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Are you ready to be part of the inaugural Startup Weekend Women’s Edition?

We’re assembling 100 of the most talented women and men for an exclusive edition of Startup Weekend on June 20 – 22, 2014!

The entrepreneurial talent we see from the women in our community is inspiring, and we are excited about co-hosting an event that will showcase co-creation of the most innovative minds in Chicago.

The Startup Weekend Chicago experience is being re-imagined. Our intention is to provide an event where men and women can connect, combine and renew each other’s resources and capabilities to create value through new forms of interaction, service and learning mechanisms.

Attend a MVP Bootcamp June 9th to get us all in the building mode.
Chicago coaches and mentors guiding teams from ideation to co-creation.
Meet 100+ talented and diverse people and build long-lasting relationships.
Join a global community of over 45,000 Startup Weekend alumni.
Get one-on-one time with thought leaders in your community.
Pitch to like-minded people committed to launching a startup in 54 hours.



Jun 20
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome
  • 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
  • Speaker: Jessica Gandham, Co-Founder of Packback


Jun 21
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Microsoft presents BizSpark
  • Bootcamp: Developing in the Cloud with speaker Tim Benroeck
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Yoga Break w/ Julia Maria Yoga & Fitness
  • 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


Jun 22
  • 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

Jessica Tenuta

Design Cofounder, Packback   |  

Jessica is a cofounder of Packback, a Chicago ed-tech company that rents digital textbooks on-demand for $5 or less per day, in addition a range of other resources and tools to help make textbooks more affordable and accessible for college students. Jessica runs design and user experience for Packback, and has been diligent about instilling a user-centric thought process into Packback's product development.

Jessica spent the last year gaining experience in the operational side of venture capital, as an in-house designer at both Listen and Lightbank. One of two designers chosen to participate in the inaugural class of Lightbank's design fellowship, Jessica provided design consultation for such companies as Fooda, Snapsheet, Bevel and the Keywell Foundation. After Lightbank, she moved to Listen Ventures, a boutique brand consultancy and angel investment firm that provides early-stage companies with strategic branding and design.

Through being a design cofounder of a start-up and a designer for portfolio companies in two VC firms, she has strengthened her belief that design is an integral part of building a successful early-stage start-up and has the power to accelerate the company's growth rapidly and sustainably by creating emotionally powerful, engaging brand experiences.


Daniela Bolzmann

Co-Founder & CMO, WeDeliver   |   LinkedIn

Daniela, an entrepreneur with expertise in community development, was head of Product Marketing at edtech startup, SymbalooEDU. She helped launch their US product and grew their community to 200k+ engaged educators worldwide. A graduate of the Miyahlo School of Business at CSUF and Founder of SocialSkoop, a digital marketing agency consulting 200+ restaurants & retailers in California. As CoFounder and CMO at WeDeliver she uses her powers to help businesses of Chicago connect with the local community through delivery. She is in the TechStars class of ‘2014 and also serves on the council for Ms.Tech, a group dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs gain access to the resources they need most.

Adam London

Manager Corporate Development, Groupon   |   LinkedIn

Adam is a manager in the Corporate Development group at Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) where he focuses on M&A, business development, and strategy. Prior to Groupon, Adam was a member of the investment team at Lightbank--an early stage venture capital fund. A graduate of the University of Michigan's Organizational Studies Program, Adam's began his career at the Boston Consulting Group and is a co-founder of Letters to Success (an education-focused non-profit) and @TheLunchRead.

Dima Elissa

Founder, VisualMedia and ProofX   |   LinkedIn

Dima Elissa is a passionate serial entrepreneur who shares her story and passion with others through her businesses VisualMedia and ProofX. In 2013, Dima Co-founded ProofX, a 3D Bio FabLab while pursuing her passion — devoting time, energy and guidance to women founders and entrepreneurs. As a faculty member teaching Entrepreneurship at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest in Chicago, she exemplifies her commitment to giving back and paying it forward. Her distinct insight and outlook have been sharpened by holding numerous positions at NutraSweet and serving as a board member for domestic and international community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Dima presently participates on the Stem Steering committee for the Aparechio Foundation. Dima holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Hanover College, and earned her MBA from Texas A&M’s May’s School of Business with a concentration in Finance. She is a member of the board of trustees for Hanover College.

