Alex Learned New Skills at SWChiCreative

Thanks to another one of our participants for this great blog post! Here’s what Alex had to say about SWChiCreative:

I  participated in Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition on March 31st April 2nd, 2017, a great startup event organized with a support of Techstars Central, LLC. The aim of this event was to bring creative minds together, form teams and help ideas come to life. Ten teams were created from 62 attendees and 33 ideas. In the beginning of the 54-hour marathon people gave pitches and attendees voted for the ones they liked. The Startup Weekend ends with team presentations where a panel of Judges chose the top three winning teams.

The team I worked with did an enormous amount of work within three days. We have been developing two ideas: security drone and an app for last minute sharing of unused tickets. Thanks to the event organizers and supportive Coaches, teams had everything needed for efficient team work: mentoring support, refreshments and entrepreneurial spirit. At the end of the third day, we had prepared a business website, created the application structure and developed a promising five-year plan for the startup. While leaving the idea with drones for future, we concentrated on the ticket sharing app. We segmented the market, interviewed peers from potential customer groups and talked to competitors.

I can name the following benefit points about Startup Weekend that I have experienced while participating in one:

  1. Great people and networking. Everybody I met at the event was passionate and motivated about their work.
  2. Knowledge shared from diverse professionals. I personally was interested in talking to app developers and seeing how they create working iOS App prototypes in a very short period of time.
  3. Learning new skills. For instance, I created a website, learned how to register a domain name and created a basic logo. Now, I can easily apply these skills to new projects when needed.

I am very grateful to the Startup Weekend organizers for a chance to participate in such a tremendous event. I learned new skills, met great people and got energy for further professional steps.

#SWChiCreative #Chicago #Ticketshare #TransportationEmergencyDrone

Alina’s SWChiCreative Experience

Alina Rafikova is a Fulbright Scholar from Russia. Here’s what she had to say about Startup Weekend Creative:

My recent move to the windy city has definitely opened new doors for me, and more than anything, I was intrigued by the city’s spirit of entrepreneurship. Everyone around me has been either in the process of launching his/her startup or has had an experience with running one. What a better way to try it on your own might be other than visiting a startup weekend and try hands-on what it takes to make an idea come to life. Moreover, what a better theme for young creative minds might be if not a mix of arts and technology – the main theme of the Startup Weekend Chicago at Columbia College on March 31, 2017.

If you are hesitant whether to attend such event or not, let me describe you the whole experience. And, let’s start from the day one. It’s Friday evening, people start gathering at Columbia College, some being impatient to finally pitch their ideas and bring them to life, some hesitant – to pitch or not to pitch (“Is my idea worth sharing at all?”), some just wandering around, not knowing how it all works and with an interest to learn more what this weekend may bring.

Pitches start. The line of prepared and eager individuals starts to form – these are the ones who have come here to accomplish, to make THEIR ideas stand out, chosen and developed into something bigger. The second call – for those who were hesitant to go and stand in front of a crowd, third call – those, who, probably, just thought of an idea while listening to others. From 33 pitches and 14 ideas chosen, ten continued their journey, teams have formed and the weekend began!

Saturday – busy bees start their work, a plethora of discussions and those Aha! moments in your own team and teams around. Ideas change, transform, convert the whole initial plan from top to bottom – and back. You walk through the hall and you just absorb all the energy that’s coming from each corner, every person is on the peak of his or her creativity.

Sunday – sleepy creators start gathering in the room, the demand for coffee is growing. It’s quiet, everyone has his/her own task and works towards the goal to have everything done by the end of the day. Sunday midday: can anyone please bring more coffee? And please make the time stop? A couple of hours left till the presentations of the three-day work process. People running, preparing, rehearsing, writing. Time to clean a chaos on the table that served as a main spot for your team. Even though there is a competitive part in the event, the is no sense of competition between teams. Everyone is open to help, share expertise, give advice or just talk to you about the way you feel.

