Mackenzie served as Director of Design Research and Insight Translation at Lextant. Her clients included Best Buy, Nissan, P&G, Pepsico. Mackenzie holds a design degree from Pratt Institute and a MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

Christopher Slee
Principal @AWHNET

Christopher Slee is a Principal at AWH, which is a digital products firm in central Ohio, and helps run the Dev:Launch apprenticeship program. With close to 40 years of software development he is passing that knowledge down to groups of apprentices that get their careers going at AWH and now at The Ohio State University.

Steve Gacka
VP of Product and Engineering @

Builder who loves code & pixels, travels randomly, and enjoys a good gimlet. Be careful not to provoke his inner mean-mugging Grumpy Cat. 

Alex Brown
Partner at Dickinson Wright

Alex is legal counsel to privately held companies, focusing on tech and software startups. He helps clients with capital raising, commercializing and protecting intellectual property, e-commerce, and mergers & acquisitions. He is also a member of Ohio TechAngel Funds IV and V. Alex’s law firm, Dickinson Wright, has 17 offices in the United States and Canada.

Mark Harris
Agile Innovator and team builder at Fuse by Cardinal Health

I am passionate about building high-performing software teams and always eager to connect with similar leaders. While I enjoy many aspects of software development, like many engineers, I enjoy seeing the results of our labor, and I have been lucky to see our work used by millions of people around the world.

I hold an MS in Computer Science from University of Washington, and a BS in Computer Science from The Ohio State University. If you're a former colleague, manager, or just a passionate software engineer, I'm always interested in hearing from you.

Specialties: software program & project management, Agile software development (Scrum), large-scale distributed systems, and iPhone application development. Some of the technologies I have experience with include Azure, AWS, Ruby on Rails, Elixir, iOS development with Swift & Objective-C, C#, C/C++, and JavaScript.

Oksana Shmaliy
Director of Test Engineering

Oksana Shmaliy has recently changed her role as Director of Test Engineering to leading Software Engineering practices at Grange. She has 20 plus years of experience in software development where she performed in various roles in Application Development, Project Management, SQA and DevOps. She successfully implemented several transformational programs: executed QA transformation strategy with emphasis of building automation skills; completed migration of an old legacy web platform to modern open source application. Oksana is an active member of Innovation team at Grange and a huge supporter of new tech culture in Columbus – she was one of the mentors of the first cohort at FinTech71 last year.

Calvin Cooper
Director at NCT Ventures

Calvin is a Director at NCT Ventures and focuses on identifying and evaluating new investment opportunities. He specializes in raising capital, market research and intelligence, due diligence, and portfolio management. Prior to joining the NCT family, Calvin served in an executive role at OMSDC where he conducted the merger due diligence and integration of two regional organizations. He has experience in supplier diversity and business development, connecting diverse owned companies to Fortune 500 corporations. He also founded and launched the MBE Academy in partnership with the City of Columbus. Additionally, he has public relations and marketing experience that includes creating and publishing the Connections Magazine, government affairs, strategic marketing, and branding initiatives. Calvin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Capital University in Financial Economics and has presented economic research at national conferences.

Marty Neider
Strategic Initiatives Manager

Marty is the Strategic Initiatives Manager for State Auto's personal lines technology. He overlooks the system health of their quoting system for their agents and internal associates as well as overlook projects directed towards making State Auto a digital company. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with an MBA from Franklin University. He has an extensive background in Property and Casualty Insurance with a CPCU designation. He has held several roles during his tenure at State Auto that include Business Analyst, Product Specialist, Underwriting Support Supervisor, Underwriter, and Claims Adjuster.

Anna Klatt
Senior UX Researcher, Team Lead

Anna Klatt is a Senior UX Researcher, Team Lead at CoverMyMeds, where she supports Product Teams with ongoing research to better understand users and their needs. She’s passionate about human behavior and product.

Keith Yun
VP Strategic Initiatives

Keith has over 15 years of insurance experience including key roles in both personal and commercial lines. He has been a part of several strategic initiatives over the last 10 years including development of new underwriting rules and predictive modeling system, the divestiture of non-standard auto company and agent portal implementations.
In addition to his current role, Keith has held leadership positions as Director of State Auto National and Director of Business Insurance Operations. In these roles he led teams of up to 110 associates while managing significant change in alignment with corporate strategies. He has succeeded in these times by establishing and communicating clear strategy and goals while leading focused teams executing on the aligning business requirements. Prior to State Auto, Keith spent 9 years in retail sales management.
Keith is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.
Keith and his wife, Lynn, reside in Canal Winchester, Ohio with their two children, Nathan and Alayna.

Haley Smith
Director of State Auto Labs

Haley Smith is the Director of State Auto Labs which was designed to help State Auto Insurance navigate the rapid and dramatic change of the insurance industry. She works closely with startups helping them engage with corporate partners. She also serves on the board of Absentia. 

Haley has spent time working in Product Management where she gained experience underwriting and pricing insurance products. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Science from The Ohio State University.

Jeff Frazier
Director of Design & UX

Jeff is a interdisciplinary designer, product developer and creative leader. For the past decade his passion has been to design simple, creative and meaningful solutions to industry scale problems with highly innovative people and eclectic teams. He has been most active in the areas of blockchain, healthcare and real-estate tech. His career path has been a study in UX, IA and UI, but really a master class in product development and startup strategy. The products he has designed have been used by millions and scaled internationally. Jeff earned a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from The Ohio State University with a focus on computer science engineering and entrepreneurship.

Caleb Howard
Database Administrator

Caleb Howard is a Database Administrator for CoverMyMeds, one of the fastest growing health care IT companies in the country. Caleb realized he had a passion for technology while working as a Systems Data Analyst for a wealth management firm and shifted his career to data management in 2014, joining  CoverMyMeds in 2015 as a data management specialist, focusing on ETL integrations​. He has a deep understanding of MSSQL Server, PostgresSQL and Red Hat Linux and is currently tackling Django. Caleb is passionate about designing efficient and effective data models to meet diverse business needs. In his free time, Caleb is an avid cyclist, rock climber and loves spending time with his two cats and his wife.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Columbus 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




Organizing Team

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

  • Matthew
  • Yi-Ruei
  • Matt
  • Eric
  • Nora
  • Alex
  • Vijay
  • Andrea
  • Sandhya


Jay Clouse
Founder, Unreal Collective

I am a writer, entrepreneur, and community builder. After discovering the power of small groups of driven individuals who meet regularly to make rapid progress, I founded Unreal Collective. Unreal Collective creates micro-communities to help individuals accomplish more, faster. 

Previously, I spent several years in tech startups as COO of a ticket exchange called Tixers (sold in 2015) and a product manager at CrossChx, a healthcare startup. Now, I serve as a Create Columbus Commissioner and Facilitator of Startup Weekend. The Create Columbus Commission exists to advocate for young professionals to the city officials in Columbus, Ohio. Startup Weekend is a 54-hour community event that teaches individuals how to conceptualize, build, and launch a startup company. 

My mission is to help and empower others to achieve more through community. With a love for music, I am exploring the intersection between entrepreneurship and the arts. I once bought 500 Startups founder Dave McClure a beer and he said that my pitch “didn’t completely suck.”

I write a daily newsletter on life, learning, and personal growth at

Matthew Veryser
Head of Product at SafeChain


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