Don Bora

Co-Founder, Eight Bit Studios & Mobile Makers Academy   |   LinkedIn

Throughout his career, Don has used Objective-C on various platforms and in various industries, notably WebObjects… Remember WebObjects? When Apple released the official iPhone SDK, Don began working on his first app and has never looked back.

He's been a professional software engineer for nearly 25 years—all in the Chicago area. In addition to Objective-C, Don enjoys working in Ruby, C#, and occasionally Java. Currently running Eight Bit Studios, Don remains active in Chicago’s thriving entrepreneur community, advising and mentoring businesses on technical strategy.

In addition to a lot of technology, Don packs his life with family, literature and film. Following his wife’s newly discovered passion for running, Don has taken to the streets again—but only when it’s nice out. His midlife crisis seems to have manifested itself as a crisis of fitness and he will, however unwisely, take on anyone in a pushup contest. Yes, we have photos.

Magda Maslowska

Principal, HauteSlides   |   LinkedIn

Magda launched HauteSlides to help businesses successfully inform & persuade through slide presentations. Prior to starting her crusade against bad PowerPoint she worked in litigation consulting. Magda has also been the lead designer and art director on multiple high profile matters for Exxon Mobile, Verizon Communications, Level 3, for many top litigators at Winston & Strawn, McDermott, Will & Emery, and Kellog, Huber, Hanson. She has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Graphics and Animation from DePaul University.

Gold Sponsors
Silver Sponsors

Laura Rokita

Founder, Loop   |   LinkedIn

Laura is changing the way 20-something’s build their network with Loop. She cultivated her entrepreneurial skillset at Sandbox Industries, where she was an analyst and a Founder-In-Residence. Laura loves helping people find careers they love, coding, financial modeling, and meeting over coffee.

Amanda Yang

Founder, Clear the Path   |   LinkedIn

Amanda Yang is founder of Clear the Path, a cycling apparel line that provides ladies with cycling tips and tricks to encourage people to live a happy and healthy lives. She also spends her time working on big data problems at Sears, looking at a combination of industry data and e-commerce info to help drive business decisions and strategy.

Helen Livingston

CEO,   |  

With nearly two decades of expertise in custom software development, workflow automation, web applications and user experience, Helen is gifted with a mind that is equal parts business woman and technical director. A trustworthy collaborator, Helen consistently provides organizations with the most advanced and innovative technology solutions to streamline operations and automate internal business processes. She is often invited to various speaking engagements, panel discussions and participates on many school advisory boards regarding digital curriculums. She is nationally recognized in the retail and education industry as a technology expert, specializing in user experience, custom software, web based applications, digital marketing and social media. She takes great pride in aligning herself with various non-profits and charities with a specific focus on children and encouraging young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). A mother of two, Helen also enjoys collaborating and sharing advice with other entrepreneurial moms on how to strike a healthy balance between life and work.

David Kadavy

Author, Design for Hackers   |   LinkedIn

David Kadavy is author of the #18 Amazon best-selling book, Design for Hackers: Reverse-Engineering Beauty. Prior to writing Design for Hackers, David founded the Design departments at two Silicon Valley startups, and freelanced for clients such as oDesk, PBworks, and UserVoice. David also launched numerous other projects on his own, none of which failed hard enough to be worthy of mention in this bio. Since the debut of Design for Hackers, David has traveled the world, speaking about design and entrepreneurship, and mentoring startups, including those at 500 Startups. David writes about Design, Productivity, and Entrepreneurship here, and has an awesome newsletter you can sign up for here (you’ll get free stuff if you do). Aside from writing and speaking about design, David is also an avid “Lifehacker,” and still gets all giddy when they cover one of his articles, or ask him How [He] Works. David used to live in Silicon Valley, but he doesn’t anymore. Crazy, right? He left. I know. Yeah, we hear he’s hidden away on some street in Chicago lined with trees and brick buildings. Homeless? No, that’s not what we meant. He has a place. Also, when it gets too cold in Chicago, he usually runs off to South America for a couple of months.