If someone were to ask me whether to participate in the event like this, I would strongly encourage to do so. I am sure everyone can benefit from it, learn something new from mentors, teammates and anyone around. We all think differently, so sharing opinions, own knowledge and perceptions is extremely essential. No matter what your background is, you can help others and learn from them. It is definitely worth trying – go, get out of your comfort zone and spend the weekend in a different beneficial way! Explore a new world of people, ideas and resources!

~ Alina

Announcing Startup Weekend Maker Edition Keynote Speaker: Ed Colgate, Co-Founder of TANVAS


We are thrilled to announce Ed Colgate as Keynote Speaker for Startup Weekend Maker Edition. Ed has dedicated most of his career to the study of haptic interface, and is considered one of the leading scholars in the field. As a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University, Ed has maintained a robust research program that has led to two previous spin-off companies: Cobotics (acquired by The Stanley Works in 2002), and Kinea Design (acquired by HDT Robotics in 2011). He is a prolific inventor with twenty-five issued patents and several more pending. He is recognized for seminal contributions to the design and control of haptic interfaces, and in 2007 was selected as the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics. In recent years, he has focused on Surface Haptics and developing the technological foundation for Tanvas

What’s Tanvas? Tanvas technology adds a new dimension; the realistic sense of touch, so you can feel dynamic textures with the swipe of a finger. The major shortcoming of a touchscreen is that it’s a screen—flat, glassy, cold. Tanvas is a new technology that imbues displays with haptics to simulate how the things you see on screen feels in the real world. As Tanvas explains it, all the magic happens between your fingers and the screen. Using electrostatic fields to create friction, the company can simulate different textures like choppy, grainy, fine, and wavy, transforming a touchscreen from something you simply touch into something you can actually feel. Don’t believe me?


Tanvas Video

Join us for Startup Weekend Maker Edition kicking off this Friday at mHUB Chicago! You don’t want to miss out on hearing from one of the World’s leading inventors as he shares his journey to entrepreneurship and the future of Touch! 

Get your tickets here! 

mHUB, Chicago’s Premier Center for Manufacturing Innovation, plays host to Startup Weekend

The newest edition to Chicago’s tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem, mHUB, will play host to Startup Weekend Chicago Maker Edition on March 10-12th! mHUB is an innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing, supported by a vibrant community of entrepreneurs, manufacturers, investors, mentors, engineers, and designers, as well as education and industry partners. You can learn more about mHUB membership here. 

Located in the modest surrounding of 965 W. Chicago Ave, mHUB boasts a state of art facility with 63,000 square feet of creativity and innovation containing fabrication labs and supplies for electronics, plastics, metals, textiles and rapid prototyping. No matter how big or small, mHUB has everything you need to bring to life your product! Whether your idea is in robotics, connected devices, sensors, energy tech, unmanned vehicles or something so revolutionary there isn’t even a name for it yet, mHUB is the place to make it happen! 

This is your chance to launch a hardware startup at Chicago’s premier center for innovation with Startup Weekend Chicago. Don’t wait, Get your tickets today! Startup Weekend Maker Edition begins this Friday March 10th! 


Meet the Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Shreya Singh and Brandon Saunders

Name: Shreya Singh

Age: 29

Hometown: Chennai, India

Creative Industry of Focus (Visual Arts, Performing Arts, Film/TV, Music Business, etc.): Performing and Visual Arts.

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I have a background in Psychology, Leadership, Classical dance and Arts Management in India. I have been working as an Arts and Cultural Development Consultant in South India for the past six years and every year so far has been eventful and very fulfilling. This Arts Management degree at Columbia has no doubt equipped me with critical tools to take my skills and understanding of arts management to the next level. I look forward to moving back to India in 2017 to put my skills to good use where arts managers are the need of the hour.

This is such a cliché question, but where do you see yourself in five years?

Considering my experience, travel and research so far in Asia and the United States, I am fairly confident of being in a leadership position at a reputable arts organization in India or maybe even being an entrepreneur in the arts.

What is your role in CCC Startup Weekend Chicago- Creative Enterprises Edition?

Director of Operations.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before?


