Startup Weekend DC Impact

I fell in love with social business during my final semester as an undergrad at Georgetown University. During my social entrepreneurship class, I learned about how Bill Drayton pioneered the field, and how Muhammad Yunus’ work at Grameen Bank impacted millions of impoverished lives – the whole concept really clicked with me.

Flash forward to over two years later, and not only am I helping organize Startup Weekends in Washington, DC, but I’m also co-founder of a social business called MARK, where we are building tools to bring philanthropic giving to the 21st century.

Both organizing Startup Weekend and building MARK are really fresh and new experiences for me this year, and I’m so happy to be doing both because I’m putting my time into things I’m passionate about. Not only that, but the people I have met since I dove into the startup world in DC are incredible, and I feel inspired to continue on my current path because of their support and encouragement. These new experiences have challenged me to work harder and smarter than I ever have.

From June 12-14, those worlds collided at Impact Hub DC for the district’s first ever Social Impact edition of Startup Weekend. From my perspective, this was the perfect storm of meeting fellow social entrepreneurs, learning all kinds of lessons to share with my team at MARK, and having a lot of fun in the process.

MIssion accomplished!

Among the highlights from the weekend were an energetic round of “half-baked” startup pitches on Friday night (can’t wait for Unicorn Peanut Butter to hit the shelves), a star-studded lineup of mentors who shared insights and advice with the participants on Saturday, and a packed house on Sunday evening for 13 impact-laden pitches from our amazing teams.

When the last pitch was made and our judges returned the verdict, our top three winners celebrated their hours of hard work, and soaked in the applause from the crowd.

1st Place: Surplus Kitchen – provides food for the hungry by picking up your leftovers and delivering it to food pantries and soup kitchens in your community.

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2nd Place: Resilient – a platform for victims of sexual abuse to identify offenders and find support in a safe community.

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3rd Place: My Request – helps consumers find business services on demand by connecting them with skilled workers

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A big thank you to our event sponsors Impact Hub DC who provided free workspace for our winners as well as General Assembly, who provided free credits to the top 3 teams!

Special thanks to our judges: Kate Ahern, Amelia Friedman, Mark Newberg, and Nasir Qadree

Their unique experiences in building impact business was appreciated by the teams who left with tangible recommendations of how to continue building post the weekend.

As a first-time organizer, this could not have been a better edition of Startup Weekend for me to get involved with. My interest in social enterprise was sparked by a great class in college,  but the Social Impact edition of Startup Weekend along with my work at MARK keeps the fire burning strong today!

Thank you to the participants, mentors, judges, and fellow organizers who made this past weekend such a smashing success.








You Come to DC to Change the World

On July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia, PA, Thomas Jefferson and some of his buddies, including Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and others, signed a parchment to found a new country, declaring their spin-off as a new entity wholly separate from its parent, Britain. These men came from different walks of life – ranging from lawyers and doctors to businessmen and inventors – and they hustled, strategized, and innovated passionately on a startup that became the United States of America. It’s not common to think of these men as entrepreneurs, but they are quintessential examples.

Washington DC has been and continues to be home to people who have both the desire and capability to change the world.  When big problems need to be solved with the big levers of governments and institutions, you find the nexus of power and people here, in the District of Columbia.  Not only the seat of the US government, Washington is the home to the World Bank and other international development banks, the IMF, and some of the most significant and influential non-profit and double bottom-line organizations in the world, as well as countless advocacy and non-government organizations seeking to make change.

That change can sometimes be slow, messy and difficult.  The institutions of Washington are complete with large bureaucracies that are sometimes allergic to innovation and bogged down in red tape, so those from Washington sometimes get painted with the same brush.  But under the hood, there’s much more to Washington than the apparent bureaucracy. Washington DC has a vibrant startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem that is growing by leaps and bounds, driven by highly-educated and motivated technologists.

Imagine what could happen if we merge these mostly separate and independent ecosystems? What if we could bring together a motivated group of people with skills and experience in policy, business, design, development, and entrepreneurship, with a common passion to make a meaningful and lasting impact on the world? The possibilities are endless.

We’ve been observing the lay of the land and see the time is ripe to plant and incubate seeds of ideas and mentorship to harvest new fruit and engage a community hungry for change. We saw a potent concoction waiting to happen, that may make a lasting impact on the world and create something special that no regular Startup Weekend could inspire.

