Grand Rapids Startup Weekend 2018

    Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Sponsors
  6. Organizing Team
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Grand Rapids Startup Weekend 2018

Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018

Friday, February 9 - 11, 2018
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Start Garden
40 Pearl NW
Suite 200
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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Grand Rapids Startup Weekend 2018! Let's build something awesome!!

Startup Weekend Grand Rapids | 2018

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Techstars Startup Weekend and Google have joined forces to offer this special event FREE of charge to the first 125 people who register.

Hurry to secure your spot; this event will sell out quickly!

Techstars Startup Weekend is the best place to learn how to build a startup in a weekend and connect with your community; a melting pot of the area’s most creative thinkers, builders and implementers.  It’s a 3-day long sprint to launch new products and services that solve real-world problems. 

Grow with Google is an initiative that draws on Google’s 20-year history of building products, platforms, and services that help people and businesses grow. Through Grow with Google, Google aims to help everyone across America – those who make up the workforce of today and the students who will drive the workforce of tomorrow – access the best of Google’s training and tools to grow their skills, careers, and businesses.

Techstars Startup Weekend Grand Rapids and Google have joined forces to bring this special event to life. 

Join us February 9-11 at Start Garden for a mashup of diverse minds, good food and free beer.  Startup Weekend Grand Rapids welcomes all entrepreneurs from every walk of life. Whether you have a business idea, or are simply looking to plug into the ecosystem, we encourage you to attend. Your goal is to launch a new product or service in under 48 hours.

Come prepared to jump in with both feet!

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday February 9th

5:30 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

6:45 pm
Announcements & Weekend Agenda

7:15 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:30 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
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 February 11th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Get back to work
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

1:00 pm
Final Presentations

3:00 pm
Judging & Awards

3:30 pm

4:00 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

Dr. Timothy Syfert
Clinical Professor: Grand Valley State University, Richard M and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Dr. Timothy Syfert teaches entrepreneurship and small business management, international business, and organizational strategy at Grand Valley State University as a Clinical Professor to both undergraduate and graduate students. Tim has over 25 years business experience in key strategic roles at Timex Watch Company, Haworth, Royal Consumer Business Products, Sherwin Williams, Roadway Express Trucking Company, and Johnson Controls Automotive. His work at these companies resulted in several domestic and international patents for many products that are currently in production around the world. As a designer and business consultant, Tim has helped inventors and start-up companies develop new products, expand product portfolios, and launch new business ventures. He is currently developing his own new venture, Spirited Blends, blending alcohols for use in “craft sangria.” Tim has a bachelors degree in business from Oklahoma State University, a masters in business administration in strategic planning from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institutes Lally School of Management and Technology, and a doctorate in organization development from Capella University.

Jorge Gonzalez
Director of Start Garden

A Grand Rapids native holding a degree in Public Administration and minors in both Business and Sociology from Grand Valley State University, Jorge joins the Start Garden team in 2017 from his time spent as Executive Director of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His involvement with the Hispanic Chamber began with the inception of the organization. Gonzalez has established it as a central connecting point for Hispanic entrepreneurs in West Michigan, both for aspiring business owners and seasoned veterans. Prior to that, he was at LINC UP as the Director of Economic Development for four years and has 15 years of experience in the banking industry. His last banking position was as VP of Community Development from 2005 to 2010. Gonzalez has been married for 18 years and has five children. In his spare time he enjoys running, occasional golf, spending time with friends and family.

Kelsey Perdue
Grand Circus Grand Rapids Assistant Campus Director

Kelsey Perdue serves as the Grand Circus Grand Rapids Assistant Campus Director where she helps move adult learners from an initial interest in a tech career through an intensive training program to work in a rewarding role. Kelsey believes in building better communities for everyone, and is an avid giver of her “time, treasure, and talents” in the tech community and beyond.  She has been recognized with the LINC UP Community Spirit Award for her contributions to local nonprofits and political advocacy efforts. Kelsey is a graduate of SpringGR business training, a former 5x5 Night finalist, and StartUp Weekend participant. Kelsey earned a BS degree at Howard University.

