2015 Startup Weekend Grand Rapids

    Friday, January 16 - 18, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
Buy Tickets

Event Alerts and Updates

Get the latest on Techstars Startup Weekend, Grand Rapids, and other local events through Techstars Startup Digest.

Oops! Double-check that email address.

2015 Startup Weekend Grand Rapids

Friday, January 16 - 18, 2015

Friday, January 16 - 18, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Start Garden
50 Louis, NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Buy Tickets

Grand Rapids Startup Weekend Year # 6!

Calling all innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, programmers and business gurus-Grand Rapids Startup Weekend is back & ready to rock Year #6!  Have a great new business idea?  Have a great skill or talent to share?  Want to engage in West Michigan’s awesome startup community?  Then this event is for you!

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.

Hope you can join us!

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday January 16th

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

7:00 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:30 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:00 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:30 pm
Begin Work
Teams discuss roles, initial strategies. Plan for next day.

10:00 pm
Wrap Up
Wrap up or continue at local establishment

Saturday January 17th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

6:00 pm
Dinner & Panel Discussion
Time for a break! Grab a bite and hear lessons from some great entrepreneurs!

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 January 18th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Final Presentations

3:00 pm
Judging & Awards

3:30 pm


Jeff Courter
Founder, Sportsman Tracker

Ryan Montgomery
Founder, Chext

Katie Kirsch
Cofounder, Sisu Global Health

Event Judges

Mike Marsiglia
Managing Partner at Atomic Object

Laura Vaughn
Founder at Blackbird RSVP

Laura is the founder of two web invitation design startups: Sitting in a Tree and Blackbird RSVP. With a background in digital marketing, Laura is obsessed with creating and acquiring customers online.

Shawn Crowley
Managing Partner at Atomic Object

I have been with Atomic Object since 2004, after completing my Computer Science degree from Grand Valley State University. Prior to that, I studied general communications, worked in creative fields, and web development. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and I’ve enjoying working since I was quite young.I started at Atomic Object as a software developer. In 2007, through the guidance of Atomic’s CEO, Carl Erickson, I began pursuing how Atomic could integrate design practices into our agile methods. That journey led me to help grow our value chain to offer design as part of Atomic’s core practice. Growing Atomic’s design capabilities got me involved in sales and operations, which set the stage for me to grow into my Managing Partner role.I enjoy working with Mike Marsiglia, the other Managing Partner in Grand Rapids, to keep everyone in the office busy with interesting and challenging projects. I also enjoy our work aimed at improving operations, management practices, and culture.A percentage of my time is focused on company-wide considerations. Carl, Mike, and I collaborate on marketing, growth strategy, and enrichment initiatives that affect Atomic as a whole.

Kim Pasquino
Portfolio Relations at Wakestream Ventures

Aaron Schaap
Founder at Elevator Up

Aaron helps build and launch ideas, communities and the web. He's the founder of Elevator Up (elevatorup.com), The Factory (workthefactory.com), coLearning (workthefactory.com/coLearning), Startup Weekend GR and many other West Michigan community events and activities. He was named 2013 Newsmaker of the Year in Technology by the Grand Rapids Business Journal and also recognized as one of the 40 top young business leaders in the region. Aaron lives in Holland, MI with his wife (Jodi) and two kids (Jessica and Oliver).

Laurie Supinski

Coaches and Mentors

Felip Ballesteros
Startup Communicator at GR Current

Felip’s background is diverse to the core, having worked at a biometric security start-up in Germany and later engaging in retail marketing at Adidas’ world HQ. After a short stint on the beaches of Rio, Felip returned to Grand Rapids to lead Marketing and Communications for GR Current. With four languages and a BBA and BA in International Business and Relations under his belt, Felip is adept at discovering and advancing the message of GR Current and its startups.

Ryan Vaughn
Cofounder at Varsity News Network

Ryan likes to make things and connect dots. He is an entrepreneur with a passion for sports and writing. He is the co-founder of Varsity News Network, and the founder of West Michigan Allstar.

Paul Jaques
Director of Student and Community Engagement for Spartan Innovations

As the Director of Student and Community Engagement for Spartan Innovations, Paul Jaques works with the MSU undergraduate students on their business ideas and inventions to potentially get them to market. Paul is a founding partner of Pure Venture Partners and has also co-founded his own startups that include Career Search Consultants, a nationwide recruiting firm and Bio-Green Environmental, a biosolids management company.

Mike Bopp
Developer, Rapid Development Group

Mike is a versatile implementer of web solutions, specializing in technologies both widespread, such as ASP.NET, and targeted, such as Progress. Mike has completed significant projects for major mid-Michigan businesses such as Universal Forest Products, Viking Corporation, and Gordon Food Service.

Lisa Lane
Founder, The Inside Lane

Bree Lane is the Founder of The Inside Lane.  For the past 8 years, she has worked with startups from the Silicon Valley to Ireland.  She started out helping startups get ready for funding but found that she was doing her best work helping them navigate the emotional roller coaster that comes with building a venture.   After experiencing her own startup’s demise, she has an insight and understanding that many don’t have and has taken her experiences to help others build the venture that they aspire to build.  Her foundation is grounded in people-centric leadership and emotional intelligence that helps people get their inside lane to success.

Austin Dean
Director of Business Operations

Scott Dodd
Startup Analyst, GR Current

Scot's dedicated to living an active life, which provides him both mental and physical balance as he analyzes businesses for GR Current. Scot understands all too well the value of numbers when it comes to capital fundraising. In addition to interning with UBS Financial during his accelerated MBA program, he's also worked for various start-ups gaining strong experience in early-stage business strategy. When he's not evaluating companies, he's supporting the local economy by drinking pints at Founders.

Thomas Schliep
Founder, TMS Advisors

Thomas is the founder and President of TMS Advisors. TMS services the product space with specific experience within the food, manufacturing and import/export industries. During the past 22 years he has been deeply involved in several successful startups and occupied a host of operations, management, strategy and marketing positions. He has a passion for all things start-up while helping others identify and achieve their path of success.

Tom DeVries

Tom DeVries is a hybrid design & business strategist obsessed with designing solutions, systems and businesses that empower people.  He is a Human Centered Design methods expert with extensive experience leading organizations to identify unmet needs in the marketplace, and then develop business models to deliver solutions that engage users in delightful end-to-end experiences.  He has led initiatives for organizations from small to large in Asia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The 2015 Startup Weekend Grand Rapids 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 Grand Rapids is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Kelsey
  • Amanda
  • Brian
  • Annie
  • Casey
  • Felip
  • David
  • Kyle
  • Mike


Amanda Chocko
Director of SURGE

Amanda Chocko has been a fixture in the West Michigan startup scene for the past decade. Her experience includes business incubator/accelerator management, program development and community relations. 

Currently, Amanda serves as co-director of the Seamless IoT Commercialization Program where she facilitates partnerships between enterprises and startups  to help commercialize the next generation of smart, connected technologies.

An entrepreneur at heart, she has launched a number of her own ventures which include a salon; dating service, events and training company, and most recently, a nutritional therapy practice called “The Feeling Groovy Project”.

Website: www.seamlessaccelertor.com

Event Blog

See Full Blog

We haven't written any posts yet. Stay tuned!