Startup Weekend EDU Kansas City

    Friday, January 23 - 25, 2015

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

Event Alerts and Updates

Get the latest on Techstars Startup Weekend, Kansas City, and other local events through Techstars Startup Digest.

Oops! Double-check that email address.

Startup Weekend EDU Kansas City

Friday, January 23 - 25, 2015

Friday, January 23 - 25, 2015
Event starts at 6:15 pm

Crossroads Academy
1009 Central Ave
Kansas City, MO 64105

Buy Tickets

Be the change in education. Be the solution. Be it in 54 hours.

Have you ever had an idea for improving education? Here's your opportunity to transform your education ideas into action in 54 hours. Find the right people with complimentary skills and the passion & dedication to build a startup quick & smart. Test your idea with real potential customers, receive coaching from experienced education entrepreneurs & industry professionals, and win prizes that will help you take your startup idea to the next level of execution! We're looking for passionate educators, parents, students, entrepreneurs, developers, and designers who want to make to make a difference in education now. Come learn the basics of founding & launching a successful education startup while solving real problems in education.

The event
We bring together a diverse group of people passionate about making a positive impact on education. In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, build products, and launch education startups. Startup Weekend EDU begins with open-mic 60-second pitches Friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on customer development, validating their ideas, and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches. On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges.
*Bonus* - Join us Thursday, 1/22, for a happy hour at The Brick (1727 McGee St., KCMO 64108) for a mini pitch practice session before the real deal Friday night at Startup Weekend EDU! Pitch an idea you have to better education in a safe, intimate environment. Plus, enjoy a libation (or two) while networking with other amazing SWEDU attendees.
Here's some of the things you get from attending:
+ A free .co domain name
+ $2,000 of credit on Google App Engine
+ $100 of AWS credit for hosting
+ Awesome coaching by edtech industry leaders
+ Fun swag from Google, .Co and more!
+ Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole weekend
+ A network of new developer, designer, & entrepreneur friends that are also excited about improving education

3rd Place
+ All the above and...
+ 1 hour financial consulting from EBCFO
+ 1 meeting room at Think Big 

2nd Place
+ All the above and...
+ 1 hour financial consulting from EBCFO
+ 1 meeting room at Think Big

The Winning Team will receive:
+ All the above and...
+ 3 months of Xero hosting + 3 hours of financial consulting from EBCFO
+ Drop-in card worth 11 visits to Think Big's co-working space
+ 1:1 whiteboard mentoring session with local entrepreneurs @ the Sprint Accelerator
+ A free legal counsel session with attorney and owner of Venture Legal, LLC: Chris Brown
+ An interview with Jason Grill of JGrill Media & Consulting
+ Interview with KCUR's Up To Date on Wednesday, January 28, 11:00 AM
+ *Potential* toasted ravioli sent straight from the Startup Weekend EDU - St. Louis team! (Learn how to make this happen!)
About Startup Weekend EDU
Startup Weekend EDU events are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through brainstorming, business plan development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekend EDU events culminate in Sunday night demos and presentations. Participants create working education startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks. All teams hear talks by industry leaders and receive valuable feedback from local entrepreneurs. The weekend is centered around action, innovation, and education. Whether you are looking for feedback on a idea, a co-founder, specific skill sets, or a team to help you execute, Startup Weekends are the perfect environment in which to test your idea and take the first steps towards launching your own startup or making education better.


Friday January 23rd

6:15 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in. Grab dinner and network with other attendees

6:45 pm
Opening Remarks
Hear from Tysie McDowell-Ray of Crossroads Academy and local sponsors

7:00 pm
Welcome & Ice Breakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

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

9:30 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 24th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Check In & Coach Intro 1
Formed teams soft pitch their progress from Friday and learn more about each coach and their individual expertise. Set up workspace for the weekend and continue work.

10:00 am
Coach Session 1
Gain valuable insight on your idea with experts in entrepreneurship and startups.

12:00 pm

4:00 pm
Check In & Coach Intros 2
Meet another round of coaches as they help teams one-on-one. They are here to help refine and market team ideas moving into Saturday night.

4:30 pm
Coach Sessions 2
Take advantage of 1-on-1 sessions with a new batch of coaches and experts.

5:00 pm

9:00 pm
Optional work time after dinner until 9 PM. If you want to continue brainstorming/socializing with your team, we have a great list of options in downtown KC to recommend!

