Startup Weekend Los Angeles

    Friday, November 18 - 20, 2016

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend Los Angeles

Friday, November 18 - 20, 2016

Friday, November 18 - 20, 2016
Event starts at 5:00 pm

Life Sciences Building
1 LMU Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90045

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Startup Weekend | LMU

The College for Business Administration, College of Communication & Fine Arts, & Frank R. Seaver College of Science & Engineering, will be partnering for the third annual LMU Startup Weekend (LMUSW).   At the LMUSW, the LA community will be immersed in the ideal environment for startup magic to happen as participants will be surrounded by smart, passionate people with the best tools and approaches. In 54 hours straight, participants will create a business, become a founder, and connect with the right people & resources.

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Friday November 18th

5:00 pm
Arrive at Hilton School of Business and get checked in

5:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

6:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, 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 November 19th

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
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

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 November 20th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

12:00 pm

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

5:00 pm
Final Presentations
Life Sciences Building

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Kevin Winston

Kevin Winston (@kevinwinston) is the founder of Digital LA, the LA-based networking group of professionals in digital entertainment (movies, TV, web series, music, games, VFX), start-ups, social media, marketing, and advertising, reaching more than 30,000 members across its newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn groups. Digital LA recently spearheaded the Silicon Beach Fest, the first-ever tech, startup and entertainment conference in LA. Previously, Kevin worked at Fox Interactive Media, MySpace, and IGN where he created social media marketing campaigns for movies, TV shows, web series and video games. Prior to that, he worked at Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and McKinsey & Company, the top management consulting firm. Kevin graduated from Yale University, and has a masters from Harvard University. He was named in a recent Forbes article as one of “12 Entrepreneurs That Are Changing LA Forever.” He has spoke at conference including SXSW, NATPE, Film Finance Forum, Silicon Beach Fest, Games Marketing Summit, and more. He also co-founded both Yale in Hollywood and IVY Entertainment. His motto is Do Something New Every Day, and he enjoys attending the Olympics (Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London) and traveling and has been to more than 60 countries.

Event Judges

Shaun Arora
Managing Director

Shaun Arora graduated from Washington University in St. Louis and worked as a cultural anthropologist for consumer packaged goods companies, focusing on the beer and alcohol industry. Shaun became involved in various non-profits and moved around the country for both sectors. In 2005, he joined the family electronics manufacturing plant, NEO Tech, and worked to grow the business to 40 times the size and scaled to over 3400 employees servicing the aerospace and medical device industries. Shaun allocates a larger portion of his time towards early stage companies as an investor, board member and mentor. He’s often playing devil’s advocate and challenging executive teams towards brilliant and uncomfortable thinking. He has worked with a number of hardware startups in particular from prototype to crowdfunding, manufacturing, and subsequent stages of financing. In 2015, Shaun is the Co-founder of Make in LA, from the contract manufacturing business to improve learnings and outcomes for hardware startups. He remains an advisor and a board member at NEO Tech. Make in LA is a 3-person team building a community in Los Angeles dedicated to bringing hardware start-ups to market. Backgrounds range from seed-stage to public companies. With the backing of NEO Tech, Make in LA has the ability to apply professional manufacturing tools and other resources directly into programs and start-ups to maximize the odds of success. 

Michael Miller
Angel Investor & Co-Founder of Wild Horse Labs

Mike is the Co-Founder of Wild Horse Labs™, an International Education and Investment Network based in Los Angeles, California. Wild Horse Labs focuses on mentoring and training Global Entrepreneurs to fund promising early-stage companies resulting in successful and self-sustaining businesses. In his role, Mike oversees Accelerator, Incubator, University, Membership & Sponsorship Development and International initiatives. He is also the Chief Instructor of the world-class Investment Accelerator™, a monthly seminar created to educate entrepreneurs on how to receive funding and resources beyond capital by investors and a member of Tech Coast Angels (

As a Board Member of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce (, Mike helps facilitate trade between Sweden and the United States. Mike is also on the Board of Advisors of California Polytechnic University’s Tech Transfer Office and Innovation Village, a 65-acre property that is currently home to 500,000 square feet of Class A office, research & development, and laboratory space.

Mike started his career in Corporate America with the Bendix Corporation and AlliedSignal. Positions he held included Acquisition Manager, Divisional Chief Marketing Officer, New Product Development Manager, Distribution Manager, National Sales Manager and Marketing Communications Manager. Mike’s next venture was Management Consulting, and his clients included organizations from pre-revenue start-ups to Fortune 100 public corporations. Additionally, he has been an Owner/Partner of four firms, including: Verify Investor ( and an online Clean Tech & IP Exchange Site,

Sonya Sepahban

Sonya Sepahban started her career as a program manager at the NASA Johnson Space Center, since her time at NASA she is held multiple leadership positions in Engineering, Production, Quality Technology, and Program Management. Sonya is currently on the Board of Directors at Cooper Standard, a leading global supplier of systems and components for the automotive industry. Cooper Standard employs more than 30,000 people around the world. Sonya is also one of five members of the Investment Committee at The Michigan Angel Fund, the largest for-profit pooled professionally managed angel fund in Michigan, focused on early stage high growth tech companies in the Michigan entrepreneurial community. Sonya is also involved with the National Academy of Sciences and Genomenon Inc. She has nearly three decades of experience in government, as well as domestic and international industry; building aircraft, manned space, and satellite systems. 

