Startup Weekend New York City Diversity

    Friday, February 8 - 10, 2019

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
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Startup Weekend New York City Diversity

Friday, February 8 - 10, 2019

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

641 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10011

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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.

The Power of Diversity

At Startup Weekend NYC Diversity, we believe strongly in two main principles 1) There is power in bringing together people of diverse backgrounds, whether it be ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic upbringing, talents, interests, and/or thought process. 2) Women and Minorities are underrepresented, under-utilized, under-funded, and have less access to resources in the tech and startup world but have an abundance of skills, knowledge, and innovation to offer to the industry and to the world. 

We want to help fix this. By focusing this startup weekend on bringing together women and minorities, as well as people of other diverse backgrounds, we hope to provide a view into the resources and possibilities in the startup world. Once we bring everyone together and they get to work, we have no doubt that the outcome will be a display of capable and qualified entrepreneurs of all types-- with ideas that can shape tomorrow. 

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.

1st Place Prizes:

Samsung NEXT NY Guest Program Exclusive Meeting and Evaluation 

Samsung NEXT invests in, partners with, and develops entrepreneurs, engineers, innovators, and builders of early-stage software and services.

The Diverse Founders Initiative at NEXT has the mission to find, accelerate, and invest in startups founded by under-represented minority entrepreneurs and ecosystems that their support underserved communities. 
_____ Feature:
 The opportunity to be interviewed for Alley's founder interview series, Resilience, powered by one of the top media publications, With access to over 1M+ individuals, this is an exciting opportunity to tell your story and amplify your business.

Alley powered by Verizon locations are developed by Verizon, the world’s leading technology company, in collaboration with Alley, a membership-only community workspace for creators. Each location is a curated community powered by the emerging technologies and thought-leadership of Verizon. With Alley, Verizon is bridging the gap between startup and corporation by helping the community workspace build next-level ecosystems for entrepreneurs.


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 “”.

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Friday February 8th

8:30 am
Celebrate and enjoy your success!

5:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

5:15 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

5:45 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

6:15 pm
Pitch Preparation

6:45 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

8:15 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

8:30 pm
Strategize for next day
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

8:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

8:30 am
Saturday Run-down

8:45 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm
Creative Thinking & Lunch
Workshop while participants enjoy lunch

12:45 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

1:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:15 pm
Pitch & Dine
Pitching Workshop over dinner

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

8:30 pm
Finished for the day. Teams wrap, strategize for the next day.

Sunday February 10th

8:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

8:15 am
Sunday Run-down

8:30 am
Diversity Presentation
Helpful tools and tips on how to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape as a minority.

11:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Pitch practice
More coaches arrive… practice pitches

2:00 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

7:00 pm

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:00 pm

8:30 pm
Reception @ Samsung NEXT
Celebrate and enjoy your success! Network and meet people outside of your team. Check out the Samsung NEXT space!


Leslie Short
Founder @ The Cavu Group

Leslie Short owner of K. I.M. Media LLC and Ascend Bereavement Management opens The Cavu Group. 

Leslie created The Cavu Group to focus on Diversity & Inclusion in the effort to bring new solutions to old and new issues. Seeking growth through open conversations, Conflict Coaching, Trainings and Workshops. Recognizing that issues don’t go away because programs are in place but by hearing and understanding the people, which strengthens your corporate culture and expands beyond your current culture. 

Leslie brings her life experiences from being trained as a classical ballet dancer at the age of 7 turning professional at 12. Living in Europe for over 10 years and Asia for 3. Owning a #1 rated business in Japan. Coming back to America and working in TV, Corporate America as well as the Fashion/Entertainment-industry to being a sort after Corporate Operations Strategist for celebrities and companies. Leslie held positions with Daymond John from ABC “Shark Tank” from COO, Head of Global Initiatives and Corporate Operations Strategist for The Shark Group and blueprint + co an executive shared work space.  

