First Ever Startup Weekend Detroit Youth


Startup Weekend Detroit
November 6th, 2015


What a weekend! We kicked off our first ever Startup Weekend Detroit for Youth event at the Techstars office in Ford Field. We welcomed over 65 kids between the ages of 9-18 on Friday night. We built marshmallow towers, played half-baked, were silly, and ate… a lot.

Kids who returned on Saturday morning jumped into the day by pitching themselves to the group (giving their personal pitch) or pitching one of their business ideas. We had 30 pitches on Saturday morning! Ten teams were quickly formed and everyone got to work.

Teams worked diligently at validating their ideas, developing their business models, and building prototypes. And, when the time came on Sunday, they were ready!

Meet the 10 teams who presented on Sunday!!

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White Room: an app that allows young artists to create, distribute, and merchandise custom pieces of art.

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Commusic: a community-based musical environment where aspiring young artists can share their music and receive feedback.

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H-Pen: a pen that makes designing easier for busy business people and visualizing conversations through a holographic feature.

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I.N. SPACE: a platform that trains DJs online to produce world class sounds and offer them the opportunity to sign with big name record labels.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 10.52.21 AM a blogging and communication platform where young girls can go to get advice on what to do in certain situations and how to solve problems.

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Primal Instinct: an indie artist promotional company created to represent young independent artists.

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SuperPower Reading: an app that allows users to create literature with marginalized characters.

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InfinityFLY: a game that uses a connected flying “Golden Snitch” as a way to compete with other users through a connected app.

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GWR: an app for users to request lawn services on demand.

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Smart Wash: a washer/dryer unit in one that is connected to users devices and can be controlled remotely.

These teams were evaluated on their business model, customer validation, and execution and design.

We did things a bit different from the typical adult Startup Weekend and we offered several prizes:

1st Place Overall Best in Class: Will have excelled in all three of the criteria above

Runner Up, Business Models: This team developed a sound business model, but may not have been able to fully validate their idea or a minimum viable product

Runner Up, Validated Customers: This team demonstrated strong customer validation, but may not have been able to fully develop their business model or a minimum viable product

Runner Up, MVP’s: This team developed a strong minimum viable product, but may not have been able to fully validate their idea or a business model

Community Favorite: This team was awarded based on popular vote

Entrepreneurial Spirit: This participant was recognized by his/her peers and coaches as the most entrepreneurial

The winning teams in these five categories were:

1st Place Overall Best in Class: SuperPower Reading

Runner Up, Business Models: InfinityFly

Runner Up, Validated Customers: Primal Instincts

Runner Up, MVP’s: White Room

Community Favorite: SuperPower Reading

BIG congrats to all of our amazing teams! They truly stepped up and out of their comfort zone this weekend!

BIG thanks to all of our sponsors: Techstars, Magna International, Einstein by Design, Code Fellows, TechTown Detroit, DTX, Digerati Girls, Digerati Kids, Kidpreneur, Dum Dums, Wet House, Shinola, Google, Forgive Me Not Photos by Taurise, and Bizdom.

BIG thanks to all of our coaches, volunteers, and judges for taking time out of their weekend to support our event!

BIG thanks to all of the organizers: Monica Wheat, Chelsea Smallish, Grace Montero, Anamarie Sabbagh, Jay Rayford, and Zain Ismail.

That’s a wrap!

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That's a Wrap!

Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

So, the dust is settling from what was no doubt an amazing weekend full of Startup Weekend craziness plus some awesome impact and innovation!

We are excited to announce the top three teams from the first ever Startup Weekend Detroit special edition event for social entrepreneurs!

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1. Give Lyrics – T-shirts with artists’ lyrics posted on them. Problem: people want a cool t-shirt with meaning to them. Solution: Meaningful lyrics and images are printed on the shirt and a percentage of the cost of the shirt goes to a social organization.