Sunday January 25th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Check-In & Coach Intros 3
Check-in on progress from Saturday and meet coaches who are experts in investment, pitching, and public speaking.

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Pitch Meetings
Special practice opportunities for pitching available!

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
Final Presentations
Present your startup to the panel of judges

6:30 pm
Judging & Awards
1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be given out

7:00 pm
Wrap-Up & Grab Dinner
Make plans to continue your awesome work with your team and enjoy dinner, or grab it to go & head home!


Tysie McDowell-Ray
Co-Founder of Crossroads Academy

Tysie McDowell-Ray was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a minor in African World Studies. Tysie taught for two years in Des Moines, Iowa before moving to Kansas City. She taught at James Elementary in the KCMO School District and at Gordon Parks Elementary School. While at Gordon Parks, Tysie earned her Master’s Degree in School Administration from Baker University.
In 2005, Tysie launched Nia Educational Consulting. Tysie and her team of consultants provide professional development services in curriculum, instruction and assessment to public, parochial and charter schools in Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska. Tysie is also an adjunct instructor in The Institute for Urban Education at UMKC.
Tysie became principal of Gordon Parks Elementary School in 2009 and brought a laser-like focus to academic achievement. She set high-expectations for students and staff, established a culture of collaboration among faculty members and held teachers accountable for the work in their classroom. She implemented an intensive interview process for new staff to ensure that all teachers were highly-qualified and highly-effective.
During her two years of leadership, students reading on-grade level, as measured by the Columbia University Teachers’ College Reading Assessment, increased from 29% to 80%. The percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced on the MAP test nearly tripled, from 7.5% in both Communication Arts and Math, to 21.7% in Communication Arts and 20.8% in Math. Tysie’s leadership and improvements in school culture also resulted in 40% fewer student suspensions.

Event Judges

Kyle Pace
Instructional Technology Specialist, Lee's Summit

Kyle Pace, an Instructional Technology Specialist,  has worked with K-12 teachers in his current school district to provide instructional technology professional development for the last 11 years with prior experience in the elementary classroom. Kyle currently holds a Master of Arts degree in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology. Kyle champions to support teaching and learning with meaningful technology integration using a multitude of technologies.
Kyle is a keynote speaker and presenter at education conferences such as ASCD, EdTechTeam’s Google Apps for Education Summits, Learning Forward, ISTE, and FETC, Staff Development for Educators, and individual school districts around North America.
Kyle has also organized all five annual EdcampKC “unconferences” since 2010.
As part of his ongoing commitment to professional growth, Kyle is also a Google Certified Teacher.  In January 2013, Kyle was named as one of Education Week’s 2013 “Leaders to Learn From” and joined the other honorees in Washington, D.C. to receive recognition from Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
Kyle has a strong passion for sharing with teachers, administrators, students, and parents about the impact that educational technology can have on adult and student learning. Find Kyle on Twitter @kylepace and his blog can be found at

Mike Lundgren
Director of Innovation Strategy, VML

Mike joined VML in May 2005. With 25 years of high-tech management, marketing and product development experience, he has provided insights, strategy and thought leadership on emerging trends, disruptive technologies and innovation for clients as varied as Microsoft, Dell, Ford, Vanguard and Colgate-Palmolive.   Mike is also the author and lead instructor of the comprehensive Digital Acceleration training curriculum commissioned by WPP for the executive leadership of its network of more than 300 operating companies. Digital Acceleration is a marketer’s Web 2.0 survival guide, providing an immersive hands-on understanding of digital marketing, social media and the shifting channels of brand engagement.   Before joining VML, Mike worked for GE, Apple and Iomega, and he has served as an independent consultant for entertainment and technology companies and multiplatinum recording artists.

Nathan Kurtz
Manager of Entrepreneurship, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Nathan Kurtz is a manager in Entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where he focuses on Kansas City entrepreneurship, promoting the Kauffman Foundation’s programs to startups, entrepreneurs, and business and civic leaders in the community. Kurtz also works to develop and expand the Entrepreneurship team’s programs around the region and nation. Prior to joining Kauffman, Kurtz worked in numerous entrepreneurial capacities. He was the president and chief operating officer at KR Legal Management, where he was instrumental in helping the company grow and scale. He also was the co-founder and chief operating officer at Legal Sonar/National Lawyer Review, a privately held and angel-funded legal resources and marketing company. Earlier, he was the general manager and chief operating officer at The Roasterie, Inc., where he worked in several different positions helping to grow the regional coffee roaster into a Kansas City entrepreneurial success story. Kurtz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Claremont McKenna College. He was named to the 2009 class of Ingram’s magazine Twenty in their Twenties. He served for two years as president of KC Roundtable and is a volunteer alumni interviewer for Claremont McKenna College.