Leslie has been developing multi-cultural /mosaic marketing, programing and opportunities as far back as 1998. She has accomplished this all while being a woman, black and outgoing. 
Leslie is also a chaplain, activist, certified mental health aide, certified mediator and conflict coach. 

 Being a woman and black are 2 basic check boxes but she wants to challenge you to explore what Diversity and Inclusion honestly looks like once you stop checking the boxes.  This conversation is bigger then race and gender!  Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being invited to dance. She invites you to dance and if your not sure how she and her staff are happy to show you. 

Antonio Key
Deal Lead, Corporate Development @ Samsung NEXT & Angel Investor

As a Deal Lead on the Corporate Development team, Antonio assists Samsung NEXT in the evaluation and execution of strategic acquisition and investment opportunities of leading next-generation software & services companies (e.g. IoT, AI, Digital Health, AR/VR). Additionally, he co-founded and co-leads the Diverse Founders Initiative, which is focused on identifying, empowering and elevating startups built by diverse founders. Prior to NEXT, Antonio honed his finance and investment acumen on Wall Street, where he worked as a bulge bracket investment banker providing M&A advisory to private equity firms and F500 companies. His additional professional experiences include 1) entrepreneurship: co-founding and operating two profitable small business 2) management consulting. Personally, he is passionate about the professional development and mentorship of historically underrepresented groups and seek to help increase the representation of these groups in Tech and Venture Capital. He is an alum of the INROADS, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and TOIGO programs.

Brandon Hoffman
Innovation & Tech Research at Samsung NEXT | Co-Head, Diverse Founders Initiative | Angel Investor

Brandon Hoffman manages Innovation & Research at Samsung NEXT, where he works to create the thought leadership agenda on behalf of the Chief Innovation Officer delivering insights on disruptive trends relating to Industries (e.g. Wellness, Media) and Consumer Technologies (e.g. IoT, Digital Health). He also co-founded and co-heads the Diverse Founders Initiative, which is focused on identifying, empowering, and elevating early-stage startups founded by diverse founders. Prior to NEXT, he spent a few years at Morgan Stanley in Equity Research, covering Internet & Consumer, where he notably co-launched the Disruption Symposium of events and reports and worked on various high-profile, multi-billion dollar IPOs. His additional experience includes 1) media entrepreneurship in music production and recording; and 2) over 10 years in financial services. Personally, he is committed to addressing the racial wealth gap in the US through business ownership, tech, and venture capital. He studied at community college coming out of high-school and went on to receive graduate degrees from Wharton (MBA) and Harvard (MPA). He is an alum of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, TOIGO Foundation, and a Sheila C. Johnson Fellow from the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard.

Shastri Mahadeo
CEO & Co-Founder @ Union Crate

Shastri is a serial entrepreneur who has founded three companies over the past ten years. He is now the CEO and co-founder of Union Crate, an artificial intelligence startup based in NYC.

Robin Albin

Robin is a serial brand innovator, strategist and virtual Swiss Army Knife of creative with an insatiable curiosity about people and culture. She founded INSURGENTS with the goal of partnering with brave business leaders who want to break through barriers and bureaucracy to uncover new worlds of opportunity. 

Over her career, she has helped invent and reinvent over 50 brands. Some of the original brands she has helped create and steer to success include: Origins Natural Resources, Léman Manhattan Preparatory School, DrinkLavit, Stetson Bourbon, Voli Vodka, Jane Cosmetics and GeoGirl Cosmetics. She has also helped mature brands such as Estée Lauder, Darphin, Keepsake Engagement Rings, Champion Jogbra, Playtex Apparel and Klinger Advanced Aesthetics find their “mojo” again by guiding them to their “True North” in a modern, relevant way. 

Most recently Robin did a stint as SVP Conceptual Innovation for the Estée Lauder brand where she created white space business opportunities in entertainment, health and wellness, food and nutrition, technology, digital and travel. Prior to that, Robin was Co-Founder of BRASH, By Robin Albin & Susan Hunter, a boutique branding and innovation partnership that created transformational business opportunities, new brands and experiences for major corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups. 

