North Dakota Women's StartUp Weekend

    Friday, April 17 - 19, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
  8. Blog
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North Dakota Women's StartUp Weekend

Friday, April 17 - 19, 2015

Friday, April 17 - 19, 2015
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Dakota Medical Foundation
4141 28th Avenue South
Fargo, ND 58104

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No Talk, All Action. Launch a Startup in 54 Hours.

Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.  Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups.


Friday April 17th

6:00 pm
Arrive at Dakota Medical Foundation 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 April 18th

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 April 19th

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!


Courtny Evanson
Founder of InnovativeMother - Executive Director at Millennial Parents

Courtny Evanson went in to last year's North Dakota Women’s Startup Weekend with an idea, and emerged as an entrepreneur. Last January’s competition awoke Evanson’s passion to create a product that innovates the market and promotes a better experience for nursing mothers. This innovation is called Nevaeh, a massage table that also performs as a breast pumping station to provide mothers a more comfortable alternative to the standard breast pump. She now has a patented product and has won several grants and awards including Emerging Prairie's Entrepreneur of the Year.

MaryEllen Tribby
CEO. Mom of three. Best Selling Author. Wife. Speaker.

Wife, Speaker, Sister, Daughter, Business Consultant, Philanthropist and Friend.On many days she plays all roles. Other days, just one or two.  Which is why she founded Working Moms Only. MaryEllen not only recognizes what it takes to be a working mom,  she also lives the life and is able to blend all of her roles with relative ease.  She believes it is her true calling to supply the necessary tools all working moms need to live the life they have always dreamed of.Today MaryEllen is the proud Founder and CEO of Working Moms,  the world's leading newsletter and website for the empowerment of the working mom. Prior to founding WMO, MaryEllen was Publisher & CEO of Early to Rise where she was responsible for growing the business from $8 million in sales to $26 million in just 15 months. Before that, she served as President of Weiss Research where she led the company to $67 million in sales from $11 million in just 12 months.

Greg Hartle

Greg Hartle is a 17-year entrepreneur who teaches workshops and delivers keynote presentations that aim to influence other entrepreneurs in ways that foster resilience, ingenuity, work ethic, and meaning.

Event Judges

Tammy Miller

Tammy joined Border States as the Accounting Manager in 1991. Her positions at the corporate office included Corporate Controller, Vice President Finance, Senior Vice President and Executive Vice President. She assumed general management responsibilities for the Southwest Region in 2003 and President in 2005. Tammy was named CEO in 2006 and has led the company on to unprecedented and continued growth. She has been an officer and member of the Board of Directors since 1996, on the Executive Council since 1997and was named Board Chair in 2006. In 2007–2008, Tammy was the first woman in the 100-year history of the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED) to serve as the Board Chair.

Christi Offutt

Christi began as Legal Counsel of R.D. Offutt Company in 1996, was promoted to Operational Vice President in 1999, followed by CEO/COO of RDO Equipment Co. in 2001 – a position she continues to hold today.  In December, 2014, Christi was named Chair of the Board of Directors of Offutt Family Enterprises which is made up of a variety of businesses divided into three separate operating units:  agriculture, food processing and retail equipment.  Ms. Offutt is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and earned a Juris Doctor Degree from Boston University Law School.  She is also a graduate of Harvard’s Executive Advanced Management Program.  She is a former Director for the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and currently serves as a Director for Bell State Bank & Trust.

Jim Gartin
President - Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation

Carol Schlossman
Principal - Insight To Action, LLC.

Carol J. Schlossman is passionate about working with people to advance their businesses to the next level of success. There is a saying, “One can’t paint with one’s nose on the canvas.” It is hard for leaders and managers to step away and see the big picture when one is neck deep in tactics; working close up and hands on in keeping the business running. 

She brings a diverse background and broad experience including outcome based planning, organizational strategy, marketing and research, funding and development, team building, retail development, et al. She enjoys working with small to medium sized businesses and non-profits, from new businesses to old-timers who want a jump-start. She has an MBA and is the principal at Insight To Action, LLC. 

Carol and her team work hard with business leaders to identify what is working and what isn’t and the desired short-term and long-term outcomes. The focus is on building logical steps and pathways that make result-oriented change happen.

For fun and joy she loves the entire family working together on a great meal; sailing where only sailing can take you; the endorphins from working out; abstract painting; trying to read a book a week; and quiet, and not so quiet, time with her husband and kids. 

