Past event…

Event Ended

Palmer Commons at University of Michigan

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 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: 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. If you want to put yourself in the shoes of an entrepreneur, register now for the best weekend of your life!



Feb 7
  • Registration Starts & Dinner
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and brainstorming ideas
  • You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!


Feb 8
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Get together with teams
  • Lunch
  • Introduce Mentors
  • Keep Hustlin'
  • Dinner
  • Stress Relief Activity
  • You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here!


Feb 9
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Gut Check! Get Ready
  • Judging & Awards
  • Thank You!!!
  • Go Home!

Nathan Labenz

Co-Founder & CEO of

Nathan Labenz is originally from Clinton Township, Michigan, where he graduated as valedictorian from Chippewa Valley High School in 2002. He attended Harvard College, studying Chemistry and graduating Phi Beta Kappa / Magna Cum Laude in 2006.

After graduation, Nathan founded an online writing services company ( while traveling in South America. He also worked briefly as a financial services and healthcare consultant at Oliver Wyman in New York before leaving for San Francisco to found, a reviews website for local professional service providers.

In 2012, Nathan and co-founder Jay Gierak partnered with Detroit Venture Partners and NorthCoast Technology Investors to move Stik to Detroit, MI.

Gold Sponsors

Bradley Hoos

Co-Founder, Grand Circus

Bradley Hoos is the co-Founder of Grand Circus, an inspired learning institute for both startups and corporations alike. In addition to delivering programming focused on learning, Grand Circus operates a co-working facility and event space that is home to the Detroit tech and entrepreneurial community. Recently, Google selected Grand Circus as one of its seven tech hub partners in North America.

David Bloom

Founder, Factotem   |   LinkedInGoogle+

David Bloom is the founder/executive of nine different startups, an advisor/director with five growing companies, and a coach/trainer with scores of entrepreneurial ventures in software, analytics, life sciences, and many other fields.

David mentors startups on Business Canvas and Customer Development, Commercialization, Revenue Generation, and Networking. He serves as coach and connector for Factotem, a global network of senior business development professionals who provide hands-on engineering, marketing, and analyst services to entrepreneurs and investors.

Doug Neal

General Partner, Michigan eLab

Doug Neal is the co-founder and General Partner of Michgian eLab — a venture capital fund that bridges capital and talent from silicon valley to Michigan and is hyper focused on the Michigan Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.

Prior to co-founding Michigan eLab Doug has spent over 20 years in the high tech industry founding and operating high tech companies. After 15 years in California in a variety of leadership positions at Hewlett Packard and Symantec, he co-founded Mobile Automation, a mobile software security company which was venture backed by Greylock and acquired by iPass Inc. in 2005. As CEO of Mobile Automation, Doug was responsible for both operational leadership and the strategic direction of the company including key technology decisions, sales and fundraising. Under Doug’s leadership Mobile Automation grew at 75% CAGR for 5 consecutive years before being acquired.

After completing the successful integration of Mobile Automation into iPass Doug relocated to his home state of Michigan in 2005 to raise his family and help grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ann Arbor. During the next several years Doug was a member of the review board for the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, which evaluated numerous Michigan investment opportunities for matching funds from the State of Michigan. In 2009, Doug became Managing Director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship, during which time he transformed the organization to include a world-class university startup accelerator (TechArb) which has since launched over 100 student ventures, grew enrollment in entrepreneurial programs to more than 5,000 students per year and was instrumental in developing a process for teaching entrepreneurial programs to engineering and non-engineering students. Doug is a regular lecturer at the University in entrepreneurial studies as well as a frequent guest speaker and panelist in the Michigan entrepreneurial ecosystem. He has a bachelor's degree in computer science from Central Michigan University.

Erik Torenberg

Co-Founder of

Erik is the co-founder of, a detroit-based startup that's now in the 500 startup accelerator. Otherwise, he writes, reads, raps, and builds relationships

Maria LaLonde

Recruiting and Development Leader for Bizdom   |  

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 and Rock Ventures, 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. Maria is a serial entrepreneur that has founded businesses in the recruiting, automotive and real estate industries. She has a BA in Communication from Michigan State University. Maria is a native Detroiter and is passionate about creating a vibrant and thriving startup community in Detroit and Michigan.