Robin acts as a Branding Mentor for many start-ups and is a branding advisor for both XRC Labs and New York Fashion Tech Lab. In 2016, she was chosen to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University hosted by President Barack Obama. In addition to participating in the Summit, she conducted a branding workshop for dynamic global women and youth entrepreneurs. 

Robin is also a frequent Guest Lecturer on Brand Creation at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), Parsons School of Design, New York University School of Continuing Education and Baruch College/CUNY. 

Event Judges

Catherine Hernandez
Partner @ Primary Venture

Cat believes that a big part of startup success relies on a company’s ability to hire, engage and develop the best people. Period.

As Operating Partner at Primary Ventures, and a people evangelist by trade, Cat plays a critical role in shaping the founder journey, especially when it comes to delivering on Primary’s promise of impactful post-investment support. That type of guidance comes in many forms, but it is centered around making sure the entrepreneurs we’re lucky enough to back have access to supercharged networks and timely operating advice. Now more than ever, companies understand the importance of aligning people strategy with business strategy, and that’s a shift in mentality for which Cat will always advocate.

Prior to venture, Cat spent a decade in B2B land, most recently supporting growth at Chartbeat, a Made in NY tech startup that enabled media organizations to understand and harness genuine audience engagement. She led the charge on all people-related initiatives over three years of explosive growth, and credits that time as one of the best startup experiences of her career.

In her spare time, Cat also leads due diligence for PeopleTech Partners, an early-stage advisory and investment group that brings forward-thinking people leaders together to accelerate the growth of companies in its portfolio. When she's not fixated on startup-building, Cat dabbles in scotch appreciation, late-night karaoke and a regular boutique fitness regimen (in that order).

Jason Leder
Head of VC & Startup Partnerships @ Google

Jason Leder has over 20 years experience developing and launching new businesses, products, and strategic partnerships. He is currently Google’s Head of VC & Startup Partnerships (US) based in New York City. Jason works across Google to accelerate partnerships with startups’ C-Level Executives/Founders and their teams by up-leveling support, uncovering new product opportunities and generating custom partnerships.

Alana Hewitt
VP of Commerce, Essence Ventures

Alana Hewitt has built her career at the intersection of her passions- Retail, Technology, and (Intra)Entrepreneurship. An expert in the ecommerce space, Alana specializes in infusing innovation and technology to build, disrupt, and invest in Retail businesses.

Alana is Vice President of Commerce for Essence Ventures, a company focused on investing and developing the next generation of entrepreneurs of color. In this capacity, Alana’s role is multiple fold: 1) identify, evaluate, and guide startups on the path to investment, 2) create commerce opportunities for startups to grow, and 3) launch/grow all ecommerce channels within the Essence Ventures portfolio.  Alana is also a stakeholder for the company’s investment fund, the New Voice Fund, a $100M fund focused on female entrepreneurs of color.

Prior to Essence Ventures, Alana was an Amazon intrapreneur where she launched various news-worthy business across the Amazon ecosystem:  business strategy and execution for Amazon’s largest acquisition, Whole Foods Market;  growing Amazon Fashion to become the largest apparel retailer in the US,  and business development for Amazon’s Marketplace where she was responsible for investing and developing new brands through Amazon’s venture investing group “Born on Amazon”.

Prior to Amazon, Alana launched new streams of business for various ecommerce companies and was Co-Founder of a NYC based fashion start-up.

 Alana is a founding board member of the Black Venture Capital Consortium, with the mission to create path to Venture Capital for people of color.

Alana is a graduate of Spelman College and received her MBA from The Wharton School of Business with a concentration in Finance and Entrepreneurship.

Marcia Mitchell
Partner Operations Manager @ ff Venture Capital

Marcia works on the investment team at ffVC. Prior to working in venture capital, Marcia spent several years working across diverse industries including investment banking,  fashion, automotive marketing  and tech consulting.

