Techstars Startup Weekend East Lansing 11/10-11/12

    Friday, November 10 - 12, 2017

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Organizing Team
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Techstars Startup Weekend East Lansing 11/10-11/12

Friday, November 10 - 12, 2017

Friday, November 10 - 12, 2017
Event starts at 6:00 pm

MSU Innovation Center
325 E. Grand River Ave.
Suite 300
East Lansing, MI 48823

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Start It Up in 46 Hours!

Calling all innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, programmers and business gurus - Startup Weekend East Lansing is back & ready to rock!  Have a great new business idea?  Have a great skill or talent to share?  Want to engage in the Greater Lansing 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.  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 46 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! 

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Friday November 10th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:00 pm
Pitches Start
Line up to give your pitch

8:30 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

8:45 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:00 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 November 11th

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
Continue to work, get help from coaches

6:00 pm

9:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work late if you wish

Sunday November 12th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:30 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Final Presentations

3:00 pm
Judging & Awards

3:30 pm

4:00 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

JV Anderton

An attorney focusing on estate planning, business formation, shareholder/ownership disputes and tax law, J.V. Anderton advises clients in a variety of tax-related fields. He also has extensive experience representing entrepreneurs and business start-ups in all phases of the growth cycle, including finding additional financing and capital. J.V. was the lead author for an article related to the special allocation of gains between partners in 1031 transactions published by the Journal of Real Estate Taxation in 2010. He won the 2007 Tax Writing Competition at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School for his article on non-spousal rollovers under the Pension Protection Act of 2006. In March 2012, Mr. Anderton was named one of the “Top 5 Under 35″ by the Ingham County Bar Association. Also in 2012, J.V. was honored with the distinction of being named as one of the “10 Over the Next 10″, an award given to the next generation of business leaders as selected by the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Grand River Connection. He became licensed to practice in Florida in 2013.

Paresh Malde
CEO SU2 Systems

Reuben Levinsohn
Partner, Financial Advisor


Coaches and Mentors

Neil Kane

"I've never been qualified for any job that I've had, but I always achieved success."​

Dynamic entrepreneur/executive/innovator with 25 years of general management, sales, marketing and investment experience in environments ranging from nanotechnology to advanced materials to consumer products. An acknowledged leader in technology commercialization with extensive start-up as well as big company experience. 10 year track record of raising venture capital, angel financing, strategic investments and government grants. Very experienced public speaker, writer and dealmaker.

Recognized for excellence in entrepreneurship by the National Science Foundation. Named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. Contributor to on topics related to entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership. 

Specialties: Innovation, entrepreneurship, venture capital, early-stage company formation, tech transfer, technology transfer, government grants, SBIR, technology incubation, barbecue sauce, diamonds, Rubik's Cubes.

Paul Jaques
Director of Student and Community Engagement

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. 

Ken Szymusiak
Entrepreneurship Professional

 Managing Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (IEI) at the Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.  The IEI is charged with developing and supporting entrepreneurship within the student body of Michigan State University through the development of curriculum, events, business plan competitions and support structures. Additionally, Ken serves as adjunct faculty teaching introductory courses in entrepreneurship and business model creation. Prior to joining MSU, Ken served as Co-Director of the New Economy Division at the Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP) where he co-managed a technology focused business incubator and worked to develop a culture of entrepreneurship in the greater Lansing region. Ken has been instrumental the development of Lansing Startup Weekends, The Hatching - Business Pitch Competition, and Spartan Innovations’ Startup Boot Camp. Ken received his MBA from Northwood University and his Bachelors in Urban and Regional Planning from Michigan State University.  Ken and his wife, Kristin, just recently sold his wife’s retail business after eight successful years. 

Tom Stewart

Tom is a professional manager and business coach, with primary expertise in organizational design and operational strategy. Over the last decade, Tom has provided consultation to 44 organizations in a wide range of industries – the majority of which were new or small companies. Tom has also worked on transition teams for larger organizations such as Neogen Corporation, Demmer Corporation, the State of Michigan, and Michigan State University. In the last three years alone, my efforts have resulted in nearly $7M in new client revenues and 60 new jobs in the Capitol Region.

Tom is currently managing Quantum Medical Concepts, a pre-seed fund for medical startups. He also operates The Center for New Enterprise Opportunity (NEO Center), a small business incubator in Lansing. He was the winner of the Lansing Regional Chamber’s 10 Over the Next Ten award in 2010 and was named MLive Lansing’s “Ones to Watch in 2013.”

He previously served Downtown Lansing, Inc., the REO Town Commercial Association, and the Capitol Area United Way's Young Leader's Society. He currently serves on the board for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Gabbi Allum
New Venture Associate

Gabbi currently works for Spartan Innovations as the New Venture Associate, and also is the manager of the Technology Innovation Center located in East Lansing. Her experience also branches to Lansing 5:01, as well as LEAP. 

