Startup Weekend Fort Worth

    Friday, March 2 - 4, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Fort Worth

Friday, March 2 - 4, 2018

Friday, March 2 - 4, 2018
Event starts at 6:30 pm

UNT Health Science Center
1000 Montgomery Street
Fort Worth, TX 76107

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Can you really start a business in 54 hours?

You CAN at Startup Weekend! Take Your Idea and Launch Your Business in a Weekend!

Techstars Startup Weekend is the place for startup enthusiasts, innovators, designers, developers, marketers and creatives to come together in one weekend to pitch, create and launch a business.This 54-hour event is dedicated to fostering new business ideas while strengthening the Fort Worth entrepreneurial community. The real value comes in working with incredibly driven and creative individuals to take an idea from concept to execution using lean tactics in a high pressure environment.

Why YOU should participate? YOU are a skilled developer, designer, marketer or possess business or startup know-how...or you have a great idea that you want to turn into a business. No business is built by itself and startup's are more successful when they are supported by a team of experts with varied skills or lead by a visionary with great ideas. This is YOUR chance to be a part of something that can make a major difference in your life of the lives of others. YOU are needed.

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.

Your full weekend experience 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.
Kickoff Pitch Party: Join us Friday night for networking, special guest speaker, Dr. Sean Wise, and the initial pitch presentations. If you're still wondering what Startup Weekend is all about, then you will get more insight in this kickoff event. 

Final Pitch & Celebration Night: We're excited that WeWork Clearfork is hosting the final pitch presentation and celebration night on Sunday evening. Come watch the results of the team's hard work and enjoy drinks, light snacks, and networking.

Tickets for the Kickoff Party & Final Pitch Celebration are ONLY $10. 

Get your tickets now before they are all gone! Watch the video below to see what you can expect and BUY Your Ticket now!
Still have questions, feel free to reach us at

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Friday March 2nd

6:30 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 March 3rd

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 March 4th

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!


Sean Wise
Professor of Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University

Dr. Sean Wise is an expert on startups & venture capital. He uses this expertise in his various roles as:   University Professor, bestselling author, international business speaker, and partner at Ryerson Futures, a seed stage venture capital fund and technology accelerator. Dr. Wise has published five books and more than two dozen peer-reviewed research papers and case studies of high-growth start ups.  Dr. Wise spent five seasons as a consultant for CBC on the mega hit venture reality show Dragons’ Den before moving in front of the camera as the host of the Naked Entrepreneur, which airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network Starting February 1st,, 2015. Dr. Wise has been called the Dr. Phil of Entrepreneurship and in 2014, Dr. Wise was named Entrepreneurial Mentor of the Year by Startup Canada.

Event Judges

Anuja Ghorpade, PhD
Vice President for Research and Innovation, UNT Health Science Center

Dr. Ghorpade has been on the faculty at the UNT Health Science Center since 2007 where she has held multiple roles. She currently directs their research, commercialization and innovation efforts, even as she continues her work as a researcher. At the Health Science Center, she established a research program in HIV/AIDS, glial biology and a Brain Bank for neurodegeneration research that is designed to study the effects of HIV/AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease on the brain. 

Harold Strong
President and CEO, Medical Innovation Collaborative

Harold is currently the President & CEO of the Medical Innovation Collaborative, an organization focused on supporting commercialization of medical innovation companies in north Texas. Previously, he served as Director of the University of North Texas Discovery Park and Technology Transfer office. Strong is also the past President of the Association of University Research Parks (AURP). He is a nationally recognized leader in Innovation District development with vast experience in developing partnerships between institutions of higher education and industry. 

Ray Smilor, PhD
Professor of Entrepreneurship, TCU

Dr. Smilor is an author, investor, consultant, motivational speaker and lecturer on entrepreneurship. He has developed programs and conducted entrepreneurship training in several countries. Though he has recently retired, he has served as Executive Director of the Beyster Institute at the University of California, was a tenured professor at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and was President of the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.

Randal Mays
President, Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail

Randal is the President of Junior Achievement of the Chisholm Trail, where he leads the organization that helps young people connect with relevant learning and the importance of staying in school. Headquartered in Fort Worth, his chapter has offices in Abilene, Amarillo and Midland/Odessa that will reach over 35,000 kindergarten through 12th grade students this year through partnerships with businesses educators and volunteers. Previously, Mays ran the Junior Achievement chapter in Central Texas and is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University.

Jim Ratchford
Executive Director, Texas Consilium, Inc.

Jim Ratchford is Executive Director of Texas Consilium, a nonprofit economic development organization with a mission to accelerate the prosperity of Texas by accelerating the growth and profitability of Texas businesses.  After starting his career as a CPA with a major firm, Jim has worked in investment banking, entrepreneurship, business improvement and leadership most of his career.  Having been named a Professor of Entrepreneurship by Oklahoma State University, Jim’s goal is to make our world a better place one client at a time. He has reviewed more than six thousand business plans and worked with hundreds of companies throughout the US and Canada to help them improve their businesses and achieve their goals.