We are doing this because we realize how hard it can be to simply start and get connected to other changemakers. But more importantly- We, the Startup Weekend DC organizers, come from such said separate and independent ecosystems sparking change. Together we are seizing the opportunity to break barriers to help others get started and connected.

Through the Social Impact Edition, changemakers in Washington DC will finally have an opportunity to come together to learn new ways to solve problems, rapidly test, validate, and execute concepts, and launch companies with a social impact component. They’ll also be able to tap into a vast amount of resources, such as mentors who are Presidential Innovation Fellows and impact investors such as Village Capital. This Startup Weekend can be the catalyst for true innovation to make the world a better place and build excitement to do so.

It’s time for the rise of the impact entrepreneur, and there’s no better place than Washington DC and no better time than now.

 








My First Startup Weekend

Last September, I had one of the best weekends of my entire year.  Rather than my standard mix of going out with friends, getting some exercise, and watching sports, I spent the weekend at Georgetown University taking part in Startup Weekend.

No talk. All action. Launch a startup in 54 hours.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the weekend, I just knew that I was excited to meet a bunch of like-minded people and work my tail off all weekend on an amazing idea. This was not a typical weekend for me.

To keep a long story short, my experience at Startup Weekend was phenomenal. I worked on a team named CIMPLY,  which worked on a mobile platform that aims to change the game in corporate giving.

My team was diverse, intelligent, friendly, and came together well in a short period of time. The mentors that came in to speak with us were a big help, and I must have learned more during Startup Weekend than I learned in my previous 5 weekends combined. Most importantly, my entrepreneurial spirit came alive that weekend. The fire in my belly was ignited – I was pumped up.

I’ve been interested in diving into the startup world for a few years. It is an exciting, heart-pounding, and challenging world, where sustained success is hard to come by. Some people may say that you have to be crazy to even try starting your own business.

Well, call me overly optimistic, but I believe you are crazy for not at least trying it out. Also, I believe that if you’re up for the challenge, there’s no better place to test the waters than at a Startup Weekend.

3 Reasons WHY Startup Weekend Rocks as an Intro to Entrepreneurship

  1. Build Your Skillset

Building a startup is a baptism by fire – and whether your business succeeds or fails, you will develop many skills along your journey. Reading books like The Lean Startup by Eric Ries or following bloggers like Andrew Chen are a great start,  but eventually you will need to get to work!

A typical day at Startup Weekend could include building a landing page and meeting with mentors in the morning, followed by designing a prototype and doing customer interviews in the afternoon. Make sure you’re ready to wear a number of different hats!

The skills you accumulate while working for a startup will become very useful, even if you don’t continue to work for a startup. Most importantly, you will gain confidence and competence – two things that employers are always looking for.

  1. Networking. Networking. Networking.

As a business professional, your network can be one of your biggest assets. Entrepreneurs, in particular, must develop robust networks if they plan to succeed.

If you take nothing else away from your Startup Weekend experience, you will make a handful of new connections with whom you worked long, meaningful hours with on a startup idea. You will connect with team members, mentors, judges, organizers and fellow participants through the experience you have together that weekend.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of these people before, during, or after Startup Weekend! Part of our goal is to build a community after the event where we can collaborate with each other on our work. This aspect is a big part of what makes Startup Weekend a unique event.

  1. Make a Lasting Impact

-Steve Jobs

The bottom line is that entrepreneurship gives you an opportunity to make a lasting impact on the world. The ideas in your head could manifest themselves into products or services that the world needs. My question is – what’s holding you back from sharing those ideas? Why not give it a shot?

Our upcoming edition of Startup Weekend DC will focus on business ideas that benefit humanity in some way. We know that this city is filled with changemakers who can’t wait to get their transformative products or services off the ground, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. Join us May 15-17 at Artisphere in Rosslyn and let’s see how big an impact we can make in one weekend!

Learn more about Startup Weekend DC: Social Impact edition by clicking here.

This post originally appeared on Quarter For Your Crisis, a community which empowers the twenty and thirty-something’s of the world to take control of our lives and start living intentionally.








Speakers Announced for Women's Policy Forum: Fighting The Startup Gender Gap

We are very excited to host the “Women’s Policy Forum: Fighting The Startup Gender Gap” on Wednesday, November 12th.

It is also our pleasure to announce several speakers for the event who will seek to provoke some early-morning discussion among the audience.

