Techstars Startup Weekend Kansas City, presented by Grow With Google

    Friday, March 23 - 25, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Techstars Startup Weekend Kansas City, presented by Grow With Google

Friday, March 23 - 25, 2018

Friday, March 23 - 25, 2018
Event starts at 6:00 pm

Sprint Accelerator
210 W 19 Terrace
Kansas City, Missouri 64108

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Your idea in 48 hours

Techstars Startup Weekend and Grow with Google have joined forces to offer this special event FREE of charge to the first 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 Kansas City and Google have joined forces to bring this special event to life.

Do you have an idea you'd like to pursue or a problem you'd like to solve but don't know where to start or who to start with?

Techstars Startup Weekend is the place to look for a team, create a prototype of your idea, validate your business idea, and receive feedback from experienced entrepreneurs, all in one weekend.

What do you need to bring?

Lots of energy! You'll pitch your own idea or listen to others, then vote on the most interesting ideas and form teams with diverse skill sets. You can come with friends, but you’ll get the full experience if you participate in separate teams. Remember, it’s all about the team.

Your idea should be something you have not previously worked on. The idea you pitch and the problem you set out to solve can span social, educational, financial, environmental, or other issues. Over the course of the weekend you'll be challenged to create a prototype of your MVP, or minimum viable product, that fits the needs of your target customer. You'll get feedback, iterate, and likely pivot your approach entirely! Important: You cannot have worked previously on your idea.

Techstars Startup Weekend is a full weekend long experience. Your ticket includes:
  • 7 full (and delicious) meals over the course of the weekend
  • Benefits and discounts from our global partners
  • One-on-one time with amazing mentors
  • A new network of developers, designers, and entrepreneurs eager, like you, to change the world.
  • All the internet and coffee you can consume.
Watch the video below to see what you can expect, and if you’re feeling inspired click on the “Buy Ticket” button now!

Still have questions, feel free to reach us at “”.

Don’t wait any longer and join the Techstars Startup Weekend movement!

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Friday March 23rd

6:00 pm
Arrive at the Sprint Accelerator and get checked-in

7:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants. Please let the organizers know if you have any dietary restrictions.

7:20 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, mentors, 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 March 24th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

10:30 am
1st set of Mentors arrive
Mentors arrive. 1st opportunity to ask questions.

12:00 pm
Please let the organizers know if you have any dietary restrictions

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
Please let the organizers know if you have any dietary restrictions

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 March 25th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

12:00 pm
Please let the organizers know if you have any dietary restrictions

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
Please let the organizers know if you have any dietary restrictions

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
After-Party nearby - OR - Go home!
May be a 21+ venue in or around the Crossroads area

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Kasia Bednarowicz
Account Executive DoubleClick Media Platforms Agency Team at Google

Internationally experienced, hard working and talented Sales Manager with a track record of developing business in the DACH Region and North America. Trusted advisor around Data-driven Marketing, Technology Adoption and optimal execution of programmatic strategies for Google's Largest Partners on the Buy- and Sellside of the business. The ability to build up a strong rapport at all company levels and to win trust of my clients enabled me to secure multiple key accounts for the businesses I worked for. My perseverance and dedication to learn, grow and overachieve targets enabled my fast career progression.

Currently, I am focussing on increasing the adoption of Google DoubleClick Stack Solution as well as growing programmatic spend with my key accounts using DoubleClick Media Platform Suite.

My key areas of expertise are DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM), DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM), Digital Media Manager (DMM), Programmatic Buying (open, private & direct buys), Mobile & Video Programmatic Buying.