2. fulFILL – Package-less delivery of items. Problem: Much of the waste thrown out everyday is packaging and also the cost of an item you buy. various liquids like handsoap, lotion, shampoo, detergent, etc.. Solution: a service where you set out empty containers and the service will deliver product to fill your empty containers, cutting down on waste and saving money on the cost of materials that would normally go to packaging. Like how the milkman used to drop off full milk bottles and take empty glass ones.

3. Change for Change – a simple way for people to invest small amounts of money, rounded up from normal transactions and invested into businesses and organizations that they like and they can get a return on this investment, a form of investment crowdfunding.

Crowd Favorite: Interview Rehab – App/platform to help people prepare for successful job interviews. Problem: people are frequently not ready for job interviews and the good information is hard to find because it is spread out across the web. Solution: an app or platform that has this information in a central place so that users can prepare for interviews with the right content.

Congrats again to ALL of our teams!!!


surPRIZES, part II


We are excited to announce the latest in some very awesome prize packages for the winners of our upcoming Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs event.

Gingras Global has graciously provided a prize package for some six teams at Startup Weekend Detroit next weekend – three of which will be the winners of the first, second, and third places and the remaining three will be selected by popular vote by all of the participants. Let’s learn more about Gingras Global and the prizes.

Gingras Global is a social enterprise reporting and standards development firm. All products and services are directed to sustainability and best practices. They have a global presence working not only in Michigan (where they are headquartered) but in Illinois, India, and the Holy Land.

Gingras Global is firmly committed to reducing the high failure rate of small business and social enterprise by setting high but achievable standards for the enterprise, providing standardizing tools that we can have a part in improving the industry of social enterprise, and believing that community can come around social enterprise by pooling resources. 

Mastery of financial reporting is an essential skill for any business. For social enterprise it can be critical. Romy Gingras – Managing Partner and Startup Weekend Detroit Judge says, “in my opinion, it is critical that social entrepreneurs begin to cascade their social impact into their financial reporting. It is important to not just make statements about social impact, but to also understand how it affects their financial strategies. Demonstrating this understanding creates credibility with the funding community. Financial reporting also leads to transparency and good data for future decision making by management. Verbal statements without the financial numbers is like only showing the comforter without exposing the mattress or bed frame. The missing financials can lead one to wonder what is under the covers.”

Through Gingras Global’s generous support six lucky teams will receive one full year of use of their Quarterly Reporting tool which is valued at $800. This will include set up support. All winning teams must redeem this prize within 30 days of the event.



Special Announcement!


Guess what?! 

Bamboo Detroit – Detroit’s largest coworking community – has provided a VERY SPECIAL discount to ALL of our Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs participants…..

If you participate over the weekend you will receive 50% off of coworking for three months at Bamboo Detroit’s coworking location off of Brush st. in downtown Detroit. This is normally a $447 value, a​ half off discount for Startup Weekend participation equates to three months coworking at $​223.50.

Coworking at Bamboo Detroit includes:

  • Access to all Bamboo Detroit amenities. Each membership include
  • 24/7 access to Downtown Detroit location
  • Mailing address, conferences rooms, free wifi & coffee
  • Additional Bamboo Detroit member discounts

In order to redeem this perk, you must be a registered participant at Startup Weekend Detroit for the event on 5/29 through 5/31. All details on how to redeem this discount will be provided on Sunday 5/31.

Startup Weekend Detroit Social Entrepreneurs Edition Resource Guide – logistics & misc.

Oh my gosh.. we are so close to the first ever special edition Startup Weekend event in Detroit! Thanks again for planning to spend the weekend with us. We are super excited!

Just to help you with all of the little things like parking, wifi, resources, what are the prizes, who are the coaches, what will be eating, etc… we have everything in one place, HERE!

The Venue

The event will be hosted at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center located at 2826 Bagley Ave., Detroit.