Monica Hamilton
Deputy Chief of Staff, Mayor and Council Office, City of Fort Worth

Monica is the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Fort Worth, Betsy Price. She also works closely with the Fort Worth City Council to make sure that our local government functions effectively and efficiently.

Nathan Lenahan
Head of Operations, South - WeWork

As the Head of Operations, Nathan Lenahan leads all on the ground efforts, including Sales, Marketing, Community and Operations, for WeWork’s southern region. Nathan started at WeWork in 2016 after launching and selling a real-estate and property management company, Redleg Property Group. Before starting his business, Nathan served as a Facility Manager at Lockheed Martin. During his 13 years of service in the US Army, Nathan completed two combat tours to Iraq, earning five commendation medals, two army achievement medals, and Soldier of the Year 2004. In 2005, he was inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club. Currently, Nathan Lenahan serves in the Texas Army National Guard in Austin, Texas, as a Field Artillery platoon sergeant. Nathan graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with an MBA and received a B.S. in Facility & Property Management from BYU. Nathan now lives in the DFW area with his wife and the next generation of entrepreneurs, his four children.

Coaches and Mentors

Ola Campbell
Attorney at Law

Ola Campbell earned her Juris Doctorate degree from Texas A&M School of Law and holds the Texas Bar License. She focuses her practice on advising small and mid-size business with contractual, intellectual property and employment law needs. She also advises business owners with their personal asset protection and estate planning.

Donnie Boivin
Success Champion

Over 18 years' experience motivating and inspiring 1,000's of people to get out of their own damn way and succeed in life and business. He's known as the go-to coach for helping people achieve higher levels of success by discovering their passions and then teaching them how to run like hell.

Dawn Shannon
Co-Owner and Chief Activator of Ensemble Coworking

Dawn has over 23 years of experience managing business operations and is an expert at strategic goal setting and working with companies to achieve success. 

Ajay Bangale
Founder of Eddy Bang Bang

Ajay Bangale is a Cowtown native who attended Fort Worth Country Day. He then went on to study at Duke for his bachelors and the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and Harvard Kennedy School for an interdisciplinary double master’s program focused on business and government. He has worked at several leading multinational companies such as Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Bain and MasterCard. In addition, he has experience working with startups and recently also helped design a course at Harvard focused on entrepreneurial finance. He welcomes coffee chats and feel free to contact him at 

Lisa Marie
Marketing, Business & Leadership Consultant

At MLJS Legacy, we believe in the power of social media, and our mission is to help businesses to get real business results from their social media marketing efforts. Social media is always changing – we are committed to staying up-to-date in social media so that you don’t have to. We are Certified Social Media Marketing Managers, which means that we’ve invested to stay on the cutting edge and develop strategic marketing knowledge.

Greg Saltsman

Greg is a strategic and financial leader with over 15 years of experience in both operating and consulting companies. He is a nationally recognized expert in corporate financial planning and analysis (FP&A).  He worked at Deloitte Consulting, Elbit Systems of America before founding Pearl Snap Kolaches and Southern Oak Consulting.

Chris Botvidson
Managing Partner, Ascend Concepts

Chris is an entrepreneur, creative director and problem solver. He is the Managing Partner at Ascend Concepts, a local design and branding company that delivers smart design solutions for its clients. 

Tamara Payne
Connector | Community Builder | Communications Coach

Tamara is an expert on marketing communications and is a seasoned coach and trainer for small business pitching and business plan development. Tamara is also the Co-Founder and Chief Connector at Ensemble Coworking, Fort Worth's first woman owned coworking space. 

Chris Handy

Chris Handy is an acclaimed sales & marketing strategy consultant and keynote speaker whose podcast was named one of the Top Ten Podcasts Produced By Agencies in 2015. His company, Thinkhandy, is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sam Johndroe
Attorney at Law

Sam is a lawyer with a passion for helping early stage businesses with starting on the right legal structure. 

Valerie Riefenstahl
Implementor, EOS ; Director, High Impact Manager; Facilitator, TAB

Valerie is a seasoned entrepreneur and business coach. She assists business owners from startup to growth stage. 

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Fort Worth 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 Fort Worth is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Cameron
  • Kristian
  • Marco
  • Tamara
  • Allen
  • Kalyntheus
  • Dawn
  • Mike
  • Ashlee
  • Sloan
  • Nathan
  • Walker


Dee Hamill
Accountant/Entrepreneurial Development Coordinator

Dee Hamill, based in Charleston, SC, works with  small businesses and startups in accounting and other useful consulting services. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master's degree in accounting from Mississippi College, and is becoming a Quickbooks Online Pro expert. Her background working with startups is specialized in entrepreneurial development, coaching and connecting early stage entrepreneurs from conception to potential engagements with Angel Investors. She organized several Startup Weekends in Mississippi before moving to Charleston 9 months ago. Aside from working with startups, she enjoys traveling and fitting as many adrenaline rushes into spare time as possible.

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