While getting an M.Sc. in Technology Commercialization and Entrepreneurship from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, she founded the #WOCWorkshop series to address the needs of tech entrepreneurs; specifically women of color and diverse teams. 

Katie Hunt
Co-Founder of SHOWFIELDS and The Fund

Katie Hunt  is the co-founder of The Fund and SHOWFIELDS. She began her career as the third employee of Warby Parker, where she worked in operations, marketing and social media. She left Warby in 2013 to found her own strategy consultancy where she has worked extensively with startups in branding, product development, marketing, operations and fundraising.

Past and current clients include Hinge, where she served as the Interim CBO and lead the charge for their new product, brand and relaunch, AB InBev (Budweiser/Michelob), Soludos, The Arrivals, WinWin, and Onomie.

Katie is currently the co-founder of The Fund, which is a VC fund made up of a community of over 80 New York founders and operators, and the co-founder and CRO of SHOWFIELDS, the most interesting store in the world.

Coaches and Mentors

Jackie Ros
Regional Director, Americas @ Techstars

Jackie Ros is the Regional Director of the Americas, from Alaska all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, including Brazil.

Jackie was born in Miami, and she's lived in Mexico City, Boulder, and Switzerland. She is an alumnae of the Techstars accelerator program where she led her company, Revolar, as CEO and raised over 5M from incredible investors such as Foundry Group.

Jackie has experience working with governments and was formerly a Teach For America educator. She's now based in NYC.

Maya Brooks
Product Manager at iFundWomen | Founder of COFFEE & CODED

Maya is New York based Product Manager, Educator, Speaker, and Entrepreneur. Fueled by her passion to create new ideas (and perhaps a bit too much Cold Brew), Maya enjoys helping fellow entrepreneurs & tech enthusiasts reach their full potential.

Maya has a background in finance and previously worked in Commercial Banking at JPMorgan on both credit and sales teams for clients with $20MM-$2B in revenue. After gaining some technical expertise as a front-end web developer, she made the leap to startups in May of 2018 as a product associate at Swaggle, a fashion startup. Maya’s technical skills include HTML, CSS, SQL, Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Wireframing, JavaScript, and JS related front-end frameworks. 

A true "Jack(ie)" of All Trades, Maya's side activities include writing for Boss Babe and teaching code at General Assembly. In 2018, she founded COFFEE & CODED, an event series encouraging women to #TRYTECH through workshops in coding, design, and entrepreneurship.

When Maya’s not writing code or teaching code, you’ll find her on her couch binge-watching anything on BRAVO!

Ivan Alo
Co-Founder and Managing Partner of New Age Capital

Ivan is the co-founder and Managing Partner of New Age Capital, a seed stage venture capital firm investing in tech and tech-enabled startups founded and led by Black and Latino entrepreneurs solving real world problems. A strong advocate for the democratization of entrepreneurship and innovation, he is passionate about the use of technology to make the world more accessible and beneficial for all.

Alongside New Age Capital, Ivan is the co-founder of real estate technology company CNERGY which is a fully collaborative, end-to-end transaction management platform for commercial real estate investment and finance professionals.

Kelsey Hunter
Founder & CEO @ Paloma

Kelsey Hunter is the Founder & CEO of Paloma, helping brands acquire and engage with customers on messaging channels through their automated conversation platform. Kelsey is a YC alum with a background in advertising and marketing software, having led product design at Percolate and Button.

After creating multiple bot experiences, and an open source software for publishing Messenger campaigns, Kelsey formed Paloma in 2017 and launched the product with revenue in less than 6 months. She was most recently named in the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 for Marketing & Advertising.

Olivia Landau
Founder @ The Clear Cut

Olivia is a 4th generation diamond expert, G.I.A. Graduate Gemologist (GG) and with experience at Tiffany & Co and the diamond wholesale business. Olivia started The Clear Cut (Techstars '18) initially as an educational blog for friends and family.

