Startup Weekend San Diego: Women's Edition

    Friday, May 1 - 3, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
  8. Blog
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Startup Weekend San Diego: Women's Edition

Friday, May 1 - 3, 2015

Friday, May 1 - 3, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Dr.
San Diego, CA 92182

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Focusing on Women's Entrepeneurship

What is Startup Weekend? It's a weekend packed with education and innovation, where teams work together to build an idea from concept to launch in only 54 hours. Teams demo their business ideas at the end of the weekend, where judges award the best teams prizes to help them launch their startups.

Why a Women's Edition? Women are moving into the space of entrepreneurship with the same force as men. 
The 2014 State of Women-Owned Business report by estimates that there are over 9 million women-owned businesses that generate over $1.4 trillion dollars of revenue across the country. That's a lot of women in entrepreneurship, but women still face inequality. 

Startup Weekend is the perfect arena for hosting a women-focused event, especially in San Diego, where we have been declared the #1 place to launch a startup. Startup Weekend San Diego: Women's Edition is open to everyone - but it's intended to ensure that women drive the energy and focus of the event, one which is typically male-dominated and less representative of women's business pursuits and entrepreneurial interests.

I'm a guy - can I attend Startup Weekend Women's Edition? Of course you can. We welcome anyone who can get on board with the idea that there should be more women in startups!

Where on campus is the event? We will be in a brand-new, high-tech auditorium on the western edge of campus in the Storm West building, room 011. The location is pictured in this map with a big red arrow pointing at Storm West.

The easiest way to get there from the 8 freeway is to take the College Avenue exit and take the first right on Canyon Crest Drive. Follow this road as it heads west and then south around the edge of campus.

When you come to a stop at Aztec Circle Drive, the building on the hill immediately in front of you is Storm West.You will turn right and park in the large parking structure, P4, in the area marked with Startup Weekend signs.

On the side with signs for main campus, take the elevator to the 4th floor of the parking structure. Once you reach the pedestrian footbridge you'll see orange tags that will lead to our venue location.

Click here for an interactive map of SDSU

Click here for a static image of the map where Storm West is marked

Member of the press? If you're looking our press release, it's right here!

Related Events

Setup for Success Before/After Startup Weekend


Friday May 1st

5:30 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:00 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

6:30 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:30 pm
Pitches Start
Practice pitch session, then line up to pitch ideas for the weekend

8:30 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

9:00 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:30 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 May 2nd

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

10:00 am
Saturday pow-wow!

11:30 am
Panel Discussion

12:15 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 May 3rd

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

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

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check

4:00 pm

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Lori Steele Contorer
Founder and CEO of Everyone Counts

We're stoked to have Lori Steele Contorer, founder and CEO of Everyone Counts, as our keynote speaker on Friday night at 6:30. 

She the world's top expert in election modernization, pioneering the adoption of software as a service and bringing proven state-of-the-art technologies to make elections more accessible, affordable, transparent, and secure. Her visionary leadership in business, innovation, and elections led to Lori being named in 2013 to FORTUNE magazine's 10 Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs list, a winner of the San Diego Business Journal's Women Who Mean Business award, and inducted into Bowling Green State University's Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame.
Since founding Everyone Counts, Lori has led successful election administration and voting projects in countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Australia, involving voters located in over 165 countries, as well as for the iconic Oscar and Emmy awards. Lori previously served as a technology investor as vice president at Solomon Smith Barney, specializing in emerging and state-of-the-art technologies globally. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Lori's election modernization expertise is frequently called on by legislators from around the world and by the media, including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, Politico, and the New York Times.

Martha Barnette
Host of NPR's "A Way with Words"

Martha Barnette is co-host of the public-radio show A Way with Words, heard each week by listeners in more than 250 cities across North America, and around the world by podcast.

Before coming to radio, Martha worked as a reporter for the Washington Post and an editorial writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. She’s the author of three books on word origins: A Garden of Words, Ladyfingers & Nun’s Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names, and Dog Days & Dandelions. She’s often quoted in the news media about language topics.
Martha joined A Way with Words in 2004. She is president of Wayword, Inc., the 501(c)(3) nonprofit that produces and distributes the radio program, and depends on support from listeners and underwriters. Martha holds a Certificate in Fund Raising Management (CFRM) from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Felena Hanson
Founder of Hera Hub

Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven.  Her 20 year career has spanned from technology start-ups to digital marketing agencies.  Some of her former clients include DirecTV, Epson, CNN, and Union Bank.  Before becoming an entrepreneur she was Director of Marketing for a venture-backed San Diego internet company that sold to America Online in 2003. As Felena launched her first business, Perspective Marketing, she found her passion for supporting other female entrepreneurs through leadership roles with several professional women’s organizations, including Ladies Who Launch and Women’s Global Network.

Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous.  After building three successful locations, she franchised the business and is expanding across the United States.  Her next goal is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business via 200 Hera Hub locations over the next 5 years.

Ann marie Houghtailing
Founder at The Millionaire Girls Movement

Ann marie Houghtailing has been creating her own opportunities since she launched her company in January 2009, despite the economic downturn with nothing more than a Macbook, $5 and truckload of tenacity. Houghtailing’s revolutionary philosophy that selling and business development could be elegant drew the attention of corporations and individuals alike who were hungry for an innovative approach to revenue generation. Since 2009, Houghtailing has partnered with a private university to launch an Institute for Sales and Business Development, founded The Millionaire Girls’ Movement, and toured her one-woman show, Renegade Princess.

She authored How I Created a Dollar Out of Thin Air and has written a second one woman show titled Raising Humans based on her TEDx talk Raising Men. Her writing has appeared in Yahoo! Finance, Daily Worth, Huffington Post, San Diego Business Journal and Ms. JD. Ann marie empowers people to earn their worth and live and work with passion and purpose that aligns with their personal values.

Bernhard Schroeder
Director, Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, SDSU

Bernhard Schroeder is Director of the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center Programs at SDSU and oversees all of the undergraduate and graduate internship programs, the Lavin VentureStart Programs, the SDSU Venture Challenge MBA competition as well as the SDSU business plan competition teams. He also has responsibility for the Center's marketing on both the SDSU campus and in the San Diego community. He is a part-time Clinical Faculty, Marketing within the College of Business Administration at San Diego State University. Bernhard brings over 20 years of marketing and entrepreneurial experience both as a Senior Partner in a leading global marketing agency and as a former Chief Marketing Officer on the client side.

Since moving to San Diego in 1997, he has specialized in working with senior executives and venture capitalists in either growth or turnaround opportunities with several companies including Nicholas-Applegate and Stellcom.

Sarah Tuakli Cooper
Owner - Sauté Creative

Founder and CEO at Sauté Creative, a collaborative branding & digital marketing agency that focuses on socially responsible and progressive startups. Prior to moving to San Diego in 2008, she spent 20 years teaching Audio Technology in UK Universities and running a private school and studio.  

An entertaining public speaker and referee, Sarah is taking on the challenge of moderating our speakers panel on Saturday. She aims to keep us all on the same page as we dig into the details of what makes the successful entrepreneur tick, and explore what specific challenges and contributions might exist for women in the start-up space.

Event Judges

Silvia Mah
CEO - Hera Labs

Silvia Mah is the CEO of Hera-Labs, a business accelerator for women-owned small businesses, co-founder of Hera Fund, an angel fund for female angels investing in female founders, and an angel investor in female-focused endeavors: Hera Hub, a spa-inspired co-working space for female entrepreneurs, The Sash Bag and Hera Therapeutics.

Her primary focus is in on (1) empowering, nurturing, and launching women-owned businesses globally, (2) investing in socially relevant new ventures that will allow women to break through barriers in order to excel and for the next generation of women entrepreneurs to have excellent examples of success.

Silvia was formerly Director of the Teams in Engineering Service program at the Jacobs School of Engineering, an Instructor to over 200 students on social entrepreneurship, project management, and leadership, and a Commercialization Analyst at the von Liebig Center for Entrepreneurism and Technology Advancement at UC San Diego.

Stephanie Burns
Founder at Chic CEO and creator of Top 3 for Entrepreneurs Podcast

As the founder and CEO of Chic CEO, the amazing Stephanie Burns works zealously to make sure women have the information they need to get a business started. Chic CEO is a free platform that provides the fundamental startup information anyone needs to start a business. While pursuing her MBA, Stephanie decided to launch Chic CEO for women who have a valuable core competencies but don't have time to get a business degree. From how to write a business plan to finding a break-even, Chic CEO is a one-stop resource for any female entrepreneur.

Stephanie is well-known in the San Diego business community and is frequently featured as a writer in Forbes magazine. In addition, Stephanie is the creator of the Top 3 for Entrepreneurs, a weekly podcast created for any business owner looking to get inspired, motivated and moving by asking successful entrepreneurs to share their Top 3 best tips. She interviews today's most impressive entrepreneurs to talk about their challenges and the top 3 things they want you to know in order to be successful.

Ryan Kuder
Managing Director, Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator, powered by Techstars

Ryan started his first business when he was in fourth grade...

Later in life he served as the VP of Marketing at @ecoATM, where the business grew 4X in just about a year and exited for $350M. He has grown companies from 0 users (@Bizzy), as well as managed large established global brands (@Yahoo).

Today, he helps early stage startups figure out product, customer acquisition, and branding to make things that users love. Basically, he digs startups and people who do awesome things. Nuff said.