JULIE SAMUELS
“Julie Samuels is Executive Director of Engine, a nonprofit focused on technology entrepreneurship and giving startups a seat at the table in policy debates. Julie is a frequent commentator on technology and policy issues for national media—particularly in the intellectual property space—and she has filed briefs with the Supreme Court, testified before Congressional Committees. Julie came to Engine by way of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where she was a senior staff attorney and the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents. Before joining EFF, Julie litigated IP and entertainment cases in Chicago at Loeb & Loeb and Sonnenschein. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Julie spent time as a legislative assistant at the Media Coalition in New York, as an assistant editor at the National Journal in D.C., and she worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) in Champaign, IL. Julie earned her J.D. from Vanderbilt University and her B.S. in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.”

BABS LEE
“Babs Lee is cofounder of Kilo, a touch interactive video startup with patented technology started out of Stanford’s MOOC on Technology Entrepreneurship. Actively involved in the DC startup scene, she is a Startup Weekend DC co-organizer having recently led the team that organized Startup Weekend DC’s first ever Women’s edition, an even which garnered 100+ participants. Babs self-taught herself java, html, css and javascript and is also a former Google Developer Group DC co-organizer. She is a staunch supporter of closing the gender gap in tech and startups.”

NISHIKA DE ROSAIRO
“Nishika is on the advisory board for Startup Women, UP Global’s initaitive to reduce the gender gap in startups and technology. As a San Francisco-based CEO and Creative Director of her own fashion label dE ROSAIRO, Nishika draws on the idea of connectedness, power, and transformation in her designs. A naturally gifted artist and dancer throughout her life, she started designing clothes in her teenage years. Fashion has always been her creative touchstone and way of life, fueling her imagination and storytelling. She grew up embracing the world and its cultures, living on four continents and traveling to 23 countries by the time she graduated from business school. Prior to founding dE ROSAIRO, Nishika spent nine years as a strategic advisor to Fortune 500 companies, mostly in Silicon Valley. The experience she gained was invaluable to realizing her childhood dream of founding her own designer label.  The dE ROSAIRO brand offers a blend of Nishika’s passion for design and her natural aptitude for business and entrepreneurship, with the ultimate goal of shaping a new vocabulary of sophisticated, everyday luxury for the modern woman.”

LEADERS FROM UP GLOBALGOOGLE FOR ENTREPRENEURSIFC, AND ASTIA WILL ALSO BE IN ATTENDANCE TO FACILITATE CONVERSATION.

SCHEDULE:
08:30 am – Breakfast served and opportunity to network
09:00 am – Programming begins sharply
10:30 am – Wrap up

LOCATION:
2121 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20433
Room # F5P – 100

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday!








4 Reasons Why You Need to Attend Startup Weekend DC on November 14

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Startup Weekend DC returns on November 14 and it’s going to be the best one yet! (Get your tickets here!)

Over 100 hackers, hustlers and designers will convene at the offices of Disruption Corporation in Crystal City to pitch their ideas, form teams, build products, and launch startups in just 54 hours. If that doesn’t sound awesome enough, keep reading to find out the four reasons why you need to be at this upcoming SWDC.

Huge prizes!

Thanks to our friends at Rennzer, the winning team will receive $25,000 in services from the Dupont Circle-based digital agency. The winners can use these in-kind services to develop an app, improve the user experience of the product built over the weekend, market their solution, or execute anything else that’s needed.

The second place team will receive $10,000 in services from Rennzer as well, making this the largest prize pool in SWDC history!

You don’t want to miss your chance to launch a startup AND win these prizes, do you?

We are so pumped to have Rennzer on board as a supporter.   While their passion is to create smart, beautiful software for startups and leading brands, they also want to be a catalyst in growing the DC startup scene. Rennzer founder Omid Jahanbin (and previous Head of Growth Marketing at Blackboard) says, “I see a critical gap in DC entrepreneurship that exists between idea creation / validation and the growth stage, where value creation and capture get dialed in.  With more support from the community in the form of executive mentorship, technology grants and early venture funding, our hope is that more of the great ideas that spawn from the DC area can become great businesses.”

SWDC is so proud to have an amazing supporter like Omid to work with on cultivating early-stage entrepreneurship in the DC area.

Global Startup Battle!

