Marion Desmazières, Facilitator

We are happy to announce Marion Desmazières is our Fairbanks Startup Weekend Facilitator for the 2018 event! She is an experienced Startup Weekend organizer, and energetic facilitator. Marion is quite the entrepreneur herself, though she currently spends her days working  as a tech business developer based in Seattle, WA.

Marion runs developer education partnerships for Alexa, the voice service powering Amazon’s popular Echo devices. Before joining Amazon two years ago, Marion coordinated Global Startup Battle in 2012 and managed partner relations for Startup Weekend HQ 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.

Sign up for Fairbanks Startup Weekend at gain insights from Marion and others while developing your own startup from the ground up!

Meet Your Mentor – Tom Wszalek

Meet Tom Wszalek, Partner & Founder of SW14 Group. Tom is returning for the second year in a row as a Startup Weekend Las Vegas mentor! SW14 Group provides management consulting services to help businesses – from startups to small and medium size firms – unlock new avenues of profitable growth. The consultation process includes researching areas of opportunity such as: strategy, customer culture, organization structure, operation processes, and the utilization of digital technology.

Tom has C-level operating executive experience across a range of industries including: media/entertainment, technology, e-commerce, hospitality, retail, and consumer products. His professional experience also encompasses analog and digital companies, US and international assignments, and Fortune 500 as well as small, medium and startup firms.

Do you have what it takes to join Startup Weekend Las Vegas and build a company from the ground up in 54-hours? Register today with our early bird discount code SWEARLYBIRD for 70% off. This offer only lasts until September 14th, so make sure to take advantage of this offer ASAP! Register through our eventbrite page, here.



Why Your Next Adventure Should Be This City On The Rise

Attending a Techstars Unsummit in Tucson will give you a glimpse into a diverse community on the rise, a place that has been around for thousands of years and is still reinventing itself and defining the ecology of our startup environment. We’ll discuss the process of being built in real time, tips and tricks for building a startup ecosystem, and an opportunity to share your own experiences with this budding community.

As creative and entrepreneurial people, we’re in the weeds. But as businessman and media mogul Gary Vaynerchuk would say, we have to be in the clouds as well as in the dirt. The Tucson Unsummit is designed around helping you zoom back out to 30,000 feet, relax and rejuvenate while taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of the American Southwest.

A lot of the weekend is up to you – if you could have a chance to take a deep breath, what are some things you would want to talk about with entrepreneurs and creatives from the region? What are some things you need to keep growing and scaling the initiatives you have going?

The other part of the weekend is up to us – not only do you as an individual and a company/initiative need to grow in the right direction, but you need a community around you that is thriving as well. That’s something we’re happy to share our struggles and successes with, so that you can go back to your community with a path for holistic organizational and community health.

And about the Southwest? We’re known as a City of Gastronomy, a creative cultural hub with miles of the best Mexican food you’ll ever have. We have professional party planners preparing to throw you a big dinner party on Saturday, tour guides ready to show you our city as an easel for murals and community art, a ride on our streetcar through our university and downtown to one of the oldest neighborhoods in all of the United States, and more.

But you don’t have to take our word for it. We’re one of the most affordable and friendly places in the country, so why not check it out for yourself?

There’s a lot we can learn from each other in 43 hours – are you in?!

Startup Weekend: Judging Criteria

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):

  • Business Model

    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?

  • Customer Validation

    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?


  • Execution & Design

    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Build a diverse portfolio of connections with us!

You know that phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”?

Yeah, it’s cliché, but anything that sticks usually has some stock to it.

While we do believe WHAT you know helps you in your success, knowing the right people and getting connected also helps. (Side note: we can’t wait to see what you know at Startup Weekend Laramie.) When it comes to networking, we often make the best connections with those similar in age, education, professional status and other traits. It’s easy to make those connections. During Startup Weekend Laramie you can plan on making close connections with all types of individuals from different backgrounds.

Networking with a diverse group of individuals can increase your awareness of how others think and expand your portfolio of connections. This can help you as a person, employee and entrepreneur.

Making an effort to figure out how someone thinks not only helps you understand them, but also opens doors for yourself when solving problems. Say you have a great business idea, but you don’t know how to budget, after chatting with an accountant for an hour, you might have the knowledge of where to start. Or possibly it’s more abstract than that. You might have issues when it comes to communicating about problem solving at work, after a weekend of working with a group of people—each with their unique communication style—you can discover what you like and what works best for you.