Coaches and Mentors

Nataly Blas

Nataly Blas started volunteering with libraries in the first grade; libraries have since become a focal point of her life. While working at a library at Florida State University, she discovered her calling: she loved being able to teach, to educate students on using a library’s resources, while still having the opportunity to learn in an academic setting. “First three months, I fell in love,” she said about the Florida State position. Before coming to LMU, she served as a diversity resident librarian at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she promoted diversity initiatives. During her time there, she was honored as one of The American Library Association’s “Emerging Leaders of 2014,” which recognizes the top up-and-coming librarians in the industry.Currently she works as the reference and instruction librarian for business at LMU, educating students on the library’s research resources and, as she puts it, showing them how to “use the research wisely.” As a subject-specific librarian, she helps students refine their research for business course ideas and proposals, giving her the chance to shape what might one day become a successful business model. “Students come in with real business ideas, and I walk them through the research process,” she said. “And I love working one-on-one with them.”

David Bren

David Bren is Founder and CEO of CTRL Collective, a creative campus environment which was established in June 2015. Using his entrepreneurial expertise, he created the company by offering shared workspace for aspiring and established businesses looking to create, mold and shape the future. His work experience began in 2012 building high end real estate in Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood Hills while simultaneously schooling at Boston University. David graduated 2014 Summa Cumme Laude with Bachelor Degrees in Economics, Business Finance, as well as Business Law from Boston University. His first company, LA Track Day, follows his passion for cars and offers fans the opportunity to learn, drive and race in a safe and controlled environment, taking the driving experience to new levels. As a member of The Guardians, David also regularly supports the Trevor Project and through CTRL Collective, proceeds of major events are donated to non-profit organizations throughout the year. David Bren lives in Los Angeles and is currently spearheading the expansion of CTRL Collective with additional locations.

Jeffrey Conroy

Serial entrepreneur, hustler, investor, coach, lover, and student of life. Jeff got his career as a sales professional started in middle & high school; owning and operating a mid-sized vending carts business. After graduating from LMU in 2015 with a degree in entrepreneurship and business law, Jeff completed an apprenticeship with an eccentric billionaire where he learned the principles and practices of creating profitable and scalable businesses. Jeff now owns Catalyst Cuisine, a nation-wide meal delivery service that helps optimize health through food. Against all odds, team UMA (a sponge cleaning appliance, created by Jeff) placed 1st at Start-up weekend 2014.

Jason D'Mello Ph.D

Professor Jason D'Mello, Ph.D teaches entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurial marketing at the undergraduate and graduate school level at LMU. He has founded multiple technology and educational startups and serves on the board for The Incubator School (LA), Health Digital (NYC) and is the subject matter expert for Caseworx. He is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan and has been awarded a Kentucky Colonel for his work as a social entrepreneur in Louisville, Kentucky during his Ph.D. In 2014 He founded a social enterprise called AMPED - Academy of Music Production Education and Development - a free youth music program for at-risk kids in Louisville. His economic impact study for the Forecastle Music Arts and Activism Festival has been widely cited, and he has supported several community initiates within Louisville prior to moving to Los Angeles, including RISE - Refugees and Immigrants Succeeding in Entrepreneurship, The Mayor's Give a Day campaign, Restorative Justice Louisville, Idea Festival, Compassionate Louisville, and Idea Mornings, which ended in a transcontinental journey by train across 10 cities in 10 days through the Millennial Trains Project. He was awarded two teaching awards at the University of Louisville in 2013 and created two courses (both at the undergraduate and MBA level) for the university. His academic service has involved journal and conference submissions and reviews for Academic of Management, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, USASBE conferences, Babson (BCERC conferences), NACRA, NYU Stern Social Entrepreneurship Conference, and Routledge Publishing. Prior to beginning his academic career, Professor D’Mello founded multiple technology startups and worked in the private sector with companies like,, HP, Organic, Inc., Guitar Salon Inc. and Walt Disney Internet Group. Outside of academic life, he is record producer and guitarist.