You can park on the street, in the lot on site, in the lot behind the building off of 20th street between Vernor and Bagley Ave., or in the lot directly behind the Welcome Center off of 20th street and Bagley Ave. See map:

Map for SWD
  • The building has 24 hour security, although we encourage you to not leave anything valuable behind. In the unlikely event, Startup Weekend and the Ford Resource and Engagement Center are not liable for any loss or theft of personal property.
  • Wifi access information will be posted all over the building
  • You will have access to the venue from 8am to 11pm, during off hours you don’t have to go home, but you cannot stay there. Here is a list of places you can go in the area to keep working. We are also happy to answer any of your questions about other places to go…
  • WIFI = Network: FRAEC_Guest | Password: fall2013!

We know you are all responsible adults, but just to be clear on expectations please read the following:

  • Absolutely NO ALCOHOL – violation of this expectation is cause for removal from the event. No exceptions.
  • There will be other activities (not many) going on in the venue while we are there, please be respectful.
  • This space is gorgeous, we will leave it as we found it. Please take the time to clean up after yourself and your team – this is everyone’s responsibility.
  • The venue has a computer lab – this will NOT be available for use over the weekend. If this changes we will let you know.
  • White boards will be in short supply but we will do our best to stock you with the resources you might need. However, it is never a bad idea to bring extra paper/pens/highlighters/etc. Please see below for a list of things you should bring.


We sure have an awesome weekend of food planned for ya’ll. Absopure has generously provided ALL of the coffee and water you can drink.. seriously, the supply is endless! Plus, we will have soft drinks.


Domino’s pizza


B: Bagels @ 8:30am

L: Mudgies Sandwiches @ 11:30am

S: Assorted Snacks & Nice Cream Social with Nice Modern Creamery @ 4:00pm

D: Pub Rub @ 7:00pm


B: Bagels @ 8:30am

L: Bucharest Grill @ Noon

S: Assorted Snacks @ all day

D: Hot Taco @ 5:30pm

Preparing for the Weekend

Resources on the pitch, idea, and social enterprise component

The prizes

The coaches & judges

Any other questions you might have can likely be answered by searching this site… promise!

What to Expect on Friday Night

Pitches on Friday night will be in a “pitch-fire” format, which means you will have just 60 seconds to get the audience interested in your idea. You will have no slides or props -just your voice. You won’t have time to go over features, so just focus on the core of the idea and make your enthusiasm contagious. Here is the format for pitches that we recommend:

  • Who are you and what is your background? (5-10 Seconds)
  • Whatis the problem that your product is solving? Or, begin with a story (10-20 Seconds)
  • Explain the product and how it solves the problem (10-20 seconds)
  • Who do you need on your team (a developer, marketing, designer?) (5-10 seconds)
  • Finally, make up a name for your startup so the facilitator can give it a title

Voting & Forming Teams

After pitches, you will have more time to mingle. If you pitched an idea, this is your time to start recruiting others that may be interested in your idea. If you did not pitch, or if you are having trouble finding others to join your team, use this time to seek out those that pitched other ideas that you found interesting.

Next, the crowd votes on their favorite pitches.This is simply a way to encourage quick team forming. This is by no means an exclusive process and if you pitched an idea and it is not voted as one of the top ideas, you are more than welcome to work on it if you find some other people who want to work on the idea with you. From there we will form teams and these are the startup ideas that will be worked on over the weekend.

What To Bring

  • Laptop
  • Chargers & other tech specific things you might need (flash drive, HD cords/cables, etc.)
  • Business Cards
  • Something to take notes on & with
  • A paper ticket is not required. Your name is on a list.
  • STUDENTS – Bring your student ID
  • Lots of energy

Resources For Working On Your Business

Did we miss something? Let us know anytime if you have a question! Contact us at!

Startup Weekend Detroit Social Entrepreneurs Edition Resource Guide – the pitch & the impact

So the big weekend is nearly here and you may be thinking to yourself “self, what is our idea, what is our pitch, what is this social enterprise thing?” Well, don’t worry we got you covered. Here are a whole-lotta resources to get you ready for the weekend!

The Idea & The Pitch

To give you some ideas about what to pitch and how to pitch it here is a link to a series of blogs from Startup Weekend organizers from across the world with tips for the Friday night pitch which should be helpful.

Also, here are some FAQ’s on the Friday night pitch:

  • What types of ideas can I pitch?