Today fueled by a community of over 88k+ followers The Clear Cut is empowering a new generation of customers and growing 100% quarter over quarter. The Clear Cut has been featured in Vogue, Business Insider, TechCrunch, WhoWhatWear and many others! 

Aimara Rodriguez
VP of Brand Strategy @ Alley

Aimara is a multifaceted professional with experience across the startup ecosystem and corporate landscape alike. Currently, in her role as Vice President of Brand Strategy at Alley, she leads programming, partnerships, and business development, with a focus on building a next-level ecosystem that enables a diverse community of startups, universities, and corporations to not only innovate the way they want to but the way they need to.

Equally left and right-brained, she's as excited about creating a compelling brand campaign or corporate innovation initiative as she is geeking out on operational infrastructure and go-to-market strategies. From building a dedicated Events & Programming Department at Alley that’s executed over 5,000+ events since she's joined to spearheading strategic business initiatives for companies such as Verizon, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Marriott International, IBM, Paypal, and more, her goal is to empower the clients, companies, and teams she supports to do great work.

Shani Syphrett
Founder & Lead Consultant @ Jamila Studio

Shani Syphrett is an accomplished brand strategist and expert marketer for consumer product, tech, and service brands. Her diverse background includes campaigns and strategies for Fortune 500 companies like McDonald’s, Microsoft, Samsung, Nike, Gap, L’Oreal, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Ford Motor Company and industry-disrupting competitors like Vevo and Zappos.

Most recently, she was the Head of Marketing & Brand at Beam, a venture-backed startup at the intersection of retail and social impact. Beyond her brand work, Shani leads lectures and workshops on marketing and business strategy and is a contributing writer for

Rachel Williamson
Founder @ Dive In Digital

Rachel Williamson is the founder of Dive In Digital, which creates dynamic digital marketing strategies for businesses. She and her business partner create sustainable systems for owners to establish strong social media presences and convert more fans into customers.

Previously, Rachel lead Spoon University (Tech Stars ’15) from 50k social fans to 2M, leading to the company’s acquisition by Discovery Inc.

Originally a writer, Rachel continued on to lead the editorial team as Managing Editor and recently, wrote a cookbook (How to Feed Yourself by Penguin Random House) for Spoon. She loves crafting a story, no matter what medium, and leads a weekly writing group.

She’s also a big fan of red wine, SoulCycle, and walking around the city. 

Tani Chambers
Founder @ SaviMoni ™

Tani is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and business strategist who helps entrepreneurs build and scale profitable businesses. She leverages 20 years of growth strategy, business development, and experiential marketing. She has built several profitable ventures to date.

Her latest venture is Savi Global, Inc. where she serves as Founder and CEO. Their first product is SaviMoni™  - a AI-powered financial management and online software for solo entrepreneurs and the gig economy.

Her love for travel prompted her to start GLOBE TREPers™ - a travel club for entrepreneurs and business professionals that offers curated destination experiences worldwide. GLOBE TREPers™ has hosted experiences all across the US and in Puerto Rico, Barbados, Jamaica, Dubai, Barcelona, and Chile to name a few.

On the social front, Tani is a voice for equal economic opportunities, resources, and funding for female entrepreneurs. She works with other entrepreneurs and organizations to create solutions, opportunities, and advocates for public policy change.

She currently serves on the board or the Propelled Media Mentorship, an organization for underrepresented girls pursuing careers in media.

Tani is a native Brooklynite, where she still resides today.

Ravi Patel

Currently Chief Operating Officer at AD/FIN - a marketing intelligence platform. I have 10+ years of experience in digital technology, with emphasis on advertising technology and financial services.

Previously worked at Integral Ad Science (acquired by Vista Equity Partners) and Appnexus (acquired by AT&T). I invest in pre-seed and seed companies through my private fund and have been a Techstars mentor for the past 12 months. 

