Startup Weekend Energizes the Rochester Startup Community

It’s been an amazing time at #StartupWeekend Rochester! The startup teams have been grinding away on their ideas and the competition will be a close one!

If you did not get to participate in #swrochmn17 this weekend, we invite you to check out Demo Day today at 5 PM at the Bleu Duck Kitchen Event Space to see the team pitches and judging. Who will reign supreme?

Register here to attend the Demo Day >

Turn Your Idea into a Startup with Startup Weekend Rochester

Want to learn how to transform an idea into a viable business concept? Participate in Rochester’s inaugural Startup Weekend. This event will take place on Friday, November 3rd through Sunday, November 5th at Collider Coworking in downtown Rochester.

Startup Weekend is an opportunity to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, create an idea, and build the beginnings of a viable startup in fifty-four hours. The event is powered by Techstars, a global network that supports and encourages entrepreneurship. Techstars’ Startup Weekends take place in over 150 countries; 2.9K Startup Weekends have occurred to date.

The process all begins on Friday evening, where participants pitch their ideas and gather teams around the most promising concepts. Participants do not need to come to Startup Weekend with a pre-formed team. They are encouraged to use the weekend to connect and collaborate with other innovators who may be outside of their normal network. On Saturday, the groups work to build a minimal viable product or service and develop their business model. Participants also receive coaching from mentors and hear a talk from an entrepreneurial expert. Sunday, the teams continue to work and prepare five-minute presentations to demo their product or service and explain their business model.

Startup Weekend culminates in a demo night on Sunday, where groups pitch their product or service to a panel of judges and a gathered crowd of interested community members.

Tickets for the event are $75 for adults and $35 for students, which includes seven meals throughout the weekend. Tickets are $25 to attend the Sunday night demos for non-Startup Weekend participants.

This weekend is an opportunity for true experiential learning. The event is for anyone interested in entrepreneurship and provides a first-hand look at what it takes to build a startup.

Approximately twenty-five percent of teams participating in Startup Weekends continue with their concept after the event. One local success story comes right out of the Minneapolis Startup Weekend. A team of University of Minnesota students developed the idea for a smart water bottle that monitored and encouraged water consumption and glowed when it was time to drink. The startup, called Hidrate, is now a full company based between Minneapolis and Chicago.

For more information about Startup Weekend, head over to the main homepage. Click here for registration and more details about Rochester’s Startup Weekend.

Special Thanks to the Farash Foundation and Excell Partners


The organizers of Rochester Startup Weekend have to thank our excellent supporters and partners at the Farash Foundation and Excell Partners. There’s no way our ticket sales could support the scale of the event we put on. The people behind theseorganizations are truly our “angel investors,” and we greatly appreciate their investment in our Rochester startup community. 


Meet Your #RSW2015 Judges: Don Golini, Theresa Mazzullo and Alex Zapesochny

Don Golini

Don Golini is a successful entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the development, management and commercialization of new technologies. As President and Founder of QED Technologies, Don took a novel finishing process from a university laboratory to worldwide commercial success. Today, QED develops, manufactures and markets precision finishing and metrology equipment for the optics industry. QED grew from 5 to more than 50 employees with personnel in 5 countries. QED was acquired in June 2006, by Illinois—based Cabot Microelectronics Corporation (NASDAQ: CCMP), and Golini stayed on as President until 2010.

Today, Don serves as Chairman of the Rochester Angel Network (RAN), is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at High Tech of Rochester, serves on various boards and advises several companies in the Rochester area.

Theresa Mazzullo

Theresa Mazzullo has been the CEO of Excell Partners since 2006. She has a 30-year track record in business, finance and entrepreneurship. In her role as CEO of Excell Partners, her duties include portfolio management, governance, compliance, reporting, community integration, finance and fundraising.

Theresa spent six years as President & Principal of EPIC Advisors, Inc a 401(k) retirement plan company with $1.5 billion in retirement plan assets. In her capacity as President, she built an infrastructure that supported annual revenue growth of 20%.  She also directed business-planning process regarding business strategy and tactics in the areas of finance, sales, marketing, administration, operations and information technology to ensure increased profitability and the achievement of the company vision. Ultimately, she led the team to a successful exit in 2005.

