Startup Weekend Girls

    Friday, May 15 - 17, 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 Girls

Friday, May 15 - 17, 2015

Friday, May 15 - 17, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

Lake Washington Girls Middle School
810 18th Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98122

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StartUp Weekend Girls, Seattle, WA, (5th-10th grade girls)

Startup Weekend GIRLS is almost here!
Participant's Packet

Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The professional and personal challenges, the highs and lows, the failures and the successes?

Startup Weekend Girls Edition is specially designed for the next generation’s entrepreneurs-in-the-making, 
fifth through tenth grade GIRLS. Our team of highly innovative and connected mentors and judges will create an atmosphere of exercises and experiences that will teach girls how to come up with business ideas, conduct market research, prototype, work in teams, and “pitch” their ideas to a room full of people. Our goal is to give girls the confidence to innovate and create they will need to succeed in all aspects of life.

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model – which we will massage to fit the needs of our aspiring entrepreneurs: participants pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams form organically around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!

Ready to be part of something big? Join us: we’re assembling 35 to 40 of the most motivated and excited entrepreneurial-minded girls for a very special edition of Startup Weekend on May 15, 16, and 17, 2015. We provide the working space, brain fuel, food, mentors, new friends, and inspiring speakers and judges. You supply the energy and innovation to build something big over the weekend.

Ready to join us? We only have 35-40 (depending on demand) spots available so we expect the event to sell out fast. The weekend will be hosted at Lake Washington Girls Middle School in the Central District of Seattle.

Get ready to build something exciting. Sign up now and see you May 15!

Why a girl-focused Startup Weekend?
The entrepreneurial talent we see from girls in Seattle is inspiring, and we are excited about creating an event that will inspire them to dream big and work hard. We hope to provide the opportunity for the aspiring girl entrepreneurs in our community to innovate and create; to get inspired by an idea/product/team; to become more connected with other brilliant entrepreneurially-minded individuals in Seattle (so when they’re ready for the “real world,” they already have a support system!); and to show the girls that not only are their dreams and goals a real possibility, but that their gender does not impact the difference they can make in the world.

Why is it important to teach girls entrepreneurial skills?
  1. Entrepreneurship teaches life skills. Not everyone will grow up wanting to own a business, and there is nothing wrong with that. Still it is important for girls to learn the basics of running a business because they will pick up life skills that can be useful in a variety of situations. Risk taking is a big one. To be an entrepreneur, you must be comfortable with taking action, even without having a clear idea of the outcome.
  2. It is not an either/or situation. We all might be tired of talking about this, but the problem still exists: Starting from a young age, girls feel like they have to decide between a career or personal life. We can’t sit around waiting for society to change. Instead, we have to teach girls that it can be normal to have both a career and a rich personal life, if that's something that they want.  
  3. Women kick butt in business! This is not an us-vs.-them debate, but statistics show that women are good at business. So why not try to encourage more of this? Recent research by Vivek Wadhwa and Lesa Mitchell found that women-led private tech companies achieve a 35 percent higher return on investment. Think about how much better off we would all be if we taught women about business at a younger age.
  4. When women are encouraged to start businesses, the world can become a better place. A 2012 study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that many women use their success for social good, donating more money to worthy causes than their male counterparts. This can’t be a bad thing for any of us!

Will the participants be required to pitch or work on “girl-focused” startup ideas?
No, participants can pitch and work on any kind of startup idea they wish!

What will the girls be learning?
When running a business, it's important to make sure you have the basics down pat.

Over the weekend girls will be exploring...

1. Business Model Validation
Who are the key partners? Is there a customer acquisition/rollout strategy? Are they able to identify customers (demographic, location etc)? Did they get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers? What is the cost and revenue breakdown?

2. Product Execution
Can they establish a "Minimal Viable Product" (MVP) for the weekend (software, hardware, tangible product, service etc)? Are they able to demo something functional?

3. User Experience Design
Does it have a professional look and feel? Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Is it memorable? What key insights were gathered over the weekend to go into this creative direction?


Friday May 15th

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

6:00 pm
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders.

6:20 pm

6:30 pm
Rebecca Lovell!