Lucinda Duncalfe
Executive Director @ Monetate

Lucinda Duncalfe is a retired executive and active coach. In her career as a CEO, which spanned over 20 years, she founded and/or led venture capital-backed technology companies including Monetate, where she continues to serve as Executive Director, Real Food Works, ClickEquations, TurnTide, and Destiny Software.

She won numerous awards, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Philadelphia, and was one of Consulting Magazine's 25 Most Influential Consultants. She is also an Eisenhower Fellow. Lucinda has a BA from University of Pennsylvania, where she played basketball, and an MBA from the Wharton School.

She also attended the Aspen Seminar, Outward Bound, and the National Outdoor Leadership School. She won the International Shotokan Karate Federation’s senior kumite National Championship in 2017. 

Simeon Iheagwam
Founder @ NOEMIS Ventures

Simeon Iheagwam is the Founder and Managing Partner of NOEMIS Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund that invests in Pre-Seed to Seed stage tech companies.

Prior to NOEMIS Ventures, Simeon has 10 years of professional experience in Corporate Finance and Investment Banking. Most recently, he served as a Senior Associate in the Leveraged Finance group at Wells Fargo.

Simeon received his B.S. in Business Management & Finance from Brooklyn College and his MBA from Cornell University as a Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow.

Omar Pera

Omar is CEO and co-founder at, where we make customer service smarter and faster that helps scales communication for companies such as Samsung, Coca-Cola, Vail Resorts. He curates the leading newsletter around bots, Chat Bots Weekly.

Omar’s previous company, Perops, was an independent mobile app studio that launched apps that reached 40 million mobile users. Omar started his career as an engineer at top research organizations such as European Bioinformatics Institute and CERN. Graduated with a master in Distributed Systems. Hackathon lover and Dragon Ball fan.

Deborah Chang
Co-Founder @ Nexus Works from New York

Deborah Chang is the founder and executive director of #NYCEDU, New Yorkers working together to equip ALL of New York City's young people with the skills, resources, and community supports they need to flourish as happy, healthy, and impactful citizens of the world.

Her previous careers have spanned teaching 5th grade science to founding an education startup consulting company. She's an expert in community building, design thinking, and education who loves supporting innovators, educators, and young people.

Kelly Fryer
Program Manager @ Techstars FinTech accelerator

Kelly Fryer is the Program Manager for Techstars' FinTech accelerator - the Barclays Accelerator powered by Techstars in New York City. Acting as the COO, she recruits & selects top companies, oversees all activities in the accelerator program, and engages with founders to drive them toward success. She loves working with entrepreneurs to better understand their customers, develop an ideal business model, and find the talent to make the company a success. Kelly is especially interested in helping diverse founders to get access to the resources they need.

Prior to Techstars, Kelly received her MBA from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business, where she focused on Corporate Innovation strategies and Venture Development. She ran the university's Hoosier Hatchery and incubated a new line of business for Direct Supply Company. Kelly also spent several years running the custom index business for Bloomberg LP and building out their professional development strategy.

Sarah Waxman
Founder @ Matriarch

Sarah is a designer and entrepreneur. She began her career as a footwear designer for brands including Reebok and Cole Haan, and then launched a gender-neutral footwear brand called Matriarch to fill a gaping hole in the market. She is an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow, representing Matriarch as a social entrepreneur.

She has worked with Techstars accelerators in Berlin and is now based in NYC. She leads 
Venture Accel Studio, a design consultancy whose work is instrumental in supporting founders worldwide in their fundraising successes. 

Jorge Torres
Venture Capital Investor and Educator

Jorge M. Torres is an investor and educator based in New York.

Jorge teaches venture capital to university students and experienced investors through his affiliations with Yale University, HBCUvc, Kauffman Fellows, and other organizations committed to developing talent. He has taught courses that introduce undergraduates to investing fundamentals as well as continuing education programs that help seasoned investors raise their practice to the next level.

