Startup Weekend Seattle 2018: Our Winners Are…

Startup Weekend Education Seattle wrapped up with a bang in 54 hours with 42 pitches, 13 teams, 5 winners, & 1 awesome weekend! Check out our winning teams and their impactful ideas that will change the landscape of learning.


Grand PrizeCome UnityMatching students to high quality and personalized volunteer opportunities w/ non-profits. Our Grand Prize Team won $3,000 in google cloud credit, 1:1 mentoring with Google, 1:1 mentoring with a school leader, 1:1 meeting with a brand consultant, Android developers device, & 1-year license to Mason America.


Education Impact – Pacifier in a Backpack: A platform to help teen moms get postpartum, education, and professional support.


Business Model – Find Opportunities: Connecting non-profits to students for volunteering opportunities.


Excellence in Design & Audience’s Choice – Don’t Be Broke: Helping college students learn financial literacy…and don’t go broke!


Excellence in Execution – Owl: Master learning using questions, answers, and annotations through a real-time browser extension.



Thank you to our 70 participants, volunteers, Ambassadors, food vendors, organizing team, Grow with Google, and the Seattle Public Library for making this year’s event a huge success! See you next year!


Questions? Contact

SWEDUSEA: Kickstart your ideas with these resources

Have an idea, need inspiration, or simply want to get a headstart? Check out these tools for educational entrepreneurs.

Lean Canvas

As an entrepreneur one of the most important tasks you can perform is getting your idea(s) out from your head into a tangible format so that you can communicate that with others. The Lean Canvas quickly formulates possible business models, product launches, campaigns and variations of, so you can communicate this with your stakeholders. Check out this template to start thinking about your business model, which you’ll be judged on.

Tools for Educational Entrepreneurs

A starting place where one might find ideas, identify trends, or discover statistics to help assess the viability of an education business idea. Brought to you by the Seattle Public Library!

A SWEDU Story: Domonique Meeks – Bringing Education to Underrepresented Communities

Taking his passion for providing educational opportunities for underserved communities, Domonique Meeks joined SWEDU to find ways to provide technology education opportunities for black and brown students.

In 2016, his team won first place for Idle Seattle, a platform connecting students in Southeast and Southwest after-school programs with existing STEM programs.

Hear his story.

A SWEDUSEA Story: Vinny Pasceri – Finding Your Why and Enabling Your Team

Vinny Pasceri and his team won the 2014 SWEDU Seattle event with Lighthouse, a solution to keep kids safe.

Vinny has participated in SWEDU multiple years (his second project in 2017, Tell Me About a Time, won 2nd place) and shares his experience of the personal story that triggered Lighthouse, discovering the power of defining your WHY and empowering your team.

Hear his story.

A “Legit” Attitude

Startup Weekend Vancouver is a 54-hour sprint to building a business.  Such a concentrated effort demands drive, openness to ideas and honest feedback, and a positive working relationship with your new weekend colleagues.  The right attitude can go a long way.

If you are reading this, then you are interested in entrepreneurship much less an entrepreneur in waiting.  That makes you a special individual.  Think that through for a moment.  You want to create, and are willing to risk in ways that others are not.  Such is the difference between an everyday employee and the entrepreneur.  That’s you.

Were success assured, then we’d all be entrepreneurs.  Every last one of us would love to win the lottery, win at the casino table, and win in the stock market.  Why not win in the product and service markets, too?  We would drive our own (winning) fate, and determine our lifestyles to the smallest detail because every last one would be a winner.

Enter reality.

It’s not about winning, but how you play the game

The boundary in which the entrepreneurial game is played is not a threshold between winning and losing.  Winning and losing implies selfish schemes of overcoming other people, or a zero-sum game.  I win, you lose; you win, I lose.  One must be demanding of something more from the world.

Neither Richard Branson nor [enter iconic entrepreneur here] won anything except lost sleep, naysayers, and a whole lot of anxiety because nothing was guaranteed at startup.  Read that again.  Nothing was guaranteed.

Feeling so compelled to change the status quo will manifest itself into something new, different and desired – because you are an entrepreneur who, along with others, is willing to make it happen.  What successful entrepreneurs do is create legitimacy.