7:00 pm
Pitching Intro and Practice

8:00 pm
Go home
Time to get some sleep before the excitement begins at 9a tomorrow morning!

Saturday May 16th

9:00 am
Arrive, sign in, get settled. Simple breakfast of bagels (from Eltana), yogurt, fruit, and juices served.

9:15 am
Pitch Primer

9:30 am
Pitches Start
Line up to give your pitch.

10:15 am
Attendees vote for the top pitches.

10:30 am
Announce Teams
We will announce the top ideas pitched and the teams that will be working on them.

11:30 am
Eat! Tamales/Rice/Beans from El Camion!

12:15 pm
Work Time
Teams start discussing ideas. Coaches join teams. Prototyping, web design, brainstorming, etc.

4:45 pm
Finished for the day. Rest up for tomorrow!

Sunday May 17th

9:00 am
Arrive, sign in, get settled. Simple breakfast of bagels (from Eltana), yogurt, fruit, and juices served.

9:15 am
Warm up and goal setting
Join back up with your teams, create to-do lists.

10:00 am
Work time
Finish prototypes, practice pitches.

12:00 pm
Sandwiches and salads.

1:00 pm
Pitch Practice
Practice pitches with new coaches...ASK QUESTIONS.

2:00 pm
Finishing touches
Final chunk of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place.

2:30 pm

3:00 pm
Final Pitches
Present your business plan to the judges and the audience.

4:00 pm
Judging & Awards

5:00 pm
Go Home!
Thank you for innovating and taking risks with us!


Rebecca Lovell
Director, Create33

With more than 20 years of management and operating experience, and over a decade running and supporting startups, Rebecca currently serves as Director at Create33, a founder center conceived by Madrona Venture Group. She was previously Director of the City of Seattle's Office of Economic Development, having progressed through leadership roles in the office, including serving as the City's first Startup Advocate. Prior to joining the City, she was GeekWire's first Chief Business Officer, Executive Director of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, and Program Director of the Alliance of Angels.  Having received her MBA from the UW Foster school of business in 2006, she has served on their Employer Advisory Board since 2008, and is currently an instructor in entrepreneurship for their Technology Management MBA Program.  She has been a committed Techstars mentor since their Seattle launch in 2010, is the Board Chair for the national Center of American Entrepreneurship, and was recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of the top 100 women in tech and as "Do Gooder of the Year." 

Event Judges

Mónica Guzmán
Columnist at The Seattle Times, GeekWire

Mónica Guzmán is a Sunday columnist for The Seattle Times and a weekly columnist for GeekWire, covering issues in digital life. She emcees Ignite Seattle, a popular grab bag and community fueled speaker series, leads the Western Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as board president, serves on the National Advisory Board of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and in 2012 joined the Seattle hub of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. A juror for the 2014 Pulitzer Prizes, Mónica contributed the closing chapter, “Community As an End,” to the 2013 book “The New Ethics of Journalism: Principles for the 21st Century” and is vice-chair of the SPJ Ethics Committee, which just revised the influential SPJ Code of Ethics for the first time in 16 years. From 2007 to 2010, Mónica launched and ran the award-winning Big Blog at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and, complementing news and culture coverage with weekly reader meetups. From 2010 to 2012 she developed user communities for Seattle startups like Intersect, Trover, and Glympse before kicking off her column in the Times. She serves on the the board of the University of Washington Information School’s Masters in Science and Information Management program and is an advisor to Seattle international news site The Seattle Globalist. Since 2007, Mónica has spoken about journalism, community engagement and digital media to audiences around the world. In September 2010, she traveled to El Salvador on a U.S. State Department grant to train local journalists on new tech tools. From 2013 to 2014, she dissected media tech trends as a regular panelist on PBS MediaShift’s weekly Mediatwits podcast.Mónica is the recipient of the 2013 Northwest Excellence in Journalism award for Best General Column, Large Newspapers for her columns in The Seattle Times, and the same contest’s 2011 and 2012 Best Online Commentary awards for her columns on GeekWire. She’s been named one of the Top 100 Women in Seattle Tech, one of the Poynter Institute’s 35 social media influencers and one of the Society of Professional Journalists’ “Quill” magazine’s 20 journalists to follow on TwitterBefore she made Seattle home, Mónica covered crime for the Houston Chronicle and higher education and features for Michigan’s Midland Daily News as a Hearst Newspapers Fellow. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Film Studies from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where graduated at the top of her class in 2005. Mónica is a big fan of free WiFi, good boots, and chocolate. In 2010, she married her partner in geekdom, Jason Preston. They live in northeast Seattle with their 2-year-old son, Julian, and a brand new daughter, Lina.

