Startup Weekend Denver at DU

    Friday, May 18 - 20, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Denver at DU

Friday, May 18 - 20, 2018

Friday, May 18 - 20, 2018
Event starts at 4:00 pm

Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science, University of Denver
2155 East Wesley Avenue
Denver, CO 80208

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Create a business to help support the UN Sustainable Development Goals 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.

Techstars is partnering with Project X-ITE to bring you Starup Weekend Denver. Project X-ITE is a cross-disciplinary community at the University of Denver that supports the next generation of entrepreneurial thinkers through collaborative events, experiential programming, and strategic global partnerships. The weekend will be dedicated to creating businesses that provide solutions to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more about these goals here: 

The weekend will be open to ALL who would like to participate, but will also be connected to an elective course for DU undergraduate and graduate students who want to gain credit for attending and learn more about what it means to start a company from the ground up. Register for the hybrid course EVM 3704/4704 with Professor Tom Rankin for spring quarter to take advantage of this opportunity!

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 18th

4:00 pm
Doors Open
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

5:00 pm
Dinner & Kickoff
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants, and learn about the weekend

5:30 pm
Keynote Speaker
Hear from a past Startup Weekend Winner

5:45 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

6:30 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

6:45 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

7:00 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 19th

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Begin Work
Start working on Customer Discovery, Market Research, figuring out what the best minimum viable product to show during your pitch is

12:00 pm
How to Pitch Workshop (Mandatory)
Melanie Davidson, a Managing Partner at Peak Change will lead the How to Pitch workshop!

1:00 pm
Lunch- Panera
Recharge with some midday grub

2:00 pm
Mentoring (2-4 pm)
Meet with mentors from all different fields to help troubleshoot and validate your progress so far!

5:00 pm
Dinner- Illegal Pete's
Take a break and eat!

5:30 pm
Team Working time (5:30-on)
After dinner the rest of the time will be open for groups to work in their teams!

10:00 pm
Wrap up/ out of building

Sunday May 20th

8:30 am
Breakfast available
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:00 am
Team Working Time (9-11:30)
The last couple hours to work before pitch coaching and final prep!

11:30 am
Pitch Practice with Mentors (11:30-1)
Get tips from top business leaders on how to make your pitch the best it can be

12:00 pm
Lunch- Swing Thai
Grab lunch in between the pitch coaching

1:00 pm
Turn in Slides!
Drop them in the Participant Resources Folder

2:00 pm
Final Pitches, Judging (2-4 PM)
The culmination of the whole weekend!

4:30 pm
Go Home!
Congrats on a great weekend


Melanie Davidson
Managing Partner at PeakChange

PeakChange uses Colorado as a model to support initiatives that encourage entrepreneurship as a powerful change agent, while engaging millennials in the process. PeakChange provides the necessary scaffolding to improve the overall early-stage investor experience.

Event Judges

Emily Winslow
CEO at Peak Impact Consulting

Emily Winslow is the Founder and CEO of Peak Impact Consulting. Peak Impact Consulting supports early-stage social entrepreneurship ventures, experienced and novice impact investors, high net worth individuals, women and millennials specifically, family offices, and associations of impact investors. Prior to starting Peak Impact Consulting, Emilyachieved a deep understanding of impact investing in her experience at PeakChange, an early-stage impact investing family office. During four years with PeakChange, she managed a portfolio of 40 direct investments and 11 impact funds on behalf of one of the pioneering leaders in early-stage impact investing.  Beyond portfolio management, she has actively engaged in providing management consulting support to social entrepreneurs and their companies in Africa, Asia, and Central America, as well as across the United States. Furthermore, Emily has facilitated the work of nonprofit and for-profit boards, helping to implement best practices, establish clear communications, and build organizational capacities.  She has also partnered in Colorado with industry leaders to develop strategic initiatives, fundraise, and execute community events.