If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience?

The energy was palpable; the high-pressure environment makes my mind work at a different rate. The mentors and coaches help shape your ideas and think outside the box. To me the experience was priceless, especially being a part of the MAM program and since I also took the entrepreneurship class this past semester.

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago?

An electric environment. An enthralling experience and forming meaningful relationships.

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition?

A comprehensive idea of what it takes to start a business from ideation to projecting revenue and breaking even. Anyone with an idea of a product or solution in the arts, or any creative realm for that matter, would benefit from this 54-hour intensive experience. Without a doubt, the learning from this weekend is unparalleled and unique, no matter how many times one participates.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality?

Everyone needs a platform to spring from. Every company needs a dream team. Every idea needs depth and market analysis to back it up. Startup Weekend is where one can do or find answers to these questions.


Name: Brandon Saunders

Age: 25

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Creative Industry of Focus: Music Business

Tell me a bit about yourself.

I consider myself a creative arts professional as well as a creative artist. This basically means I love to create and I love to help others create as well.  I am an alumnus from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and soon-to-be Columbia College Chicago alumnus as well. Musical enterprise and social entrepreneurship are at the forefront of my efforts as I aim to create pathways for young creative minds to develop and flourish.

This is such a cliché question, but, where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?

I see myself having complete ownership of my time as successful entrepreneur. This includes starting to see some success with my current entrepreneurial projects.

What is your role in CCC Startup Weekend Chicago- Creative Enterprises Edition?

I am the Marketing Director of this great team. Basically, it is my job to make sure we bring in a ton of people that want to participate in the weekend as well as find groups that want to help us make this happen.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before?

Yes, I recently attended the Startup Weekend in San Francisco.

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience?

What I really enjoy about Startup Weekend is its ability to take great idea and really move them forward in great stride with such a relatively small amount of time and resources! The concept of the weekend alone is very inspiring!

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago?

Really cool people, really great ideas and really good food!

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition?

Why not?!? Where else will you get a chance to make something great happen and meet other brilliant minds?

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality?

Write it down, plan it out and work on it every single day!

Dima Elissa, founder of VisMed-3D to Judge Startup Weekend | Maker Edition

We are excited to announce Dima Elissa, founder of VisMed-3D, will Judge final pitches at Startup Weekend Chicago | Maker Edition. 

Dima Elissa is CEO and founder of VisMed-3D, a biomedical design and consulting firm that has emerged as the leader for 3D biomedical visualization and printing in personalized medicine. Dima was selected by Chicago magazine as one of the top Women in Tech, ChicagoInno’s 50 on Fire, MakeItBetter’s Top Chicago Women in Science and by Chicago Tribune’s BlueSky Vault as one of the Top 100 entrepreneurs in Chicago. Her current venture, VisMed-3D, a biomedical design and consulting firm, is in keeping with her thirst for new technology and innovation. Alongside this novel start-up, she is pursuing her passion — devoting time, energy and guidance to women founders and entrepreneurs. As an adjunct faculty member or Entrepreneur-in-residence, teaching Entrepreneurship or as an in-demand speaker, she exemplifies her commitment to giving back and paying it forward. Her most recent designation as the American Medical Woman’s Association (AMWA) Tech and Innovation Lead under the Diversity, Inclusion & Innovation (DI&I) sector, she is building an accelerator to drive STEMM for girls and women seeking healthcare careers or who want to commercialize business ideas to improve the practice of medicine.

Dima also serves as Board member for mHUB, Chair of the STEM steering committee for the Apareció Foundation, Executive Advisory Board Member for Ms Tech, Chicago Chapter President for Women in Bio.

Dima holds a B.A. in Chemistry from Hanover College and has earned her MBA from Texas A&M’s May’s School of Business with a concentration in Finance. She is also a member of the board of trustees of Hanover College.  @dimaelissa @vismed3d

Don’t Miss out on this Awesome Event!

