Startup Weekend | Grand Rapids

    Friday, January 13 - 15, 2017

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

Friday, January 13 - 15, 2017

Friday, January 13 - 15, 2017
Event starts at 6:30 pm

Start Garden
40 Pearl St NW
Ste #200
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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Startup Weekend Grand Rapids 2017 is your chance to learn how to take any idea from concept to creation within 54 hours in the West Michigan community! 
A Techstars program, Startup Weekend is designed to bring together 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. Join us January 13-15 at Start Garden for a mashup of diverse minds, good food and free beer. 

We’re welcoming all entrepreneurs with any level of experience. Whether you have a business idea, or are simply looking to plug into the ecosystem, we encourage you to attend. The ultimate goal is to launch a new product or service in just 54 hours. Come prepared to jump in with both feet!

Grab dinner with us first thing Friday night. Following dinner, any participant has the opportunity to pitch a business idea for 60 seconds.  Collectively, the participants will select a handful of TOP ideas to work on the rest of the weekend. From there, you will jump on a team and begin putting the pieces of your business together. Whether it's your idea or someone else’s, you'll create a cross-functional team to work with over the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday you will spend most of your time working with the team. Coaches and local mentors will be onsite for assistance throughout the process. The event concludes with a series of final pitches. This is an opportunity for your team to showcase all the hard work you've put in. A team of judges will select a single team to take home the Startup Weekend crown. 

- aspiring & experienced entrepreneurs 
- developers and other technophiles
- related professionals 
- designers of all types 
- non-technical talent (i.e. business, sales, finance, legal, etc.) 
- students from universities and even high schools 
- professionals looking to switch careers 
- passionate visionaries 

This year, all Startup Weekend participants will have optional access to a wireless gateway connecting sensors with real-time monitoring systems*. This exclusive open-access gateway is part of a new Smart City initiative aimed at making Grand Rapids a smarter destination to visit, work, live and play. Using the gateway, data can be collected at the street level - then processed and analyzed. 

This year, Start Garden is working with a number of community partners to make Startup Weekend 2017 more accessible to all types of entrepreneurs. Community partners include: Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses, West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, The Factory, AIGA West Michigan, Grand Circus, West Michigan College and University Group, Spring GR, Design West Michigan and the University of Michigan. 

*Smart City implementation not mandatory to participate

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday January 13th

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 January 14th

8:00 am
Technology Training - Optional
If you are interested in learning more about the gateway, and LoRaWaN connectivity, we will have experts onsite to walk you through the details. This is for those teams working on Smart Cities initiatives.

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 January 15th

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
Final Presentations!
A panel of judges selects a winner of Startup Weekend Grand Rapids

Event Judges

Mike Marsiglia
Managing Partner at Atomic Object

Jonathan Jelks
Partner at Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses

Kim Pasquino
Portfolio Relations at Wakestream Ventures

Megan Sall
Engagement Manager at CQL

Josh Naramore
Mobile GR & Parking Manager at the City of Grand Rapids

Coaches and Mentors

Ryan Lafferty

Eric Haslinger

Steve Johandes

Tim Murphy

Spencer Blanchard

Thomas Coke

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The 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

  • Austin
  • Laurie
  • Amanda
  • Tricia Leigh
  • Kara
  • Kaylee
  • Start
  • Aris
  • Michael


Michael Norton
Entrepreneur In Residence

Michael has led over 60 Techstars Startup Weekend events throughout the US, Canada, and Australia. He teaches workshops, designs programs, and speaks on a variety of topics related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Michael has worked professionally in marketing technology startups, with big data, non-profit fundraising, customer support systems design, technical project management, educational program development, event production and decor, iOS app design, video games, user testing, prototyping, and in the coffee industry.

His own past and present business ventures include several SaaS web app platforms, photography, woodworking, printing, audio engineering, video production, musical composition/recording/performance, publishing, art curation, operating an Amazon Pro Merchant storefront, and a funnel cake stand.

Michael guides innovative communities to build and nurture regional entrepreneurial ecosystems. He guides corporations through internal innovation and intrapreneurship. 

He frequently works as a freelance business development consultant, crowdfunding guru, technical project manager, and as a marketer — focused on branding, messaging, storytelling, social media, and email marketing.

Michael loves hiking in Yosemite, bicycling around San Diego, eating authentic Baja California Mexican food, and drinking amazing coffee in Seattle.

Event Staff

Casey Dubois

I embrace the thought that big ideas can change the world. Being a big vision thinker inspires me to be creative in exploring new ideas, learning new things, and staying current with technology in our changing world. I am a connector and know that people are the center of successful industry. I choose to focus on growing relationships that can help people find successful solutions for themselves and their businesses. 
For the last 20 years I have worked hard to provide businesses with technology solutions that serve their needs while working within their budget constraints. Using and developing marketing plans with value-added resellers has given me keen insight into how the market works so I can guide decision makers in adding value to their offerings. My rule is to communicate directly, use active listening to understand needs, and show genuine care while we work towards a solution as a team. That way we can all grow long-term business relationships built on trust.

I will always stay fiercely true to my values. I am loyal to others and devoted to creating environments that encourage excellence. While working in many different industries, from automotive to technology and community organizations, I’ve connected with a diverse group of people. They have inspired me to think outside-of-the-box and find creative solutions to complicated problems.

Jon Moroney
Designer, Educator and Entrepreneur

Jon Moroney is a designer, educator and entrepreneur with a passion for developing business growth strategies driven by product innovation.  With an educational background in industrial design, business and consumer behavior, he gathered diverse experiences in product design, branding and communications leading inter-disciplinary teams at a design studio consulting with small manufacturing businesses, startups and corporate R&D.  His newest ventures, Pretch and Sled Legs, were created as the co-founder of Tiger Drive, a design incubator company.  As the Chair of Industrial Design at KCAD, he has fused entrepreneurial thinking and user-centered design together to create unique learning models that send students on a journey to start their own product businesses.

Josh Spencer

Amelie MacDonald
Community Manager

Kris Mathis

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.

Ellerie Ambrose

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