Each unique connection you create can be an added resource when it comes to starting up a new business or continuing to succeed in your career.

Techstars Startup Weekend Laramie is the perfect opportunity to find your diverse network and connect with people you might not usually get to. Meet accountants, business coaches, venture capitalists, technology experts and more. Get your tickets at the early bird price through Sept. 1:


Why startup in Laramie?

More like why not?! Laramie boasts resources and incentives to help your business succeed. When you come out of Startup Weekend Laramie with your winning prize pack, you’ll be able to put that to use along with these resources explained ahead:

  1. Financial Support

From grants to specialty loans, you can find financial help to get your startup further off the ground. The Wyoming Business Council offers Trade Show Incentive Grants for when you have your product ready to be shown off to the rest of the country. There are also workforce training grants through the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, this can help you once you find that specially program that will take your startup to the next level. And once you’re ready to get out of your coworking space and into a building all your own, there are specialty loans for that available through the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance or the Wyoming Business Council.

2. Community Partners

Wyoming and Laramie know the worth of collaboration and there are several organizations ready to work together and help you keep going after you start. Help in market research and business advising after you pitch can come from The Small Business Development Center. Or you can find business counseling and executive coaching services in the Wyoming Technology Business Center. Manufacturing-Works can help you with a host of business essentials as well. There are several more resources in Laramie including the Laramie Chamber Business Alliance, Laramie Main Street Alliance, The Wyoming Women’s Business Center, the Wyoming Business Council and offices at The City of Laramie. At Startup Weekend Laramie, you’ll be able to discover first-hand what these organizations can do for you.

3. Outdoor Recreation (Yeah, it’s a resource)

Once you’ve executed your idea, secured funding and received the help you need, you might want to take a hike. And we mean that literally. Laramie is known for it’s world-class recreation and we’ve heard there’s nothing better than walking your dog along the greenbelt after a long day or hitting the cross-country ski trails in the morning. With millions of acres of public land in your backyard, you’ll find the inspiration you need to keep working on your startup. And eventually that backyard could attract the top talent you need once you’ve made it.

More questions on resources and what you can do after Startup Weekend Laramie? Email Josh at

More questions about Techstars Startup Weekend Laramie? Email Steve at


WHY Startup Weekend?

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation and education. Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs. Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.

Who You’ll Meet At Greater Lafayette Startup Weekend:

Startup Weekends attendees’ backgrounds are varied, but roughly-

  • 50% technical (developers, coders, designers) 
  • 50% business (marketing, finance, law).  

Why People Come to Startup Weekend:

  • 29% of Startup Weekend participants attend an event to network.
  • 20% attend to develop/build a product.
  • 13% attend to learn how to create a new venture.  

After the conference is over, roughly 80% of attendees plan on continuing to work on their startup after the weekend.

What You’ll Get Out of the Event:

  1. Education: Startup Weekends are all about learning by doing, whether you’re learning a new skill or a new way of thinking. Don’t just listen to theory, build your own strategy and test it as you go.
  2. Co-Founder Dating: The people who come to Startup Weekend are serious about learning how to build and launch startups. Create relationships that last long past the weekend.
  3. Have Fun: During the weekend you’ll be working alongside awesome people who share your ideas. Startup Weekend is meant to be fun and entertaining, so enjoy it.
  4. Solve Local Problems with your Ideas: Do you think that one of your ideas can change your town or have a positive impact in your group of people? Bring your idea notebook with you and start making a positive change in your local community.
  5. Build Your Network: Startup Weekend works hard to recruit high quality, driven entrepreneurs- like you!
  6. Learn New Skills: With a whole weekend dedicated to letting your creative juices flow, Startup Weekends are perfect opportunities to work on a new platform, learn a new programming language or give marketing a try. With nothing to lose, there’s no reason not to step outside your comfort zone.
  7. Learn How to Launch a Business (and Actually Do It!): Startup Weekend is the epitome of Lean Startup Methodology.  
  8. Mentorship: Local tech and startup leaders participate in Startup Weekends and give feedback to participants. Interact with the movers and shakers in your community.
  9. Get Access to Valuable Startup Resources: By participating in Startup Weekend, you are given instant access to great products and tools. No one leaves a Startup Weekend empty handed! Click here to learn more about some of the offers our Global Sponsors provide during the event.  
  10. Save Money: Startup Weekends are affordable (typically $99, we charge $50 for our event). Your ticket includes meals and snacks!