Landon Young
Director, Creativity and Innovation, William Jewell

At William Jewell College, Landon helps to facilitate the infusion of innovation and creativity into the curriculum to meet the dynamic needs of the marketplace and society. Landon works to bring together the liberal arts and professional programs to implement an approach to innovation that will permeate the entire campus culture. Landon also work with entrepreneurial faculty and students to engage in workshops such as Lean Startup Machine, Startup Weekend, and 24 hour ART Project. Other tasks include administration of entrepreneurial grants via the Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and guide entrepreneurial investments through Jewell's venture capital fund.

Julie Holland
Education Advisor to Mayor Sly James

Julie Holland is the first Education Advisor ever to serve in the City of Kansas City’s Mayor’s Office. Holland previously was a manager at the Kauffman Foundation, where she developed and supported programs to improve the academic achievement of students in urban schools and to improve math and science education for all students in the Kansas City area. She also worked in Congressman Frank Lucas’ Office (3rd district of Oklahoma) as a legislative correspondent, field representative and economic development director. Holland, who currently resides in Waldo, has a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University, a Master of Public Affairs from Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Oklahoma State University.

John Vandewalle
CEO of Lumen Touch

John Vandewalle MD MBA BSc(Hons) has held numerous executive positions and is currently a serial entrepreneur. He has been involved with several companies including Lumen Touch, iNTouch Consulting, Intouch Solutions, iNTouch Genomics, Blue Apple Trends, Ascend Books, Phoenix Cigars, Tier3 Construction, KC Hopps Restaurants and Creative Restaurant Concepts.   

John began his career as a high school teacher and biochemical research scientist in Johannesburg, South Africa. He worked as a physician in the teaching hospitals in Johannesburg where after he ventured into the pharmaceutical industry as Medical Director.  He worked in Zurich, Switzerland as Director of Marketing for Europe, Middle East, and Africa and then moved to the headquarters of Marion Merrell Dow in Kansas City where he held various positions including VP of International Business and VP of Global Business Planning.  

John was then founder and CEO of Teva Marion Partners (Teva Neuroscience) and then went to Quintiles, as President of North American and South American operations before venturing out to be a fully dedicated entrepreneur.  

John sits on the boards of various businesses and philanthropic organizations and is very involved with the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University as an advisory council member, and was an adjunct marketing professor. He is a mentor in The Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring program, a mentor at Rockhurst University for the executive MBA program, and a mentor at Southwest High School and Big Brothers Big Sisters in Kansas City. He is a member and the past President of The Overland Park South Rotary Club as well as a 2 term District Governor for Rotary. John also serves on the Board of The Alliance for Childhood Education (ACE); on the Board of the Kansas City Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program (KCSAPP); on The Johnson County Visioning Committee and on the Board of The Gordon Parks Elementary School.

Coaches and Mentors

John Coler
Quality Assurance Manager, RFP365

Just attempting to get to know everyone in Kansas City while working at RFP365 assuring the quality of the RFP software for issuers and responders. Have been assisting in organizing Startup Weekends since '14 having had experience in working in a startup and for startups covering in a wide range of areas but always operating with a lean mentality… A proud alum of Shawnee Mission South, Johnson County Community College, KU’s School of Business and Techstars. Cheers!

Eze Redwood
Partner, Wings Cafe

Monica McAtee
Knowledge Management Consultant, Sprint

Monica has been with Sprint off and on for 15 years.  Her Sprint experience spans from training and development to knowledge management strategies…always with technology in the center of the mix.  She spent 6 years as cofounder of two start-ups that focused on custom-developed tech solutions.  Solutions included:  interactive online training courses, “edumarketing” pieces, Learning Management Systems and Performance Management Systems.  Monica joined the Sprint Accelerator team in 2014 and focuses on programs that support entrepreneurship, tech innovation and talent acceleration in the local KC market.

