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About Startup Weekend MU

Startup Weekend at Miami University invites all of the Miami University community who want to learn what it takes to start a business in one weekend.  All are welcome to participate whether you have an idea or just want to work on a business startup team to understand the ‘how-to’ of launching a business. Startup Weekend MU is a 48 hour immersion event that builds companies, teams, and insight.

The participants that attend a Startup Weekend decide what they want to tackle over the weekend and come out at the end with several developed companies or projects. Attendees are responsible for bringing desire and passion to whatever project they work on and will walk out with a business prototype and the launch process roadmap.

What do Attendees get?

Startup Weekend provides an unprecedented level of networking, team building, and learning for participants. Don’t forget that there will be 5 meals provided along with snacks, and a Startup Weekend t-shirt! Sometimes a company emerges, sometimes one doesn’t. Some companies go on to produce revenue or get seed funding, but every time people leave with more experience, insight, knowledge, friends, and resources than they came with.  Plus…one of our sponsors is offering attendees FREE customized business cards!

Miami Students who complete Startup Weekend will receive:

  • 1 hr of course credit for completing ESP 102: Startup Bootcamp (students must be at the event for all check-ins to receive credit)
  • Meetings with successful entrepreneurs, mentors and alumni
  • Understanding the process of launching a business and key issues to address
  • Networking with other like-minded members of the Miami community interested in starting businesses
  • Introduction to the Miami Student Venture Fund and local business incubators and accelerators
  • Exposure to the nationally ranked Institute for Entrepreneurship and opportunities for continuing your business ideas
  • And…get FREE customized business cards here!


Still have questions? Contact us at



Feb 28
  • Registration (Course Credit Check in #1)
  • Mandatory Startup Weekend Overview and Logistics, Mark Lacker
  • Welcome and Kick Off: Dave Knox and Nick Seguin
  • Pitches Start- 60 seconds per pitch (if you have an idea for a product)
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Develop basic business concepts and paper prototypes. Teams can stay as late as they want!


Mar 1
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Customer Discovery Session with Speaker Mark Lacker (Course Credit Check-In #2)
  • Lunch
  • Mentor Team Sessions Begin
  • Prototyping Workshop
  • Guest Speakers- Founders and Funders (Course Credit Check #3)
  • Dinner
  • Gut check with facilitator, Nick Seguin
  • Group get together- current status for products


Mar 2
  • Arrive, simple breakfast…start working!
  • Mentors arrive and call for help (this is self motivated, so don't be shy)
  • Products are being developed. Start preparing for presentations!
  • Lunch (Course credit check in #4)
  • Final touch-ups on presentations and equipment check
  • Complete Final Assessment
  • Judging & awards
Platinum Sponsors

Dave Knox

Chief Marketing Officer, Rockfish Interactive   |  

Nick Seguin

Partner, Dynamit   |  

Nick has a combination of entrepreneurial and technology experience along with wide-angle exposure to startup ecosystems. He is a partner at Dynamit, a Columbus, Ohio-based data, design and technology company. He serves on the Board of directors at UP Global, as a mentor to The Brandery, an advisory board member to the Miami University Armstrong Institute for Interactive Media Studies San Francisco Innovation Center, and an advisor to the Thomas C. Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Miami University.
Nick also spent time as the Manager of Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation – the largest foundation committed to entrepreneurship. With an endowment of nearly $2 billion, Kauffman is a global leader in the research and development of entrepreneurial economies. At the Foundation Nick concentrated on building, funding and deploying initiatives focused on high-growth startups across many sectors.
Nick is a popular speaker on entrepreneurial communities and startup team building, an advisor to startups and an angel investor.
Nick studied marketing and international business at Miami University and spent time at the school's Luxembourg campus.

Gold Sponsors

Sean Lane

CEO and Founder, CrossChx   |  

Sean Lane is an award winning entrepreneur and '02 Miami University alumnus. Sean spent the first 6 years after graduation as an Air Force Intelligence Officer where he served four tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Sean is an inventor, investor and entrepreneur with a deep background in technology. A former Air Force Intelligence Officer and NSA Fellow, Sean served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq before founding Battlefield Telecommunications Systems (BTS). Sean has founded technology companies in Ohio, Maryland, and Virginia, and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of OmniScience Technology Partners (OSTP), CrossChx, Betamore, and Lane Capital. A graduate of Miami University with an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from the University of Rio Grande, Sean was selected as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maryland.