Kristin Garcia

Director of Marketing & Business Development   |   LinkedIn

Kristen studied cosmetology at the Toni&Guy Academy before receiving her B.A. in industrial/organization psychology from DePaul University. With a professional background in both the salon industry and start up sector, Kristen uses her experience and insight to promote the Tony Odisho Extensions brand, its certified stylists, and its partnering salons. As an educator, Kristen works side-by-side with our company president in developing course curriculum and instructing classes for the Tony Odisho Extensions Academy. Kristen is a member of the Cosmetic Executive Women organization and leads a networking group for Chicago area salon professionals.

Tim Benroeck

Technical Evangelist, Microsoft   |  

Tim is a Technical Evangelist for Microsoft with a strong focus on Windows Azure. He has a passion for application development and spends his days with developers white-boarding and helping architect their applications. Prior to joining Microsoft he was an Azure consultant where he showed companies how to leverage the power of the cloud!

Sandra C. Davis

Realtor, Design Enthusiast and Community Champion

Sandra is a Purpose-Driven Marketing Communications/Branding Strategist, Writer and Mission Matchmaker with over 5 years of experience, who connects people, events, nonprofits, and companies with complementary brands and social causes that share their missions and target markets in order to amplify each entities social impact: brand equity/awareness, market penetration and Return on Community Engagement.

Ms. Davis is passionate about the arts/culture/design's positive impact on urban communities. She is endlessly intrigued by urban creative placemaking and how the arts/artists/arts organizations engage the larger community. Her love of the arts has lead Ms. Davis to champion: The Art Institute of Chicago, African Festival of the Arts, Arts & Business Council of Chicago,Chicago Design Meetup, DuSable Museum, South Shore Drill Team, Little Black Pearl Art and Design Center, StreetFood Artistry, Urban Gateways, Women in Film Chicago and the Joyce Awards.

Maria Christopoulos Katris

CEO, Built In   |   LinkedIn

Maria Christopoulos Katris is the CEO of Built In, a network of hyperlocal platforms which enable startups to connect, share and grow. The company currently operates three sites in Chicago (, Los Angeles ( and Denver (, and is headquartered in Chicago. The Built In platform facilitates member connections, provides a platform to promote news, operates a job board to hire talent and hosts highly curated events--at a hyper-local city level-with one shared goal--to help digital companies (and thereby communities) grow. Maria’s responsibilities include strategic planning, sales, business development, hiring, marketing, community development and events. Maria is an intrapreneur and entrepreneur who has 12+ years' marketing, strategy and consulting experience and has worked in diverse industries including: healthcare, technology and in-home services. Previously Maria was the Executive Director of TiE Midwest, the Chicago chapter of a Global not-for-profit organization dedicated to high growth entrepreneurs. Immediately prior to joining TiE Midwest, Maria founded Nanny Boutique, a Chicago-based nanny placement agency, which she sold within 2 years. Maria has strategic experience working at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as a strategic analyst to the VPs and CEO. Prior to that, she spent four years as a healthcare consultant at Arthur Andersen and Huron Consulting Group. Maria has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Miami University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Maria serves on the advisory boards of, the Chicago Innovation Awards, TechWeek and Social Media Week Chicago. Maria and her husband live in Chicago with their 2 daughters, Alexandra and Georgie.

Sarah Lashley

Owner, Somavida Bodywork   |   LinkedIn

Sarah Lashley, owner of Somavida Bodywork, guides people into pain free living through her neuromuscular work. She has built a successful business over the last four years by focusing on excellent neuromuscular expertise, healing client interactions and above and beyond service. Sarah attended her first StartUp Weekend in April 2013 and soon became an organizer with her husband, Kirk, launching the first StartUp Weekend ever in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2013. Sarah is passionate about helping others and creating businesses with world class customer service. She became a Certified "Secret Service Agent" this year through and now consults with a local startup.