Alex Altomare

Adam Jones
Channel Supervisor, Mobility at VML, Founder at

Adam joined VML in 2014 as Channel Supervisor for VML Mobility. Accompanying a unique blend of industry recognized design and development experience, he provides guidance for VML’s clients that focuses on leveraging technology partnerships and product evolution. 

Adam has 10 years of experience overseeing strategy and implementation for software-as-a-service platforms and most recently the mobile initiatives for Forever21, The Atlantic, Black & Vetch, The Negro League Baseball Museum, Boulevard Brewing and the Mitt Romney Campaign. He drove development of more than 200 apps for iOS and Android during the companies first three years. 

Adam serves as a mentor and an advisory board member for Johnson County Community College, as well as a frequent guest speaker on mobile development at the University of Kansas, Rockhurst University, Kauffman Labs and STEM programs around the metro. He founded TapTeach in 2012 to drive advocacy for technology in the classroom and assembled a consortium of educators and technologist that seek to better engage students.

Hal Gottfried
Founder, Level Up Labs

Idea Evangelist,Serial Entrepreneur, Data Head, Maker, Tinkerer & Shameless Self-Promoter, Strategic Coach & Freelance Problem Solver, @KCOHG OSHWA Founding Mbr

Joe Spirk
Business Development Manager at Sporting Innovations

Enthusiastic about facing difficult challenges. Relentlessly pursuing simple/r answers to complex questions. Analytic business development specialist with a wandering background in financial analysis, business model development, data analysis, market research, sales-process design, practical technical enthusiasm, and problem solving. Let's build something.

Tina Peterson

John Stamm
Founder & CEO at Tutorious

Chris Brown
Entrepreneur, Attorney, & Ukulele Strummer

Chris Brown is an attorney and the founder of Venture Legal, a law firm serving the Kansas City entrepreneurial community. The attorneys at his firm enjoy practicing law using new technologies such as online document sharing, online billing, and electronic signatures and he prefers to bill using fixed fees whenever possible.

Chris is the founder of Twenty30Mentors and a proud member/mentor with Think Big Partners, Social Media Club Kansas City, The Kauffman Foundation, UMKC E-Scholars, The Sprint Accelerator, Coffee + Design, Startup Grind, and Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.

Zach Pettet

Globally oriented, Kansas City-based entrepreneur beginning a lifelong battle for a better Kansas City through improved education, broadened awareness of financial issues, and constant debate. 

Andrew McGhie
Attorney at Venture Legal KC

Andrew is an attorney at Venture Legal, and offers an array of transactional legal services for the entrepreneurial community in Kansas City. His practice is devoted to helping KC entrepreneurs with the legal tools essential to establishing and running their businesses.

Andrew enjoys working with innovators and creative minds to actualize their unique goals as 
business owners. He is a firm believer of the philosophy that legal services should be tools used to do what needs to be done, not obstacles on the road to success.

Linda Buchner
President at MINDDRIVE

What I have come to enjoy the most over the course of my career is what I call "shining the light." That means lifting other people up, enhancing the image of a company, creating a general buzz, expanding an idea, promoting a cause, implementing change, creating a culture of optimism, developing leadership, expanding consciousness...and things like that.

Basically, in my mind, that describes Marketing. And that's what I do.

New business development with an eye for opportunity.
Brand development.
Business Leadership
Brand Integration

Linda is the current president of MINDDRIVE, a KC nonprofit that 
seeks to expand at-risk, high school students' vision of what their future could be and aims to have a positive influence on urban workforce. development.

Danuta Janiszewski

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend EDU Kansas City 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.



Student Sponsor

Organizing Team

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

  • Katie
  • Carrie
  • Ernesto
  • Liz
  • Jen


Joey Aquino
Business Development Manager at

Joey Aquino is currently a Business Development Manager at working specifically on the Amazon Appstore. His main role is working with app developers and startups all around the world to help them get integrated into their platform and scale their business through the Amazon ecosystem. Prior to Amazon he has been involved in the startup space for a few years where he founded 2 non-profits (an incubator for student entrepreneurs and micro-financing program that funded student startups), Business Development Manger @ (acquired by and then was a PM at UP Global running their innovation program. His current SW count is over 60 events in 10 countries and has hung out with one cheetah.

Event Blog

See Full Blog