This SWDC event will be part of Global Startup Battle, the largest startup competition in the world. GSB is where you can compete against teams from over 250 cities across the globe, from Boston to Bangalore.

There are multiple competition tracks, such as Champions, Women and Education, which you can enter based on the nature of your startup and how you place at SWDC. The winners of the GSB tracks will receive unbelievable prizes, such as access to high-visibility conferences like SXSW, CES, and Launch, free subscriptions to marketing tools, and many more.

GSB gives your startup the opportunity to go global instantly!

Be part of an awesome community!

The people you meet and work with at SWDC will be some of the smartest and most talented entrepreneurs out there, and we’re all working together to not only launch companies, but to grow the startup community here in the DC area. By attending, you’ll be part of a huge grassroots movement to improving the entrepreneurship scene in DC and across the world.

With the reach of GSB, we’ll all be repping DC on a global scale and showing the world how strong a community we are.

Launch a startup – DUH!

The bottom line is that Startup Weekend is the best place to launch a startup. If you’ve had an idea in your head but haven’t done anything about it, there’s no better event to get started.

You’ll be surrounded by really smart and driven people who want to work together on building something from the ground up. Maybe you’ll work on your idea, or maybe someone else’s idea will pique your interest. Regardless, SWDC is THE place to validate a business idea, build a product and launch a startup in just 54 hours.

Alumni of Startup Weekends have been accepted into accelerators, raised rounds of funding and sold to larger companies. It’s truly a launchpad for ideas to blossom into real operating companies.

SWDC may be the most intense, invigorating and life-changing event you’ll attend. So what are you waiting for? Register for the event here: http://swdc1114.eventbrite.com/?aff=Blog.

We’ll see you on November 14!








Startup Weekend DC Alumni Spotlight: Landmark, Stephanie Nguyen

Directions for Direction: How Startup Weekend DC Helped Us Find Our Way to Landmark

Written and contributed by Stephanie Nguyen, co-founder and VP of Design of Silica Labs, and co-founder of Landmark | Twitter: @nguyenist

Photo source: Landmark Blog

Startup Weekend DC was my first DC tech event. In fact, I loved it so much I participated in 3 of them. Little did I know I would meet one of my now co-founders, Marvin, the lawyer, in line for free pizza. Startup Weekend DC #2 I met Antonio, the physicist. After winning that weekend and gaining some traction a few weeks later, so was born Silica Labs. We had the right team but needed to focus our vision. For a year and a half, we were completely bootstrapped and working with clients all over the world. We tried many different angles and realized the key was to ensure we were solving a real problem.

Fast forward a few months and we participated in Startup Weekend DC #3. The morning of the event because I was lost among a sea of ivory, beige and antique-white colored DC buildings. In hopes that the map showed my actual location, I relied heavily on following a wandering blue dot. It was this that made me realize we found a problem.

Enter Landmark, a navigation app that provides a more intuitive way to walk using the buildings and landmarks around you. “Go toward Dupont Circle Fountain. Take a left when you see the Starbucks. In 4 blocks, take a right at Chipotle on 19th Street.” This simple concept came to us after realizing how many people experienced this moment: You emerge from the metro and your app tells you to go Northwest. You hope you took the right turn out of the metro, only to find that your phone re-calibrated. The blue dot is off-track. You’re lost. You’re frustrated. You turn around, retrace your steps and begin again.

The time is ripe. Landmark wasn’t possible before today. Now, we have smartphones with cameras, geotagging capabilities, and mapping data sources. There are 350 million photos posted on Facebook and 16 billion photos shared on Instagram everyday. We can now use those beautiful photos of our cities to help people navigate.

As we continue to build Landmark, we rely heavily on the support of the community willing to take photos and share them with us. We would love your help in making navigation beautiful and intuitive. Sign up to be a part of our closed beta today at www.landmarkdirections.com and we will send you a link to download the app. For more information on why we built Landmark, check out this blog post and follow us @golandmark.

In retrospect, spending a weekend (or three) helps you really know people, test your boundaries, find co-founders and develop startup ideas. Startup Weekend DC gave us the space to come together as a team and grow.

 








Flip the Ratio: Startup Weekend DC Women's Edition is coming

Startup Weekend DC is joining Up Global’s Startup Women challenge to help create 1,500 female-led startups this year.  