Mark Lacker

John W. Altman Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship   |  

Mark Lacker is the John W. Altman Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at Miami University. In that role he is responsible for the Institute’s Startup Entrepreneurship courses, co-curricular programming and internship initiatives.

Mark has 20 years of entrepreneurial experience and has been involved in three startup organizations. As the Founder and President of Sumner Solutions, Mark built a corporate event marketing company that has been involved in more than 1,000 corporate events. Mark has also served on the advisory board of two startups, as judge for the Cincinnati Business Courier Innovation Awards, and moderated more than 50 roundtable meetings for CMP publishing.

Brad Mascho

President and Founder, CrossChx

Brad is a proven performer and change agent with rare leadership experience in both public and private sector enterprise. Brad spent a decade in Washington, DC as a senior advisor to several members of the United States Congress before becoming a senior executive of a leading trade association. Prior to founding CrossChx, Brad was a Venture Partner of an early stage venture capital firm based in Baltimore, Maryland. An authority on financial management and maximizing efficiency through technological innovation, Brad holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree from Miami University.

Scott Miller

CEO, YJC   |  

Scott D. Miller, is CEO of YJC, LLC, a SaaS development firm. He is also an angel investor with Queen City Angels, focusing on SaaS startups, and founder of, a SaaS invoicing and light accounting platform for small businesses. Mr. Miller serves as a director / investor of Skyecube, LLC, a business intelligence resource provider, is a director of Paycor, a SaaS Payroll and HRS platform, and is on the advisory board of The Business Backer, a financing platform for small businesses. Mr. Miller is a member of Queen City Angels, a Cincinnati based angel investment consortium. In addition, Mr. Miller has taught entrepreneurship at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and serves on the advisory board of Miami’s entrepreneurship department. In 2004, Mr. Miller sold Treadstone Group, LLC, an ERP software integrator and development company he founded and ran for fifteen years, to Exact Software, a multi-national, publicly traded Dutch company. Mr. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy from Miami University, Oxford, OH.

Jim Friedman

Markley Visiting Executive Professor

Jim is an expert in all things creative. The Markley Visiting Executive Professor at Miami University's Institute for Entrepreneurship, he also serves as the supervising producer of the Blind Squirrels Creative Group, Inc and founded The Dreambuilder Celebration. Jim's creative endeavors range from Program Creator at WCPO-TV to Director of Program Development for Scripps Howard Broadcasting and Media Management Consultant for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Jim is a dreambuilder, wordsmith, teacher, idea donor, author and inventor. He holds 2 U.S. patents in addition to a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University.

David Eyman

Innovation Coach and Facilitator   |  

David Eyman holds a Bachelor of Science, Industrial Design degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning, and is pursuing a Masters of Science in Creative Studies at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State University. Having worked as both a business professional and a designer, David understands the multi-dimensional process that leads to innovation, from conceptualization and development, to planning and implementation. As a facilitator, his expertise lies in guiding businesses, non-profits, and governments to develop infrastructures that allow new and productive ideas to emerge and flourish. An expert in the creative process and creative problem solving, David facilitates visioning, idea-generation, consensus-building, and strategy. He has worked with many organizations to create both physical and cultural environments that nurture innovation and creative thinking.

In any organization, success is founded upon the ability of each individual to utilize his or her strengths and talents, resulting in high engagement, satisfaction, and productivity. To address the needs of the individual creative executive, artist, creative thinker, or designer, David has established a successful innovation coaching practice. He has helped creative clients achieve levels of prolific innovation that they could have otherwise not imagined themselves capable of.

David began his career as an Industrial Designer, holding partnership at a multidisciplinary design firm that designed hundreds of products for companies including Fisher-Price, Huffy Bicycles, and Conair. An entrepreneur, he subsequently created a studio to brainstorm, design, and license ideas for consumer products. From there David created a way to help other individuals and organizations maximize their own creativity. His office is located in Wyoming, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Scott Avera

Co-Founder and Chairman, The Business Backer   |  

Scott is a serial entrepreneur involved in a number of start-up, ongoing, and investment opportunities. Foremost he is Co-Founder and Chairman of The Business Backer, a leading provider of alternative funding for small and mid-sized businesses. The Business Backer provides funding by matching millions of investors’ dollars to thousands of businesses. This backing helps businesses survive and grow while yielding tens of thousands of jobs nationwide and a profit for its supporters.

