Techstars Startup Weekend Prairie View, HBCUvc

    Friday, October 25 - 27, 2019

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Organizing Team
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Techstars Startup Weekend Prairie View, HBCUvc

Friday, October 25 - 27, 2019

Friday, October 25 - 27, 2019
Event starts at 4:00 pm

Prairie View A&M University
100 University Drive
Prairie View, Texas 77446

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No Talk, All Action; Launch a Startup in 54 Hours!

  • 7 Catered & Delicious Meals Included + Snacks!
  • Face Time with Thought Leaders
  • Swag and Prizes!
  • Build your Network
  • Benefits & Discounts from Global Partners

About Techstars Startup Weekend HBCUvc 10-City Tour:

Over Startup Weekend you will experience the highs, lows, fun, and pressure that make up life at a startup. Additionally, you will have the unique opportunity to meet mentors, entrepreneurs, investors and leads of the broader startup ecosystem. So, what are you waiting for? Join us!

The hardest part of starting a startup is starting out. At Techstars Startup Weekend + HBCUvc 10-City Tour, you'll be immersed in the ideal environment for startup magic to happen.

Startup Weekend takes place over 54 hours, where attendees share ideas, form teams, and launch startups. This event provides a place for innovators and budding entrepreneurs to find co-founders, mentors, and momentum for their ideas.

Participation starts on Friday night where any attendee interested have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), the pitches are whittled down to the top ideas, and then teams form around the ideas to come out with several developed companies or projects. Join a team or pitch an idea! Finally, the weekend culminates with presentations and demos in front of an audience of judges and potential investors on Sunday.

Day 1: Meet, Pitch & Team Up
Day 2: Learn & Work
Day 3: Present & Celebrate

Event FAQs

Who can attend Techstars Startup Weekend HBCUvc 10-City Tour?

Startup Weekend is open to the public—18 and over. All disciplines are welcome; and the more diverse the better! Developers, marketers, MBAs, designers, makers, researchers, creatives, serial entrepreneurs...if you simply have a nw startup idea you want to work on and test out - join us! Anyone that has a passion for entrepreneurship is welcome!

A Startup Weekend team needs all sorts of people to be successful. Personalities and skill sets come together during the weekend to complement each other and get the project launched.

What if I don't have an idea to pitch? Can I still come to Techstars Startup Weekend HBCUvc 10-City Tour?

Emphatically YES!

Some people have dozens of ideas for products and services, others don't really have any (or so they think). But many times the "Idea Person" isn't the "Get It Done Person." Someone on the team needs to be the person who codes out the prototype, gets out of the building and elicits feedback from potential customers, and figures out how much it really is going to cost to build, market and sell the product. That person can be you!

How do I find an idea to pitch? 

Look around you! There are dozens of pain points people deal with every day...hundreds of inconveniences. Each of those "problems" is a potential business idea waiting to be launched. So, over the next several weeks, pay close attention to the world around you. What problem can you solve with a better, faster, or more sustainable solution?

Can I pitch my existing business?

This gets treated on a case-by-case basis, but generally speaking, if the idea has only been marginally explored and developed, you can pitch it at startup weekend. However, if you have a beta version released or you are already making revenue on the product/service, then the answer is "No!"

The core purpose of Startup Weekend is to bring a new idea to life in a new company...NOT to get free consulting work out of people so that you can move ahead with your idea. The best advice we can give is to check in with our Startup Weekend organizers. We can evaluate how far along your idea has been developed and if it can/should be pitched during the weekend. Also, if you do pitch the idea, make sure your team is aware of how far along in development it has come before the event. Honesty and openness is the best policy.

What if my idea doesn't get selected?

The purpose of the Friday voting and crowdsourcing isn't to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular and high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams, ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds and skills.

If your idea isn't selected, don't be discouraged! Walk around and speak to your fellow attendees and find a project that interests you. Join a team where you can be excited by the idea being worked on and where you know your skills can help the team be successful.

Lastly, keep pitching the idea! Find out why people weren't interested. Was it the idea or the pitch that didn't make the cut? Maybe you just didn't get your message across clearly enough. Is there someone in the crowd who was torn between your project and another project, and then simply had to pick one? There has been more than one company born out of a failed Startup Weekend pitch.

What should I bring?

+Power cord
+Business Cards
+Lots of creative energy!

How do I prepare?

+Do some research: Background information will give you a better understanding of the problem you are trying to solve.
+Practice your pitch: You'll have 60 seconds to persuade other attendees to join your team. Make it clear, concise, and convincing!
+Get plenty of rest.
+Encourage a friend to register: Events are better with good company!