Rachel Merlo
Community Impact Manager at Google Fiber

Rachel Merlo’s passion lies in making Kansas City better every day.
Rachel is Community Impact Manager for Google Fiber Kansas City, where she manages community affairs initiatives in the company’s first Google Fiber city. In addition to leading strategies related to digital inclusion, entrepreneurial community engagement, and STEM education, she serves as a primary point of contact for several city partners involved in the deployment across the metro.
Rachel serves on the boards of directors of Visit KC and Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri. She is a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions class of 2016.
Rachel was an honoree in the 2016 class of 40 Under Forty and the 2016 Emerging Volunteer of the Year award from Nonprofit Connect. She was recognized in 2012 by KC Business Magazine as a Rising Star among Kansas City leaders under age 40, then again in 2014 as an Influential Women honoree, celebrating local women in the creative, entrepreneurial, and nonprofit communities. She was named to the 2015 Kansas City Techweek 100, which identifies community leaders who have made a significant impact on the technology and innovation ecosystem. Rachel was also recognized as a 2013 Verizon Nueva Latina Estrella Community Service Award winner, recognizing emerging professional leaders who embrace diversity, integrity, and creativity while achieving success.
Rachel is a proud lifelong Kansas Citian who lives with her husband and infant son in the Brookside area. She makes a habit out of surprising herself on a regular basis.

Event Judges

Adrienne Haynes
Managing Partner

Adrienne B. Haynes is an attorney and business woman who specializes in helping entrepreneurs develop sustainable infrastructure and business practices. She is the managing partner of SEED Law, a business law firm, and owner of SEED Collective, a consultancy. Adrienne uses over ten years of business and leadership experience to create legal and strategic planning solutions for her clients and to speak and write on topics relating to law and economic development. For more information, please visit

Ari (Kern) DeGrote
Leadership for Startups & Corp Innovators

Creative Connector with extensive experience leading and communicating change. Known to be a champion for a cause utilizing relationship building, communications, training and organizational leadership. A recognized leader within cross-functional teams with ability to identify and develop others’ strengths. Highly effective in aligning with organizational goals and motivating individuals toward achievement. Exceptional interpersonal and written communication as well as public speaking skills. 

Areas of expertise:
• Navigator through Change
• Community Building - Startup Ecosystems
• Training & Development
• Communications
• Program and Event Management
• Team Building

Jay Austin
Head Dude

Born in Independence, became an entrepreneur in a hotel bathroom in New Orleans, and learned how to see the world in the Home and Garden section of a Lowe's Home Improvement store. The rest is just as amusing, but you’ve gotta buy me a beer to to hear it.

Karen Fenaroli
Executive Search Partner | Strategic Business Diversity Specialist

Executive search partner, board consultant and developer of top talent for companies looking to capitalize on opportunity through enhanced leadership and human capital optimization

Clients include Fortune 1000, Private-Equity Backed, ESOP, and Large Privately-Owned Companies. Fenaroli & Associates utilizes a 25-year portfolio of broad-based executive experience to understand clients’ unique needs and find smart, strategic ways to meet them; develops lasting, win-win relationships by connecting companies with passionate, qualified candidates who possess the leadership abilities needed to envision success and execute plans to achieve it.

Quest Taylor
Digital Mercenary (Product Developer/Investor)

Quest Taylor is social serial entrepreneur specializing in Product Creation and Software Engineering. Quest uses his extensive business & technology knowledge and passion in helping other entrepreneurs build out their dream business ideas.
Quest has a strong passion for helping others in achieving their goals and dreams. Quest is the co-founder of Pennez, and is using his skills in technology to help increase the reading skills of illiterate diverse children using artificial intelligence.
Quest has a very diverse background from technology, high tech, retail, and business. In 2010, Quest created BTP (Beauty To The People) Hair, a successful online beauty store. BTP Hair went on to raise funding from outside investors, and eventually made a successful exit in 2014.
Present day I work full time as a founder of ProjectUK, helping Minorities and Women led startups to create new technologies, innovate new ideas, and receive infusion support.

Coaches and Mentors

Eldor Fazilov
Legal and Financial Services Consultant

Bryan Shannon


Chad Raw
Clinical Product Analyst

Chad Raw is a Clinical Product Analyst at DST Pharmacy Solutions and co-founder of WHETStone Devices, LLC. While getting my MBA at the University of Missouri I consulted for two start-ups and then volunteered as a preliminary judge in St. Louis for the ArchGrants competition.

Wesley Hamilton
Keynote Speaker

Wesley Hamilton, is a Kansas City Native, an award-winning adaptive athlete, motivational speaker, and the founder of The Disabled but not Really Foundation. 