Zach Smith
Technology & Innovation Leader

Zachary Smith is a technology, design thinking, and innovation leader with more than 19 years of product development and client services experience, serving a wide range of industries and organizations including startups, Wall Street banks, automotive manufacturers, enterprise software platform providers, creative studios, and consulting agencies.

As a Partner with Social Venture Partners, a Seattle-based philanthropic organization, Zachary serves on the Portfolio Grant Committee and is dedicated to helping to strengthen non-profit organizations committed to the mission of improving K-12 education and making the Puget Sound region a place where sustainable communities thrive.

Zachary speaks at conferences, teaches, and facilitates workshops on topics including Lean and Agile software development, leadership, design thinking, and innovation. Zachary is co-founder of the Seattle Design Thinking & Innovation Collective, a monthly Meetup with over 1200 active members focused on creating a network of innovators in the Seattle area and teaching design thinking through immersive and experiential activities.

Casi Schwisow
Seattle Program Manager at Girls Who Code

Coaches and Mentors

Bryan Lhuillier
Founder/CPO of Shiftboard

Bryan Lhuillier is the founder, former CEO, and now CPO of Shiftboard, Inc, a leading provider of online workforce management and mobile scheduling applications. Prior to founding Shiftboard in 2002, Bryan held an assortment of technical product development and business management positions within leading organizations such as Applied Commerce, Microsoft, Xypoint, and the Cleveland Clinic. With over 15 years of experience in technical product management, design, and development, Bryan has successfully evolved Shiftboard to support the flexible workforce management needs of nearly 2000 organizations of various size and industry. For more information, visit

Diane Najm
Founder at PhotoPad/ The Founder Institute/Olive Crest

A Serial Entrepreneur CEO & Founder Of PhotoPad for Business. A leader and passionate about the start-up community, Serves as Former  Director, Seattle Founder Institute, Mentor, Coach and organizer to Start up Weekend, Expert Panelist and speaker on Entrepreneurship,Invited to the White House Digital Tech summit and served on Delegation for Vancouver First Startup Week and panelist for Bridging the Gap between Seattle and Vancouver , as well as, seeks ways to help entrepreneurs  connect with one another and provides resources to assure success.   Thought leader and advocate for Women Entrepreneurs and empower them to pursue their startups serving as advisers to start-ups ,Board of Directors  to  Women In Wireless and Women in Tech.Passionate to give back to the community in the philanthropy sector, serving on the Board of Trustee for a non-profit  Olive Crest

T.A. McCann
Founder, Rival IQ

TA is the founder of RivalIQ, – the best way to analyze and monitor your competitive landscape. Focused on marketers who want to get ahead, RivalIQ saves you time and delivers key insights where you stand and what is working to reach your customers.

He was previously VP of Product Strategy at Blackberry (formally Research in Motion), focused on BBM (Blackberry Messenger), Blackberry social applications (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter…) as well as the native Contacts apps. He was the founder of (sold to RIM in February 2011) as well as Jump2Go and 3 other web based companies.

He is an active advisor to startup companies in Seattle including Creative Live, Venpop (sold to Lockerz), Zooppa, Thinkfuse (sold to Salesforce, Aug 2012), and EveryMove. He is an active angel investor via Founders Co-op and SKV.

He likes sharing his experience and ideas, so he spend lots of time at Founders Institute, Startup Weekend (on the board) and Techstars (active mentor) as well as Lake Washington Girls Middle School (on the board).

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.

Alexis Mohr
Director of Demand Generation at Azuqua

As a female working in a large capacity role within a startup I'm acutely aware of where my education has and has not prepared to me both lead and succeed. I'm very interested in seeing females leading more startups of their own and trusting their ideas enough to build a company behind those ideas.