Rity Upadhyaya

Product Manager, ShopperTrak   |   LinkedIn

Rity is currently working as a Product Manager for a retail analytics company. A software engineer by training, she has gained valuable experiences through different roles in her career in technology. As a recent CMU graduate, she has also been involved with her own startup and is passionate about bringing amazing products to life. She wants to encourage and support women join the tech world and become successful entrepreneurs.

Emily Lonigro Boylan

Founder, LimeRed Studio   |   LinkedIn

A leader with the ability to combine strategic marketing, branding expertise and smart design, Emily is a practical idealist with a vision. In January of 2004, she founded LimeRed Studio with a plan to prioritize high-quality design, usability and meaningful social impact. With a record of successfully translating goals, content, and audiences into beautiful, user-friendly, effective design, Emily is proud to walk the talk. Her portfolio spans design, communications, marketing and planning experiences in both online and offline programs for multinational corporations, nonprofits, universities, foundations, and social enterprises, small businesses and prestigious consumer brands. Today, LimeRed’s primary focus is serving social enterprises, nonprofits and educational organizations to do design and development work that makes people’s lives better.

Patrick Farrar

Software Engineer, Pinpoint Health   |  

Patrick is currently working as a software engineer with Pinpoint Health and is the lead member of Livenine LLC, a web development consultancy based in Chicago. He has a background and degree in Marketing and specializes in product-focused software development, ui/ux, application design, and front-end development. Patrick's background includes working for startups in various different technical and non-technical roles from product development, market analysis, application design, application development, automated testing.

Patrick is a two-time Startup Weekend Alum and now also a member of the Startup Weekend Chicago Organizing team.

Reva Minkoff

Founder and President of Digital4Startups Inc. and DigitalGroundUp Inc.   |  

Reva Minkoff is the Founder and President of Digital4Startups Inc. and DigitalGroundUp Inc. DigitalGroundUp, an interactive technology platform that teaches digital marketing, was recently nominated for three graduate achievement awards, including Most Innovative and Best Female CEO. Digital4Startups is a digital marketing consulting firm, currently serving a dozen clients in industries ranging from media to consumer packaged goods to logistics to technology. Reva has been on WBEZ and been published by Crain's Chicago Business and Women 2.0.

Zach Schneider

Co-Founder, Learnapalooza   |  

Web developer professional that came from a creative background. Currently a front-end programmer and moving towards back-end.

Specialties: Build, create, and maintain websites.
Fix, build, and repair computers.
Websites created using HTML5, PHP, JSON, SASS (CSS3), JavaScript, and Ruby.

Christine Mortensen

Founder,Sprk'd   |   LinkedIn

Christine created Sprk'd in order to help startups and small businesses grow by creating content and marketing that doesn't suck. By combining her 10 years of experience in User Experience Design with the principals of Visual Design, she leads the Sprk'd team to create content that drives conversions. No matter the industry, she believes quality content relevant to user needs (i.e., your potential customers) is not only achievable but fun too. How can we help you? When she's not busy writing about herself in the third person she can be found trying out new Paleo recipes, playing volleyball, or hanging out on Twitter and G+.

David J. Bermejo

Full Stack Marketer, Packback   |   LinkedIn

Riana Lynn

Founder & CEO, FoodTrace   |  

Riana Lynn found her passion in food+health and technology. In 2010 she began partnering to build what is now one of the top-rated and innovative juice bar chains in the country. Through this process, Riana gained invaluable insight developing e-commerce platforms and social media experiences. She also took time to explore different distribution ports and discover exciting produce and inspiring flavors from across the globe. She developed innovative supply chain management tools while working along the agricultural pipeline– from local farmers to large agricultural leaders in California, Mexico, and Brazil. On a local level, schools and gardens are examples of the dozens of partnerships she has fostered as a way of promoting healthy lifestyles in communities while maintaining a business committed to vitality.

Media & In-kind Sponsors
Nicole Yeary
Natalya Chytry
Nirav Amin
Cate Conroy
Andy Abbott
Adam Haun
Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

Judging Criteria

by swchicago

Startup Weekend Chicago Women’s Edition is a wrap! We would like to thank all of our participants and sponsors that helped […]

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