Silver Sponsors

Jon Gagnon

President at ReelBig

Jon Gagnon is President at ReelBig, a mobile gaming startup with offices in Plymouth, MI. Jon has been in the game industry for over 10 years, starting his career at Microsoft on the original Xbox, and has participated at early stage tech startups since 2009. Jon holds a degree in Applied Arts of 3D Animation from Digipen Institute of Technology.

Jesse Vollmar

CEO FarmLogs   |   LinkedIn

Jesse grew up on his family's fifth-generation organic row crop farm in Michigan and started a IT consulting business while still in high school. Under his leadership as a full-time student, the business grew from $1,500 in the bank and zero revenue to over $350K annual revenue and five employees in less than five years.

In January 2012, Jesse co-founded FarmLogs, a farm data startup, that was soon accepted into Silicon Valley's prestigious startup accelerator,Y Combinator, and raised capital from several notable technology investors.

Jesse graduated from Saginaw State University with a BS in Computer Information Systems in 2011 and currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the technology/computer curriculum at the Tuscola County Technology Center. He was recently selected by Forbes to be featured in their 30 Under 30 list.

Erika Carlson

Co-Founder Girl Develop It Detroit

Erika Carlson is a software engineer who currently works on beautiful mobile applications at Detroit Labs. She is the co-founder of the Detroit chapter of Girl Develop It, a non-profit organization which provides affordable, beginner-friendly programming classes and a supportive learning community for women. Erika teaches web development at Grand Circus, a brand-new tech training institute in downtown Detroit, and iOS app development at Kidpreneur, an organization which offers classes in entrepreneurship & technology to students ages 9-13. She is passionate about the potential of technology to create positive change in the world and is continually working to create more opportunities for technology education in Detroit.

Nick Pudar

Nick Pudar has held several executive positions focused on developing and leveraging advanced vehicle connectivity products and services. He also has extensive strategic consulting experience and has managed client engagements in the areas of technology innovation, business strategy, marketing plans, and business negotiations.

Nick serves as Director GM Urban Mobility Solutions is addressing new global mobility challenges in urban environments through new products, services, and vehicle access business models. Prior to this, Pudar was Director GM Developer Ecosystem, and lead the efforts to enable a new range of connectivity solutions for vehicles, and to engage with the developer community with a comprehensive set of assets and processes to drive third party innovation. Nick was Vice President of Business Development at GM’s OnStar subsidiary, where he had responsibility for future services development and for the new business portfolio. Nick also led GM’s Global Planning activity, as well as directing GM Strategic Initiatives, an internal strategic consulting team.

Nick received his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University, and his Masters of Science in Management degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Pam Pudar

Pam Pudar is a Finance executive with broad experience in budgeting, forecasting, cost control, contract negotiations, strategic planning and asset management. Pam also has held key roles in talent management and as a business consultant on numerous client engagements.

Pam is currently Finance Director of the Americas for Information Services Group (ISG) focused on all aspects of financial performance. In addition, she develops and oversees business and financial processes to keep financial performance both visible and actionable. Pam was also the Director of Talent Management Center of Excellence for ISG, where she was responsible for designing and implementing training, development and performance management programs. In addition, Pam was a Senior Advisor and Principle Consultant on numerous client engagements. Prior to her roles at ISG, Pam was a Finance Executive at General Motors, where she was chief financial officer of GM’s North American IT organization.

Pam received her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Administration from Kettering University, and her Masters of Science in Management degree from MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

Taylor Sundali

Analyst at Rock Ventures

Taylor grew up in Sun Valley, Idaho and graduated from Middlebury College in 2012 with a degree in Economics. During high school, he was an internationally-competitive nordic skier and owned and operated his own window washing operation to finance athletic endeavors. At Middlebury, he was an active member in the residential life community and a varsity member of the Cross Country Skiing and Cross Country Running teams. As for post-college work experience, he has worked for C&S Wholesale Grocers in Keene, NH as a Business Analyst, and as an Analyst for Doodle Home and Rock Ventures in Detroit. His other interests include Hiking, biking, surfing, swimming, cliff-jumping, building snow forts and eating great food.

