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NEO Center, 934 Clark Street, Lansing, MI

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Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success? 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 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011.

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: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour 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.

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.

For the Welcome to Startup Weekend Packet, click here.



Oct 5
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • 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


Oct 6
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Oct 7
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors

Jeff Siarto

Co-Founder, Loudpixel   |   LinkedIn

Jeff Siarto is the co-founder and Director of Technology at Loudpixel, an East Lansing-based social media research and analytics company he started in 2009 with his wife and college friend. Jeff is also an adjunct instructor within the Telecommunications, Information Studies and Media department at Michigan State University specializing in web design, development and web server administration. Jeff was working on the web before it was cool and now focuses on web application design and information graphics. He's the co-author of Head First Web Design (O'Reilly, 2009) and Head First WordPress (O'Reilly, 2010) and the primary producer on a web design screencast series for O'Reilly. When he's not busy at work or in the classroom, Jeff spends his time with his wife and evil cat and works in the secret basement headquarters of Bitcave, his stealth design firm and tiny airplane research lab.

Mark Hooper

Capital Community Angels   |   LinkedIn

Broad based public accounting career with experiences ranging from service to individuals to publicly traded companies. Growth and succession planning to entrepreneurial organizations and their owners with advanced knowledge of tools like insurance, trusts, and business organizations. Active leader/participant in community service organizations.

Maria LaLonde

Recruiting and Development Leader for Bizdom   |   LinkedIn

Maria LaLonde is the Recruiting and Development Leader for Bizdom, a startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs launch, fund and grow innovative web and tech-based startups in Detroit and Cleveland. Bizdom is a nonprofit that was founded by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Quicken Loans, majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and general partner at Detroit Venture Partners.
Maria’s role at Bizdom is to raise awareness about Bizdom in the community and vet candidates for our accelerator. She also advocates for the startup community, mentors and connects entrepreneurs to available resources and oversees development for Bizdom. Maria is a serial entrepreneur that has founded businesses in the recruiting and automotive industries. She graduated from Michigan State University with a BA in Communication and started her career with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where she managed branch offices and oversaw the recruiting process for 35 branch offices. Maria is a native Detroiter and is passionate about creating a vibrant and thriving startup community in Detroit.

Steve Bennett

Vice President & Chief Operating Officer   |   LinkedIn

Steven Bennett serves as the Vice President & Chief Operating Officer for the Prima Civitas Foundation. Bennett, as his colleagues refer to him, manages all operational functions and provides strategic leadership for the organization, reporting directly to the CEO. On a day-to-day basis, he administers PCF’s finances, ensuring the organization’s financial position is sufficient and responsive to its strategic direction. With disparate funding sources, including both private philanthropic and federal funding, Bennett maintains the operating budget that supports the organization’s main objectives.

Silver Sponsors

Dan Poggi

Lead Engineer at Loudpixel   |   LinkedIn

Dan Poggi is the founder of Half Turn LLC, a technology consulting firm with a broad focus spread between IT infrastructure, operations engineering, and software development that works with companies in the Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Birmingham areas. He is currently finishing his studies in computer science at Michigan State University.

Steve Drozdowski

Analyst at Sparrow Health System   |   LinkedIn

Experienced problem solver with 10+ years IT background. Has worked with several companies in various industries from retail to healthcare. Most recently held roles at IBM including leading global team on several enterprise content management initiatives. Currently working on two startups Open Perks, a reward platform, and nuMVC, a content management system.

Nick Fusi


Nick joined Force by Design as the first Michigan office employee in December 2010 and has quickly become one of the firm's go-to consultants. Nick has numerous certifications and is building many great relationships within the Salesforce community as a personable and knowledgeable resource. Prior to Force by Design, Nick was the first employee hired at startup software development company, Enliven Software. At Enliven, Nick was appointed as the general manager and during his tenure he built out structured sales, development and support teams which helped the company become profitable and sustainable. Nick has always enjoyed the startup environment and after graduating from Michigan State University in 2007, co-founded a media post-production company, named Afterthoughts Digital. Afterthoughts Digital helped individuals and families easily create video and print memorials of loved ones who had passed on. Nick continues to be involved in the Lansing area community and serves on the board of a local non-profit organization that is designed to promote and extend the characteristics of the Lansing community through various events and programs.

Joseph Helgert

Managing Director - Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at MSU   |   LinkedIn

Joe Helgert is the Managing Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation within the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. Coming from Grand Valley State University, Helgert has also taught at the University of Arizona, Central Michigan University and was a visiting scholar for Michigan State University at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities. Corporate experience includes being a marketing manager at Motorola, Inc. in Phoenix, Arizona and Tokyo, Japan.
Helgert received a Masters of Business Administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He has a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the Union Institute and University in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Jeffrey J. Smith
Paul Jaques
Tom Stewart
Ken Szymusiak
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