AI++ Startup Weekend Seattle

    Friday, May 5 - 7, 2017

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

Friday, May 5 - 7, 2017

Friday, May 5 - 7, 2017
Event starts at 6:00 pm

3600 136th Pl SE # 300
Bellevue, WA 98006

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Empower Your Business with AI!

How would you use AI to transform the world around you? 

Team up with fellow innovators at Seattle's first AI Startup Weekend! We're bringing together professionals of all backgrounds to transform ideas into revenue.

Let's get together as engineers, entrepreneurs, business minds and innovators to develop, pitch, and disrupt the status quo using AI. You don't need to have an AI background. Our mentors will guide you through the process.

In just 54 hours, you'll experience the fast-paced world that defines life at a startup. As you learn how to create a real company, you'll meet the very best mentors, investors, co-founders, and sponsors who are ready to help get your idea off the ground.

This Startup Weekend event is hosted by Techstars Startup Programs and Seattle Entrepreneurship Club. It offers teams the opportunity to develop and pitch ideas, solutions and business proposals to a panel of industry experts.

Your AI Startup Weekend ticket includes:
- Full access to the event
- Dinner on Friday and all meals over the weekend
- Startup Weekend T-shirt
- Mentors, coaches, investors, and networking opportunities with industry professionals

See what it's all about

Learn More


Friday May 5th

6:00 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:30 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

6:40 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

7:10 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 May 6th

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 May 7th

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

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Xuedong Huang

Dr. Xuedong Huang is a Microsoft Technical Fellow in Microsoft AI and Research. He leads Microsoft's Speech and Language Team. As Microsoft's Chief Speech Scientist, he pioneered to lead the team achieving a historical conversational speech recognition human parity milestone in 2016. 

In 1993, Huang joined Microsoft to found the company's speech technology group. As the general manager of Microsoft's spoken language efforts for over a decade, he helped to bring speech recognition to the mass market by introducing SAPI to Windows in 1995 and Speech Server to the enterprise call center in 2004. Prior to his current role, he spent five years in Bing as chief architect working to improve search and ads. 

Before Microsoft, he was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University and achieved the best performance of all categories in 1992’s DARPA speech recognition benchmarking. 

He received Alan Newell research excellence leadership medal in 1992 and IEEE Best Paper Award in 1993. He is an IEEE & ACM fellow. He was named as the Asian American Engineer of the Year (2011), and one of Wired Magazine's 25 Geniuses Who Are Creating the Future of Business (2016). He holds over 100 patents and published over 100 papers & 2 books.

Event Judges

Matt Bencke
Founder and CEO of Mighty AI

Matt Bencke is the Founder and CEO of Mighty AI, the world's leading Training Data as a Service™ platform. Mighty AI provides the highly accurate, domain-specific, structured human insights that companies need to apply their artificial intelligence and machine learning models. Mighty AI operates Spare5, the micro-task platform that enables people to spend their spare time productively. 
Matt is an entrepreneur, proven operations leader and change agent who drives new business and product strategies based on deep analysis, inspired leadership and focused execution. He has accrued multiple strong successes across technology, strategy, business development, design, e-commerce, marketing and manufacturing in his 20+ year career. His passion is attracting great talent, fostering a meaningful team culture, and taking performance to new levels. He has created, advised, led and grown businesses ranging from several millions to several billions in annual revenue.

Mark Neuhausen
Chief Technologist and Angel Investor

Mark Neuhausen is a technology entrepreneur with ~40 years experience successfully launching new products and services for small-to-large companies. First career as a defense contractor rising to a VP responsible for a $300M annual business providing cradle-to-grave development through field support for the world's most advanced remote airborne reconnaissance systems. Second career in "new" fields of networking, digital telecommunications, and cloud that built on his first career experiences. Worked at small and large companies developing new services and growing customer bases. 
Now applying his knowledge and experience at Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a Chief Technologist. Also, mentoring, working with, and investing in technology startups to help them grow and succeed. Virtual CEO for a Seattle-area startup building a self-securing private cloud infrastructure.

Yi-Jian Ngo
Managing Director, leads the Alliance of Angels

A network engineer by training, Yi-Jian stumbled into the startup world when AT&T rebooted its corporate venture fund and recruited him as a founding team member. Working closely with entrepreneurs and helping them build their companies turned out to be such a blast that he continued that work at Microsoft. More recently, he was a venture capitalist at Sierra Ventures, where he focused on investments in mobile and enterprise/infrastructure software & services from around the world. Yi-Jian holds an MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell.