Any business ideas are eligible (whether for-profit, ‘social’ businesses, non-profit organizations, etc.), however the event is strongly tech-oriented. Approximately 95% of all ideas are mobile or web focused, and given the short time-frame, we strongly recommend that even non-tech ideas focus on a tech-related deliverable (i.e., website) by Sunday.

  • Can I pitch more than 1 idea?

Depending on the number of ideas pitched and the schedule, you may or may not be able to pitch multiple ideas. Prioritize your ideas: pitch your best idea (and the one you have most prepared for) first.

  • Can I pitch my existing business?

No. Startup Weekend is designed to be the most effective platform for growing new businesses from the ground up over the course of a weekend. A key facet of the weekend – and a central value for participants – is the spirit of complete collaboration, buy-in and ownership. We’ve found that having existing businesses in the mix undermines this spirit, in addition to creating an imbalance between those ideas that are truly ground-level.

  • What if my idea doesn’t get selected?

The purpose of the Friday crowd-sourcing isn’t to exclude certain ideas, but simply to highlight the most popular/high-potential pitches and end up with a manageable number of teams – ensuring that each team has a variety of backgrounds/skills. If your idea isn’t selected but you’ve formed a team around the idea, you’re welcome to work on it over the weekend. If you decide to do so, however, please tell the event Organizer, as this may be an issue regarding your teams’ eligibility for prizes.

 The Social Enterprise Thing

We like to think of social enterprise as more of an approach you take to business. Think of it as the philosophy you have as you build your business model and service/product. When you build a social enterprise the goal is to be profitable but not at the expense of the planet or people.

What does it mean to be profitable not at the expense of the planet or people. Well, to start.. this is the challenge with social enterprise. We innovate through our business models, our supply chains, sourcing and managing talent, and how we interact with our community (which can be hyper-local or scaled to include the “global community”). Part of this weekend will be rising to the challenge of taking ANY kind of business and incorporating principals and values into the operations and business model that allow YOUR business to not just make money (because that is VERY important) but also make a positive impact in the world.

Here are some additional (but certainly not exhaustive) resources that can help you get started:

We know you’re going to rock this event!

Local Social Enterprise Supports SWD in a Delicious Way

Who doesn’t love ice cream?! Especially ice cream that is made with liquid nitrogen and is full of great causes! Nice Modern Creamery, Michigan’s first nitrogen creamery, packs goodness and doing good into every bite!
Participants at our upcoming Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs will be able to sample Nice’s awesome ice cream and learn more about how this local social enterprise is delivering their do-good mission and making money on Saturday afternoon for our Nice Cream Social! 
So what does Founder Dan Bora have to say about social enterprise?
What is Nice Modern Creamery?
Nice is the nickname of our ice cream created by merging Nitrogen & Ice cream but we wanted it to be way more than that.  Nice Modern Creamery is a movement “to be nice” to others.  So we wanted to folks to come in our store and experience something beautiful and meaningful at every level. So we want Nice to be the most meaningful dessert experience in the world. From when you walk in the door and see our reclaimed wood on the walls to our Cup for Cup initiative which saves lives by providing clean water to families in African tribes – all this before you even see the awesome process of making the fresh ice cream.  So we strive to make the most unique flavors all made to order as you wait with the freshest local ingredients we can get our hands on.  This is why “we believe dessert can change the world”. We’re on a mission bigger than ourselves.
What advice would you give to budding social entrepreneurs?
Go with your heart, be passionate and get others to be passionate with you. If you’re not passionate about your product/cause, neither will your customers.
Why is it important to support social enterprise?
Well I have my own personal convictions rooted in Christianity,  but everyone needs to find those for themselves.  I think its just the right thing to do… the world needs people that will step up and not only look out for themselves but care about others and their needs. For my partners and I, giving to others has been part of our fabric from the very beginning of being in business.
Businesses can be more powerful than charities for doing great things in the world because they are not always running on paper thin margins like many non-profits. In addition, many businesses engage with customers/supporters in a much more natural way than non-profits do and in result can influence them for good.
Why is Nice Modern Creamery excited to support Startup Weekend and other social entrepreneurs?
My partners and I are entrepreneurs at heart and have always enjoyed investing in others and pushing them forward to the next level. We also believe that each person has a gift/talent and the world is a better place when a person finds that talent and uses it. I think Startup Weekend is such a huge stepping stone for entrepreneurs, I have loved the idea from the very beginning I’ve first heard of it.  On top of it all, in order for Detroit to emerge back to an economic power on the US map, it needs smart, driven entrepreneurs.  Startup Weekend just fit really well with NMC overall mission of spreading the “be nice” movement.
Check out Nice Modern Creamery:
INSTAGRAM: nicemoderncreamery