Liz Hunt

Over the years, I’ve led a variety of product and technology teams at startups as well as larger companies like Starbucks, frog, and Sapient. I have an engineering degree, an eclectic mix of software development skills (predominantly in mobile and web), and extensive expertise in user experience design.

Buzz Bruggeman
Co-Founder of ActiveWords

Buzz Bruggeman is one of the co-founders of ActiveWords. He graduated with honors from Coe College and from Duke University Law School. Prior to ActiveWords he spent 30 years as real estate lawyer/litigator. He runs all of the outward facing aspects of ActiveWords, including marketing and partnering, and as such is responsible for evangelizing ActiveWords to everyone he meets. Buzz has spoken at many tech industry events, has been on the advisory board of the Demo Conference, won a Demo god award, and has been featured in books by Dan Gillmor and Robert Scoble. Buzz has been a long time participant in the startup and blogging community, and routinely speaks and consults on using new media tools to market and evangelize software.

Sébastien Motte
Founder & Chief Business Enabler of Mintonic

Sébastien Motte is the Founder & Chief Business Enabler of Mintonic. Prior to start Mintonic in September 2013, he was Senior Director of Worldwide Business Development for Microsoft Studios. For thirteen years, Sébastien built and led an international business development team responsible for all Xbox first-party games. He was in charge of identifying and securing all partnerships with independent game studios and global consumer brand companies for Microsoft Studios games and entertainment content exclusive to Xbox LIVE, XBLA, Xbox 360, Kinect, Windows Phone, Windows 8 and Xbox One. He was leading a diverse team of 20+ international business development professionals, responsible for investing and negotiating triple digit million dollar advance royalties budget across 500+ deals per year.Sébastien started as one of the first employees in the Game Division nineteen years ago as Product Manager in the Microsoft French subsidiary, launching the first-party lineup of games developed for DirectX and Windows 95.  In 1997, he moved to Seattle, Washington, to manage the marketing of the Age of Empires and Close Combat franchises. In 2000, one year prior the launch of Xbox, he took on his business development role to start building the first console development partnerships for Microsoft Game Studios and develop a world-class exclusive first-party portfolio with AAA franchises such as Halo, Gears of Wars, Forza, Fable, Alan Wake, etc.Prior to Microsoft, Sébastien spent two years in Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa working for a brewery as "economical cooperant" in charge of launching Tuborg beer.Sébastien grew up in a rural village in France and holds a degree in Agriculture Engineering from Institut Supérieur d'Agriculture de Lille. He is also interested in environment and sustainability businesses and a member of Social Venture Partners and Elements 8 formerly known as Northwest Energy Angels (the first angel group in the United States to focus exclusively on clean technology and sustainability). 
Sébastien’s passions include yoga, living by the water, sailing, skiing, trekking, adventure travelling and photography. He is a certified Kundalini yoga instructor and the proud single father of two kids, Luca and Stella, an ongoing humbling and fulfilling experience.

Erika Shaffer
Director of Strategic Communications, Madrona Venture Group

Adam Pearson
Software Developer at Substantial, Inc

I have been a professional software developer for 17 years with experience at companies like Getty Images and Substantial.

At Substantial I have had experience building a variety of software products ranging from mobile games to a real-time, globally distributed whiteboard system. I currently lead and manage a team of eight people at Substantial.

I have some general experience in team building, people management, and creative collaboration.

I have more specific and deep experience in modern object-oriented software design including test-driven development.

In January, my wife gave birth to our first child, our daughter, Ayla, who we hope to someday be interested in such an event!

Allie Sterling
Software Development Intern, Ada Developers Academy

Alexandra Koch

I am currently a 10th grader at Lakeside School, and am extremely interested in entrepreneurship. I was a a former Startup Weekend EDU winner ( ) and have been an intern at a startup company called MDInsider in LA. My Startup Weekend was an adult event, and I was the only young member in the winning group. I am particularly passionate about helping young girls navigate their way through the field of business and would love to be a mentor/coach at this event. Having successfully experienced the Startup Weekend event myself, I think I would bring valuable insight to the participants.