Mark Davis

Mark co-founded realquantum llc after years as a software architect guiding enterprises in technology selection, architectural strategy, and new development. His company provides cloud-based software as a service to the commercial real estate industry. He’s the rare individual who can talk technology “in the weeds” with the best engineers and turn around to talk vision and strategy with business leaders. Mark is a servant-leader with a passion for helping others succeed. 

Stephanie Shelton
User Testing & Design & Business Owner

<!--td {border: 1px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->Stephanie Shelton is co-founder of Mean Vegan Products and creator of Jack Tamales, which has grown from a popup stand to a supplier for 80+ retailers in the Kansas City area, the surrounding 5 states and nationwide internet-based stores. In addition to music, Stephanie has worked extensively in visual art as a decorative painter and
fine artist, participating in juried, group and solo exhibits. Her paintings and finishes can be
viewed at

Kevin McGinnis

Irish son, father of three daughters, corporate rebel, business leader, entrepreneur, Kansas City advocate, sports nut, Jayhawk fanatic.

Jonathan Tucker
Director of Digital Delivery

Jonathan Tucker is the Director of Digital Delivery at Blue Rivet. He has a wealth of agency experience spanning from VML to GlynnDevins. He led Operations at Tentacle Inbound, focusing on micro-business marketing and growth and digital strategy and development. In his spare time, Jon plays ice hockey in the Kansas City community, and lends his time to assistant coaching youth hockey.

Lee Zuvanich
Delivery Coordinator

Lee Zuvanich is a serial entrepreneur with a background in web coding + design, tech support, and team management. She drives internal processes, oversees technical development, and provides business analysis on digital marketing at a local startup.  Lee is also is the director of an LGBT-focused nonprofit. Her favorite thing to do is disconnect in the woods with her dog and kids. 

Edgar Palacios

Prior to launching into full time entrepreneurship, Edgar served as Senior Director of Resource Development and Community Engagement at Connections to Success. Before his stint at Connections, Edgar served as the Chief Engagement Officer at Central Exchange, the premier women's professional development organization in Kansas City. Currently, As a nonprofit consultant, Edgar has had the privilege of working with organizations such as Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City, El Centro, Inc., Show Me KC Schools, and Kauffman Foundation.

Laura Isabel Alvarez
Marketing Program Manager

A strong believer in the power of communities and business, Laura thrives on meeting
new people, collaboration, and turning small ideas into a scalable opportunity. She
currently helps oversee the Hispanic Consumer Strategy in Marketing and Operations
for H&R Block. H&R Block is a global consumer tax services provider, having prepared
more than 680 million tax returns since 1955. Laura also serves as a consultant to other
businesses on growing their business within the Hispanic demographic.
Laura attended Quinnipiac University, graduating with a master in science of
organizational leadership (MSOL). She has an almost law degree from the University of
South Dakota and completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Huston,
earning a bachelor of arts in political science.
Most recently Laura serves as a board member and board development chair of Literacy
KC. In 2017, she was appointed by the Mayor of Kansas City to participate in the cost of
water task force and graduated from the United Way Governance Academy.
A bilingual leader, Laura has served as treasurer of the Young Latino Professionals of
Greater Kansas City, an organization dedicated to developing leaders through
networking, professional development, civic engagement, and philanthropic
opportunities. Laura also served as president of the Kansas City chapter of Prospanica
(formerly known as the National Society of Hispanic MBAs) in 2015. In 2012, Laura
completed the Latino Leadership Institute, a program designed to train community
leaders on nonprofit board governance.

Kyle Smith
Communications Coordinator, Sr.

Kyle J Smith is communications coordinator at KCSourceLink and a 1 Million Cups community organizer. He has a BA in theatre and loves helping Kansas City entrepreneurs share their passions and stories. 

Alex Krause
Program Manager at Techstars KC

Alex is the program manager for Techstars Kansas City. She is obsessed with founders. Alex writes on topics on women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs of color, and research on the Techstars blog. Prior to Techstars she was at the Kauffman Foundation where she led the research agenda on diversity, and helped build entrepreneurship research in academia. Her side hustle is making her english bulldog, Ebenezer, famous on Instagram. 