U of M Center for Social Impact Makes an Impact on Detroit Entrepreneurs

Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

Michigan is home to a host of world renowned higher-education institutions. Each of which has found a unique way to serve its respective community and elevate the quality of life in many ways – from education, workforce development, employment, to economic development – truly, there is a long list.

For the nascent social enterprise community in Michigan, the University of Michigan Center for Social Impact has served as an anchor and a fountain of resources for all who seek to add value to their community through enterprise.

Their latest contribution to our upcoming Startup Weekend in Detroit for social entrepreneurs is just one example of their commitment to nurturing the local ecosystem. It also provides some amazing and well-deserved support for some very lucky entrepreneurs. As part of their $1,000 sponsorship for the event we have been able to discount several tickets to provide a scholarship for existing social entrepreneurs to attend the event. We are looking forward to applying their support towards other awesome surprises over the weekend… I guess you just have to register to see what we have planned!

But first, let’s learn a little more about the Center for Social Impact as told by the Assistant Director, Catherine Johnson.

What is the Center for Social Impact?

The Center for Social Impact at the Ross School of Business serves as a dynamic link between the social impact community and the University of Michigan. Our mission is to prepare and inspire leaders to solve complex social challenges. Our programs provide valuable support for mission-driven organizations and enable students to deliver social impact in multidisciplinary and cross-sector settings. 

How does Center for Social Impact support the entrepreneurial ecosystem? 

Our Center supports the social enterprise ecosystem on campus and across Southeast Michigan in a variety of ways. 

Within the broader landscape, we help cultivate the ecosystem by providing technical support, mentorship, and sponsorship for social entrepreneurship programs and events including the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Build Institute’s Build Social program, and national conferences such as the Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development (SEED) Conference. We also are active in the newly formed Detroit Social Enterprise Alliance chapter, supporting social entrepreneurs through development of programming, funding streams, and networking opportunities. 

On campus, this year we partnered with two other Institutes at Ross to pilot a $15k social venture track of a long-standing business plan competition which is open to all U-M students. This track is designed to support the launch of new ventures that tackle social and environmental issues and to foster social entrepreneurship at U-M. The award rewards social entrepreneurs developing a new for-profit or nonprofit venture.  

We also provide support for students pursuing social enterprise internships and student social entrepreneurs developing businesses. This summer, Praveen Loganathan , Co-Founder of InFusion Technologies, a renewable energy systems home installation company, will be completing a social entrepreneur fellowship with the Center for Social Impact. He will be working to grow the business by expanding the InFusion client base and developing a marketing strategy.

The Center for Social Impact was also an inaugural sponsor of the MBAs Across America program, supporting a team with three Ross MBAs, Nydia Cardenas, Saurabh Kumar, and Stefanie Thomas. MBAs Across America takes students out on the road to learn from and work with visionary entrepreneurs. The 2014 Ross team worked with The Social Club Grooming Company. The Center will be sponsoring a 2015 MBA team this summer.

Why is it important to support social enterprise?

It is critically important that the entrepreneurs tackling our most pressing social challenges receive the guidance, funding, and the network needed to develop their ideas and bring their ventures to life. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a rich system of opportunities to support a wide range of social enterprises. This requires collective and coordinated effort from funders and investors, supporters, and existing and nascent social entrepreneurs. 