Barbara Bauer
Director, Women's Investor Network at Rockies Venture Club

Barbara is Director, Women’s Investor Network (WIN), for the Rockies Venture Club, Denver, CO.  Barbara started this new initiative to recruit and support women interested in early stage investments and prepare them to become active and engaged angel investors. Prior to this position, Barbara was the Executive Director, Myanmar, for Partnership for Change (PfC), a Norwegian social enterprise impact investment and international development organization. Barbara worked closely with community, state and national Myanmar leaders to design and implement programs and development models to encourage entrepreneurs, especially women.  Barbara founded the Myanmar Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference in 2014, and continued to host it for three years.   Barbara is the founder and CEO of two boutique businesses: GlobalSight Partners, an international management consulting organization, and Silk and Stones Travel, a boutique travel company specializing in custom designed sustainable tourism tours to Southeast Asia.  Her consulting services include a Princeton in Asia Senior Fellow project in northern Thailand, a program supporting the Vietnam Women’s Union.  Barbara also developed and led the innovative Center for Women Entrepreneurs at the University of Denver.  During her career as a software development business leader, she held executive positions at Sun Microsystems, StorageTek, US West, Raynet, and Bell Laboratories.  Her academic credentials include a B.S. and M.S. in Physics, and the Stanford Summer Executive Program.  

JB Holston
Dean at Ritchie School of Engineering and Computer Science

Thirty years success as a global scale-up private and public organization CEO and entrepreneur.Colorado's Technology CEO of the Year in 2010. Active in a range of civic causes around technologypublic policy, innovation, open government, entrepreneurship, micro-finance, and impact investing.

Coaches and Mentors

Nam Luu
Senior Manager of Strategy at EY

I am a Senior Manager with EY's Strategy Consulting practice providing advisory services for clients to achieve strategic transformations. I have delivered transformations to clients within the areas of strategic planning, cost reduction, operating model design, investment optimization, and driver-based planning. I pride myself on helping clients achieve their purpose and endure over time.

Mara MacKillop
Innovation Manager at Colorado Water Observation Board

Mara is the Innovation Manager at the Colorado Water Conservation Board - a state agency that addresses water policy and information. In this role, she directs TAP-IN - a platform to convene Coloradans around water challenges to bring fresh voices and new approaches to the conversation and build a collaborative network across communities. The goal is to connect the entrepreneurial and business community with the water sector to tap into the creative current that flows throughout our state. Mara is finishing her Masters of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Colorado - Denver with a focus on natural resources and small-town, tourism planning. She also works with Something Independent, a business that operates at the intersection of the Colorado lifestyle and commerce.

Harry Brumleve
Director of Engineering at Home Advisor

I've worked in large companies and small startups, including 4 I started myself. I have a strong technological background and I practice a focus of building people, products, and teams using design thinking, human-centric engineering, and lean development practices.

Andy Shober
Partner at TechCXO

Andy Shober is a sales and commercial leader with a 30 year track record of achieving extraordinary results for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 50 conglomerates. Greatest impact has been in strategy development and client facing execution of transformations, including launch, acceleration or turnarounds. Experience as a CFO and business owner enables deeper insights that can be translated into broader strategic outcomes.

Elise Mariner
VP of Sales and Business Development at NextHealth Technologies

Engineer, consultant, strategic thinker and company builder. Love solving problems, REALLY love solving healthcare problems. Passionate about trying to improve our healthcare system - controlling costs and improving outcomes. Experience in building business cases, value propositions, market entry and segmentation strategy, sales process, know too much about health plan and health system operations, motivations, functions, technologies.

Joe Berti
CEO of Oniqua

Entrepreneur with broad experience in sales, marketing, services, operations, product management, newproduct launches and overall business strategy/consulting. Specialties: Focused on launching early orgrowth stage of successful businesses.

Hannah Gay
Owner and Social Impact Consultant at Hannah Gay

A liberal arts major who launched my career as a teacher in schools serving low-income populations then went on to earn an MBA from one of the most selective business schools worldwide, I am an expert in the business and evaluation strategy of nonprofits, social enterprises, and funders. Currently running my own consulting practice, I have also engaged with clients as a coach, advisor, speaker and facilitator. I’m eager for the global change my clients seek but disciplined and empathetic in catalyzing it, and my over ten years experience generating both social impact and revenue-based results has pushed me to tackle increasingly diverse and complex strategic challenges with a wide variety of players. I am particularly passionate about gender equality as well as the economic empowerment of young people, and integrate both much as possible in both my work and volunteer gigs. Always entrepreneurial in nature whether in an established organization or startup, I have directly managed reports and teams, won awards for leadership, am a frequent guest contributor, panelist, and thought leader in social impact, and write and publish original content as much as possible.