Coaches and Mentors

Skyler McCurine
Founder and Owner at Le Red Balloon

Skyler McCurine is the founder and owner of Le Red Balloon, a business that helps to redefine beauty standards and promote women’s self-confidence through style.  She’s the Oprah of personal shopping and style. Skyler transforms her clientele’s confidence through encouragement, accountability, and bucket loads of style. Le Red Balloon is her  life's passion. She shows her clients how to embrace their idiosyncrasies and see themselves as beautiful and complete, through individualized fashion styling, interactive workshops, and mentorship. My clients are represented by a multitude of archetypes: various ages, relationship statuses, body types, ethnicities, budgets, and professions, but there is one unifying agent amongst them all – they want to love themselves more.

In addition to Le Red Ballon, Skyler has spoken at TEDxEncinitas. Her talk was titled “Hey, it’s not about you”.  You can watch her wonderful talk here.

Misty Birchall
Founder and Owner at PubCakes

Misty Birchall is an entrepreneur and renaissance woman at heart. Her employment career began at the US Navy where she spent 6 years serving as a Persian Linguist. Following her time at the Navy she decided to change direction and studied Interior Design at the Design Institute of San Diego.  Simultaneously, she learned accounting for a technology startup which got her on the path of entrepreneurship.

Since then she has launched her own business in San Diego called PubCakes, which combines her two loves...craft beer and cupcakes. Since she is the Founder and Owner, Misty finds herself doing a whole lot of everything, rarely ever a little bit of nothing, and no day is ever the same!

Barbara Murphy
Intellectual Property Guru

Mrs. Murphy’s practice includes all areas of intellectual property law, including procurement, licensing and litigation of patents, trademarks and copyrights. Her range of experience includes the litigation of patents relating to genetic engineering, licensing of patents and trademarks owned by the research arm of a national non-profit organization, ex parte seizures of counterfeit audio recordings, trademark registration and copyright licensing on behalf of a major publishing company and pro bono work for visual artists.

In addition to her professional pursuits, Mrs. Murphy has been active in numerous charitable organizations, including Junior Achievement, The Lawyers for the Creative Arts, Girl Scouts, The Parent Connection and Girls, Inc.

Karen Knight
Startup Weekend Winner & Owner of Blue Wolf Associates

Karen is an avid wine lover and the founder of corporate Giving Connection, a startup which will formally launch in May, 2015. cGC builds brand and meaningful engagement in the design of company cause programs. Her previous experience includes brand building , marketing  and sales management   in a variety of C-level positions, including her tenure as director of marketing for San Francisco Recreation Department, and as the grand opening director of sales for LEGOLAND California. Karen currently consults for a wide array of startups and businesses. She has participated in SD Startup twice winning third place in 2011,  and first place in 2012; when Karen’s team “KnottyVines", went on to represent SD  Startup in Global Battle.

Ha Phan
Speaker, UX Designer, Product Strategist, Information Architect. Currently at GoPro

Ha Phan is the jack of all trades.  She is no stranger to the digital world and has a broad range of experience across multiple segments.  She formerly worked at Nokia and the The Active Network, until she helped co-found Porch, where she also served as VP of design. Currently she is a UX designer for GoPro.

Her accolades include: acting as a speaker at the UX Summit 2014; Webby Winner for Best Music SIte, NPR Music 2009; Webby Awards Honoree, Best Practice, KCRW Media Player, 2008; and Web Marketing Association Web Award, Best Radio Web Site, KCRW Media Player, 2008.

Carol Naslund Willing
Geek in Residence at Fab Lab SD and Owner at Willing Consulting

Carol Naslund Willing can frequently be heard saying “That’s so cool. How does it work? I would love to learn more about it.” She has enjoyed developing software and electronics and teaching others for over 20 years.

Carol is currently a Geek-In-Residence at FabLab San Diego, an active contributor to open source projects, like OpenHatch, a co-organizer of PyLadies San Diego, and an independent developer of hardware and software. Weaving her love of art, music, and nature with wearable soft circuits, she is developing an open hardware project to assist an in-home caregiver with gentle, compassionate support of a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend San Diego: Women's Edition 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 San Diego is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Jen
  • Lindsay
  • Allison
  • Amber
  • Chelsea
  • June
  • Sonia
  • Kevin
  • Mia
  • Lisa
  • Julian
  • Sarah
  • Lucy


Jen Newell
Marketing and Communications Professional

I am part of the original organizing team of Startup Weekend San Diego and saw SW grow from toddler-hood to adulthood as early as 2007 in Boulder when it began.

I have recently worked at two Techstars companies, Carbon Robotics and CleverPet. I recently changed gears to do social media marketing at a large scientific instrument company.

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