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Lab Four - 6154 Macon Rd, Memphis, TN 38134

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Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success? Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 400 past events in 100 countries around the world in 2011. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies. All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.



Jul 20
  • Registration Starts
  • Dinner & Networking
  • Welcome & Speakers
  • Pitches Start
  • Attendees vote for the top ideas
  • Teams start forming and discussing ideas
  • Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Jul 21
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Dinner
  • Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
  • Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow


Jul 22
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Food Sponsors

Ekundayo Bandele


Ekundayo Bandele is from the Fort Greene community in Brooklyn, NY. In 1992 he left Tennessee State University and wrote plays that include Judas Hands and a novel – Tales Go Round. Ekundayo is one of three principals of the Manhattan Art Brokerage firm, which specializes in cultural antiquities. Starting in the late 1990s he opened various small businesses that include a vintage clothing store called Threads and a mobile detailing business – Bandele’s Wash Works. In 2006 he founded and became the artistic director of Hattiloo Theatre. The theatre is named after his two daughters, Hatti and Loo. After six years of producing works that range from August Wilson’s Pulitzer prize winning play Fences to musicals like The Wiz and Dreamgirls, Hattiloo is preparing to build a new theatre in Overton Square. Ekundayo’s civic involvements include him serving on the boards of the Benjamin Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis, the Memphis Education Foundation, the Overton Park Conservancy, and he is on the advisory council of Victory University. He is a graduate of Leadership Memphis’ 2010 Executive Program and the Leadership Academy Masters 2012. He has received awards from the Center City Commission, the United Way of the Midsouth, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Impact Memphis, and a Congressional Certificate of Honor. Memphis Business Quarterly named him a Power Player in 2011 & 2012.

Jack Blair


Jack Blair has spent his career in a variety of leadership positions, including Group President and board director of Smith & Nephew, Inc. Since then, he has helped fund and lead several startups and currently serves on the boards of NuVasive, Inc, and MedShape, Inc. Jack is also an active civic leader, currently serving as Chairman of the Campbell Clinic Foundation and as a trustee of the Church Health Center, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, and the Memphis Orchestral Society. A veteran of the US Navy, Jack earned his BA from Miami University and his MBA from UCLA.

James Dowd

Judge   |  

James is an award-winning journalist, earning recognition for his work across several media. James began working at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis in 2000, and since 2008 he has focused primarily on small business and entrepreneurship. In 2009 the Memphis Small Business Chamber recognized his efforts with the Dennis Beatty Founders Award. In 2011, James led the launch of Startup Memphis, an online community dedicated to entrepreneurship and small business. His passion for startups is matched only by his passion for sports. Both of which, he contends, are lessons in perseverance.

Mason Kauffman


Mason received his BS from the University of Michigan and MBA from the University of Memphis. He was part of FedEx’s pioneering teams from 1978-1994 before leaving to found, grow and sell his own businesses in 1994. Those companies, Express Logistics and Accuship, both earned Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing Company status and Mason was recognized as the Memphis Business Journal’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 1999. Mason has also been recognized as an industry “mover and shaker” by Bloomberg Businessweek and a “leader in the pack” by LEADERS magazine. Mason’s executive management, sales, marketing and supply chain strengths create an excellent complement to the scientific strengths of US BIOLOGIC’s other team members.


Clay Banks


The founder and co-founder of three companies, Clay is an economic developer with over 9 years of community and business development leadership for private sector firms, non profit, city and state organizations. Clay has a passion helping communities build entrepreneurial ecosystems and connecting people and businesses to resources that will accelerate economic growth. Clay is the chairman of the Bartlett Station Commission, a published author and holds a BS in Communications and Advertising from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Currently, Clay serves as Regional Director of Economic and Community Development for the state of Tennessee.