ƒ(Initiative & Integrity) = Legitimacy

I wrote two blog posts this past week.  One encouraged entrepreneurs to just get started instead of slowing the potential pace of progress.  The other had a completely different focus – integrity should be fundamental to any business, and is neither a core value nor a power to impress upon others.

Legitimacy is a function of the initiative and integrity.

The right balance

Too little initiative undercuts integrity.  No one wants to work with or for a lazy person.  He or she wants something for nothing (“a loser”).  That’s awful.  Similarly, who wants to work with someone who spends all of his or her time dreaming and considering when just a little effort could go a long way to creating something new?  They call that “analysis paralysis.”  With either attitude, there is no quality of integrity.

To the other extreme, one’s integrity can be pushed too far.  It becomes focus gone awry born of a poor attitude.  Trying to prove oneself (“I want to be viewed as a winner”) is a petty reason to start a business; at the same time, being perfect (“I want to win”) will not realistically spur a product to market.  Lost focus tarnishes if not diminishes initiative.

There is a sweet spot when initiative goes up and so too does integrity.  When this happens, several positive-sum actions take place.  The entrepreneur garners the respect of others in addition to their desire to associate.  The result requires consistency through self-motivation when nothing is guaranteed, even when no one is watching.  The right balance over time becomes legitimacy.  A legitimate startup is a successful startup by whatever mission, values and culture its entrepreneur devises.

Planning for new, different, and desired is an attitude

The right balance of initiative and integrity can, with an outstanding idea, create a special phenomenon.  The activities and the positioning of the product or service becomes an article or arrangement that is new, different, and desired.  That’s legit in the world of entrepreneurship.

Again, entrepreneurship isn’t a matter of winning and losing.  One must overcome by respectable effort, and being deemed someone with whom to associate either/both for colleagueship or for transaction.  Have a premise of the attitude necessary to produce legitimacy going for you as you walk into Startup Weekend Vancouver and your imagination and creativity will be free to come to life.  Even better, the legitimacy of others with whom you work will compound into a profoundly productive and fun experience!

Startup Weekend Vancouver 2017 by Techstars Startup Programs will take place June 2-4 at CoLab, 915 Broadway Street, Vancouver, WA 98660. See the Eventbrite bulletin for further details and to purchase your ticket. Students are eligible for a student discount using the code ‘VANWASTUDENT’.



Integrity is Fundamental to Startups

Some companies have integrity listed as a core value.  This shouldn’t be a core value at all.  Integrity should be inherent to just being in business.

To all you entrepreneurs out there, integrity is the effort to be respected.  And integrity takes constant maintenance.  That maintenance is the sole purpose of a business’s core values.

Think about integrity as identity

Who and what you are as a person and as a startup is crucial – for competitive advantage, for differentiation, for strategy, for marketing, for what you are not, for who you do and don’t serve, and so on.  (Your startup might be able to fake it for a time, but ultimately, your real identity will show through.)  It follows, then, that the degree to which a person or company has integrity is the degree to which he, she or they are fundamentally deserving of respect and association.

Two disclaimers about the power of integrity…

First, integrity does not a startup make.  Integrity cannot take the place of a poor product or service.  You could run a company of an integrity the world has never before witnessed.  If, however, your startup is based upon a product or service that doesn’t warrant demand, the startup won’t last.

Secondly, integrity that leads to respect has nothing to do with power.  Power is influence.  Take for example a large company that dumps toxic waste into rivers.  Say they have lobbyists on the payroll.  The wrongdoer’s power to influence government policy does not supersede a lack of integrity.

Integrity is ultimately perspective unto, not put forward

Respect is the magnitude someone bestows upon another – as a person or business with whom to associate.  For example, Joey is so polite, but Joey cannot sell his politeness.  Others can recognize, accept and consider it in part as reason to conduct business with Joey and his company.

The key to integrity is to conduct oneself as respect-worthy at all times

Say Sarah always goes the extra mile.  What if Sarah works hard only when someone is watching?  She’ll eventually be outed, surely losing a sense of integrity as applied by others who realize her ruse.

Less cynically, Gail’s team has never met a challenge they don’t like.  Gail’s startup must take on challenges whether or not others recognize her team’s great energy and devotion to problem solving.  Similar to Sarah, but in the opposite light, others will eventually take notice.  That startup will develop a reputation of integrity.