Jay Bartot
CTO, Madrona Venture Labs

Jay is a technology executive, machine-learning enthusiast and serial entrepreneur whose startup career spans over 20 years. Jay co-founded 4 venture-funded data/analytics companies including AdRelevance, Farecast, Medify and Vhoto which were acquired by Nielsen/NetRatings, Microsoft, Alliance Health Networks and Hulu, respectively. Jay is currently CTO of Madrona Venture Labs where he and his colleagues work on spinning up new company ideas, applying thoughtful vetting processes to weed out the good from the bad and ultimately working with founding teams to take the best ideas out into the wild.

Coaches and Mentors

Brian Anderson
Senior Vice President - Solution Innovation at iSoftStone

Brian Anderson is a Senior Vice President and the lead of iSoftStone’s North American solutions and engineering practices. Mr. Anderson is responsible for the research and development, product management and delivery of iSoftStone's solutions related to Digital Experiences, Workforce Productivity and Smart City. With over 18 years experience in IT leadership, he has built globally scalable teams to deliver enterprise solutions for many Fortune 500 companies.

Amy Du
CEO of VestLink Group; Partner at GirlUp Entrepreneur

Ms. Amy Du is the founder and CEO of VestLink Group, a global platform to connect innovators, startup founders and international investors. She is also a founding partner at GirlUp Entrepreneur Seattle, a women entrepreneur network originated from Beijing, China with over 200,000 members worldwide.
Prior to VestLink, Amy co-founded DefinedCrowd, a big data company that processes machine learning training data to make artificial intelligence more human. It had received over $1.5M investment from high-profile investors in US and Asia.
During early time of Amy’s career, she served in multiple senior executive roles in global technology organizations. In her last corporate position as the Vice President of Worldwide Services at iSoftStone, she created a new service line generating over $10 million revenue in 3 years.

Marion Desmazières
International Expansion Lead, Amazon Alexa

Marion is a tech business developer based in Seattle, WA. She manages international expansion of developer programs for Alexa, the voice service powering Amazon's Echo devices. Before joining Amazon about four years ago, Marion coordinated the 2012 Global Startup Battle and managed partner relations for Startup Weekend in Seattle. She holds a Master's in Business Management from EDHEC Business School and an MBA in Technology Commercialization from the University of Alberta. A Startup Weekend veteran, Marion has facilitated 20+ events in France, Canada, the US, Algeria and Morocco.

Jonathan Gagliardoni
Cofounder of SHOP

Jonathan is a Cofounder of SHOP, a retail blockchain protocol supporting the value exchanges between Shoppers and Brands.

Jonathan is a proven retail and eCommerce tech innovator and educator who has been Head of Product Management and Product Development for software and physical goods throughout his career in early stage and enterprise retail companies. Jonathan facilitates strategy around the execution of the value exchanges between Brands, Shoppers, and Developers through building the SHOP community and engaging with the broader retail and blockchain communities.

Jonathan has deep roots with the University of Washington, holding a degree in Business Entrepreneurship and works with students in the UW MBA and Electrical Engineering Programs. Jonathan is also an instructor at the University of Washington for Software Product Management and leading efforts to develop a Blockchain course for the University.

Leo Novsky
Coach, Lecturer, Business Catalyst

Leo Novsky is a professional speaker, executive presentation coach at SPEAK with Power Consulting and an Adjunct Lecturer at University of Washington Bothell School of Business.

Leo has over 17 years of experience in communication, training, marketing and business development. His educational background includes a BA in English Literature from the University of Chicago and an MBA from the University of Dallas. He is a published author, inventor and founder of several start-ups. He is fluent in English, Russian, and conversant in Japanese.

Teresa Escrig
CEO and cofounder of Qualitative Artificial Intelligence (QAI)

CEO and cofounder of Qualitative Artificial Intelligence (QAI). QAI provides solutions based on the formalization of common sense reasoning, transforming data with uncertainty into knowledge and wisdom, by extracting the most relevant information in real time. Key technology areas include qualitative modeling (representation, reasoning and learning), Ontologies, and 3D Graph Web Visualization. Applications include DNA base calling, Cyber Security, IoT, Decision Support, Recommendation Systems, robust Autonomous Systems, and Artificial Vision.