Steve Young
Founder at Synek

Former sell side equities analyst turned serial entrepreneur. 

Tom Ahlborg
Managing Director at Ahlborg Acquisitions

Thomas B. Ahlborg is the Managing Director for Ahlborg Acquisitions, LLC, a family office and angel investment firm.  Before starting Ahlborg Acquisitions, LLC, Mr. Ahlborg founded and was the Chief Financial Officer for Granite Loan Management, LLC, a company with a reporting infrastructure that includes $1.5 Billion in assets under management.   Mr. Ahlborg has extensive interest and experience in areas of risk mitigation, as well as in-depth experience in leading and directing process-improvement initiatives, streamlining operations and managing change through improved technical solutions.  Mr. Ahlborg has been investing for over 30 years.

Mr. Ahlborg also founded and serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Bullying  Recovery Resource Center.  A charity which advocates with  families to STOP bullying in schools and helps bullied children RECOVER from the effects of bullying.

Drew Hackman
Founder at Startup Hackman Consulting

Startup Hacker Consulting was founded in the spring of 2017 to help propel entrepreneurs (and would-be entrepreneurs, alike) into the next phase of their business. It usually starts with an idea to change the world - SHC helps you hone in on the most effective methods for planning, strategy, and execution, so you can solve the problem creating strife. SHC believes in equality, equal opportunity, a clean and safe environment, thriving communities, inclusion, and generating social equity, especially for those most marginalized. Creating resources and eliminating barriers for everyone to succeed helps us all reach our highest potential. SHC was founded based on the principle that as a society, we are only as strong as the weakest among us. Together, we grow.

Jeremy Wickenheiser
Founder and Director of Entrepreneurial Studies at DSST Public Schools

Jeremy graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara and he is currently the director of entrepreneurial studies at the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST).  Prior to joining DSST in 2009, Jeremy taught various science courses and developed a solar car engineering program at Edcouch-Elsa High School in South Texas.  In addition to his entrepreneurship related work, Jeremy is a master teacher and has taught both Biology and Physics at DSST

Mark Pougnet
Founder of Pougnet Consulting

COO and CFO to fast growing tech companies particularly those that are implementing new strategies,entering new markets & launching new products. Interested in finding new ways to do things, taking ondifficult tasks, challenging status quo and helping users get the most out of technology.

Wendy Lu McGill
Founder/CEO @ Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch

Wendy Lu McGill has a background in sociological research in international development and intercultural communication, bringing a global perspective and deep understanding of the why and how of farming insects for food. Working for nearly a dozen years with UN agencies helping them communicate to internal and external stakeholders about complex topics such as human trafficking, water and sanitation and rural infrastructure development, she has transitioned to create a holistic approach to business development and sales, fostering partnerships and deep relationships.

Jason Kania
General Partner at K Squared Fund

Prior to K Squared, Jason founded Phoenix Management Consulting, a consultancy that delivered products, operational and technology improvements for Fortune 500 multi-nationals. Jason has launched $500+ million products, saved clients over $6 billion in operating expense. MBA, University of Chicago; B.S. Economics, Virginia Tech

Angela Fulcher
Growth strategist

Angela's senior level entrepreneurial experience creates growth for companies, through effective strategy and integrated sales and marketing support, with a track record of creating then guiding national and regional teams to revenue increases, targeted lead generation, and successful exits. With agency and client side experience in targeted messaging, communications strategy, and brand design / implementation, Angela brings the entire package to clients in customized, effective fashion. Her entrepreneurial background provides business sense combined with nimble, practical, get-it-done holistic strategies for companies that are ready to grow. Current/recent clients include various biometric/tech companies, M&A positioning work, professional services and Saas firms, with other experience including SaaS, blockchain, real estate, hospitality, and biometrics. Key part of leadership team that took healthcare tech product through FDA process and to successful IPO/exit. Exceptional media relations and presentation skills; PBS television host and spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company. Leadership role in taking two companies public; mentorship leader for client marketing teams, various accelerators, graduate school guest lecturer, college level internship programs.

