"Create My Story" Wins Triad Startup Weekend!

Startup Weekend Winston-Salem

November 6th, 2015



We had a fantastic Startup Weekend with over 60 participating judges, coaches and startup team members. Our facilitator, Daniel Johnsen, has over 20 past SUWs to his credit and was a fantastic facilitator. Over a 56 hour period, four finalist teams went from idea to business model, including rigorous customer interactions and market research. We had a lot of fun, worked hard and made more progress with the teams than most do in months. Each team has the opportunity to develop further with coaching and free membership at Flywheel.


First Place: Create My Story

Second Place: CollegiateX

Third Place: Auto MD

Fourth Place: CauseMatch


Prizes Announced for Triad Startup Weekend!

We’re thrilled to announce the following prizes for the next Triad Startup Weekend on November 6-8th!

1st place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • Three free months of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • 3 one-hour sessions of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

2nd place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • Two free months of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • One hour of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

3rd place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • One free month of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • One hour of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

Prizes Announced for Triad Startup Weekend!

We’re thrilled to announce the following prizes for the next Triad Startup Weekend on November 6-8th!

1st place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • Three free months of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • 3 one-hour sessions of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

2nd place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • Two free months of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • One hour of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

3rd place

  • Free admission into Flywheel’s Startup Course Series and Coaching
  • One free month of membership to Flywheel Cowork
  • One hour of strategic coaching with Sam Funchess (President & CEO of the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship)

Why Diversity Always Matters in Startup Weekend


At first, I found it strange that the organizing team of the Triangle event I facilitated on June 12-14 pursued a “trailblazers” edition. Initially I had thought the team wanted to create a diversity-themed event similar to the one I had facilitated in Miami just two weeks prior.

I’m not going to say which event I liked more… but they were certainly different! #Diversity

I learned quickly that the rationale behind that branding had to do with the perception of the world “diversity” as potentially not ideal. The term “Trailblazers” alluded to the multiple pioneers that have come from all walks of life in North Carolina, but not directly to women, people of color, or other underrepresented peoples.

This move honestly troubled me for two reasons:

  • Do people actually feel excluded when an event calls for diversity?

  • Do people not want to be part of an event that prioritizes diversity?

After 10 Startup Weekends as a participant, volunteer, organizer, and facilitator, I’ve come to not only appreciate the diversity of each event – I crave it. The greatest killer of an event is monotony – if it looks and feels the same as it did before, it will lose its luster.


My last two events were among the most memorable because they knew a simple fact:

Diversity improves community. Always. 

Below are some key lessons I learned during my time in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill that weekend.

1. History matters, especially from diverse narratives

We’re all familiar of the most famous narrative of innovation out of North Carolina – the location of the famous Wright Brothers’ historic heavier-than-air flight. The state also has a rich history of innovation from lesser-known figures such as:

Sequoyah – creator of the Cherokee alphabet, which allowed for increase communication between and across Native American peoples.







Lunsford Lane – born into slavery and invented a special tobacco that raise enough money to buy his freedom.







Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner – inventor of 35 products and holder of five patents, granted retroactively as she was denied previously for being a black woman.







I felt it was important to tell these stories as well in Durham at the event. Innovation can truly come from anywhere, but it takes a special drive to push it forward.

2. Diversity strengthens communities on the rise

The American Tobacco Campus

I was truly captivated by the beauty and sprawl of the downtown Durham innovation sector. Everything from American Underground to the Iron Yard is all within walking distance, and the community is very familiar and well-integrated.

The old American Underground building.

I can see why the Triangle has been selected for the location of the next UP America Summit in September. It has everything the country could want and so much more!

3. You can have a diverse team of literal professionals

Top row: Frank Pollack, Austin Henley, Talib Graves-Manns Middle row: Glenda Clare, Lee Ngo, Ramon Llamas, Corey Harris, Adam Klein Bottom row: Jesica Averhart

In all of my Startup Weekends, I’ve never seen a more impressive, academic, and professional group of people that I did at Triangle Trailblazers. In this photo, I estimate there are at least twelve or thirteen advanced degrees and over one hundred years of professional experience.

I was the lone liability of the group.
I was the lone liability of the group. Also, @DrinkMati is a fantastic sponsor.

Moreover, they ran their even with aplomb. Excellent communication, precision, and consideration for the needs of the community. Great, great work!

4. Diversity is more than just about race or gender

This event was attended by nearly equal parts female and male and predominately people of color, particularly African and Latino American. Also like in the Miami event, the Triangle event brought out another underrepresented group: the differently-abled.

Team KinderWalk working to provide guidance for the visually-impaired in buildings.