Xuchen Yao
Founder of KITT.AI

Xuchen Yao is the co-founder of KITT.AI, a Natural Language Understanding startup supported by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Amazon, Founders' Co-op and Madrona. KITT.AI's customizable hotword detector and conversation engine bring always-on and multi-turn dialogue capabilities to any voice or text based devices/bots. Xuchen Yao has a PhD degree from the Johns Hopkins University, and Masters from University of Groningen and Saarland University, all in human language technologies.

Guoguo Chen
Co-founder, KITT.AI

Guoguo Chen is a core developer of the deep learning based speech recognition toolkit Kaldi, and an author/contributor to the Microsoft's Cognitive Toolkit (CNTK). Guoguo wrote the prototype hotword detection system of "OK Google", now used on over 100 million Android and Google Home devices. In 2015, Guoguo and his teammate won the ASpIRE (Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments) challenge hosted by IARPA. Guoguo Chen graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a PhD in speech recognition in 2016.

Xin Huang
CTO at Basefount Technology

Xin started off as a fast coder, hacking all the way up to become a technological leader. During this journey, he published Siggraph papers, worked on game engines, optimized games, wrote profitable Android and iOS apps and did full stack development of business grade client server applications that are currently in service. He has very broad understanding of today's popular technologies, while at the same time has deep knowledge of computer graphics, performance optimization, game development as well as VR / AR related development.
While being technical, Xin also has extensive team leadership skills that led to many successful projects. He is quite good at navigating ambiguity and highly determined, a trait that is proven to drive teamwork.

Yang Song
Senior Software Engineer at Google

Dr.Yang Song is a Senior Software Engineer at Google Seattle office, working on applying deep learning and machine learning techniques to Google's Ads system. He has co-authored over 40 publications in top international journals and conferences in computer science. He has been invited to give talks at several international conferences, universities and research institutes. Before joining Google, Dr. Song spent 7 years at Microsoft Research Redmond as a Researcher, where he and his colleagues have contributed to many projects for Microsoft's products, including Bing, Ads Center, Cortana etc.

Craig Damlo
Innovation Coach

Craig Damlo coaches companies in creating leading-edge innovations through culture, strategy, and problem definition. With a background in aerospace innovation and product development, Craig helps companies evaluate and build strong innovation cultures through a solid set of processes and strategies. Craig specializes in utilizing human-centered design principles of design thinking to help companies empathize with their customers and understand the problems to be solved before a product or system is developed. Craig started his career in aerospace at Cessna Aircraft as part of experimental test flight as a design engineer followed by oxygen system development for a variety of aircraft platforms. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Baker University in Baldwin City, KS, and completed a graduate program in innovation and entrepreneurship from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. 

Meridith Fishkin
Asst Finance Manager Futurist

Meridith is a social trend prediction expert with her finger on the pulse of social and mobile commerce, gaming, and consumer products and services. Through Outlines Venture Group, Meridith provides consulting services to early stage startups, including insight into current and future trends and competitive landscapes to support optimal productization and marketing. 
Meridith's work experience includes Seaport Environmental Finance Management at the Port of Seattle, gaming convention and theater management, costuming and staging, She is a professional author, painter and sculptor. Her work is sold under the name, Killiandrake.

Thibaut Labarre
Software Development Manager, Angel Investor

Engineering Manager with a Darwinian approach to innovation and long time Startup Weekend participant and organizer. Over the past 4 and a half years at Amazon, Thibaut built Heartbeat, a tool that leverages Natural Language Processing to combine millions of data points from disparate sources like product reviews, customer contacts, and social media to provide this information to worldwide product teams. 7k users access the tool every month to meet operational cost reduction goals and drive product improvements. Heartbeat started as his internship project and is now developed by a team of 18 engineers.

Suchit Ligade
Senior Product Manager - Technical

Suchit is a Senior Product Manager at Amazon, working on the Amazon Silk Browser for Fire TV, Tablets and Echo Show. Prior to Silk, Suchit worked in the Kindle mobile app platform, enabling readers to enjoy ebooks better than print books. He is also a co-founder of the InSITE Fellowship non-profit chapter in Seattle. Suchit started his career in hardware engineering in the Internet of Things space, developing sensors and firmware to smartly communicate with each other. While working at startups, he began enjoying product management and operations role, and eventually focused on startup product management. He holds an MBA in entrepreneurship from the Georgetown University and has consulted for several startups on the east coast.