Join us September 14th – 16th at MatchBOX Coworking Studio, and #GetStartedUp! Tickets are only $30 through August 24th:  *Use promo code GetStartedUp to get $10 off your ticket!*


StartUp Weekend FAQ

54 Hours?!?! – When do we sleep? What about my kids? I have to work?

You will probably never again (outside of StartUp Weekend Laramie next year) have the amount of resources and support at your fingertips to try to build a business. That being said, we don’t expect you to drink a bunch of red bull and stay up all night. We know that life happens just like life happens when you’re running your new business. If you have to sneak away to coach a tee ball game. If the babysitter can only stay until a certain time. If you have to work the morning shift. It’s OKAY! But make sure that you are with us as much as you can. This time will be worth it’s weight in gold. Just make sure to still remember us when you’re famous and your thriving business is showcased in Time Magazine! 🙂

Can I bring a friend?

You can bring your friend, your mom, your cousin, your boss, and if your child is old enough sign them up too! Diversity of thought is one of the most powerful components of StartUp Weekend so we want everybody and their mother (literally). You can get on the same team to develop something together. You can join separate teams to each learn new concepts about entrepreneurship and then report back to each other after the weekend. Or you can compete against your friends on different teams for StartUp Weekend domination! All are accepted…let’s be real, that last option is definitely encouraged though.

What happens afterwards?

You decide how far you want to take the idea, but we hope you take it all the way! Some members of the team may bid you farewell and go back to their day job. Some members of the team may stick together to move the idea forward. Some members from different teams might even connect and start something new after the weekend is over. The sky is the limit! There are prizes for the winners which will include all sorts of services to help your business like legal advice and marketing help, but the real reward is what you will have gained during the experience. So ultimately, what we hope happens afterwards is that our city gets bit by the entrepreneurship bug and we begin to grow our own businesses more and more. You can always come find the organizers and ask for help. We don’t just do one event and leave you in the dust 🙂

Have more questions? Great! We can’t wait to hear them!

Ask away by emailing 

Want to talk about your idea? Want to learn more about the format? Whatever the case is, there are no dumb questions. Fire away and thanks for reading!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job…yet

The Side Hustle

We now live in what is called the “Gig Economy”. According to CNN Money, Over 44 Million Americans reported having a side hustle. So when your boss asks you why in the world you would want to go to a StartUp Weekend event, you can calmly remind him/her that you don’t intend on quitting your day job. In fact, side hustles are a great way for people to invest in themselves, have amazing experiences with their friends and family, and increase their quality of life. The majority of millennials with side hustles right now make over $500/month…$6000 a year makes a pretty good vacation budget, covers rent, covers car payments, or just buys you a lot of extra shoes if that’s what you’re into. The moral of the story is that a side hustle shouldn’t be something that people should be ashamed of. If I was your boss and you had a side hustle, I would be proud of an employee that has that kind of creativity and commitment to innovation! It will absolutely help out the company in the long-run when you think of their next big idea!

How to Hustle

So an extra $6000 a year sounds intriguing, eh? Well how can you get in on that money? It’s easy…go sit down in a barber shop, hair salon, coffee shop, or wherever people congregate. Listen to what they complain about. “Oh I wish we had a local place to buy xxx”, “My life would be such much easier if I had someone to help me with xxx”, or “I would pay so much money if I could just get xxx” are all phrases that should get your ears perked up. Once you find a problem that you think you might be able to solve, it’s time to validate it. Brings your friends or co-workers to dinner one night and show them what you’re doing. Ask “Is this cool?”, “Would you buy this?”, “How much would you spend on it?”, and “Do you know people who would like it?”. If the respective answers are “It’s really cool”, “I’d buy 10 at least”, “I’ll give you all my money for it”, and “How could anyone I know not like this?”, then I think you’re doing pretty good. If the only person that likes it is your mom and she says that she will buy one…well then we might need to go back to the drawing board. Point being – let the market help you decide what your side hustle should be and then let them help you figure out just how much you need to hustle.

Albert Einstein

When people think about entrepreneurship and innovation, they always think about having to be the next Albert Einstein. People think you have to invent Facebook or Uber in order to be a successful entrepreneur. This is where we really have to change the mentality. Do you make jams and jellies for fun at home – you can be a successful entrepreneur. Did you used to place a sport competitively and now you can coach/give lessons – you can be a successful entrepreneur. Are you really really good at watching tv – you can be a successful entrepreneur (well not by watching tv…but I’m sure you’re good at something else too!). The idea is, most people have the opportunity to be entrepreneurial and it generally doesn’t require you to re-create the wheel. Make money doing something you like to do.