Mike Wilner

Product Manager at BoostUp

Mike Wilner is a 2013 Venture for America Fellow and works as a product manager at BoostUp, a Detroit-based startup. Mike grew up in Baltimore and attended Washington and Lee University, where he studied Math and Business. At W&L, Mike played basketball for two years, and also interned for a Dwolla, a payment startup from Des Moines, Iowa. In his free time, Mike enjoys reliving the glory days on the basketball court, blogging, and learning what other startups are doing.

Rolande Mbatchou

Founder & CEO of   |  

Rolande Mbatchou started her career as an Actuary, working for a top multinational company. During this time, she developed a strong technical, analytical, and business background, while building valuation models and presenting to top level executives. In September 2011, Rolande returned to France to take a sabbatical from her actuarial career. During this time, she witnessed the global economy collapsing. Although she was unclear exactly how, she made the decision to contribute to the economy by using her professional skills in an entrepreneurial way. It was not long before the idea of was created. is a social network for Aspiring Entrepreneurs to connect with their startup communities and launch their startup ideas from scratch. Rolande is a Startup Weekend Winner (Paris, France) and lead to be featured in Forbes and TechCrunch. Rolande has mentored many startups on how to grow their ideas, acquire customers, and obtain startup funding. She coached many startup teams, including past Startup Weekend Detroit Winners. She is passionate about helping aspiring entrepreneurs live out their startup dreams!

Drakia Wilkins

Co-Founder & VP of Business Development, Newbble

Drakia Wilkins is the VP of Business Development and Co-
Founder of, a social network that provides early-stage entrepreneurs with an engaged community to grow their startup ideas from scratch! Drakia has a background in Commercial Real Estate, where she has mastered business development, sales, networking, and business pitching. She uses these valuable skills to further the businesses relationships and public relations for Newbble. Drakia is a former Startup Weekend Detriot Coach. She also co-authored an e-Book, “How to Launch Your Startup Idea…From Scratch!”
Drakia was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. She graduated High School from the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe. She relocated to Chicago, where she earned her B.S. in Real Estate from DePaul University and M.S. in Real Estate from Roosevelt University. Within the next 20 years, Drakia looks forward to returning to Detroit to contribute to the revitalization and re-development of the city through innovative ideas in both tech and real estate.

Zack Urlocker

Executive in Residence at Scale Venture Partners   |   LinkedIn

Zack Urlocker is an advisor, investor and board member with twenty-five years of experience in the software industry. He has helped scale revenues in software startups from $6 million to over $100 million and has had multiple billion dollar exits. He was most recently Chief Operating Officer at Zendesk and prior to that he was VP of Products at MySQL. He has held executive positions at Borland, Active Software and has worked as an Executive in Residence at Scale Venture Partners. He is a frequent speaker on disruptive technology, an occasional marathon runner and also blues bass player.

Steven Mazur

VFA Fellow at Stik

Steven left Sterling Heights, Michigan to attend North Carolina State University as a Park Scholar, where he studied Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering. During his freshman year, Steven founded Triangle Youth Leadership Services, a youth leadership development organization dedicated to empowering and motivating high school students to create change within their communities. Through NC State’s Engineering Entrepreneurs Program, Steven also started a telemedical company that efficiently connects emergency physicians to specialists, and he was recently named a StartingBloc Fellow. Steven spent semesters abroad in Istanbul and Cape Town and summers with ExxonMobil and an Army research center, and was selected as a Venture for America Fellow upon graduation. He now works for Stik, a reviews-based marketing startup in downtown Detroit. At Stik, Steven focuses on sales, service, and operations.

Media & Contributing Sponsors
MPowered Entrepreneurship

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