Alex Zapesochny

Alex Zapesochny is an attorney and President and CEO of iCardiac Technology. Prior to co-founding iCardiac, he served as General Counsel and Director of Business Development for Lenel Systems, a developer and global supplier of enterprise software, hardware and services for the electronic security industry. The company expanded to serve over 10,000 organizations throughout 75 countries, including over sixty percent of all Fortune 100 companies. The company’s financial growth earned it 39th place on Inc. magazine’s ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing privately-held companies, and Lenel was ultimately acquired for $440 million by United Technologies Corporation (NYSE: UTX).

In private practice, Alex has provided legal and business counsel to early-stage companies.

Meet #RSW2015 Keynote Speaker Cort Johnson from Atlas Venture

Cort Johnson from Atlas Venture

The organizing team at Rochester Startup Weekend is pleased to announce that Cort Johnson, a Venture Partner at Atlas Venture in Cambridge, Mass., will be this year’s keynote speaker. Cort will be addressing all the attendees of #RSW2015 on the afternoon of Saturday, March 21, 2015 at Brand Networks.

This is great timing; the tech team at Atlas made national news this week by opening up a contest to crowdsource its new brand. The winning entrant will receive a $50,000 stake in the firm’s new $200M fund!


Prior to joining Atlas in 2014, Cort co-founded Terrible Labs, a leading product design and development shop based in Boston. At Terrible Labs, he led business development, marketing and operations, collaborating with both Fortune 500 companies and startups to build web and mobile products.

While at Terrible Labs, Cort also co-founded and spun out TicketZen, a mobile app that allows citizens to scan and pay parking tickets with their mobile phones. TicketZen can be used to pay parking tickets in Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.

Before Terrible Labs, Cort was Chief Evangelist at SCVNGR, a location based services startup in Boston, where he helped grow the mobile-based platform to millions of users and thousands of customers.

Cort broke into the startup scene after founding DartBoston, an organization focused on bringing together Boston’s twenty-somethings and college students interested in building companies. DartBoston hosted hundreds of events, connecting thousands of Bostonians looking to get more involved in the startup community.


In addition to being a premier speaker with exactly the kind of experience we look for in selecting keynote speakers for Rochester Startup Weekend, Cort brings a little something extra to the party this year — he’s a die-hard fan of Rochester as a native of the city.

We are excited to hear how Cort sees the evolution of Boston’s startup economy and to pick his brain about how we can drive our own startup economy forward.

Please join us in welcoming him back to Rochester by tweeting @cortlandt  …and don’t forget to use the weekend’s hashtag: #RSW2015

Addition to the First Place Prize Package at SWEDU Rochester

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 5.43.33 PMFirst place prize winners will have an interview in Tech & Learning Magazine with Kevin Hogan, Content Director & Editor.
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Kevin Hogan ihogans the Content Director for the Technology & Learning Media Group, which includes the magazine, websites, and events associated with the Technology & Learning brand. Previously he worked for Scholastic Administrator, where he was Executive Editor since September 2004. Prior to Scholastic, Hogan was Senior Editor of MIT Technology Review and Editor of the magazine’s website. He was also formerly a Features editor for Business2.0 magazine. Hogan has been reporting and writing about the intersection of business and technology since 1993.

1st Place Prizes Announced for SWEDU Rochester

Are you thinking of joining SWEDU Rochester? It’s not too late, and check out the 1st place prizes!

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 9.01.01 AM1.  Five (5) tickets for the winning team for the ISTE Annual Conference in Philadelphia, June 28 – July 1, 2015 (valued at $2,250). Registration includes:

  • Four full days brimming with rich, inspirational and highly relevant professional learning opportunities.
  • Three powerful keynote addresses from leaders and experts in the field of ed tech.
  • The opportunity to choose from hundreds of sessions in a variety of formats, including lecture, BYOD and hands-on learning environments.
  • Access to a massive expo hall featuring the latest ed tech products and services from more than 500 companies and 1,400 industry reps.
  • Unlimited networking opportunities with the nearly 18,000 educators, education leaders and corporate representatives from around the world.
  • One-year standard membership to ISTE (when paying the non-member rate).