Saeri Dobson

Saeri Cho Dobson teaches students to use design as a path to social justice. That resonates with her personal journey. “My upbringing was very conservative,” she says, and she had to confront outdated and often repressive traditional expectations to find her way. Dobson came from Korea at age 20 to the U.S., “where there is something for everyone,” she says. Her goal was to make a living as a designer, and she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees.But teaching at LMU “opened my eyes,” she says, “to focus on social justice issues, to use design to say something for those who can’t.” She won a yearlong grant to work with people in L.A. with intellectual disabilities, which allows her to design with people, not just for them. Dobson also founded By SaeRi Inc., an organization that creates and sells handmade wallets and totes to raise awareness and funds for Bangladeshi girls. Partnering with the nonprofit Speak Up for the Poor, By SaeRi raises funds to build education centers and dormitories for displaced young women and to provide educational supplies for young girls at risk in Bangladesh.

Ken Funsten

Ken Funsten, CFA is an investment expert and graduate of USC’s Marshall School of Business.  A star portfolio manager at a global institution before founding Funsten Asset Management Company (FAMCo) in 1993, he was given credit for “the best recovery ever in a junk bond” by Institutional Investor magazine.  At FAMCo, he and his team managed various private funds specializing in High Yield Credit, Special Situations and Distressed Workouts, overseeing numerous restructurings both in- and out-of-Chapter 11.  Since 2000, FamCo Advisory Services has offered expert consulting to outside clients with valuation, litigation and other negotiation needs.  Meantime, Funsten’s registered investment advisory services now continue as RoboSmartz, a fintech start-up and net-based members-only video blog, offering general financial education and automated (or robo) investment management services.  Ken is proud to call himself a midget standing on the shoulders of giants, such as his mentor and once-teacher, the scholar Jack L. Treynor (1930-2016).  

Lew Jaffe
CEO/President/Board Member

All businesses are the same; they exist for the sole purpose of “gaining and retailing customers, profitably in order to create real value.” In the course of his 30+ year career, Lewis Jaffe following that simple mantra, has led the growth, successful turnarounds of more than 20 underperforming companies, public and private as their chief executive or outside advisor in a variety of industries, creating over $500MM in shareholder value. Lew’s greatest strengths include leadership, vision and building plan that teams can execute with great success. He is a customer-focused leader who understands complex market dynamics, the intricacies of distribution channels and maximizing corporate assets including human capital and leveraging a balance sheet. Lew’s focus is on business to business companies but also has experience with business to consumer. Much of his concentration has been in telecommunications, manufacturing, media/content delivery, and distribution of B2B and B2C products, disposables through capital goods. He also has significant experience with M&A activity and post transaction integration.

Donna Lee

Donna is an Entrepreneur-In-Residence for K5 Ventures, an early stage venture fund. She is multi-talented and brings a breadth of experience to this role with broad legal, case management and executive experiences from White shoe international law firms and a Fortune 500 company.  Prior to joining K5, she was the CEO and founder of an acquired startup that focused on enhancing the in-game experience.  She successfully raised multiple up rounds of funding from across the U.S.  She now helps K5 portfolio companies meet their milestones, price rounds and grow.

Taleia Mueller

Taleia Mueller joined CTRL Collective, a creative campus environment as COO when the company was established in June 2015. The company offers a shared workspace for aspiring and established businesses looking to create, mold and shape the future. She started her career in 2006 at a production company and continued her passion for the entertainment industry by working for the Cameron family and other artistic notables like Frank Gehry and Guy Oseary.  The last four years of her professional career were focused on the technology side of entertainment working with entrepreneurs to follow their passion.  It was during this time that she met David Bren and they partnered on CRTL Collective. Taleia lives in Los Angeles and supports many charity organizations including Dogs without Borders and Much Love Pet Rescue.  Through CTRL Collective, proceeds of major events are donated to non-profit organizations throughout the year.

Arsames Qajar

Arsames Qajar began his career in finance, and joined his first tech startup as the head of Business Development/CFO for BridgeGap, an iOS app that aims to create richer, more meaningful networking experiences. It did not take long for Arsames to discover the entrepreneurial and startup itch, and soon found himself deep in the world of programming; which is really about building dreams. Arsames always says "If you dream it, you can code it!"
In the last year and a half his transition from finance to development, Arsames has taught, worked and founded a company in the tech field. He hopes his experiences can be helpful to all those seeking the entrepreneurial path! 
 - website: Arsames Qajar

Ron Rishagen
Entrepreneur in Residence

Ronald Rishagen, earned an athletic scholarship for hockey to Colorado College. After graduating with a degree in economics he continued a professional ice-hockey officiating career for seven years. After retiring from sports, he discovered a travel niche not being fulfilled resulting in his first entrepreneurial pursuit. Economic market changes five years later caused Ronald to sell the company. He then started his second venture in the travel industry. After 13 years an offer to sell was too good to refuse, so he began his second retirement. Ron desired to enter the world of education and he has been teaching economics and business courses at St. Bernard High School for 12 years. In his last year of teaching, he implemented an entrepreneurship class. To provide additional expertise and resources, a partnership with LMU Entrepreneurship Program was established whereby six senior LMU entrepreneurship students guided the SBHS entrepreneurship class. Ron now lives in Playa Del Rey volunteering as a Docent on the USS Battleship Iowa berthed in San Pedro, Advising the Entrepreneurship Society at LMU and Instructing Financial Literacy at Homeboy Industries.