What resources/assistance is provided over the weekend?

A key part is the valuable advice and assistance by the event's Speakers, Mentors, and Coaches. In the spirit of "No Talk, All Action" we try to keep talks short and sweet, focusing on practical issues (e.g., how to give a persuasive pitch or best approaches to customer discovery) that can actually help you and your team better achieve your weekend goals. Mentors and Coaches, community experts in various fields ranging from entrepreneurship to software development, dedicate their time to providing advice and actually rolling up their sleeves and working with teams.

How do teams address the issue of Intellectual Property/ownership?

As with any startup, the team decides. Startup Weekend HBCUvc 10-City Tour's Organizing Team, Coaches, and Mentors do not take part in the signing of any legal documents at the event. While Mentors with legal backgrounds are often present and able to give general advice, they are not permitted to give specific legal counsel. While it doesn't hurt to be clear about your individual expectations from the start, we've found that teams who don't spend time addressing this issue until it matters (e.g., ownership of a tangible product) are much more productive and successful than those who do.

What are we supposed to have accomplished by the end of the weekend?

While there are no specific requirements in terms of what teams should have accomplished by the end of the weekend, it's in your best interest to plan your execution around what you'll be judged for on Sunday:

  • Customer Validation (did you vet your product/service?)
  • Execution and Design (what did you build?)
  • Business Model (do you have a plan for the future?)

As far as presenting goes, some of the most common presentations include any combination of the following (in no particular order):

  • Wireframes or fully developed website / app;
  • Mobile Apps (from mock-ups to skeletons to fully functional);
  • Slide Decks (PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, etc.);
  • Videos (product demonstrations, etc.);
  • Live product demos;
  • Skits

Where is the event taking place?

Startup Weekend HBCUvc 10-City Tour is being held at multiple HBCU campuses from October 2019 - April 2020.

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday October 25th

4:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

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

6:45 pm
Event Begins

7:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

8:00 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

8:15 pm
Idea Pitches Begins
Voluntarily line up to give your pitch

8:30 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 October 26th

8:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

8:30 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 October 27th

8:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

12:25 pm
Mentor Workshop

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

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:00 pm

8:30 pm
Go Home!


Wesley Okeke
CEO of Fruition Tech Labs

As a child growing up Nigeria, Wesley had a passion for technology. He graduated in Boston MA. with a BSEE. Wesley’s mission has been to ensure that each entrepreneur journey is never a lonely one. He started Fruition after an 18+ year career in Business Development, Marketing and Sales within technology companies based in Boston and Silicon Valley. His career took him to Asia, Europe, Canada, South America and throughout the USA, as his key roles were to develop new markets for newly developed tech based products, From my years of experience in “Corporate”, he states “I learned the vital importance having a simple and clear process to successfully take an idea from concept to launch while keeping the focus on the people for whom this idea has its purpose.

Zuby Onwuta
Founder & CEO of Think and Zoom

Sir Zuby Onwuta is a Harvard-MIT trained innovator, President Obama Service award recipient, US Army veteran, Patented Inventor of “Brain Control for Blind Tech”, Founder & CEO of Think and Zoom, 4x TEDx Speaker, legally blind Disability Advocate at the United Nations & US Congress.

He aims to Inspire and empower all people to Dream BIG and Believe in themselves, so they can pursue their goals and Achieve their dreams.

Education background includes; Engineering degree from the University of Illinois, Innovation certificates from MIT (with Bill Aulet) Harvard Business School (with Clayton Christensen), & Harvard Medical School.

 More at

Franka Baly
Senior User Experience Design Lead at Oxy

Franka Baly is the Creative Director and Founder of Franka Baly Marketing, a custom design studio specializing in UX design, branding, marketing and digital products located in Tomball, TX. She’s worked with everyone from budding entrepreneurs to the billion dollar corporations in her 20+ years as a User Experience Designer and Brand Strategist in the Tech industry. She's designed interfaces for Fortune 500 companies such as Anadarko, Hewlett Packard, AIG, and Pason Systems. She considers herself a creative who is also a marketer, launch strategist, and mindset shifter. After launching more than a hundred brands, she understands how to help her clients stand out in an increasingly noisy digital landscape — by disrupting the industries they're in. She brings a passion and unparalleled energy to any project but especially loves inspiring the next generation of great minds.