Steve Dusek
President & CEO

Since July of 2010, Steve has served as President & CEO of Dakota Certified Development Corporation and currently manages a loan portfolio of $160 million, ($150 million comprise SBA 504 loans and $6 million are Rural Development IRP loans). Prior to moving back to North Dakota, Steve served for over 15 years as President & CEO of Prairieland EDC, an SBA Certified Development Company in Southwest Minnesota.Steve Dusek was born and raised in Grafton, North Dakota. He is married to Suellen, his wife of twenty-five years, and they have four children. He is a graduate of the University of North Dakota.

Chuck Hoge
Interim Executive Director - NDSU Research & Technology Park

Chuck Hoge is the interim executive director for the NDSU Research & Technology Park and has served on the board of directors for the park for most of its existence. Chuck is the former CEO of Otter Tail Corporation manufacturing platform.  Otter Tail is a company with diverse operations including electric utility and infrastructure businesses which include manufacturing, construction and plastics. He is the former president and CEO of Bobcat Company a leading provider of compact equipment for global construction, rental, landscaping, agriculture, grounds maintenance, government, utility, industrial and mining markets.

Jodi Heilman
SVP Marketing at Bell State Bank & Trust

Jodi Heilman is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Bell State Bank & Trust in Fargo.  Heilman directs marketing strategy and oversees the operations of the marketing department. Originally from Fergus Falls, Minn., Heilman earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Prior to Bell State Bank & Trust, Heilman worked as executive vice president of creative at Sundog, a Fargo-based marketing and technology company.Heilman lives in Fargo with her husband, Jim.

Del Rae Williams

Del Rae Williams is a retired CPA, having spent her career in public accounting. She has been an active member of a number of local organizations in the community, and is the first female mayor in Moorhead, MN. Mayor Williams, and her spouse, Ron Williams, are new empty nesters, and the parents of daughter, Lyndis Williams, MSUM, and son, Sam Williams, Winona State University.

Edie Ramstad
Owner - Weave Got Maille

Edie Ramstad has worked all over the world as an Independent Goldsmith. However, Entrepreneurship has always been in her blood. She has mentored, help start or started over 65 different business in everything from Jewelry Stores to Garbage Companies to Coffee House to a Dude Ranch. Watching and assisting people make their dreams come true is her passion.  When she retired in 2011, she had a thought that she should have a hobby business to fill a little time. That thought became Weave Got Maille, the third largest chain maille supply company in the world with over 15 employees currently. Spurred by another thought, Edie is currently opening a second business, an aluminum anodizing and processing company.

Brenda Jacobson
Vice President - VISIONBank

Brenda is a founding team member of VISIONBank, a local, startup bank established in 2003.  She has 20 years of experience in several areas of banking specializing in lending, personal banking, business banking, and marketing. She earned her bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State (Go Bison!) and is a native of Finley, ND.  Brenda lives in Fargo with her 15 year old son, Kaden and a spoiled black lab.   

Coaches and Mentors

Kari Warberg Block
CEO, Founder & Farmer in Charge, Earth-Kind

Kari Warberg Block, founder and chief executive officer of Earth-Kind, is a true mother of invention. With two small children at home, she was determined to find a natural solution that would rid the family farm of rodents. At the time, 90% of pest control solutions contained dangerous toxins. Kari created Fresh Cab®, the first botanical rodent repellent safe enough to use at home but strong enough to meet Federal EPA standards for efficiency. Today, Fresh Cab® along with a natural line of products called Stay Away that repels not only rodents but also insects, are sold into 55,000 retail stores throughout the USA and Canada. The company recently added a line of biodegradable air fresheners. As a result of her achievements, Kari has been recognized as one of Ernst & Young’s 2012 Entrepreneurial Winning Women, an Inc. 500/5000 fastest growth company, and a runner-up for National Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Kari was previously named North Dakota’s Small Business Person of the Year.  Kari serves as an advisor to the President, Congress, and Small Business Administration through the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)

Chris Thompson
Senior Director and Global Cluster Lead, Data Platforms and Developer Support at Microsoft

Chris Thompson is a Senior Director and Global Cluster Lead for the Global Commercial Developer and BI/Data Platforms business at Microsoft. Chris started at Great Plains/Microsoft in 1998 in a technical support role for Dynamics which led to various leadership roles and adventures.   In her current role, Chris manages a 34M dollar yearly budget and is accountable for overall delivery strategy for support worldwide.  Chris is accountable for the business results and success of 250 deeply technical team members within NA based out of Texas, Washington, North Dakota and North Carolina as well as the results of an additional team members located in India, Japan, China, Europe and Latin America.   Chris resides in West Fargo with her husband, 10 year old daughter, horses, and other pets and is a graduate of MSUM.  She serves as Vice Chair for the Operations Management Advisory Board at MSUM and is a board member for the Chamber of Commerce Women's Connect program.     