Paul Rudy

Dr. Paul Rudy is a high tech entrepreneur, working in the field of photonics 20 years.  He has extensive experience in general management, strategic business development, and technical product marketing in growth phase and large corporation environments. Paul is a co-founder of SoraaLaser, a leader in the commercialization of laser light sources, along with Nobel Laureate Dr. Shuji Nakamura.  Paul is also an advisor at TLM Advisors / Lumany, a high technology advisory firm focused on accelerating the commercialization of innovative technology.  Earlier in his career, Dr. Rudy worked as director of marketing and business development at Coherent, the world's largest commercial laser manufacturer.  Through his career, Paul has worked in a variety of global market applications such as displays, specialty illumination, automotive, biomedicine, defense, and industrial segments. Dr. Rudy received his MBA from USC, doctoral degree in physics from the University of Rochester, and undergraduate degrees in physics and philosophy from Duke University.

Michael Wojciechowki
Chairman at Affordable Housing Advisors and Professor

Mike is a businessman with over 35 years of diversified experience in fields such as real estate development, food and beverage industry, consumer goods, entertainment industry and technology. He has started of 40 companies with some hits, some strike-outs and many lessons learned.Mr. Wojciechowski was a 10 year member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) where he served on the Executive Committee in various capacities including a year as the Santa Monica Bay Chapter Chair. He is currently a member of the World President’s Organization (the successor organization to YPO) and also served as the Chapter Chair. Mike has a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. He also has a Masters in Business Administration, with an emphasis in Finance, from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama and a Bachelor of Science, with a concentration in Marketing, also from the University of South Alabama.

Mylen Yamamoto
Founder @ Cropsticks by Cropmade Inc and Clique-Now LLC

Mylen's is a teacher turned entrepreneur. Her latest venture is called Cropsticks by Cropmade (As Seen on Shark Tank) that creates sustainable products from bamboo. She is known for inventing the Cropstick, a chopstick with a built-in rest found in 200+ locations including: Roy's Restaurants, Disney Parks & Resorts, and Hawaiian Airlines. In August 2019, Cropmade launched the biodegradable bamboo straw. She also runs a talent management company ( that builds the careers of popular digital celebrities and previously served as a Clinical Professor/Associate Director of Entrepreneurship at Loyola Marymount University and Cal State LA.

John Zimmerman

John Zimmerman is an experienced entrepreneur, operator, angel investor and startup advisor. In 2008, John co-founded DataPop, where he was the COO responsible for all product management, engineering, R&D and technical operations. He also ran the company P&L, led finance & planning and raised $16MM of venture capital before successfully selling the company to Criteo (NASDAQ:CRTO) in 2015. He has since held various executive roles at Criteo on the team that is building the new Predictive Search line of business. Prior to DataPop, John held a variety of leadership roles at bellwether internet companies like, Overture and Yahoo. In the Spring of 2017, John will be teaching a class on new product development for “The Internet of Things” in the graduate school of Computer Science at Loyola Marymount University. John is also an active angel investor and startup advisor in the LA area. He's worked with LaunchpadLA, Techstars Cedars Sinai and FoundersCentral at USC. John holds a BS in Biomechanics from LMU and an MBA from USC.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Los Angeles 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



Organizing Team

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

  • David
  • Tina
  • Sandra
  • NaKesha
  • Darlene
  • Jose
  • Bri
  • Matt
  • Tiffany
  • Julie
  • Jessica


Tyrone Howard
MIH man

A 15 year active duty US Navy veteran that worked for Naval Intelligence as a Chinese Linguist and Training Mgr. After getting out he went back to college, but not for long as while there he came up with, tested and developed an algorithm that matches cool people with other cool people. Then after a two years of testing started Get Social - The new old-fashioned way to meet people, as the Founder and CEO. Tyrone is a steering committee member of TechSparks: a social forum for Entrepreneurs, in Pasadena. A co-organizer or the Innovate Pasadena Friday Morning Coffee meetup. A Startup Weekend (SW) Facilitator and lead organizer of multiple events including the first ever SW geared toward underserved students. Most recently Tyrone partnered with the Pasadena NAACP and Innovate Pasadena to help empower and teach underserved kids in the area about the opportunities available in the vibrant Pasadena tech and startup world.

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