Two teams that hoped to aid the visually-impaired worked from start to finish during this competition, with one app – The Blank App – going on to win the AT&T Special Award for Connectability.

It’s great to see Startup Weekend bring out the best of ourselves, regardless of whether it is convenient or profitable.

5. A new owner, but the same mission for diversity

General Announcement

With the recent Techstars acquisition of UP Global, there are many community leaders such as myself who are left with several questions about the future of the organization. While tax incentives and financial strategies are important, I think the preservation of UP Global’s Burning Man-inspired philosophy of “radical inclusion” should be at the forefront of the discussion.


To me, prioritizing diversity should be self-evident, and it should not ever be a point of contention.

However, until our communities evolve to that point, we’ll just have to stay vigilant. From the bottom of my heart, I thank the Triangle Trailblazers team for inviting me out to be a part of their special event, and I’ll see everyone in September.

Lee Ngo is a community leader and facilitator based in Pittsburgh, PA.

Listbid wins Triad Startup Weekend

#swtriad SUW Greensboro 2015
[ Prompts to help you are in brackets. Be sure to remove them before you publish! ]

Startup Weekend Greensboro
April 17th, 2015

[Who were the top three winning teams? (please describe each idea/product)] [What set these winning teams apart from the other teams? ] [What was the best part of the event/anything worth noting that stood out to you that really made the entire event worth it? ]

Our biggest thank you…

This year we were fortunate enough to partner with Ventureprise, a venture development organization that offers comprehensive business services for entrepreneurs. Located in the PORTAL building at UNCC, and through the Charlotte Research Institute, they enable early stage growth of high-potential business ventures who are driven by innovation.

They have several initiatives that complement the innovation services they offer. The Charlotte Venture Challenge is a business competition that has launched hundreds of companies who entered in their early stages. Charlotte Venture Launch guides founders through the customer discovery process and helps find ready customers, to see if an idea is worth pursuing. The Innovation Connection gathers constituents interested in specific technology or industry topics. This forum invites participants because of their interest or expertise in the specific topic.

Their involvement in the Charlotte entrepreneurial community is integral to maintaining the level of participation, enthusiasm, and success that we have seen in the region. They are a large collaborator with colleges and universities, capital sources, research and development centers, government agencies, and entrepreneurial support organizations around town, like Packard Place and Queen City Forward (Charlotte Startup Weekend supporters too!).

Needless to say our event would not be as awesome as it is without the support of Ventureprise. Check them out over the weekend and see how you can plug into their awesome entrepreneurial and innovation-driven ecosystem.

We'd like to thank our Sponsors…

After watching the Oscars yesterday, don’t you think about your acceptance speech?Who would be your, “Above all, I’d like to thank…” person? We at Charlotte Startup Weekend have prepared our own Acceptance speech for being awarded the opportunity to put on yet another Charlotte Startup Weekend. It truly doesn’t happen without the support of so many sponsor companies. We would like to thank our sponsors, who all make this event not only possible, but totally awesome!

We have two law firms on our sponsor roll this year. Because, let’s be honest, you can never have too many attorneys in your corner!

Spengler & Agans

We are excited to have Spengler & Agans among our sponsors this year. As a law firm they focus on immigration law and business law. You will also find them at PitchBreakfast at Packard Place on the 2nd Tuesday of every month.

From their website:

Both immigrants and entrepreneurs travel along similar paths—paths leading to a better life through determination and hard work. More people than you might expect follow both paths: Immigrants in the United States are more than twice as likely to start a business as their native-born American counterparts. The distinction between the immigration and business law fades entirely in some instances—such as when an immigrant seeks the necessary documents to work at a domestic company, or when a business owner seeks advice on how to comply with legal hiring regulations. And by focusing our efforts on two practice areas, we are able to provide specialized service to our clients.

Eric and Justin both find great joy in volunteering in the community. Most recently, Eric has been an active volunteer with the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, helping immigrants from war-torn countries. Justin has volunteered with Sustain Charlotte and helped guide a group local students research and present to Charlotte City Council.


Horack Talley

This is their second year as a #CSW sponsor. With 39 attorneys practicing at the firm, they are a real legal powerhouse, so we’re glad they’re on our side. You know, in case we ever end up in court for…something.

Horack Talley as a firm is involved in dozens of local charities and organizations, which shows a clear commitment to developing community in Charlotte. We’re also a fan of their Women’s Initiative, which seeks to promote personal and professional development for the women in their firm (40% of their attorneys are female, BTW. Not too shabby!)

From their website:

Horack Talley offers an 80-year history of legal service to our community, making our firm one of the oldest in the Charlotte region. Since our first client in 1932, our attention has been focused on providing the best value, the highest level of personal service and the sharpest legal advice to our clients.