Purchase Tickets Here

Don’t Miss Startup Weekend Chicago | Maker Edition | March 10-12 @mHUB

We’re kicking off 2017 with our first ever Startup Weekend – Maker Edition! Startup Weekend is a 54-hour event designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education. 

What does Maker Edition mean? Participants will pitch startup ideas that include the development of a physical technical component/product. No, you don’t need technical experience to participate. Successful startups leverage the diverse skills of their team; including business, marketing, development, and design! 

Sound like a tall order in 52 hours? No worries! We’ve partnered with mHUB to provide participants access to state-of-the-art machines, workspace, and material! mHUB is Chicago’s first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing. mHUB galvanizes the manufacturing ecosystem by bringing innovative ideas, attracting world class talent, and driving greater productivity and profit. mHUB provides members access to 63,000 square feet of state-of-the-art machines and work space, and a vibrant community of manufacturers, entrepreneurs, engineers, designers and investors. mHUB ensures Chicago’s legacy remains that of a beacon to a region that builds products, and also the future. 

Join Startup Weekend Chicago and mHUB in Building the Future! Come pitch, join a team, iron out your business model, and tinker away! Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.

Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups!




Meet The Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Brittani Alston

Name: Brittani Alston

Age: 23

Hometown: Milwaukee, WI

Chicago Startup Weekend Role: Project Manager/Technical Lead

Creative Industry Focus: Performing Arts, Live Entertainment

Tell me a bit about yourself: My lifetime goal has always been to become a super entrepreneur; an innovative leader who impacts the community positively. Upon graduation from Columbia College Chicago, I hope to officially launch my leadership training program for collegiate women in Milwaukee, WI.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before? I have attended a Startup Weekend; Startup Weekend Bloomington 2016

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience? I enjoyed the late work hours filled with adrenaline and exhaustion! There’s nothing like developing a complex idea under pressure in a short period of time!

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago? Participants at Startup Weekend Chicago can expect a unique experience from the diversity of ideas and perspectives that will be brought to the room. Chicago is a gold mine for entrepreneurship!

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition? People should attend the weekend to learn about their strengths, network with others, and push their entrepreneurial limits.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality? Strive to take action opposed to simply being “in motion”. There’s a difference between planning and execution. Startup Weekend can be an easy first step!

Purchase tickets here:…/chicago/startup-weekend/10099

Meet The Chicago Startup Weekend Team: Melissa Jimenez

“Be flexible and open minded. Don’t be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth.” – Melissa Jimenez


Name: Melissa Jimenez
Age: 29
Hometown: Diego Martin, Trinidad & Tobago
Creative Industry of Focus: Live entertainment and Events

Role for Chicago Startup Weekend: Lead Organizer

Tell us a bit about yourself.
A classically trained singer who loves singing complex classical works (I’m talking about things like the 60 minute vocal performance of Carmina Burana – which I have memorized by the way) and Musicals (my favourite is Aida). I majored in Musical Arts and Sociology. Live entertainment, events and entrepreneurial business development is my passion. An ambivert on most days but if you really want to see me turn it on, watch me in event coordination mode. I love to dance but sadly structured dance doesn’t like me – I tell people I have 6 left feet. When I’m not in work mode, being a Caribbean girl to my core, you can find me relaxing on a beach or cruising on a boat with a peach or mango cocktail in hand basking in the sunshine. The beach is my place of calm, rest and solace. It helps me to center and re-focus.

This is such a cliché question, but, where do you see yourself in your career in 5 years?
Managing and coordinating events for prominent independent clients, luxury hotels and cruise liners. If you top on another 5 years, I’d like to focus on cultural policy and be the next Minister of Arts and Culture in my homeland or be in a similar position, high enough to effect change and give direction to the local Arts and Entertainment industry with the aim of making it more self sufficient.

Have you attended a Startup Weekend before?
My first encounter with Startup Weekend was as a curious attendee in November 2014. I fell in love with the cause, its mission and and the community so much that I immediately reached out to the Organizer thereafter and told them that I wanted to be a part of the team for the next one. My professional expertise then was in Grant Writing so that’s where the team utilized me and we produced a spectacular Startup Weekend event themed for Social Enterprises in June 2015. I worked remotely giving assistance to two other Startup Weekend teams thereafter and recently attended the Bloomington Indiana Startup Weekend.