Erica Broudy
Technical Account Manager at Google

Experienced Account Manager with a demonstrated history of customer service, sales management, project management, and enterprise software.

Passionate leader who is dedicated to making the workplace fair and equitable. Currently involved in several 20% projects in the D&I space: #IAmRemarkable Facilitator for both internal and external workshops, CAP Program, and I founded the cloud segment (University Outreach Program) under the CAP Program . 

Event Judges

Larry Trautman
Corporate Governance Lawyer

Larry Trautman career includes serving as a serial entrepreneur (responsible for about a dozen start-ups).  He is a founding-director of Commonwealth Acquisitions (Oil & Gas Exploration & Production), founder-director (and assembled the board) of oil & gas company Comstock Resources (NYSE:CRK); founder of First Chesapeake Mortgage, Inc., founder of AmeriMac, Inc. (bought by CrossLand Savings, at the time the largest thrift east of the Mississippi River).  Other entities include: founder of Trautman & Company, Inc. (investment banking); IntelCap, Inc. (software); Cogent Information Analytics, Inc. (social media) and OZMA Corporation (financial services).

Coaches and Mentors

Derrell Noris
CEO of Fresh Tech Solutionz

Derrell Noris founded Fresh Tech Solutionz in 2016 with the intention of creating mobile apps for small businesses looking to expand beyond their current vision.

 In the recent years has partnered with countless non-profits around the city of Houston, graciously instructing youth in under privileged communities with classes on coding and development free of charge.

His new ventures with DeckLaunch and HenEdna further his reach in our community by turning startup ideas and small businesses into multigenerational, income generating corporations.

Doug Franklin
CEO of DeckLaunch LLC

Doug Franklin is a Houston native who is the CEO of DeckLaunch, a company that helps aspiring founders validate startup ideas to seek funding and investment opportunities. He also serves as the Chairman of Operations for HenEdna Corporation and Managing Partner for marketing, leadership and organizational behavior projects with Crowned LLC. Doug specializes in taking concepts from ideation to validated concept and developing marketing and operational strategies. He also is adept at coaching and training leadership and team competencies for startup founders and teams. Doug is a proud graduate of Florida A&M University where he achieved his Bachelor of Business Administration; Rice University where he achieved his Master of Business Administration; and will graduate from the University of St. Thomas as a Doctor of Ethical Leadership in Spring 2020.

Whitney Griffith
Software Engineer at Microsoft

Avid Learner. Tech Enthusiast. Social Entrepreneur. Blockchain Developer. Angel Investor.

 Whitney graduated from Howard University with a degree in CS in May 2019 and is also proud graduate of Founder Gym, a Venture Capital Fellow at HBCUvc, a Developer Evangelist at Major League Hacking and Software and Blockchain Developer at Microsoft.

Since her exposure to Silicon Valley and Entrepreneurship in 2017, she deduces that technology and blockchain represents tools that can be used to bring about positive change and equal opportunity for all in the developing world and beyond. As such, she has embarked on a journey that will help her grow and execute across technology, entrepreneurship and eco-system building.

Emmanuel Okereke
Senior Software Engineer at Visa

Emmanuel Okereke is a software developer with VISA Digital Development Platform (DDP). He recently graduated from Prairie View A&M with Masters In Electrical Computer Engineering with a 4.0 GPA. Prior to pursuing his Master's degree, Emmanuel worked for several years in various high tech roles. He is passionate about giving back to the minority group by introducing coding as a means of empowering the community. 

Emmanuel likes watching soccer when he is not preoccupied. 

Organizing Team

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

  • Bryanna
  • Britny
  • Steven
  • Monica
  • Lawrence


Monica Wheat
Founder @ Venture Catalysts & Managing Director @ Backstage Capital

Monica Wheat is a Strategist, Educator, and Venture Developer. She is the past Co-Founder and Partner of Pixel DSi, a digital strategy consultancy and Parallel Ventures, an incubator focused on branded innovation partnerships and startup ecosystem development. Ms. Wheat is also the Founder and Executive Director of Digerati Girls, Inc. / Digerati Kids, a non-profit that has helped over 5,500 Detroit-area students gain skills and an introduction to digital technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Ms. Wheat has extensive experience in program management focused on digital, social, and economic development efforts. Ms. Wheat is extremely invested in the Detroit startup community, including her roles as Lead of Detroit Startup Week, Curator for Startup Digest Detroit/Ann Arbor, Director of Startup Next Detroit, Organizer/Facilitator of Startup Weekend, and fmr. Co-Lead of Women 2.0 Detroit.

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