Horack Talley’s practice groups include community associations, corporate, family law, litigation, real estate, and personal wealth services. Our vision has long been to grow targeted practice groups with concentrations in core areas of the law.

The firm strives to anticipate the needs of our current and potential clients. We expand to new practice areas selectively, while maintaining the tradition of excellent client service people have come to expect from Horack Talley. Visit our Practices page for more information on our practice groups and the fields of law in which we focus.

Tech Talent South

Just named one of the top 30 coding bootcamps in the world by Switchup, Tech Talent South is making a name for itself around the globe and particularly in Charlotte. Co-founders Betsy Hauser Idilbi and Richard Simms met at an immersive coding program in Chicago, and brought their magic to the South. TTS serves Charlotte, as well as Atlanta, Asheville, Dallas, New Orleans, and The Triangle. One of our lucky winners will receive a full scholarship to a Tech Talent South course, and their team members will receive a partial scholarship.

From their website:

We provide access to networking opportunities, educational events, cutting edge companies, and local entrepreneurs. Our supportive, non-intimidating, and collaborative community is filled with passionate, like-minded students on their way to doing great things. Along the way, you’ll get the mentoring you need from local professionals in relevant fields and the Tech Talent South staff.

Have a great idea for the next big thing? Haven’t known how to start? This is when the sketching begins. The design process never begins in front of the computer. Tech Talent South will teach you how to map out and execute a plan, taking your idea all the way from inception to launch.

We teach you all the languages and skills you’ll need to turn your idea into a reality. From domain modeling to database management, we’ll show you the back-end of web application development. And, of course, it has to look pretty. We’ll show you the tricks of front-end design in order to create a great user experience.

Ship your MVP (minimum viable product) to the web, get feedback, refine and iterate. Get additional web application users on board, practice your pitch, and start your business…the sky is the limit!

Binary Ventures

What doesn’t Binary Ventures do for your company? They’ll take your business from idea to growing company and help every step along the way.

They categorize the experience into 3 phases:

Create.  They will help you flesh out your idea, helping with any pivoting or re-direction you need. You’ll get honest feedback, helpful suggestions, and expert advice. They’re not going to let you build a bad company.

Launch. Their developer staff will then work with these ideas to build you a top-notch product. And in a timely manner, so you’re ready to launch when you need to!

Grow. It doesn’t stop there. You will receive marketing solutions, technical support, and continued mentoring to make sure you’re off in the right direction.

Steve Nolan and Christy Harner, the co-founders of Binary Ventures, will become two of your favorite people after meeting them. Christy is returning as one of our mentors on Saturday, and will be kicking off our Saturday workshops with a session on Branding. She’s incredible. Steve knows what’s up. As one of your judges this year, his expertise will be a huge asset in evaluating the viability, marketability, and value in each of our demo-ing businesses.

Skookum Digital Works

Michael Jordan looks up to them. From his roof. That pretty much says it all about Skookum Digital Works, one of Charlotte’s best firms for Innovation, IT, and Technology solutions for your company. They look at the big picture and solve the problems to affect change now for your company.

Just Fresh

Just Fresh provides delicious, fresh food consistent with today’s healthier lifestyle. With locations in uptown and South Charlotte, they are a convenient option for breakfast or lunch. Just Fresh is providing us a deliciously fresh breakfast on Saturday that will start our attendees on the right track for a productive work day.

We’d also like to give a shout out to Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated for their donation of beverages for the weekend. Keeping our attendees caffeinated and hydrated is an important job, and we’re so thankful for their help!

We are so grateful that so many companies see value in this awesome community and events like ours that hope to expand and promote that community to a wider audience.

We hear our wrap-up music starting to play, so we’ll finish here. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Charlotte Startup Weekend 7!

Sunday: Pitch Day!

48 hours. 90 participants. 15 coaches. 10 brand new edtech startups. 5 judges.

But there’s only 1 Pitch Day!


As we start today, teams are focused on finalizing and practicing their pitches. Teams will present 5-minute demos of their minimum viable products and showcase their blossoming companies.