Joe Finkler
President of Michigan Inventors coalition

Joe Finkler is President of Michigan Inventors coalition. Past President of Grand Rapids & Muskegon inventors Network and Investment Advisor by trade, Joe has been involved with inventors, marketers and entrepreneurs for over 18 years! Joe got his start Co-owning As seen on TV stores in Muskegon and Grand Rapids. Finkler has bought and sold over 4000 products for retail & internet sales. In addition to his myriad inventors-network duties, Finkler has also worked with local WZZM 13 to develop the “Try It Before You Buy It” segment. Joe has been a Pitch contest Judge 21 times and has been a Keynote Speaker at many events around Michigan.

Coaches and Mentors

Jason Wagner
Web Developer

Jason is a local web developer and tester with marketing and analytics experience.  He has contributed to many software and web projects, currently developing customer facing apps in React Native.  He has been a hiring manager and team leader and can jump in at any stage of a project and contribute.

Kevin Mclaughlin
Founder, Crafted Law

Kevin McLaughlin is the founder of Crafted Law, a Grand Rapids law firm dedicated to helping small businesses and creative entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses. A particular focus is helping owners identify and capitalize on the value of their brand and intellectual property through the registration and protection of trademarks and copyrights. He also helps businesses streamline their systems by drafting custom contracts for vendors, employees, independent contractors, and clients. Kevin received his JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and is licensed in Michigan, Illinois, and California. Prior to launching Crafted Law, he spent time working at law firms in San Diego and Chicago before moving to Grand Rapids and working as in-house counsel for a real estate development company. In their free time, Kevin and his wife, Lindsay, enjoy stand-up paddleboarding, camping, snowboarding, trying new local restaurants and coffee shops, and traveling to new places. You can learn more about Crafted Law by visiting:

David Stradal
Chair: Muskegon Community College, Business Department.

Dave Stradal is Chair of the Business Department and Entrepreneur Programs at Muskegon Community College. He is currently building the new Lakeshore Fab Lab and Rooks/Sarnicola Entrepreneurship Institute at the Sturrus Technology Center, Muskegon Community College’s downtown campus. He also created and is running Muskegon’s Community E program, which is targeted towards high school students and requires all participants to start a business and sell at a trade show open to the public. Dave has owned and operated three businesses; a payroll software distribution company, a local payroll services company, and a business brokerage firm. Prior to his entrepreneurial life, he worked for 15 years with two Fortune 500 companies including Brunswick and GTE (now Verizon). His positions included staff, national account sales, and senior executive marketing/sales responsibilities for global manufacturing and business-to-business service divisions. In 2014, Dave was recognized as an Agent of Change by Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce for Entrepreneurial education. He also earned, along with his Muskegon Career Tech Center partners, the State of Michigan’s 2015 Career and College Readiness Initiative – Excellence in Practice Award. Coming to Michigan from the East Coast, he earned an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a BS degree in finance from Lehigh University.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Grand Rapids Startup Weekend 2018 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

Grow with Google offers free training and tools to help you grow your skills, career, or business.

Visit Website

Organizing Team

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

  • Amanda
  • Laurie
  • Kara
  • Aris
  • Rachell
  • Kaylee
  • Raul
    Alvarez, Jr
  • Stuart
  • Luis
  • Kristi
  • Casey
  • Paige
  • Belen
  • Holly E.


Armin Eichhorn
Entrepreneur & Coach

Armin loves turning ideas into reality. His passion is for startups in the early stage when everything is to be gained, or lost. He is a founding partner in the ethical design label KANCHA, a coach to the founder of, and more. Before choosing to focus solely on being an entrepreneur, Armin worked as project manager in logistics for The LEGO Group.

Armin can add most value to a passionate team that is looking for the fastest and best-executable way to get from idea to first paying customers within 24 hours. He would love to help you turn your idea into an actual business.

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