Startup Weekend Fort Worth

    Friday, November 21 - 23, 2014

  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 Fort Worth

Friday, November 21 - 23, 2014

Friday, November 21 - 23, 2014
Event starts at 6:30 pm

TCU Brown-Lupton University Union
2901 Stadium Drive
Auditorium (Fri/Sun Night) 3rd Floor (Sat/Sun)
Fort Worth, Texas 76129

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Startup Weekend 2015 is live at:

Find 2015 details and tickets at

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Setup for Success Before/After Startup Weekend


Friday November 21st

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
Jonathan Coon
Keynote Speaker - Founder and Former CEO 1-800 Contacts, Investor

8:15 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:45 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:30 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

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow.

Saturday November 22nd

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 November 23rd

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!


Jonathan Coon - Keynote Speaker

Jonathan Coon started 1-800 CONTACTS in 1992 in his dorm room with $50.  The company was sold in June 2012 for $900 million.  

A few highlights of those 20 years:

* Public CEO from 1998 to 2007

* Had to get federal law passed to give Americans a right to their contact lens prescriptions.
 o  Lost in 19 of the 22 state capitols where they attempted to change the law
 o  Personally invested over 300 days in DC over 5 years 
 o   The Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act passed as a stand-alone act through the House and Senate and became law in 2004.
* Had to sue Johnson and Johnson to compel them to sell to 1-800 CONTACTS (big anti-trust case).

* Made a movie with his younger brother called Napoleon Dynamite.

* Married 24 years.  

Jonathan's favorite quote - "The difficult we do now. The impossible takes a little bit longer." - US Army Corps of Engineers.

Event Judges

Hayden Blackburn

Director, IDEA Works FWHayden Blackburn has spent the last decade working in economic, community, and small business development. Hayden is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business with a Minor in Psychology. Mr. Blackburn started his professional career as a project specialist in the field of economic development for business recruitment and business retention. Hayden has a passion for social enterprises and co-launched his first social enterprise in 2007 in Lubbock, TX. Following his passion for social good he co-launched an event series in Fort Worth in 2012 highlighting the works of social enterprises and what they mean to our community. Hayden worked as a sole-proprietor and consultant for several years working with organizations on their program development, communications, and grant research and administration. With a belief in the power of community development through engagement and partnerships he has been involved in several community based projects including the launch of the Tarrant Makers Foundation, shaping the vision for SteerFW, the Mayor’s emerging leaders initiative, as an executive committee member, and guiding the vision and launch of IDEA Works FW, a mixed-industry incubator formed from a public-private partnership between the City of Fort Worth and the BAC Education Foundation.

Jorge Varela

Jorge Varela, Assistant Director of TECH Fort Worth, has led or been a part of the executive team at technology startups that have had successful exits in telecom, software, and IT services. He has driven growth and value in both his own as well as for client companies as a coach, mentor, and consultant, by developing a holistic approach that integrates customer desirability, product feasibility, and market viability. Jorge’s tasks at TECH Fort Worth includes working with clients to identify value in ideas, define a market strategy, and launch their product or company.As an individual who loves the excitement and energy of the startup, he has founded or owned businesses in markets as diverse as telecom, software, IT services, materials distribution, shipping, real estate, café, and even a professional soccer team in Belize. His businesses have operated internationally with emphasis in North and Latin America although negotiations have spanned cultural differences from obtaining startup funding from a Japanese VC firm to negotiating contracts for steel with the Ukraine.Jorge is also the Executive Chair of the Alliance of Texas Angel Networks, the association of angel investor networks in Texas and is a reviewer for the National Science Foundation on Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR and STTR) grants for computer technology solutions. He is a speaker on topics on entrepreneurship, startup funding, and the entrepreneurial eco-system recently presenting sessions for the National Business Incubation Association and the U.S. Association for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurship.Jorge is originally from Belize and has also lived in Mexico, USA, and Germany. He is fluent in English and Spanish and hopes to soon conquer German beyond the rudimentary sentences that gets him in trouble but can’t seem to get him out.Jorge graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies, Economics and Political Science from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Robert Sturns

As a certified Economic Development Finance Professional (EDFP), Robert has received numerous awards and accolades for creative and successful business recruitment/retention efforts. By leveraging partnerships with public and private entities, Robert has been directly engaged in the announcement of over $1.0 billion in new capital investment, 9.5 million SF of commercial development and the creation/retention of 11,000 jobs. The Dallas Business Journal has recognized a total of 16 projects Robert has been involved with as finalists for “Best Real Estate Deal of the Year” with 4 of those projects winning their respective category. Robert's background also includes positions in banking operations and commercial real estate management which has helped him navigate some of the challenges that arise in commercial real estate development.

Robert devotes his time to many community endeavors including the Board of Directors for the Chisholm Trail Chapter of the Red Cross, Rotary Club and the United Way Income Council. Robert has also served as the past President of the Greater Fort Worth Area Economic Development Association and has sat on the Boards of the Fort Worth Economic Development Corporation, William Mann Community Development Corporation, YMCA and Cancer Care Services.

Cameron Cushman

Cameron Cushman has been working to build entrepreneurial communities around the country for most of the last decade. He held several roles at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation where he served as the Chief of Staff to the President and CEO, educated policymakers about the importance of entrepreneurs as job creators and built a more robust community for entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area. He is also the co-founder of 1 Million Cups, a weekly educational program for entrepreneurs, now in over 60 U.S. cities.

Prior to joining Kauffman, Cushman served in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Market Access and Compliance division of the International Trade Administration, where Cushman led the effort that launched the website

Cushman currently works as the Vice-President of Sales & Marketing at PhysAssist Scribes, which was recently acquired by TeamHealth.

Michael Sherrod
Entrepreneur in Residence, TCU's Neeley School of Business

He built Sherrod Publishing Company in the late 1970's from zero to $4 million in sales in 3 years, establishing four additional companies in the process. In the 1980's he worked in video text, then helped build AMR Information Services. In the 1990's started Nerrv Systems and co-founded DigitalCity. In the 2000's Sherrod integrated AOL Local into Netscape, AOL, Compuserve and Time Warner and revitalized AOL's world wide community products and services. He helped prepare for liquidity event in 2008. Founding CEO of He was the first publisher of and he founded

Coaches and Mentors

Doug Cannon

Stephen Rivers

Jerry Gamble

Aasim Saeed

Jason Fox

Robert Pollock

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.

Signature Sponsors

About Neeley | Our vision is to be a world-class, values-centered school of business driven by leadership and innovation. Our mission is to develop ethical leaders with a global perspective who help shape the business environment.

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Organizing Team

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

  • Timothy
  • Bryan
  • Hayden
  • Justin
  • Alexis


Matthew Taylor

Event Blog

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