In startup fashion, we decided to do more and talk less by producing the first ever women’s edition of Startup Weekend DC with a goal to flip the typical overwhelmingly male heavy ratio at such events. We realize that in startups balanced teams that can execute are important to success, so this event isn’t gender exclusive but rather inclusive.  This event will connect people, experience and ideas, and act as a viaduct where leaders, entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can innovate and build a venture together in 54 hours.   This is a grassroots step towards reshaping the male heavy presence prevalent in startup culture.  We hope to welcome more female leaders into the DC entrepreneurial community.

You may ask why DC?  Besides having some of the most educated, ambitious, and confident women in the nation, DC was been recognized as one of the top 3 cities for women entrepreneurs. Women led businesses are on the rise and so the choice to startup at the nation’s capital was natural.

To help make this unique event become a reality, we’ve partnered with our local platinum sponsor Booz Allen Hamilton (who has partnered with 1776, a DC based startup incubator, to help spur innovation and solve difficult client challenges by working with startups on a global scale). Our venue partners, 1776 and General Assembly,  are also very supportive of this cause to make this event a reality. Blackstone Charitable Foundation is our silver corporate sponsor in this cause via UP Global. 

Over the next few days we will share some startup stories from women Startup Weekend DC alumni that have founded startups, and details on the event. Also we’ll spotlight how companies at different sizes and technology are helping drive change at scale.  Be part of this movement.  Stay tuned. Join us to empower the startup community and innovators in DC and beyond.

 

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More about Booz Allen Hamilton:

Booz Allen Hamilton is committed to creating an environment where talented women in technology can build exceptional careers. With great excitement, Booz Allen joins 1776 and Startup Weekend DC to empower the next women leaders in technology and women entrepreneurs. Booz Allen is a leading provider of global management consulting, technology, and engineering services to major corporations, institutions, not-for-profit organizations and the U.S. government. As part of its partnership with 1776, it is tackling global-scale problems by working with startups and entrepreneurs.

For more information, contact chen_jason@bah.com and gangas_lilibeth@bah.com.

 

More about The Blackstone Charitable Organization:

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation has awarded grants made through the Blackstone Organizational Grants Program, an annual program targeting organizations that focus on fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, now in its second year. Through this program, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation is helping innovative organizations pilot, expand or replicate projects or programs that will catalyze the growth of successful businesses, industries, and communities in their regions.

 

Prize Sponsors:

Springboard Enterprise – An expert network of innovators, investors and influencers dedicated to helping building high-growth technology-oriented companies led by women.

iStrategyLabs – A digital creative agency “that invents solutions online and off” based in DC and NYC.

Overachiever Media – A content marketing firm helping businesses create and communicate better.

 

Venue Partners:

1776 – A startup incubator based in DC for startups tackling major challenges in education, energy, health care, government, and other critical industries. Follow @1776dc for updates.

General Assembly – A place to learn about design, programming, product management, digital marketing, business and more.  Follow @GA_DC for updates.

 

Community Partners that helping us spread the word on this unique event (and growing):

DCFemtech – DCFemTech is a collective of 25+ Women in Tech organizations in the DMV. Next big event is a Tour de Code for the month of October: 101 sessions and workshops on a variety of languages and topics in development to help beginners learn how to code and design. Follow @DCFemTech for updates.

DC Web Women – Promoting and helping DC women in technology and new media. Follow @dcww for updates.

Modev – Connecting mobile and wearable developers, designers, marketers and providers. Upcoming event – Wearable + Things Hackathon October 20-21. Follow @Gomodev for updates.

Fosterly – A DC community of entrepreneurs, creators, and collaborators. Check out the Collaborate Conference January 23 – 24, 2015 where innovators in entrepreneurship, government and technology converge. Follow @Fosterly for updates.

Femworking – Helping build teams of female entrepreneurs that inspire each other to thrive.

Ladies America – A professional society of women helping women.

DC Tech Meetup – #DCTech

and more…








Can a simple weekend save our broken education system?

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By Milan Vukas

This article can also be found on Milan’s website:

www.milanvukas.com/can-a-simple-weekend-save-our-broken-education-system/

The field of entrepreneurship is exploding. Corporations and individuals, governments and schools, are all coming to recognize: entrepreneurship is about solving problems. Once you start to dig into problems, revise common principles and disrupt the status quo, you are starting to do what entrepreneurs do—find solutions to problems. This principle should be valid for all industries and sectors.