Jorge serves as a Special Advisor to HBCUvc, a non-profit whose mission is to increase the racial and ethnic diversity in venture capital. While on the HBCUvc team, he designed, prototyped, and implemented a venture capital training program that is currently being scaled across hundreds of historically Black colleges and universities in the US.

Jorge started in the venture capital business at Silas Capital, where he served as an original member of the investment team and invested in early-stage consumer brands such as Casper, Ringly, Tracksmith and others.

Jorge mentors entrepreneurs through his affiliations with Techstars, Founder Institute, and Endeavor. His mentoring relationships focus on helping companies with product, fundraising, marketing (esp. consumer brands), and legal.

Jorge was engaged in the full-time practice of law for a decade prior to venture capital, and he maintains an active status as a US patent attorney (Reg. No. 57,447). He received a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry from Yale and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He also completed the Kauffman Fellows Program while at Silas Capital. Jorge was born in the Bronx, raised in Queens, and has roots in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Tiffany St. Bernard
Entrepreneur, Engineer and Ph.D. Candidate

Tiffany is a Cornell University Ph.D. Candidate in Biomedical Engineering, tech entrepreneur, mentor, and Program Manager at the Cornell Blackstone LaunchPad program (BLP).

Prior to joining BLP, she served as an analyst at Excell Partners venture capital fund, Chair of Cornell’s Diversity and International Committee, and Fund Manager at the Cornell Big Red Venture Fund. In her spare time, she enjoys mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and helping them realize their dreams. 

Joi Anderson
Computer Scientist & Tech Entrepreneur

Joi Anderson is a computer scientist and tech entrepreneur with five years of experience in the both the software engineering and edTech space.  She is a digital and content marketing expert with a passion for engaging developer communities.

Outside of empowering developers, Joi uses her technical background to help bridge the gender and race gap between the tech industry and the nations most under serviced youth. 

During her time at Columbia, where she majored in Computer Science, Joi worked for many startups and non profit organizations in both New York City and Silicon Valley, including Codecademy,, All Star Code, and IoT Class of 2016).

Joanne Swanson
VP Global Inside Sales @ Techstars

Over 15 years of Sales Leadership experience in companies of all sizes - from IBM to startups and in between, which has given me a unique point of view from all stages of a companies development. Extensive knowledge in Commercial and Public Sector sales, Marketing, Business Development and direct/Indirect channels.

Cheryl Campos
Principal, Republic

Cheryl is passionate about the intersection of finance, technology, and social impact. She is a principal at Republic, a one-stop-shop for founders to raise capital from both accredited and non-accredited investors. She is focused on introducing underrepresented founders to these alternative funding sources in order to help their startups thrive. Previously Cheryl worked as an analyst in private debt/equity in Connecticut with an emphasis on minority and women entrepreneurs. She started her career in finance at Barclays in the investment banking division. She graduated from Harvard College with a major in economics.

Tammara Walker
Brand Manager

Tammara Walker has spent 15+ years as an accomplished brand marketer with multi-disciplinary experience translating creative ideas into innovative marketing strategies. Making her mark in the sports apparel industry, she successfully executes major campaigns that drive consumer buzz and fosters brand connection. 

Prior to her role, Tammara worked in Non-profit Development, managing high-profile relationships and events with private and corporate philanthropist. Earlier in her career, Tammara successfully executed innovative marketing practices for a plethora of Fortune 500 companies from fashion to entertainment.

Tammara received her Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at Hofstra University. Tammara is a lover of travel, 35+ countries and counting. It is her mission to use cultural engagement as a tool to empower the next generation of global leaders to innovate and diversify the way we change the world.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend New York City Diversity 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 New York City is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Ashley
  • Erinique
  • Jenny


Mouna Mahouachi
Product Management Consultant | Innovation Leader | Author

Mouna is a product management consultant, innovation leader and author. She is an active member of Startup Weekend New York. She previously organised Startup Weekend events in Zurich, Switzerland.

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