If so, what did you enjoy about your Startup Weekend experience?
As an attendee, several features stood out to me most with the Startup Weekend experience. Besides the food, of course, the adrenaline rush, the insane networking and the ability to complete a project that would usually take average 6 months and more for the mediocre procrastinator took us only 54 hours. And, the end product of the weekend was AMAZING! People had websites built – functional and live – others had 3D renditions of prototypes and of course there were apps built as well – no Startup Weekend is ever complete without an app idea as the origins of the event was based on innovation within the tech space.

What can individuals expect at Startup Weekend Chicago?
Great food, great networking opportunities, a mix of people who may be just right to help you get your idea from thought to reality, and an intense work filled but fun weekend.

Why should people attend Startup Weekend Chicago – Creative Enterprise Edition?
We share a vision and desire to help grow the creative industry. There’s more to the creative industry than just dance or music or visual art. We want YOU to be a forerunner, come with your ideas for ways to expand the innovation in our creative space. Whether it be a karoke app, a tool to help designers stitch clothes in half the time, software to boost DJ productivity and output or a service which makes booking venues easier for event managers.

What advice do you have for someone that wants to make their creative business idea/dream a reality?
Don’t be afraid to pitch! Yes pitching can be scary but its worth it!
Startup Weekend provides a safe space to explore your idea, and work with people who have the skill set you don’t readily possess who will help you flesh out the idea, solidify it and turn it into a reality. Be flexible and open minded. Don’t be so tied to your idea that you stifle its potential for growth.

Find out more about us! Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Purchase tickets here.

Global Startup Battle 2015 was awesome!

The Global Startup Battle 2015 was a world-class event that brought together startup enthusiasts and industry professionals from the Chicago community in order to identify and develop innovative business ideas.

The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with a speech by Anthony Zeoli (JOBS Act and crowdfunding expert) which provided attendees with an overview of the investment ecosystem in Chicago as well as general advice on launching a startup. After the lecture was over the attendees took the stage to pitch their startup ideas! While all of the ideas presented were fantastic, a voting session by participants narrowed down the best and determined the official teams for the weekend:

Giftr – A social platform for discovering gift ideas through relational groups

HirePower – Software tool aimed at improving and streamlining the hiring process (particularly for management consulting firms)

Chews – Interactive platform that provides menus that help users find their ideal meals (particularly beneficial for individuals with dietary restrictions)

Chefy – An app that allows people to schedule private chefs to cook at their home

Between the Notes – A startup which aims to revive classical music education for the next generation

Oyster – Curated weekly entertainment guide that delivers experience and variety

On Saturday, the teams worked on getting market feedback for their ideas by conducting in-person interviews and polling social media. As they figured out what worked and what didn’t, they refined their business models and adjusted their marketing strategies. It was a great learning experience which allowed attendees to get a deeper understanding of their potential customers and the most effective ways to market their products.

On Sunday morning, with their ideas polished and their business models defined, teams worked on their pitches with the help of an amazing roster of mentors which included professionals in the fields of product design, data analytics, software development, venture capital, marketing, and social entrepreneurship. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, the teams presented the results of their hard work to a panel of judges that included high-profile members of the startup community including the assistant director of the University of Notre Dame’s entrepreneurship program and a managing director of Techstars, one of the world’s largest startup accelerator programs.

While in our book all of the teams are winners for successfully turning their ideas into viable products and putting together amazing presentations, one team stood above the rest: Chefy. By developing a sound business model and validating its business concepts with market data (including receiving request from a chef from Italy to be included in their beta), Chefy embodied what Startup Weekends are all about.

If you are interested in oin us for the official relaunch of the Startup Weekend Chicago meetup on January 14th:

Stay tuned for more updates and information regarding our next event (last weekend of February 2016) at