Here’s who’ll pitch today:

  • Math Infusion – A company that matches kids that need/want tutoring in mathematics with teachers that have expertise (materials aligned to CCSS).
  • Village: it takes one – A company that brings curricular objectives to parents to increase student performance.
  • PNEWT – A new kind of employment agency that matches high school students with local businesses to align with curricular goals. They prepare high school students for careers, and colleges.
  • Precursor.IO – A company that connect teachers with subject matter experts and content in order to ensure that students are receiving the best lesson plans available.
  • My Support Village –
  • ExperiencEDU – A company that connects common core curriculum with materials from local businesses so students can align learning to specific professional outcomes.
  • EduLaunch – The only educational crowdfunding platform where anyone can fuel our future.
  • ClassScape – A company that brings education-based games into the classroom to tie into curricular goals.
  • A Book & A Bite – A food truck that carries fresh food to food deserts. Will include instructional materials and an in-truck video screen to show/share educational content.
  • aBay – We offer incentives for kids that achieve high grades.
Teams acquired knowledge and built products with the help of experienced coaches, many of whom are past participants from Triangle Startup Weekend events. “I am so glad that we’ve had the opportunities to speak with coaches today,” said one participant, “each conversation was pivotal in our ability to think about our company.”
Pitches begin at 3:00 PM in Duke Energy Hall at Hunt Library. They’ll be judged using a specific criteria from five expert judges. Tickets are available to the public and can be ordered through our event website. So… invite all your friends!

Judging Criteria for TSW:edu

Teams are judged according to the following 4 criteria (weighed equally):

 Education Impact:

The Startup Weekend Education event is slightly different than other Startup Weekend events in that “Education Impact” is an additional, equally weighted category.

  • Is this solving a problem in education? (i.e. the solution focuses on the acquisition of knowledge, the transfer of knowledge, teaching, learning, retention of information)
  • Is this solution better than what’s being done now?

Customer Validation:

  • Have you taken the proper steps to ensure that the people who matter (your future customers) support and reinforce your assumptions? Think of Customer Validation as ‘evidence’ to back up the core structure of your ‘theory’ (your Business Model). The more feedback you gather (quantity), the more this feedback comes from your specific target market (quality), and the more you’re able to actually integrate this feedback into the Business Model and product development (execution), the better. Lastly, if you haven’t got answers to these questions, you’ve spent too much time on frills & features and need to get back to the basics:
  • Who is your customer?
  • What is your core value proposition?

 Execution / Design:

  • The nitty gritty: what has your team been able to actually build over the weekend? Do you have an MVP and functional demo? Even the strongest of Business Plans are useless in the hands of those who can’t properly execute on them. Getting as far as possible in the development of your product/prototype not only helps give Judges a tangible vision of what the final product could be, but proves your strength and skills as a team.
  • Is it easy to use and intuitive (i.e. “user-friendly”)? Why was it determined that it’s best to build this as a mobile app vs. a web app (or vice versa)? How many users have currently engaged with your product? How will the design evolve if given more time and resources to work on this product?

Business Model:

  • Is there a vision for this being a sustainable venture (even if you plan to be a non-profit organization)?
  • What are your key activities?
  • What are your revenue streams?What is your cost structure?
  • Who/what are your key partners/resources?
  • What are your distribution channels?
  • What is your roll out strategy?

Be Good&Smart at Charlotte Startup Weekend 7

We have a special treat (and great service) for our CSW7 attendees this year: A pop-up agency dedicated to all things branding for your new business. Start out on the right foot and take advantage of their expertise!

This pop-up agency will assist our teams with branding their ideas through counsel and recommendations. Our talented Good&Smart ladies will help them develop their unique story, establish a digital presence, and advise on final pitch strategies.

Come by the Command Center on Saturday from 10am-4pm (location at UNCC Center City will be announced Friday evening and Saturday morning) to get coaching on all aspects of branding, social media, public speaking, and communications to various startup teams.

Featured Small Businesses:

● Jenifer Daniels, APR, founder and CEO of Good&Smart, helps brands use data, marketing, and digital to tell their stories. She also serves as adjunct faculty at UNC Charlotte’s Department of Communication Studies. In 2014, Jenifer launched #GoodCamp – an innovative unconference advancing effective communications for nonprofits. Jenifer is a New Leaders Council Fellow, board chair emeritus of Sustain Charlotte, and a TEDx Talker.

● Brandi Williams. beawilliams.com, helps companies align their corporate social responsibility programs with business goals for profit gain and to push social change.

● Denada Jackson, Bella Boca PR encourages all brands to Be HEARD! Through media relations, social media and other public relations strategies, Bella Boca wants to build a communication plan that will help businesses achieve set goals and reach target audiences to grow brands.

● Jameka Whitten, With dual operations in both Charlotte, North Carolina and New York City, JSW Media Group is a boutique public relations and marketing firm making quite a splash on the east coast independent entertainment scene. JSW Media boasts a wide range of services, which includes everything from artist publicity and event planning to image consulting and brand management. We are a full service brand management firm.

● Maya Elious, helps purpose-driven entrepreneurs earn more money in their business through consulting and effective web design and branding.

● Davida Jackson, Called2Connect specializes in bringing all aspects of your online presence together to promote YOU. We dazzle by delivering results through solid social media strategies, SEO, and innovation to strengthen your brand and boost your bottom line.