2016 Startup Weekend West Michigan

    Friday, January 15 - 17, 2016

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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2016 Startup Weekend West Michigan

Friday, January 15 - 17, 2016

Friday, January 15 - 17, 2016
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Kendall College of Art and Design
17 Fountain St NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503

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Where West Michigan entrepreneurs come to build in 54 hours.

Calling all innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, programmers and business gurus-West Michigan Startup Weekend is back & ready to rock Year 7!  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

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Friday January 15th

5:30 pm
Arrive at KCAD (17 Fountain Street NW) and get checked in

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

6:45 pm
Welcome & Keynote
Welcome remarks from President Bellavance of KCAD and our Facilitator, Ryan Michael Norton. As well, Thomas Coke, founder of CampusStarter.co and the king of alternative sub genres will be kicking off the weekend with his speech titled "Nothing's Shocking."

7:15 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

9:15 pm
Lo-Fi Mockups
Learn how to get your idea visible with this 10 minute learning session about low fidelity mockups.

10:00 pm
After Hours Work Session 1
Take your team to GR Current's collaborative workspace and get started. You may stay and work as early into the AM as you need. Fare and libations provided.

Saturday January 16th

9:00 am
Arrive at KCAD (17 Fountain Street NW), simple breakfast & coffee

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

10:00 am
Business Model Canvas
Learn the business model canvas in this 10 minute learning session.

12:00 pm
Lunch served at Kendall College of Art and Design

1:00 pm
Lunch & Learn: Validation & Prototyping
Learn if your idea meets the needs of the user in this lunch and learn session. As well, learn how to build a Lo-Fi mockup and prototype.

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
Dinner served at Kendall College of Art and Design

7:00 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

7:30 pm
Stack the Deck
Get a 10 minute crash course in building a good pitch deck.

9:30 pm
Wrap-Up work at Kendall.

10:00 pm
After Hours Work Session 2
Take your team to GR Current's collaborative workspace and get started. You may stay and work as early into the AM as you need. Fare and libations provided.

Sunday January 17th

9:00 am
Get face time with coaches at at KCAD (17 Fountain Street NW). Final opportunity to ask questions

10:00 am
Brunch served

12:30 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

1:00 pm
POLISH THAT PITCH with our Startup Weekend Facilitator

2:30 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

3:00 pm
Final Presentations
Presentations given at KCAD Woodbridge N. Ferris Building (17 Pearl St. NW, rm 217)

5:00 pm
Judging & Awards

5:30 pm

6:00 pm
Go Home!


Thomas Coke

Event Judges

Tim Murphy

Award winning industrial designer Tim Murphy is currently the co-founder and CEO of Airdrop Gaming, an electronic gaming accessory startup based in Grand Rapids, MI.  In addition, Tim holds the position of assistant professor of Industrial Design at Kendall College of Art and Design and is in the process of launching a design and innovation camp in Northern Michigan, Camp BluSky.  Prior to taking the entrepreneur leap, Tim held the global position of Principal Designer and Studio Manager within Whirlpool Corporation’s advanced design studio for nearly 12 years. 
Learn more about Camp BluSky: http://bit.ly/campblusky

Amy Chambers
EVP Product Development

Amy Chambers has worked in the healthcare and insurance industries for 20 years.  Amy’s specialty is providing legal advice and leading product development, business plan development, operations design and sales support for entrepreneurial projects in and around healthcare and insurance. Amy has helped launch start-up companies that are positioned to solve complicated problems in the areas of telemedicine, genetics, pension funding, and non-profit/government benefits.  Amy began her career in Grand Rapids as a benefits attorney for Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.  Over a twelve year period, Amy also held a variety of positions with Priority Health including Vice President of Product Development and Associate General Counsel.  A graduate of The University of Chicago (BA 1991), Amy received her JD from The University of Michigan Law School in 1996.   Amy enjoys being a StartGarden resident and part of the Grand Rapids entrepreneurial community.

Jamiel Robinson
Founder & CEO

Jamiel Robinson is the Founder & CEO of Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses. Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses (GRABB) is a Start-up Economic Development company that focuses on fostering an economy and ecosystem that supports the revitalization of the Black community and expands opportunities for Black Businesses in the Metro Grand Rapids area. To date Robinson has been acknowledged as a leading voice on economic equity with feature articles in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, Urban Innovation Xchange Grand Rapids, Mlive’s Grand Rapids Press and Grand Rapids Magazine. Robinson has also received numerous awards and recognitions for his work. 
Learn more about GRABB http://www.grabblocal.com/

David Allan
Director of Industrial Design

An established industrial design leader, David has a track record of leveraging his global perspective to create world class design teams that deliver positive impacts to business. Having held design positions in the UK, Germany and the US, David has worked with automotive brands Mercedes, Kia and Ford, and consumer brands EGO, Ridgid, Kobalt and Craftsman, to name a few. During the last 10 years he established and led an award winning design team in Grand Rapids for one of the world's largest power tool manufacturers. David recently joined Stryker Medical Instruments as Director of Industrial Design.

Coaches and Mentors

Alvin Hills

Kayla Ita

Ryan Lafferty

Austin Dean
Director of Business Operations

Stan Samuel
Entrepreneur in Residence

Brandy Wells

Vanessa Gore

Michael Kurley

Lindsay Noonan

Douglas Kelly
User Interface Designer

Leandra Williams

Tim Syfert
Clinical Professor

Mary C. Hartfield
Program Manager

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The 2016 Startup Weekend West Michigan 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

  • Samuel
  • Laurie
  • Casey
  • Jon
  • Josh
  • Dan
  • Tim


Michael Norton

Michael vagabonds around North America exploring entrepreneurial communities and facilitating Startup Weekend events. He works as a freelance business development and crowdfunding consultant, technical project manager, and social media guru. Michael is also a photographer, audio engineer, and writer.

Event Staff

Jason Schemmel

Taylor Babcock

Zoe Bruyn

 I am the president of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs' Organization (CEO) at Grand Valley.  CEO has helped launch multiple student-run startups over the past few years. Our goal is to provide members with support, opportunities, and accountability to ensure the maximum amount of success in their business ventures. We focus on active goal setting and accountability to empower students who are serious about taking their business to the next level.

Janet Wyllie
Vice President of Business Growth Initiatives

Matt Larson

Jamaal Ewing
Microloan Program Manager

Import to the Grand Rapids area from Lansing, MI. Attended Western Michigan University and moved to GR shortly after receiving my BBA in Sales and Marketing in 2006. Worked in financial services for the next 8 years while receiving my MBA in 2013. Started working with GROW in 2014 as the Microloan Program Manager, providing access to capital for small business owners who are unable to secure traditional financing.

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