Also, as a member of Queen City Angels, Scott’s investments include GoPicnic, the Chicago based leading enterprise provider of boxed picnic meals, SpineForm, developer of less-invasive spinal deformity surgical treatment for conditions such as scoliosis, and QCA First Fund, the area’s leading early stage investment fund.

Before Co-Founding the Business Backer, Scott was owner and General Manager of Ascent Solutions Inc (ASi). Scott is also a graduate of Miami University, attended Miami University’s European Center in Luxembourg, and holds an M.B.A. from Indiana University.

Joe Engelhart

CEO, Cincinnati Capital Corporation

Mr. Engelhart is a serial entrepreneur who started his first business as a Junior at Miami of Ohio. He developed Rivertown Industries into a tier 2 manufacturing supplier to the likes of Ford, General Motors, and The US. Dept. of Defense. In 1990, Mr. Engelhart founded Cincinnati Capital Corporation – a middle market boutique Investment Banking firm that specializes in Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Finance, Turnarounds/Workouts and Distressed Debt. Mr. Engelhart has managed over $1B in transactions in a diverse group of industries including software, banking, manufacturing, distribution, retail, healthcare and real estate. During his tenure at CCC, Mr. Engelhart has also served as the interim CEO / CCA (Chief Change Agent) for numerous companies facing a turnaround and currently serves(ed) on the Board of Directors of over a dozen companies. A true Redhawk family– wife Melissa Class of 82…. daughter Allie Class of 2015.

Phil Franks

Creative Director, Dynamit   |  

Phil brings together classical training in design with experience in product development. He serves is the Creative Director at Dynamit, a Columbus, Ohio-based data, design and technology company, where he joined as the 5th employee. Phil leads a team and practice focused on intelligent design and user experience as it applies to products, applications and systems. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post and honored in the Webby Awards, W3 Awards, The Horizon Awards and Ohio Interactive Awards.
Phil has also led concept and product design for a number of venture-backed startups.
Phil played collegiate baseball at Ohio Dominican University and earned a BFA in graphic design.

Jonathan Poma

Director of Digital, HOMAGE   |  

Jonathan Poma brings an information architecture background and a passion for product management to his role at Homage. Leading digital product at Homage, his primary focus includes, digital CRM, building of continuity between in-store and online customer experience and digital marketing.’

Nikki Pfahler

COO, Lisnr   |  

Nikki is happiest when her time between the business and creative worlds intersect. As a self-taught designer, she's an avid user experience (UX) and usability enthusiast, mobile design junkie, and is currently having a blast expanding her knowledge in motion and interaction design. She's passionate about lean design methodology and UX research, using design to solve business problems, and is constantly working to improve her design projects using data, analytics, and user testing practices. Nikki stays very involved in the Cincinnati startup, entrepreneur and design communities, serving as a member of IxDA Cincinnati, Startup Chair on the AIGA Cincinnati board, co-organizer of Startup Weekend Cincinnati, and co-organizer of the local User Enjoyment (UX) Meetup Group. Aside from all the #StartupDesign love, she gets really excited about trees, bunnies, sweet iced tea, and photography.

Danny Stull

Founder, Be Ohio Proud and My State Threads   |  

Danny is the founder of two lifestyle brands called Be Ohio Proud and My State Threads. BOP and MST focus on creating state-related designs for apparel and other gifts to give people simple ways to show pride in their state. They focus on selling their product wholesale and via e-commerce.

Nick Stanoszek

Co-founder and CEO, Payr   |  

Nick Stanoszek has vast experience in entrepreneurship,business development, and technology. Nick's experience stems from Big 4 consulting (PwC and Deloitte) as well as being involved in technology start-ups and other small businesses in the past 7+ years.

As a member of Big 4 consulting, Nick helped implement major ERP systems at Fortune 100 companies, develop approaches to automated controls, as well as assisting with strategic controls integration and compliance strategy at up-and-coming IPOs, including his most recent project at Twitter.

Nick's knowledge has also grown through angel investing over the last several years. Nick is involved in two Ohio-based small businesses, where he has assisted with business plans, business strategy, revenue models, competitive analysis, marketing, etc. These companies include Cincinnati-based nutrition company, Infinit Nutrition, which uses it's patented Osmoality process to create custom-blended nutrition and Cleveland-based Skin Deep Enterprises, which is the #1 salon (tanning and laser hair removal) in NE Ohio after 2.5 years in business.