Why is the Center for Social Impact excited to support Startup Weekend and entrepreneurs?

 We are very excited to support Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs! We hope it proves to be not just productive but transformative for all who participate. Startup Weekend is a fantastic forum that can move things from idea to reality and significantly accelerate impact.  

Don’t forget to save your seat at our upcoming event on May 29th. We look forward to seeing you! Visit to register today!

Startup Weekend Detroit's Got Talent


Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

From legal to finance to tech, you need it we got it! Our coaches and judges have some serious experience to share!

With well over 60 years of experience among them, check out the line up for our judging panel for Sunday’s Demo Day:

Jill Ford, Angel Investor & Mayor Duggan’s Special Advisor for the City of Detroit

Chris Nemeth, Senior Director for Social Enterprise at Forgotten Harvest

Jessica Robinson, Implementation Manager for Techstars Detroit

Romy Gingras, Founder and Managing Partner of Gingras Global, LLC  and Gingras Global Groups, L3C

We also have some bases covered with our rockstar coaches:

Alari K. Adams, Entrepreneur, Legal

Dave Anderson, Entrepreneur, Tech, Engineering

Sandy Barris, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Author

Paul Chambers, Entrepreneur, Tech

Meredith Kerekes, Entrepreneur, Creative, Marketing

Scott Kloustin, Entrepreneur, Tech, Crowdfunding

Pavan Muzumdar, Entrepreneur, Finance/Investment, Operations

Natalia Petraszczuk, Entrepreneur, Startup Weekend Detroit Winner

Monica Wheat, Entrepreneur, Tech, Social Media

Stay up to date on our coaches for Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs at!



What do Dum Dums and Startup Weekend Detroit Have in Common…

Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

Who would’ve guessed that Dum Dums and Startup Weekend Detroit would go together so nicely?! I think it is safe to say that we have all enjoyed the delicious treats at some point in our lives… I am personally very fond of the butterscotch flavor.

But don’t let their wrapper and sweetness fool you, these little suckers have come to  Startup Weekend Detroit to pitch! Check out the Dum Dums pitch, and maybe take a few notes… these suckers are good!

Why are Dum Dums a good fit in the entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Dum Dum’s mystery flavors (pizza, popcorn and bacon) are for the risk-takers. Startup events across the board motivate and support the idea of a “disruptive” campaign. 

The adventurous mystery flavors are a result of Spangler Candy Company being an innovative brand. Agile and creative, the company is anxious to extend the brand experience and build new audiences by igniting the adventurous spirit and bringing out the kid in all of us. 

Is Dum Dums an entrepreneurial company? If so, how?

Connecting with consumers:

Dum Dums is a connected and consumer-focused brand. Immersing themselves in conversations, they listen first and then respond with disruptive, fun new flavors that keep people talking about them. 

Spangler Candy Company is dedicated to staying in tune to the culture of their consumers.

Ability to quickly shift: 

Innovation has always been at the heart of Spangler Candy Company. From new products to manufacturing and distribution, Spangler’s forward-thinking team has the ability to make informed decisions and swiftly respond to cultural shifts. 

An integrated approach to marketing enables Spangler to proactively engage with emerging trends. Building new audiences through an active use of social media offers insight. Spangler is listening and responding to consumers by crowdsourcing flavor suggestions and enabling their fans to co-create stories about how Dum Dums fit into their personal life. 

Why is Dum Dums excited to support Startup Weekend and entrepreneurs?

Dum Dums understands the challenges of a hands-free existence and practices lean methodologies. At only 25 calories per pop, they strive to provide an exceptional taste experience with cross platform user feedback opportunities. Additionally, the unique package removal experience (wrapper comes off in an instant) allows for maximum MTI (minimal tactile interaction) resulting in less stoppage and more rapid development opportunities.  

Just wow.

All of our participants will be plenty fueled up on Dum Dums while they code away over the weekend! Thanks Dum Dums for supporting our entrepreneurs!


Got your ticket?! If not you better hurry before they’re all gone…                                  visit: to save your seat!