Allan Daisley


Allan has been part of several startup companies, serving as lead on production creation. He now serves as Director, Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, focusing on a start-up solar-paneling company and as lead for the Governor’s StartupTN initiative that includes the Seed Hatchery and Zeroto510 program. Allan holds a BS in Computer Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

Demarcus Love


Demarcus is co-founder of Seed Hatchery graduate ChooMoGo, a company whose signature product is TV 2.0 for businesses. An easy way for businesses to get the most benefit out of their existing television screens by providing interactive and dynamic content. Prior to forming ChooMoGo, Demarcus attended Christian Brothers’ High School, where he has interned with several outstanding companies, including Merrill Lynch, The Leadership Academy, Seed Hatchery, and Emerge Memphis.

Natasha Donerson


Natasha Donerson, CEO of Success Unlimited, LLC, is a professionally trained and certified business coach and consultant with over 15 years of business experience both as a successful sales executive and business owner.

Before starting Success Unlimited, Natasha excelled as a Sales Executive for Teva Neuroscience, Daiichi-Sankyo, and Pitney Bowes. She became a real estate investor in 2001 and currently manages a portfolio of residential and commercial properties and coaches aspiring real estate investors throughout the United States.

Natasha earned her Bachelor of Science from Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) and her Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in management from Union University (Jackson, TN). Natasha is also a licensed real estate affiliate broker.

Natasha is very active in the Memphis business community. Shelby County Mayor, Mark Luttrell appointed Natasha to serve on the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) Board and serves as Secretary. She is President of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)-Memphis Chapter. She is on the Board of Directors of the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce. Natasha is a member of National Speakers Association and alum of Leadership Memphis EP 2011.

Cliff McKinney


Cliff McKinney is Cofounder and CEO of Work for Pie, a Memphis-based startup that is changing the way software developers find work. Work for Pie was a part of the inaugural Seed Hatchery cohort, and is now backed by Solidus Company and am>ventures. Prior to his current career, Cliff led former lives as a corporate finance professional, a high school teacher, and a golf professional. He has an MBA from Wake Forest University, two dogs, one daughter (on the way), and a closet full of ironic t-shirts.

Karen Spacek


Karen Spacek serves as the Chief Operating Officer of ArtsMemphis, where she oversees nine grant programs and the distribution of approximately 4 million in arts funding annually to more than sixty area non-profit arts organizations. Prior to joining ArtsMemphis, Karen worked with a number of public companies including Harrah’s Entertainment. Her background is in strategic planning and management. She earned her BA and MBA from the University of Texas, Austin.

Ted Townsend


J. Edward (Ted) Townsend III is the Greater Memphis Regional Director of the State of Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD), serving the Greater Memphis Region comprised of Fayette, Lauderdale, Shelby and Tipton Counties. Prior to joining TN ECD, Townsend was the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of arGentis Pharmaceuticals, Inc of Memphis, a privately-held bio-pharmaceutical company involved in the licensing, development and commercialization of therapies for auto-immune and ophthalmic diseases. During his tenure, the company successfully raised $2 million in capital from angel and institutional investors. A graduate of the University of Memphis, Townsend also served as executive vice president and managing partner of Agile Minds, LLC, a consulting firm in health care and life sciences and currently sits on the board of directors of arGentis, Life Science Tennessee, Memphis Research Consortium and the Memphis Shelby Growth Alliance. He is also a member of the Tennessee Economic Development Council, Brookings Institute Metropolitan Business Plan Leadership Team for Memphis , the West Tennessee Rural Planning Organization Technical Committee and the Shelby County Joint Economic & Community Development Board.

Kelly Penwell


Kelly Penwell manages the daily operations at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) at the University of Memphis. The CEI is proud to share that we have already assisted thirteen entrepreneurs launch new businesses here in the Memphis market.

Prior to relocating to Memphis from Long Island, New York in June of 2011, Kelly’s experiences include owning a packaged ice and home heating fuel company, teaching high school, and coordinating internship programs both on the secondary level and within higher education.

Kelly has a long history of involvement in Rotary including experiences as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student (1984-1985), mother of a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, host mother, District Co-Chair of RYLA, District Committee member for Rotary Youth Exchange, and Interact Club advisory.

Media Sponsors
Amanda Lewis
Chris Przybyszewski
James F. Ruffer III

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