Startup Weekend East Lansing

    Friday, February 8 - 10, 2019

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

Friday, February 8 - 10, 2019

Friday, February 8 - 10, 2019
Event starts at 6:30 pm

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

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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:

  • 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 February 8th

6:30 pm
Registration & Dinner
Arrive at the venue, get checked in, and grab some food.

7:00 pm
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce 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 February 9th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

12:00 pm

6:00 pm

Sunday February 10th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Tech Check
Test your presentation on the venue's computer and get familiar with the final presentation set-up.

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Final Presentations

3:00 pm
Judging & Awards

3:30 pm

4:00 pm
Go Home!

Event Judges

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. 

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.

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.

Organizing Team

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

  • Katie
  • NA
  • Aubrey
  • Women in

Event Staff

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.

Lori Fischer
Student & Events Project Manager

Lori Fischer is the current Events and Student Program Manager at Spartan Innovations.   Lori earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from St. Cloud University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Her background includes graphic design, as well as experience in general management, accounting, human resources, marketing, and supporting startup opportunities.   Previously, Lori worked as a graphic designer for multiple companies, she was the Graphics & Systems Administrator for General Motors, and then later opened a startup, DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen.  In 2012, Lori assisted in establishing the new Spartan Innovations office at Michigan State University. She currently manages 20 interns, as well as The Hatch, which is an incubator for student entrepreneurs at MSU. She also coordinates and manages numerous entrepreneurial events in collaboration with MSU, students, local community initiatives and the State of Michigan.

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