 

But how about education?

 

A recent infographic presented by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the United States has slipped from being a leader in education to a society of dropouts and under-achievers. The number one reasons for this phenomenon: a broken and old fashioned school system. That’s why I wanted to explore whether entrepreneurship is valid in the educational field and whether entrepreneurs can come up with the solutions to solve this problem:

 

After reading an article on how technology may save education for a generation facing a broken public school system and countless distractions, entrepreneurship has received plenty of attention. So, as a startup mentor, I had the chance to attend the Startup Weekend Education DC which took place from July 25th – 27th. It was the perfect event to find out more about how entrepreneurs can change education, but as well to visit startups and meet local entrepreneurs. And it was awesome! Washington D.C. has a very lively startup hub and the entrepreneurs are ready to tackle the big problems. Education is a part of it.

 

In an effort to come up with new ideas and concepts to improve education and the learning experience of children, around 70 attendees from and around Washington D.C. worked together on ideas and solved concrete problems. They were supported by educators which provided insights into their daily work and helped validate ideas in a real-life context. Here are the startups which were created during the 54 hours:

 

  • EdSked – Automated scheduling for principals (WINNER)
  • Flexicon – Duo lingo for classrooms
  • Education Equity – Investing into students and their future
  • ScholarStream – Online collaboration tool for scholars
  • Pedagology – On demand support for teachers
  • ReadEngage – The GPS of reading comprehension
  • GuideStride – Connecting business experts with graduate students
  • Faction – Note fact checking app
So, can a simple weekend save our broken education system? Absolutely! The global concept of Startup Education is a great opportunity to finally give thoughts of what exactly is not working in education. Stop playing the blame game and take action! You hear it all the time: “it’s the governments fault”, “teachers can’t deliver” or “students are simply too lazy”. I believe if more cities and people would follow the Startup Education model, more things would get done. And entrepreneurship is the most powerful force which has a largest chance to positively impact educational outcomes and disrupt the current status quo. Given the technology and the innovation we see across the world, entrepreneurs will no doubt discover the answers to further improve and disrupt the status quo of education.

 

I flew back to Toronto, with the feeling that something amazing is happening in Washington D.C. and generally in the education field. Hopefully I’ll be back soon, to explore in depth the scene and I would love to see more entrepreneurs working on solutions to improve education across the world.

 

And I end this blog post with a call to action to all of the educators, entrepreneurs, students and parents which are reading this article:

 

Don’t wait for permission to do something remarkable. Just start today!

What will you do?








And Your Judges Are….

With the Startup Weekend Education DC event only THREE days away, we thought you might be interested to see who will be judging YOUR final pitches!

Why do Startup Weekend Education events have judges? Well, judges evaluate the final presentations on Sunday to provide valuable feedback to teams. It’s also a great learning experience for those that pitch on Sunday – many of whom are pitching before a panel of professionals/investors for the first time.

Event Judging Criteria

  • 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 solving a significant problem in education?

    • Is this solution better than what’s being done now?

    • Will this solution make a significant impact in the world?

  • Customer Validation/Business Model: 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?
    • 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 rollout strategy?
  • User Experience/Design: This covers the experience your user will have when engaging with your product. 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?
  • Execution: 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

Meet Your Judges!

Leslie Jump has 25 years experience building, advising, and investing in new companies in the US as well as internationally. Her current focus is Startup Angels, a platform to inspire and enable new angel investors across the US and around the world. Previously Leslie was a partner in Sawari Ventures, a Cairo-based venture capital firm investing. She continues to serve as an advisor to Flat6Labs, Sawari Ventures’ accelerator for seed-stage investments, as well as on the boards of several startups and nonprofits.

Katya Andressen is the CEO of the education media company Cricket Media (formerly known as ePals). Cricket Media provides award-winning digital content on a safe and secure global network to connect kids around the world. Katya’s background is in organizational strategy and management, marketing and communications, digital and traditional media, technology/SaaS product development, and the philanthropic sector in the United States, Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining Cricket Media, Katya was COO and CSO of Network for Good, a technology platform and SaaS enterprise for digital giving and social actions that was founded by AOL, Yahoo!, and Cisco. From 2009-2013, she was also an adjunct professor of strategic communications at the American University Key Executive Leadership Program. Prior to that, Katya was Senior Vice President of Sutton Group, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm. I worked with the Institute for Sustainable Communities in Ukraine and at CARE International in Atlanta, GA. Katya got my career start as a foreign correspondent for Reuters News and Television in Asia as well as for Associated Press and major U.S. newspapers in Africa. Katya wrote the book Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy for Just Causes and am a contributor to several books on social causes, marketing, and social media.