Joey Aquino
Business Development Manager at

Joey Aquino is currently a Business Development Manager at working specifically on the Amazon Appstore. His main role is working with app developers and startups all around the world to help them get integrated into their platform and scale their business through the Amazon ecosystem. Prior to Amazon he has been involved in the startup space for a few years where he founded 2 non-profits (an incubator for student entrepreneurs and micro-financing program that funded student startups), Business Development Manger @ (acquired by and then was a PM at UP Global running their innovation program. His current SW count is over 60 events in 10 countries and has hung out with one cheetah.

Wes Ducey
Project Engineer

Wes is currently an engineer at LPD Engineering in Seattle. His work focuses on designing stormwater management solutions for schools, cities, and private developments. Wes graduated from Harvey Mudd College with a degree in general engineering. His first job out of college at Reasoning Mind focused on implementing educational software for schools to better support students in Math. On the weekends, Wes volunteers at the Northeast Seattle Tool Library, teaching chainsaw classes and brainstorming with community members how to best complete their projects.

Alex Vollmer

I've been writing software for over fifteen years. I've done a lot of heavy server-side work with both Java and Ruby. For the last five years I've been focused almost exclusively on iOS. I've delivered applications for large e-commerce companies, applications that won awards and, mostly importantly, applications that delight users.

I also have extensive web, database and networking experience. I get things done, express thoughts clearly and treat people with respect.

Dan Gigante
Digital Director, 19 IDEAS

Dan is a web and mobile app developer, and technical advisor with 20 years experience building custom software solutions for a variety of businesses, including Mattel, Birds Eye Foods, and North American Breweries. From 2000 to 2010, Dan was co-founder and partner at clevermethod, a local web development company, which he helped grow to a Fortune 5000 business. In 2010 Dan launched You and Who, a buy-one-give-one social good company that helps people in need across the U.S. You and Who now focuses on its line "26 Shirts", an initiative founded by Del Reid that Del and Dan lead - a limited edition shirt released every 2 weeks with $8 from every sale going to help a family in need or foundation. In 2014, Dan joined 19 IDEAS as a partner and is Digital Director for the growing marketing communications company leading their digital projects and business development.

Named one of Buffalo Business First’s ‘40 Under 40’ in 2013, Dan is a tireless advocate for the start-up and tech community in Western New York. He is a founding organizer for Startup Weekend Buffalo, and co-chair for BarCamp Buffalo 2014. Dan has served on several non-profit boards, including March of Dimes, American Cancer Society and InfoTech Niagara. He has given numerous talks to computer programming and business classes at Buffalo State College and State University of New York at Buffalo, and was a featured speaker at the 2014 TEDxYouth@Buffalo event. At Buffalo Startup Weekend 2014, Dan pitched and led the first place team, Three Square Meals, a working food-centric mobile app that was developed in 54 hours.

Derek Maffett
Web Developer, Substantial

I'm a web developer coming from a background in medical research and speech therapy. I'm passionate about learning new technology and making high quality apps to make a difference in people's lives.

Melissa Scott
Lead Designer, Substantial

I'm an art director, designer and strategic creative with over a decade of diverse multi-platform experience and a passion for creating brand-led work that connects people, technology and lifestyle. I've recently made the transition to the west coast — diving head first into leading digital product teams across a range of clients, technologies and industries.

Joni Barrott
Customer Service Executive

Building trust and rapport are essential for the partnership required to accomplish excellent results. I mentor endlessly, creatively design workflows, while using performance management to build skills and create high performing teams. I find joy in facilitating the career growth of talented employees. 

I am passionate about cross functional collaboration that helps create a superior customer experience. Anticipate customer expectations, provide resources for self help, prepare employees to respond intelligently, and rapid feedback loops for course corrections ...iterating endlessly on those simple steps will lower costs of operations and create better products for your customers. 

Mobile devices and innovative software are huge opportunities to create better customer and employee experiences! This will affect all products and services in the near future, what an exciting time for a creative problem solver.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Startup Weekend Girls 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.




In Kind

Organizing Team

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

  • Shannon
  • Caitlin
  • Becky
  • Patti
  • Cristina
  • Christine
  • Chelsea


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.

Event Staff

Robert Sim
Applied Research Lead at Microsoft Corporation

Louise Almgren

Cara Postilion
Product Manager at Getty Images

John Russell
Director Business Management, Planning and Communications, Skype

Event Blog

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