Diversity of Thought

Get away from work for a day. Don’t surround yourself with the same people. Sure, they are your friends and coworkers, but you need some diversity of thought in your life. If all you do all day is think about commercial loans, running your department or testing products, it’s really hard be creative. Opportunities like StartUp Weekend Laramie on September 21-23 (shameless plug!) are a great way to test out your creativity and learn from some diverse thinking. So many people want to “think outside of the box”. If you’re doing your job every day from 9-5, good for you, but your box has become pretty small, right? So it should be easy to think outside of it. Get some new people in front of you to make you think differently, and watch the creative juices flow!

So What’s Next?!

I don’t know about you, but I’m impatient. Like, you just told me I could make an extra $6K a year…so let’s go already! Well you have a few different next steps to take. Option 1: Go at it alone. Sure, you can figure something out and get to hustling, but that might make your hustle kind of lonely… Option 2: You and your skills + your friend and their skills = better and less lonely side hustle. Option 3: Your ideas and skills + a whole group of entrepreneurial thinkers ideas and skills = best side hustle! Come to StartUp Weekend Laramie and attend other community events for potential entrepreneurs. Meet a group of people with a variety of skills who can all help you be successful in this first venture.

StartUp Weekend Laramie

Yes, I’ve mentioned this a few times…I know you’ve officially heard of it now, but so many people still haven’t. Consider sharing this post with your friends.  Young people can invest this money in themselves. Retired people can use the knowledge they have from industry experience to run a very successful side hustle. Stay at home spouses need to know about this to pay for a babysitter every Friday night for date night. Everyone is a winner here! So make sure to get your early-bird tickets and encourage everyone to get theirs before September 1st. You won’t regret it!

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Direct Link to Tickets:



What is StartUp Weekend Laramie?!?!

Solving Problems

Every single one of us knows that we live in an imperfect world. We have all thought about the problems that exist in our society and sometimes grouchy Uncle Larry likes to spout off a couple of extra problems you haven’t even thought about…who knew that, back in his day, sidewalks were straighter…

Okay, I’ll cut to the chase. Try out entrepreneurship. Come to StartUp Weekend Laramie on September 21-23!

Why don’t we try to solve those problems? This is what entrepreneurs do – they listen to people about what is wrong in their lives, in their towns, when they shop, with their children, etc. If you think you might be able to solve even one little problem, StartUp Weekend Laramie is for you! Be surrounded by people who want to think outside of the box, learn and test out their entrepreneurial skills, and help people!

So how does it work? It’s simple.

54 really fun hours fly by from Friday night on September 21st through Sunday the 23rd. People will pitch their ideas to solve problems. Everyone gets to vote on their favorites. And then you’re off and running with top mentors, help from industry experts, and much more! We don’t just want you to think about a business model or write a boring business plan. When you leave on Sunday, you might just be ready to make your first sale or build your website. Who knows?! The sky is the limit!

But what if I already have a job? It’s probably not for me, right?!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a booming business that has you quitting your job and moving into a new mansion won’t happen overnight either. Thus, the invention of the “side hustle”! No it’s not just a lyric from a rap song…well it probably is, but that’s not the point! A side hustle, a tax-deductible hobby, vacation money. Call it what you want, but if you can help people in your spare time, I’d call it a win.

So bosses, tell your employees come play! Let them learn how to solve customers’ problems more efficiently and effectively. Employees, commit your weekend to having some of the most fun you will ever have. Will your brain be tired at the end? – Yes, but you will also be full on yummy food and full of really amazing thoughts you never dreamed could be possible. And who knows…maybe you just became the boss of a new business.

Okay. Okay. You talked me into it…so how to I get in?

Boy, I really had to twist your arm, didn’t I? Maybe I won’t tell you how to get early bird tickets anymore…Now you won’t get to meet a bunch of cool new people and have the chance to win a bunch of in-kind prizes to further your business.

Just kidding, we want absolutely anyone and everyone to come! I don’t care if you’re fresh out of high school, fresh out of organic chemistry class, or fresh out of the workforce and already bored of retirement. Everyone is welcome.

Either visit us on our facebook page: or go directly to our ticketing page here:

Early bird tickets are available now and end on September 1st. Sign up quick because there is limited space and first-come, first-served. Contact Steve Russell: if you have any questions. Ready…….GO!