Integrity is yours to develop and maintain

In the example above, Sarah can change her attitude and work hard all of the time.  She might begin to value quality.  Quality would then be the value that maintains Sarah’s sense of integrity.  Furthering another example from above, Joey may swear by being polite to everyone.  Maybe he believes that is how one person should treat another.  Valuing humbleness and humanity are the tools for ensuring integrity for Joey.

In summation, integrity is about respect from others’ perspective; integrity must be practiced or developed, and maintained all of the time; additionally, values maintain integrity.

Startup Weekend Vancouver 2017 by Techstars Startup Programs will take place June 2-4 at CoLab, 915 Broadway Street, Vancouver, WA 98660. See the Eventbrite bulletin for further details and to purchase your ticket. Students are eligible for a student discount using the code ‘VANWASTUDENT’.



A Brief History of Startup Weekend

In 2007 Techstars, Andrew Hyde founded Startup Weekend in Boulder, Colorado. According to the Seattle Times, participants paid $20 to receive shares of their company. Andrew Hyde, claimed 5 percent of the company. The model quickly expanded, and ‘in January 2010, Marc Nager and Clint Nelsen took over full ownership and registered the organization as a not-for-profit, relocating to Seattle in 2010’.  In the fall of 2010, Startup Weekend gained a grant and 501c3 nonprofit status from Kauffman Foundation.     

Mark and Clint also broke Startup Weekend attendees into small groups. With the slogan: ‘to build a business in 54 hours,’ Startup Weekend entrepreneurs challenge those enrolled to ‘get out and validate,’ as current Portland area organizer Dave Barcos puts it. In the end, a diverse mindset can change the idea for the better. Composed of an average of of 60-120 participants, these  ‘Weekend Warriors’,  engage in a bootcamp experience and network with like minds. ‘In the end perseverance to overcome and a team of people with diverse mindsets can change an idea slightly and still build a great business,’ says Seattle organizer Ewelina Kelley ’it’s more important to talk about what the software will do than actually show it’

Hackathons and meetups focus on the deliverable, Startup Weekend focuses on the business and it’s intentions. In software and hardware development you can build a prototype but it still takes a number of guesses. Different ways to think about your business make sense as safe houses to build great ideas with less customer validation, but attendees must be prepared to fail. ’You’re going to fail either way,’ says Kelley.  

In hackathons, developers search for commonalities, using semantic programming to understand the context of what is being asked. Hackathons focus on the deliverable, while Startup Weekend is focused on the business and  it’s intent . Rather than building things whether or not they’re usable by anybody else, Startup Weekend offers a good mix of talent.

One successful startup from Startup Weekend is a ‘uv sensor plug[s] into a phone, takes information regarding skin type, sunscreen, [and] would tell you how much sun exposure’ you had, according to Barcos. Another, a gift accelerator, purchases gifts. With the gift giver unable to give big gifts alone, the group gifting app. results with a person receiving a bigger, better gift. They also receive a group gift card when the gifting is completed.

One emphasized common dynamic is to not worry too much about pitching  and winning. Learning to connect with what would be or will be cofounders. According to Portland organizer Yu Te, ‘startups take time, rely on business model foundation what kind of product business serves, what kind of revenue.’ Go with flow the flow don’t be overly attached.

Learn interpersonal skills necessary for building successful business ventures from successful individuals. Judges, mentors, and attendees take time out of their busy schedule to make the Startup Weekend experience.

‘There’s a hurdle [and] the first hurdle is taking action’, says Yu Te. By sharing a weekend with like-minded individuals, the attendee is able to show off their strengths and answer their weaknesses through team collaboration. The next Startup Weekend in Portland has an education focus, and will begin in March. Please consider Startup Weekend Seattle as well, their next event is music focused. Themes vary event to event including hispanic, tourism, food, devices, youth, social impact, and women/girls. Common dynamics of teamwork, business planning, and self discovery enhance any participants’ work experience.

Startup: Is the Question Really ‘Why not me?’

With entrepreneurship so much is made of changing the world, discovering the next blue ocean, and being the next big thing.  We challenge doubt from others–and of ourselves–by asking Why not me?  Sure, someone’s gotta do it, but is that the attitude with which to do something really special?

When we ask ourselves Why not me? are we encouraging initiative or approving possibility?  Think about it.  The difference is a matter of determination, action, and learning:

  • Determination of what needs to get done versus who could do it;
  • Doing versus the realization that something could get done;
  • Improvement versus accepting that it could be done.