Suhail Farooqui is widely recognized as a visionary helping America’s public schools become more relevant and effective at their core mission. He is among the leading voices convincing educational leaders that the traditional ways of building engagement with parents, teachers, staff and students are no longer effective, as we face the confluence of three major realities — extremely high expectations of public education, serious reductions in educational funding and historically low levels of trust accelerated by the advent of social media. Suhail’s vision of what constitutes an adequate response has been incorporated into the training of new superintendents in several states.

A serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Shahed Amanullah currently serves as CEO & co-founder of LaunchPosse, a Washington DC-based startup that helps people turn entrepreneurial ideas into reality by leveraging their social networks. Prior to starting LaunchPosse, Shahed served as Senior Advisor for Technology at the US Department of State, where he worked in the bureaus of Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, and was responsible for building the Generation Change and Viral Peace projects. Shahed worked closely with the White House and other agencies on social entrepreneurship, social media policy, combating online extremism, and fostering innovation. Shahed is also the founder of Halalfire, a producer of online content and market research for global Muslim communities. In 1998, he created zabihah.com, the world’s largest Halal restaurant guide, with 10 million annual users and 500,000 app downloads. He also created altmuslim.com, an award-winning online magazine with 2.5 million annual unique users, and served as its editor-in-chief for 10 years before its 2011 acquisition by Patheos. Earlier, Shahed served as co-founder and CEO of Relatia, a venture-backed mobile software company that was acquired in 2001. Shahed has been featured in pieces about technology, foreign policy, and media trends in places such as Wired and CNN, has spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations and Center for American Progress, and has published essays in venues such as the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune. He has also served on the boards of several non-profits focused on building stable Muslim-American identities. Shahed has a BS from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Georgetown.

Fahad Hassan is the Founder and CEO of Always Prepped. Fahad is an education entrepreneur focused on building technology companies to improve educational outcomes. Mr. Hassan’s first venture backed company, Daylert, which he founded in 2006 was an online provider of social calendaring and text messaging services to college students. Daylert was acquired in 2008 by Intelliworks. At Intelliworks Mr. Hassan served as the V.P. of Business Development helping the Higher Education focused CRM provider form strategic partnerships in an emerging cloud computing market. Intelliworks has raised $28 million in venture funding and is currently a leading provider of CRM services within the Higher Education community. Mr. Hassan also volunteers with several non-profit organizations in the Washington D.C. area such as NFTE (National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship) where he tutors middle and high school students in math, reading, and science. He also helps mentor young entrepreneurs, judges regional business plan competitions, and speaks regularly at schools across the country about entrepreneurship and leadership. Some of these institutions include include Virginia Tech, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, Georgetown, University of Pennsylvania, and Fordham University among others. He also regularly speaks at conferences in education, technology, and entrepreneurship on the following topics: business ethics, education, web technologies, and leadership development.

We are looking forward to seeing you at this event and remember to bring friends!








Meet #SWEDUDC's Coaches!

It’s hard to believe that the Startup Weekend Education DC event is less than two weeks away! We are really excited about everyone who is helping to make this an amazing event.

We’ve got a great group of coaches and mentors who are going to work with teams to give them one-on-one advice, which can be invaluable and a key factor in the teams’ growth as a startup.

We are excited to provide you with our lineup of amazing coaches for the SWEDU DC event!

Leslie Jump Leslie Jump has 25 years experience building, advising, and investing in new companies in the US as well as internationally. Her current focus is Startup Angels, a platform to inspire and enable new angel investors across the US and around the world. Previously Leslie was a partner in Sawari Ventures, a Cairo-based venture capital firm investing. She continues to serve as an advisor to Flat6Labs, Sawari Ventures’ accelerator for seed-stage investments, as well as on the boards of several startups and nonprofits. Follow her on twitter here: @lajump

Hasan Abdullah is a Policy Advisor for the US Small Business Administration. Hasan Abdullah’s first foray into entrepreneurship was in his hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where he started an early-stage venture, WeCycles, to provide bike-sharing to the University and town residents. Facing the tough odds of maintaining his business during the recession, Hasan decided to focus his efforts on improving policy to increase economic opportunities for all small businesses. After completing his Masters in Public Policy at Duke University in 2012, Hasan has been working on pushing forward economic policies, particularly in the field of entrepreneurship, small business, and investment. Hasan’s primary goal is getting young people experience in entrepreneurship to help improve not only their professional skills, but also their life skills.