Zane Clark
Business Analyst

Zane Clark is a Business Analyst with 6 years of experience in both entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial and  organizations. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Zane never learned to ski and was naturally ejected from the state. Zane traveled to Missouri to attend William Jewell College, where he acquired his B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis in Mathematics. At Jewell, he also "caught the bug" for entrepreneurship. Zane has had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects, from a robotic camera positioning platform to a philanthropic mobile application. When he is not analyzing businesses, Zane enjoys running, board games, NPR, Destiny 2 and has recently taken up an interest in bouldering.  

Travis Pflanz
Wordpress & SEO Expert

Travis Pflanz is a search engine optimization strategist and owner of WebWorks of KC. Travis specializes in SEO for small businesses who target local customers and clients. Travis is also a co-organizer of WordPress KC – the Kansas City area WordPress enthusiasts Meetup group – and has been on the WordCamp Kansas City organizing team since 2014, serving as Lead Organizer in 2015 & 2016. When not building WordPress websites and creating SEO strategies, Travis volunteers at Wayside Waifs Humane Society, serves on the Spay & Neuter KC Advisory Council and organizes the Kansas City Dog Club– a social club for dog lovers and their pooches.

Kathy Walker
Managing Director

Kathy is considered one of the top mobile network experts in the United States and is a sought-after technology strategist and respected telecom veteran. Kathy is one of an elite group of communications veterans who holds dual expertise in both the wireless and facility-based network realm, making her an invaluable resource to innovators and forward-thinkers who operate in that cross-over world. Prior to joining OpenAir, Kathy served as Chief Network Officer for Sprint Nextel, a role in which she led the overall planning, design, and operations of Sprint Nextel’s wireless (CDMA and iDEN) and wireline (IP) networks.

Ina Montgomery
Educator/Trainer and Instructional Designer & Entrepreneur

Ms. Montgomery has been a technology professional for over twenty years. Her career
began in corporate America as a computer-based training developer for one of the top
three consulting firms in Washington, DC. Ms. Montgomery followed her passion for education and accepted a position as the Technology Director for a national charter school company. She has had many leadership roles in education technology for higher education and K-12 settings.

Josh Henges
Director Of Clinical Services

Try to chase good leadership, not money.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Techstars Startup Weekend Kansas City, presented by Grow With Google 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 Kansas City is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • John
  • Catina
  • Rebecca
  • Adam
  • Ryan
  • Troy
  • Brandon


Zack Pennington
Sales Manager, EdjAnalytics


Event Staff

Dustin Abercrombie
Founder & CEO

I'm currently the Founder & Chief Executive Officer of PreScreend in Kansas City. I have a passion for startups & connecting in #KC.

Madison Abercrombie
Operations & Business Management Professional

C3 - Creative Consumer Concepts is the largest family and kids-focused marketing firm in the U.S. dedicated to the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Rigvid Mehta

Consultant; Millennium PathNet; GenLab; PathNet Value & KPI Champion; Relationship Management Lead Instructor & Facilitator @ Cerner

Moriah Hillson
Program Manager

Moriah Hillson joined ArtsKC in March 2017 as Program Manager, Digital Engagement, leading the build and launch of Moriah earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Drury University with minors in Global Studies, Entrepreneurship and Religion. She has developed a passion for connecting with the community and facilitating engagement through development and marketing roles with organizations such as the Kansas City Symphony and Junior Achievement of Greater Kansas City. Classically trained in vocal performance, Moriah’s love of the arts began at a young age, participating in solo, ensemble and large choral groups throughout high school and college. She now performs in the Kansas City Women’s Chorus, serves on the Event Committee for the Urban Neighborhood Initiative and enjoys attending the vast number of community events offered across the metro. As a Kansas City native and an arts advocate, Moriah looks forward to integrating our city’s thriving arts culture with its commitment to innovation through the development and adoption of

Emily Shipman
Senior Product Manager


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