Nick is also a board member and Executive Director of Cleveland-based foundation, Eleonore Rocks, which is a 501(c)(3) foundation developed around assisting terminally ill children and their families. The foundation is based around small donations to support these families, but also assists with the bonding experience by donating high-end rocking chairs to NICUs and PICUs around the country. To date, Eleonore Rocks has donated over 320 rocking chairs and raised over $400,000 since 2009.

Currently, as Co-founder & CEO of Payr and Simplicity POS, Ohio-based tech start-ups that allow users to open, pay & split their restaurant/bar tabs (among other things) via their phone, Nick has built the company from the ground up and has worked through various aspects of the company, including development, business planning, and fundraising proposals. Simplicity POS has developed a patent-pending API functionality that seamlessly connects a POS system to the cloud to allow for easy communication with Payr's front-end application and also makes use of iBeacon technology for close-proximity transactions. Payr/Simplicity will be launching in Cleveland and Columbus in Spring 2014.

In his spare time, Nick enjoys competing in triathlons, spending time with family, and flying back and forth to San Francisco. Nick is a graduate of 2006, majored in MIS & Finance, and was a member of the boxing and water polo clubs while a student.

Josh Klaben-Finegold

Implementation Specialist, TinderBox

Josh Klaben-Finegold works for a tech startup in Indianapolis called TinderBox as part of the Orr Fellowship Program and is a '13 Miami alumnus. At TinderBox, Josh works on the Client Success team working closely with the Development team to complete the most technical implementations involving heavy CRM integration (in english: TinderBox is a piece of software that links into Salesforce (another, much larger piece of software), this can get very complicated and it's Josh's job to make it work the way the client want's it to). Outside of work, Josh likes to rock climb, travel and cook with friends.

Chris Ridenour

Chief Technology Officer, Lisnr   |  

Chris Ridenour is a Cincinnati native and life-long developer. Outside of the small branching into the mechanical world (with a degree in Mechanical Engineering), Chris has pursued his passion for technology in school, free-time and work. During his undergrad, Chris worked as a software developer inside Procter & Gamble's GBS Innovation group. After graduating, Chris joined Rockfish Digital, one of WPP's premier interactive agencies. During his time at Rockfish, Chris worked with a team of developers to build mobile and web applications for some of the world's biggest brands. After participating in the Startup Bus in March of 2012, Chris made the decision to join Lisnr full-time as CTO to lead the product team. Outside of work, Chris stays very active in Cincinnati's thriving startup community. As the organizer of the Cincinnati Web/Tech Drinkup, Startup Weekend Cincinnati and CincyPy, Chris gets a chance to interact with much of the technical talent in the city and is working with a team to advance the Startup Cincy initiative.

Chad Williamson

Co-founder, Noble Impact   |  

Chad Williamson is co-founder of Noble Impact, which is an organization committed to engaging k-12 students through the intersection of public service and entrepreneurship.

Prior to launching Noble Impact, he was Director of Philanthropy for former NFL player, Dhani Jones and CEO of their joint venture, BowTie Cause. As a platform to promote awareness for multiple causes, they raised over $500,000 for non-profits around the nation.

Chad is also a military veteran and co-founded a physical therapy company before becoming a teacher and coach at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida. At Berkeley, he launched a multi-disciplinary curriculum focused leadership, group dynamics, and the study of poverty in America.

He received his Bachelors degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and his Masters from the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is married to Heather Williamson and they have two chocolate labs, Moxie and Bristol.

Niko Kantouros

COO, Payr   |  

Niko Kantouros is a consulting alumnus, with a background in managing teams from
developers to analysts on a regular basis. Niko has a great deal of experience working within the software industry from sales of systems to implementation and go lives while working for TMW Systems, Inc. a Trimble Company. In addition Niko has also been involved and is COO of Cleveland based Startup Payr. Payr allows users to open, pay, and split their restaurant and bar tabs through their mobile device. Niko has been involved in many aspects of the start up process which include item such as putting together business plan, to reaching out to potential merchants who will use the end service.

In his spare time Niko enjoys outdoor activities and sports such as snowboarding and golf, and loves to travel. Niko is a graduate of 2009, majored in Civil Engineering with a minor in Business.