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.30.21 PM2.  A $250 credit at AskEducators offers on-demand market research services for those seeking timely and objective insight from K-12 educators. As a startup you need timely access to non-biased (objective) feedback from your market. The faster you can gather such feedback the faster you can iterate and the more likely you are to deliver a winning product or service. Unlike long form surveys, AskEducators treats every question as an independent survey. AskEducators guarantees a select number of unique responses for every question, but does not guarantee multiple questions, if submitted at the same time, will be completed by the same set of unique respondents. AskEducators guarantees all responses will be received by the researcher within 24 hours.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 5.32.02 PM3.  A personal consultation with Michael Riedlinger, the Director of the Rochester BioVentural Center and High Tech Rochester (HTR) Technology Commercialization Manager. Prior to his roles at HTR, he served as president and founder of Technology Sales and Licensing Services. Michael is also a co-founder of Diffinity Genomics, Inc., a developer of platform technologies related to purification and detection of nucleic acid and NaturalNano, a nanomaterials company. Michael serves as a board member of Diffinity Genomics and the Cornell Center for Material Research Industrial Advisory Board.

As Director of the Rochester BioVenture Center, Michael manages a 40,000-square-foot, multi-tenant, BSL-2 wet-lab business incubator and provides tenants with services to facilitate growth of their businesses. In the role of Technology Commercialization Manager, he provides business development, grant sourcing support, new product development and partnership facilitation assistance to technology companies in the Upstate New York region. Additionally, he runs several programs for entrepreneurs and inventors in the Rochester region, including the PreSeed Workshop, TEC Forum and BioVenture Center roundtables.

Michael has a B.F.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology and an M.B.A. from the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business, University of Rochester. He has also completed training for the National Science Foundation I-Corps program at Stanford University (valued at priceless!).

Startup Weekend Recife Organizer Shares "Words of Wisdom"

GersonStartup Weekend Edu Recife (Brazil) organizer, Gerson Ribeiro shared some “words of wisdom” for SWEDU participants:

1 – Right now Education is going thru a Global Revolution, and all the participants and organizers of SWEDU are active members in this international movement.

2 –  All actions that happen inside the event will echo for the years to come. Like a rock in a lake. These small ideas will have impact in thousands of peoples lives. This is a great responsibility and a honor. Be proud 🙂

3 – Think about the problem and come with solutions to that. But always start with the problem.

4 – Always remember there must be a solid business model behind your business. Your solution could be beautiful, but if there is no cash flow it will die soon.

5 – Have fun!!!

Gerson believes that the most important legacy we can give to our community is to empower it by teaching people how to be real entrepreneurs. Organizing an event is training people how to move out of the status quo, learning by doing, and making them realize that they can make great things happen in only 54 hours. He says that it’s truly one of the most rewarding experience that he has ever had. He also believes that we will never be able to measure the everlasting and deep positive impact in our community that an event like this has.

A New Judge Joins Startup Weekend Edu in Rochester

Jason Moyse head shotJason Moyes joins the jury for Startup Weekend Edu in Rochester, NY! Jason has served on global teams implementing major customer experience initiatives and served as a connector/doer/spark and key trusted advisor to the C-Suite, Senior Leadership and Governance Teams for legal and business matters.

A lawyer by training, Jason has also served as a corporate manager, strategist, project leader, operations program developer and relationship owner with key vendor/partners.

With a depth of experience leading and facilitating cross functional teams, Jason has served as a core or extended team member on numerous change management projects impacting legal, finance, I.T. and customer experience, often via a Lean Six Sigma methodology.

Jason is part of the “NewLaw”  movement which is mid-revolution on reinventing legal services beyond the traditional partnership model, abolishing the billable hour and leveraging the good sense business practices which have eluded the industry for far too long.  The fusion of technology, design, process improvement and automation are a source of endless fascination, especially in their application to legal and advisory services.  Of late, he is enjoying teaching, writing and advising on topics of interest including legal technology, project management and start-up culture.

He presently serves as Director of Innovation and Execution for CognitionLLP – an alternative provider of legal services.

Coffee with a Geek Interview with Mandela Schumacher-Hodge

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Andrew Wheelock from Coffee with a Geek interviewed Director of Startup Education for Up Global, Mandela Schumacher-Hodge. Mandela is a previous Startup Weekend Winner and will be the Facilitator for Startup Weekend Education in Rochester, November 21- 23. She will also be the Keynote Speaker for the Opening Banquet and Awards Dinner for the NYSCATE Annual Conference on Sunday, November 23.

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