What the question Why not me? comes down to is timing.  When one asks him or herself Why not me?, he or she is slowing the pace of progress.

Two people are going on a date.  One hops in the car and picks up the date.  The other is stuck looking in the mirror to get ready (I can do this.).  One orders dinner, sparks conversation; and is vulnerable to an enjoyable evening, making a new friend, or calling things off after one date.  Prince or frog.  There’s only one way to find out.  The other person who asks Why not me? in front of the mirror builds the date mentally, but never leaves the house.

How can one go from Why not me? to a mover and a shaker?  The answer is simple.  Move.  And shake.  Embark.  Do.  Ideas are cheap.  Everyone’s got ’em.  Failure’s going to happen.  No one is perfect.  The goal may change.  That happens, too.

Why not me?

Happenstance is productive in the entrepreneurial sense only when it is preceded by some form of effort.  Instead of asking Why not me?, answer the problem to be solved by building a solution.  The key to a startup isn’t a question; the key is the solution baked in to the word startup.  Start.

Startup Weekend Vancouver 2017 by Techstars Startup Programs will take place June 2-4 at CoLab, 915 Broadway Street, Vancouver, WA 98660. See the Eventbrite bulletin for further details and to purchase your ticket. Students are eligible for a student discount using the code ‘VANWASTUDENT’.



Why Try?

Odds are your startup won’t succeed. We hear it all the time. only 5% of all businesses stay in business after 5 years. So what is the point of trying?

We hear it all the time. only 5% of all businesses stay in business after 5 years. So what is the point of trying?

It’s been my experience that people start businesses because our ideas get hold us and they won’t let go. There is a beauty in an idea that helps us make sense of the world. It doesn’t matter if it’s an app, or a food, a beer, or a device. In our heads, all the pieces fall into place to create a success where our ideas are embraced and valued. It doesn’t have to be about the recognition, but it is about the validation we feel. Our compulsion comes from the desire to create what is in our head in the real world.

That is where we the trouble begins. We all have ideas and can see a future where those ideas become embraced by others. But too few of us have the experience to build the vehicle of a successful business that can bring our vision to life.

What is amazing is there are so many resources for people today to learn the skills and tools to help them tackle the journey ahead. For the last 3 years, I have been committed to the amazing entrepreneurs who choose to believe there is a way despite the odds and their lack of experience. One of the best events I have ever seen to demonstrate the power and potential of ideas and the community that is committed to fostering them is Startup Weekend. It pulls together individuals with the core expertise, desire, and talents and focusses them for 54 hours over one weekend to build the start of a viable business. It is as much about the business as it is about the idea. That’s what makes it so powerful.

Reach out to people who know about Startup Weekends, investigate Techstars and their desire to foster visionaries. Then ask yourself if a weekend with creative, supportive experts helping you build your idea into a company is worth your time. It has been for my five separate times. And now I host them to help others build their ideas. I hope you come join us on June 2nd-4th.

Judges and Mentors Lineup for Startup Weekend Seattle: Data Science

With just 9 days away, we’re full steam ahead for our event and rallied several experts in the fields of entrepreneurship, data science, and software development. Behold!



Daniela Braga

Co-Founder, President, Chief Scientist



Sean Green

Data Research Analyst

City of Seattle


Taylor Winters

Strategy Director, Co-Founder



Carole McCluskey

Chief Technology Officer

MOD Pizza


Ryan Orban

Executive Vice President of Strategy





Allen Chen

CEO and Co-Founder



Jeremy Foster

Developer Platform Evangelist



Caitlin Goetze

Cohort Director

9 Mile Labs


Trent Hauck


Data Engineering and Science


Joachim Hill-Grannec




Saranya Karuppusamy

City Director

Women Who Code


Thibaut Labarre

Lead Software Development Engineer



Claire Lyles

Co-Founder, Front-End Developer



Sean Ottey

Technical Evangelist



Sandra Persing

Co-Executive Director

Women Who Code


Mehar Pratap Singh

CEO and Co-Founder



Vetri Vellore

CEO and Co-Founder



Thank you to everyone who volunteered to support this event!

Tickets are selling out soon! Go here to RSVP:

Interested in sponsoring? Contact Lee Ngo at