Chris Sell
Director of Alumni & Entrepreneur Engagement

At my core, I'm passionate about creating synergy and connecting people to opportunity. I place tremendous focus on collaboration, strategic planning, creativity, and teamwork in any professional environment. As an alumnus of Western Michigan University (WMU) and Michigan State University (MSU), I'm equally committed to leveraging relationships with industry and students/graduates to retain and attract talent in the state of Michigan and contribute to the economic revitalization my hometown state that I love dearly. 

In my current role at MSU, I serve as the Internship Coordinator for the College of Natural Science. In this position, I strive to oversee our college's vision for creating a culture of internships and experiential learning for our undergraduate students. In the past I've also served as a leadership instructor, classroom facilitator, and program manager. I apply my passion for workforce development and Michigan's economic renaissance in several professional organizations, including Michigan's Employer Educator Partnership (MEEP), the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE), and the Michigan Career Educator & Employer Alliance (MCEEA), for which I currently serve as President. My interest in helping Michigan's recovery has led me to partner with initiatives like MichAGAIN, LiveWorkDetroit! and local workforce development for young professionals. 

I am the founder of The Wednesday Wake Up blog, a site for which I write on topics such as leadership, career development, and self-improvement. When I’m not penning my musings on leadership and life, you can find me writing about my stellar wife, amazing daughter, and our mischievous Black Labrador as a regular contributor to Daddy Daughter Time ( For more information on my professional endeavors, visit for a comprehensive look at how I get to live the dream every day, doing what I love, in a state that I love.

Tim Bograkos
Associate Director for SkyPoint Ventures

Tim Bograkos works as the Associate Director of Skypoint Ventures, he works directly with Skypoint’s current portfolio of investments as well as cultivating and analyzing potential future investments.  Prior to Skypoint, Tim spent 7 years working at Michigan State in University Advancement.  Tim is also a former member of the Michigan State basketball team and was a part of two Final Fours.

Denise Graves
University Relations Director, Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Denise is the University Relations Director for the Entrepreneurship and Innovation team at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In this role, she interacts with Michigan's public universities, key entrepreneurial stakeholders and investors, managing programs that support statewide collaboration, and the commercialization of early stage technology.
Before joining MEDC in October 2011, Denise held sales and business development positions in a number of small and second stage high-tech companies in Ann Arbor.  Her experience includes new business development, channel partner relations, client relations, sales, strategic planning, public speaking and contract negotiation and management. 

Jerry Norris
CEO, The Fledge


Oshan Weerasinghe

Oshan is a Senior Consultant at Deloitte’s Advisory practice and primarily serves clients as a Business Risk consultant designing, executing and implementing internal controls over financial reporting. Oshan graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Supply Chain Management and a Specialization in Information Technology. Having also studied Pre-Medicine for 3 years while at college, he is very passionate about the healthcare industry and currently focuses on the clients in the Life Sciences industry. Prior to joining Deloitte, Oshan interned at a non-profit, a Medical Technology company and Pharmaceutical R&D firm where his exposure spanned Procurement, Logistics, Operations and IT.

Leann Abad
Startup Community Builder

Leann has made it his mission to help build Michigan's entrepreneurial communities. Whether that's through creating events, connections, or even documentaries, he's constantly meeting influencers and decision-makers within startup communities in Michigan. He works with communities to map and plan out strategies to build their respective startup community. Currently, he is filming a documentary on the broader Michigan startup community. 

Melissa Brennan
Digital Trends Analyst

Melissa Brennan is currently the Digital Trends Analyst at WLNS-TV 6 in Lansing. She now focuses on innovation within the television news industry and is looking at ways to shape the future of news in the world of social media. She moved to Michigan from Los Angeles where she attended business school at the University of Southern California. She founded a social travel startup called Sravel which won multiple awards and was funded by VC firm, Wasabi Ventures.  She went on to work with other portfolio companies within the firm to grow their bases and core business models.  Melissa also works as a startup consultant who works with people of all ages who want to turn their ideas into realistic ventures.

Jeff Thelen
Co-Founder, TheFigCo

Jeff is the Co-Founder of TheFigCo, a digital marketing agency focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses grow by helping them acquire customers online. Prior to TheFigCo, Jeff co-founded several startups and participated in acceleration programs such as 500 Startups, Parallel18 and Start-Up Chile. Jeff has an MBA from The Wharton School, an MA from The Lauder Insitute at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA in Finance from Michigan State University.

Organizing Team

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

  • Lori
  • Katie
  • Dean


Jeff Smith
Director, University Corporate Research Park at MSU Foundation


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