Tonya Stende
Chief Engagement Officer

Tonya Stende, CPA is Chief Engagement Officer of the Dale Carnegie Business Group of North Dakota.  The Dale Carnegie Business Group of ND team are performance consultants who align business strategies and people practices to drive results.  Tonya is passionate about helping her clients create a culture of high engagement which leads to a more satisfied and productive workforce as well as increased bottom line results. Tonya was named one of the top 25 women in Business by Prairie Business Magazine. Tonya lives in Fargo with husband, Dave, her two step kids, Thomas and Hannah and two wiener dogs, Lillie and Bernie.  In her spare time she enjoys spending time at the lakes, reading, running and visiting Las Vegas (especially when she wins!)

Char Gust
Development Manager

Char Gust is development manager at Evolution1, focused on reporting and analytics. She has worked in the software industry since 1992 and has previously had various product planning and product management roles at Microsoft and Great Plains Software. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Moorhead (MN) State University. Char also runs her own small business providing a line of women’s clothing with shapewear built right in, plus comfortable and beautiful shapewear. You can learn more at In her spare time, Char enjoys camping and boating in the summer and is an avid snowmobiler in the winter.

Kristi Huber
Vice President Sanford Health Foundation

A native of Elbow Lake, Minnesota, Kristi is a graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead.  Her undergraduate degrees were Business and English Literature with a minor concentration in Communications.  Kristi earned her Masters of Business Administration from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. Kristi is passionate about volunteerism and networking.  She serves on the Concordia College National Alumni Board, the TNT Kids Fitness Board, and is a past president of her local Rotary club.  She is an avid proponent of mentorship and continues to work with Concordia College students to connect them with opportunities and leaders.  Kristi and her husband Gregg live in West Fargo, North Dakota with their dog Tazer.  They enjoy watching hockey and have a goal of attending a game at all 30 National Hockey League arenas in North America.

Andrea Hochhalter
President - Hochhalter Building Solutions

Andrea Hochhalter, is the owner of HBS, Inc. where she guides groups and organizations by providing strategic planning, professional facilitation, and organizational development services that collectively engage individuals to achieved shared outcomes. As a professional facilitation trainer and consultant, Andrea uses a range of approaches and models to design conversations, meetings, and workshops that enable groups to be more responsive to change and more creative in implementations. Andreas’s fields of leadership and consulting expertise include; change management, team development, cross-group collaboration, technology implementation, nonprofit administration and fundraising.   Prior to launching HBS, Inc. Andrea worked at Microsoft where she was responsible for developing teams and leading projects nationally and internationally. Andrea earned her Bachelors in Psychology from North Dakota State University and her MBA in Information Systems from Westminster College of Salt Lake City.   Andrea serves on the board for Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education and Fargo Rotary. She is a North Dakota native who now resides in Lake Park, MN to enjoy lake living every day possible. Making time for family, friends, fitness, volunteering and FUN keeps Andrea at her happiest.

Kari Dunn
Mortgage Loan Originator/Sales Development Manager - VISIONBank

Kari earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management at Minnesota State University Moorhead and also attended the accelerated Management program at the University of Mary. Her career began as a Manager of a Starbucks Coffee shop at the age of 20, and she then decided to go back to school and obtain her degree in Management so she could effectively manage people and a business at all levels. Kari has worked in the financial services industry for 14 years. Kari was employed at Bank of the West for ten years in various capacities including loan processing, BusinessLink underwriting and completed her Business Management internship there performing annual reviews on lines of credit, hiring a team, training and completing performance reviews. After graduating from MSUM, Kari became a personal banker, small business banker and served on a Regional team for Small Business Lending. Kari later became a Branch Manager, Senior Private Banking Specialist and left Bank of the West to join the team at VISIONBank in 2013.  Kari has a passion for helping people achieve their financial goals.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The North Dakota Women's StartUp Weekend 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.




In Kind

Organizing Team

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

  • Susan
    Kerr Gartin
  • Susan
  • Deb
  • Katie
  • Brittany
  • Kari
    Warberg Block
  • Carrie
  • Kari
  • Jodee
  • Rikka
  • Kim
  • Deidre
  • Tonya
  • MaryEllen
  • MET


Jon Rossi

CEO/Founder of MyDealerService (Techstars Mobility 2015)
Organizer of first StartupWeekend Denver - October 2015
Facilitator of many SW Events
Attended 1st SW Summit in KC
Passionate about the community and always happy to help out.

Event Blog

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