Michael Sickinger
Founder at Strategy Cycles

Experienced Founder with a demonstrated history of working in the manufacturing, mechanical and industrial engineering industries. Skilled in Business Development, Planning, Analytical Skills, Sales, Start-ups, and Product Development. Strong entrepreneurship professional; graduated from the University of Denver with a focus on Science & Technology.

Laura Kelly
Senior Consultant at EY

- Healthcare strategy/ process improvement consultant
- Experience with Design Thinking, Human Centered Design, and innovation science
- Experience with business/IT integration

Mariano Delle Donne
CEO and Founder at Adventos Corporation

Serial entrepreneur. Founder and CEO of Adventos Corporation, a company that is impacting public safety across the US. Above all, Mariano is a husband, father, man of faith and philanthropist. He lives in Greenwood Village, CO with his wife Anne and two sons Tobin and Nash.

David Northrop
Founder at Kaizen Sales

Kaizen Sales is a Sales Strategy and Sales Team Coaching Consultancy.  The three pillars are Strategy | Process | Execution.  We focus on optimizing top of funnel through a customized Sales and Marketing Automation platform and then implementing a repeatable sales process that can be continuously improved upon.  We also help with sales team coaching and  executing on the strategies deployed in the marketing campaigns.

Kim Witcher
Vice President of Digital Transformation

I am originally from Honolulu, Hawaii and moved to the mainland to earn a degree in engineering and then pursue a career in technology. I started my career at Accenture where I was able to develop strong technical skills in conjunction with an in-depth knowledge of how to plan and execute global enterprise software projects. I left Accenture to pursue opportunities that allowed me to lead entire technology organizations. I have had the opportunity to work with companies like Nike, Comcast, HP, Boeing, At&T, and Apple to launch innovative products and consumer experiences. I have most recently worked in the healthcare industry to develop a consumer targeted digital business model and offering. Driving change through technology is where I thrive and am now working with companies on 'digital transformation' .

Nick Rizzi
Marketing Manager at Cloudbeds

I am a longtime supporter of entrepreneurship since childhood when I jumped on many (mostly terrible) trends to see where business could be made. I made it a point to learn from entrepreneurs all over and have since worked through two acquisitions resulting in my tenure at Cloudbeds. Although I am in general focused on sales, I've always done general operations and systems placement for the companies I've worked for. Travel makes for the best educator and I love having the opportunity to work remotely and flexibly.

Ryan Howell
Founder and Attorney at Rubicon Law

As the founder of Rubicon Law, Ryan assists businesses grow from idea to exit. 

Prior to Rubicon, Ryan worked on the founding teams and as advisor to several venture backed startups. He also worked as in-house counsel at a venture firm. As a result, Ryan understands the perspectives of both founders and investors.

Joel Jacobson
Corporate Attorney at Rubicon Law

Joel is an attorney with Rubicon Law. He practices business law, including formation, funding, and corporate transactions, and enjoys solving problems for growing, innovative companies. Joel currently serves as a Supervising Attorney at the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic in the University of Colorado Law School. 

Prior to joining Rubicon Law, Joel worked as an associate with a national design and fabrication firm headquartered near Detroit, MI which developed exhibits displayed by technology and automotive companies. This experience solidified his interest in new technology and business models. 

He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. On the weekends, he enjoys snow skiing, water skiing, reading, and hiking.

Organizing Team

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

  • Nina
  • Alayna
  • Tom
  • Luke
  • Connor
  • Alex


Mark Madic
Business Resident

Mark became a Facilitator for Startup Weekend Techstars in February 2018 after helping successfully run 4 Startup Weekend events. 
He holds a B.S. in Management, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship from Colorado State University. 
Over the past 4 years, Mark has been heavily involved in the Startup communities in Fort Collins and Colorado, helping develop multiple startup programs. 
Additionally, Mark has helped oversee the research and development of a Protein Consumer Appliance Machine, similar to a Keurig. 
In his free time, Mark is a huge fan of boxing and golf, as well as being a mega fan of blues music! 

Event Blog

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