Joshua Johnson

CEO and Founder, Mindbox Studios   |  

Joshua Johnson is the Founder and CEO of Mindbox Studios and Be Creative Group. He has mentored or served over 60 startups throughout the country, helping innovators get their ideas off the ground. His passion is in helping founders find true meaning in their ideas, discover why others should care about their new company, and discover business models that make sense for their target audience.
Joshua is also a board member of the Greater Cincinnati Venture Association, a C-CAP Morning Mentor, was the organizer of the Continuous Web Meetup group, organizer and host of the 2010, 2011, and 2012 Startup Showcase events in Cincinnati, and regularly speaks to entrepreneurs at local events and on college campuses.
You can connect with him at

Linda Gravett

Industrial Psychologist   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Dr. Linda Gravett, an industrial psychologist, is a business advisor, author, organizational development consultant and certified Emotional Intelligence coach who has partnered with organizations such as Voith

Josh Green

Special Ops, Roadtrippers

Josh Green is an ’11 Miami alumnus where he graduated with a Bachelor’s in Marketing and the proud recipient of the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award. From an early age (7 to be precise), Josh launched small company after small company. From a start in selling puppies to creating custom apparel and more, Josh learned the true fundamentals of business, sales, and hard work. In 2009 as a sophomore at Miami, Josh co-founded Virtual Chapter, which upon graduation took him to Silicon Valley in pursuit of the “Facebook Dream". For over two years, he worked with various startups (including his own) which exposed him to a multitude of markets, business models, and people, with his longest tenure at Piazza. From California, he moved home to Cincinnati where he joined the Brandery graduate, Roadtrippers, as “Special Ops” in helping them become the premier destination for road travel. Outside the office, Josh is a true sports fanatic and can usually be found watching, playing, or coaching.


Ravi Pandey

Investment Analyst, West Virginia Jobs Investment Board   |  

Ravi is an Investment Analyst for the West Virginia Jobs Investment Trust Board (“WVJIT”), a state-backed venture capital firm headquartered in Charleston with a dual mission of seeking a return on investment in funding diverse early and late-stage businesses based in West Virginia as well as job creation in the state. His primary roles revolve around the screening and sourcing of deals, due diligence, and portfolio management. In addition, he serves as an observer on multiple boards of several companies as well as a firm representative at many Venture Capital conferences and symposiums around the country.

Prior to embarking in Venture Capital, Ravi was an Equity Research Associate at FTN Equity Capital Markets and Langenberg & Co. focusing on Consumer Discretionary and Industrial Conglomerate companies, respectively. Prior to capital markets, Ravi was Corporate FP&A Analyst with IBM providing financial reporting and analysis for accounts in the healthcare, technology, and industrial sector.

Ravi graduated from Miami University in 2005 with a B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He remains very active in the Angel and VC community both in West Virginia and Ohio and is always up for conversation on business ideas and venture capital.

Mark Richey

Founder/Managing Director- West Capital Advisors

Mark is an experienced technologist, executive, founder, and private equity investor. He is founder/Managing Director of West Capital Advisors, which manages corporate innovation and venture investment programs. Most recently, he served as a Managing Director in Draper Triangle Ventures, an early stage venture fund and affiliate of the Draper Network of funds headed by Draper Fisher Jurvetson in Menlo Park, CA. Mark maintains a relationship with Draper Triangle in the role of Venture Partner.

Mark has been involved in many entrepreneurial ventures. He founded Synchrony Communications in 1997 raising $38 million in funding from leading VCs, including Charles River Ventures, APAX Partners and GE Equity. He grew the company to a size of more than 130 employees in four cities serving over 80 customers, including Cincinnati Bell, Bank of America, and Proctor & Gamble. In prior years Mark served in management roles with a series of venture backed Silicon Valley companies, including Gain Technology (sold to Sybase), Siebel Systems (IPO), and Genesys Telecommunications (IPO). After graduate school he worked in management consulting with Theodore Barry & Associates (Los Angeles). Mark began his career as a software engineer with Cincom Systems (Cincinnati).

Mark holds an M.B.A. from The Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University and a BS Systems Analysis from Miami University. He currently serves as an observer on the boards of Thinkvine, CardioInsight and Oversight Systems, the advisory board of Priority Consult (division of Mayfield Spine Clinic), and the TechColumbus Investment Committee.

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