Startup Weekend East Lansing

    Friday, November 2 - 4, 2018

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Judges
  4. Coaches and Mentors
  5. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend East Lansing

Friday, November 2 - 4, 2018

Friday, November 2 - 4, 2018
Event starts at 6:00 pm

East Lansing, MI

Buy Tickets

Your idea in 54 hours

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:
  • 6 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 November 2nd

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
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce coaches and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally 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 3rd

9:00 am
Simple breakfast

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

12:00 pm

6:00 pm

9:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Sunday November 4th

9:00 am
Simple breakfast

10:00 am
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Final Presentations

3:00 pm
Judging & Awards

3:30 pm

4:00 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

Reuben Levinsohn
Partner, Financial Advisor

Jill Marlan

Jill is a Board Certified licensed Physical Therapist and a Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist. She was appointed by the governor to serve on the State Board of Physical Therapy for 8 years and chaired the board for the last three years. Jill worked nationally on the continuing competence committee for the federation of state boards and currently had been appointed to chair this committee for two years by two different governors.She assisted in the development of the “Translatoric Spinal Manipulation” textbook that is currently used in Physical Therapy doctoral educational programs and is a resident instructor for Oakland University’s Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Program and Michigan State University’s Kinesiology Program.She has received numerous awards and recognition, including: Athena Powerlink 2013, Corp! Economic Bright Spot Award — 2016 and 2017, Entrepreneur of the Year GLBM – 2017, Goldman Sachs Award, and selected as a Finalist for the Ernst & Young Winning Women. She was also selected for Leadership Lansing in 2017.

Kyle Musser

Coaches and Mentors

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. 

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.

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.

Reuben Levinsohn
Partner, Financial Advisor

Tony Willis
Director, New Economy Division

As Director of the New Economy Division for LEAP, Tony establishes and extends programming for entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the Lansing region. With the goal of creating a culture of entrepreneurship, Tony works with local, regional, and state resources assist individuals and startups to launch products and companies.

Jerry Norris

I obtained a B.S. in Statistics from the University of Michigan, with a focus on Computer Science. I began my career as a Quality Engineer and ISO 9000 Lead Auditor in 1988. Throughout the years, I moved up through the ranks of the quality profession (i.e. Quality Manager, Director of Quality, and VP of Quality). I have worked in the following fields: telecommunications, automotive, furniture, food safety, environmental management. 

In 1988 as a Quality Engineer and Lead Auditor, I began developing a software product to help manage compliance activities. This product was my "hobby and baby" for 10 years, always keeping in mind patterns and system theory concepts that would help the software become stronger in all industries, before I decided to start my own company, jadian incorporated. In 2014 jadian was sold. The next logical step for me was to start a new software company developing a member directory of compliance professionals. 

Now I am the CEO of GAIA, LLC. We operate globally with customers in over 50 countries helping members connect based on expertise and vicinity. www,

My expertise includes software development, quality management, food safety management, automotive and aerospace related quality management, environmental protection and management, and safety systems. I also enjoy reading standards (e.g. ISO 17021, ISO 9001, GFSI) and following the industries that are moving from prescriptive systems (e.g. customer based, GMPs) to more agile and adaptive management systems.

Specialties: Quality Assurance, Statistics, Software Engineering, Sales, Food Safety, Compliance Management, Auditing, Inspections, International Business, Entrepreneurship, building Brands.

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.

Su-Jun Lim
Technology Manager

Su-Jun is a Technology Licensing Manager at Michigan State University Technologies (MSUT), specialized in managing early stage biomedical intellectual property. She is highly driven by her passion in science and aims to assist scientists to transform their innovations in research laboratories into products in the marketplace or solutions to unmet needs.

Ben Hatala
Co-Founder, Clicktivated Video

Ben Hatala is co-founder of Clicktivated, an interactive video platform. Ben is an alum of MSU (’10) and the Techstars Business Accelerator (’18). He was also MSU’s mascot, “Sparty”, for three and half years during his undergrad tenure.

Eric Hannah
Healthcare Risk Advisor

Eric has been in healthcare leadership positions since 2003. He currently works with business and healthcare leaders as an advisor to improve performance and develop solutions to manage the skyrocketing cost of healthcare. Disruption within healthcare is being driven by both the largest employers as well as transformative, grassroots innovation. Eric believes that by implementing business strategy around healthcare’s core cost drivers, businesses and medical providers can align to break-free from traps in the healthcare system.

Organizing Team

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

  • Katie
  • Jeff
  • Aubrey


Jeff Smith
Director, University Corporate Research Park at MSU Foundation

Jeff is the Director of the Michigan State University Corporate Research Park. Managing the development and funding of infrastructure for the recruitment of technology-based enterprises, university technology-development initiatives, and university/industry partnerships, in collaboration with relevant University and governmental units, as well as the lending community.  Jeff is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of working in both the public and private sector. He has a strong background in For Profit and Nonprofit Organizations, Government, Entrepreneurship, Venture Creation, Urban Planning, Event Management, and Media Relations. Jeff serves as founder and partner on a number of startup companies, working with companies to find funding, resources, and staffing to achieve scale.

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