Hong Lu
Clobotics Engineering VP

Hong Lu earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Texas A&M University in 2008. Since then, he worked for Amazon, Microsoft, and Facebook, mainly in the areas of web search and large scale distributed service infrastructure. In Amazon, he shipped the next generation corporate gift certificate pipeline as the tech lead. In Microsoft Bing, he served as senior development manager. He led the team and shipped 10+ point of fresh search relevance gain. He incubated and shipped the Bing knowledge graph based Wikipedia app.  In Facebook, he was responsible for developing Facebook’s internal large scale distributed service sharding infrastructure. He now serves as the engineering VP in Clobotics, a leading startup in commercial drone big data.

Marc Naddell
Chairman of the Board for the Developer Program Management Association (,

Marc started in product management, and brought numerous mobile devices, infrastructure, APIs, software and service offerings to market, along with industry leading ecosystem programs and outreach campaigns. His creativity enabled him to be awarded with 20 patents for new features in location based services, network operation and mobile device user interfaces.
Marc Naddell, is the founder of Results Oriented Consulting Services, which drives ecosystem impact for companies targeting developers & partners, and serves on the board of IntelliPro Group, a fast growing talent recruiting and management company with presence in India, China and the US.

Cathy Peng
Chief Business Development Officer at Ethertronics, Inc

Cathy Peng, is the Executive Vice President of the IntelliPro Group, a fast growing talent recruiting and management consulting company with offices in New Delhi, Shenzhen, Seattle and Silicon Valley. Cathy is a recognized leader in driving corporate culture change and results through organizational development, globalization and cross culture management.  Recognized within the industry, Cathy has repeatedly received accolades and awards for her leadership and insights. She was recognized with a Women of the year of M2M (Machine to Machine) Award at the Connected World in 2014, a Business Leader of Color Award by Chicago United Magazine in 2013, , and top 100 most diverse  Executive Leader Award by Diversity MBA Magazine in 2011.

Larry LaMotte
Founder of ReCapturIt

Larry LaMotte is not the guy who knew what he wanted to be since age 7. No. He is trained as an Architect. He built his own home. He has worked since age 8: paper routes, farm work, bike taxi, singing telegrams, waiter, carpenter, designer, consultant, mentor, multiple business owner, a couple reinventions, and through most of it all, an entrepreneur. Curious and thoughtful, he writes, listens, reads, learns. His career process has been an ever-refining lens, crudely at first, yet continually directing his energies, talents and passions toward a more intense focus. His new startup, ReCapturIt, is the culmination of his work.

Rong Ge
Senior Staff Engineer at Google

Rong Ge is currently a tech lead manager of Demographics team at Google. Her expertise ranges from applied Machine Learning, Data Mining, to Optimization Algorithms in ads serving. She graduated from Simon Fraser University, Canada with a Ph.D degree in Computing Science.

Wei Xia
Sr. Scientist, Amazon Rekognition

Wei is now a Sr. computer vision scientist at Amazon Rekognition, an AWS AI service for visual content analysis. His research interests focus on large-scale visual recognition and deep learning. Previously he was the Chief Scientist at Orbeus (acquired by Amazon in Sep 2015), leading research efforts of developing visual recognition algorithms, to support both the APIs and consumer-end products, like PhotoTime.

Steve Krug
Managing Director, ICONA Creative

Steve is the owner of Seattle based graphic design studio ICONA Creative. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in his home state of Wisconsin, he moved to Seattle in 2003 where he’s worked in the fields of graphic, architectural, and industrial design. Steve has also devoted time to volunteering for health and social service organizations in Seattle, Thailand, Australia and Peru. Now, after starting ICONA Creative, he applies his 20 years of diverse experience to building brands through visual storytelling. 

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The AI++ Startup Weekend Seattle 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.



Special Thanks

Organizing Team

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

  • Fan
  • Raymond
  • Lee
  • Yu
  • Yao
  • Claire
  • Wendy
  • Huiyong


Lee Ngo
Educational Technology Community Architect

Lee Ngo is an educational technology community architect and founded his startup Scholar Hero through Startup Weekend. Previously, he served as Regional Manager for UP Global (acquired by Techstars) and has worked for educational organizations such as Strayer University, Galvanize, and Metis. Lee is currently the Chief Operating Officer with the Greater Foundation (

Event Staff

Nikki Zhai

Niya Zhang

Saturn Zhang

Janey Greenstein

Janice Gao

Jianfeng Lin

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