Adam Shapiro as been engaged in edtech, education management, and teaching for over 20 years. He led North American operations and business development for the largest private education provider in the world, directed edtech startups for two of the industry’s most successful entrepreneurs, consulted with edtech startups, incubators, and investors, and taught and managed services at schools in the U.S. and abroad. Adam currently heads operations for ExecOnline, Inc., the first company to take the online university partnership model to the B2B space and winner of the 2014 Return on Education VenturED Award at the ASU+GSV Education Innovation Summit. Adam also led operations and professional services for Noodle Education, Inc., founded by John Katzman, Founder and former CEO for the pioneering education and technology companies The Princeton Review and 2U. Adam’s 14-year career with Kumon North America, Inc., the largest supplemental education company in the world spanned several key functions—executive leadership to business development to corporate communications. Throughout his experiences, Adam has worked closely with many hundreds of students, parents, teachers, school leaders, and education business owners, as well as numerous New York-based CEOs, founders, sponsors, investors, and governmental agencies. Follow Adam on Twitter here: @ExecOnlineInc

Milan Vukas is a startup mentor and business consultant for early stage startups and a policy advisor, particularly focusing with his work on the promotion of entrepreneurship. Prior to that, Milan was co-founder and CEO of UP-Production, a media production company located in Cologne (Germany), where he was responsible for planning strategic business objectives and implementing new systems within the company. Specialties: – Sales strategy – Early stage customers – Business model generation and modeling. Follow Milan on Twitter here: @m_vukas

Laura O’Brien is Vice President of Worldgate, llc, a technology consulting firm that specializes in services to support the business side of Information Technology with specific focus and successful past performance in direct as well as subcontracting K-12 and Government initiatives. Laura has over 20 years experience as a forward-thinking idea generator with deep financial acuity and a unique background in finance, marketing, sales, service and operations. Laura is skilled at strategic thinking within the enterprise to achieve targeted operational and fiscal goals and is able to maneuver within changing business priorities. She has worked in Executive Leadership roles in a variety of industries including Education, Technology, Energy, and Telecommunications and has been a trusted advisor to many C-level executives in strategic planning and operations. Follow Laura on twitter here: @WorldgateTweet

Jason Nellis is a content strategist and relationship manager, adept at balancing strategic and operational needs. Jason has built partnerships with broadcast networks and online distributors, each with complicated content rights structures, multiple distribution platforms, and varying technical needs. Jason has also been the guy who keeps the kegs filled, the guy who fixes the Powerpoint presentation, and a featured writer on the Quora/Forbes blog. Currently, Jason operate sOverachiever Media, a small firm dedicated to online video and social media marketing. Follow Jason on Twitter here: @jasonnellis

Luke Spikes is President and Chief Data Alchemist at Zantica. Zantica are a data strategy and analytics consulting firm dedicated to helping its clients extract real and tangible value from their data. Luke is also the CEO at Spikes Cavell delivers data, analytics and business intelligence solutions to the public sector. Spikes Cavell equips government leaders, and the citizens they serve, with the actionable business intelligence essential for the effective management of spend and the monitoring of operational efficiency. Follow Luke on Twitter here: @lukespikes

Bradley Herrup is a senior software developer at Optoro. Optoro’s mission is to provide the most comprehensive asset recovery solution for the distressed inventory of retailers, manufacturers, and 3rd party providers. Through our cutting-edge technology, online remarketing expertise, and full service fulfillment operation, Optoro offers our clients maximum recovery value with optimal velocity to sale and fully transparent reporting. Bradley’s specialties include Mobile Product Development, UI Development, Graphics, User Tool Development , XML, HTML, C++, Objective-C, C, PHP, CSS, Javascript, Windows Programming, Cocoa Programming, Symbian, Windows Mobile, iOS, Android. Follow Bradley on Twitter here: @B4Some1Hears

There’s still an opportunity to get a ticket to Startup Weekend Education DC on July 25-27 at Union Market.