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ETSU Brown Hall

Startup Weekend Tricities

Congratulations to 30 Day Photo Challenge!!

30 Day Photo Challenge from Digital Fridge on Vimeo.

Participants will have one minute to pitch their idea in hopes that it will be one of chosen startups to be launched in the next 54 hours. Participants who are chosen will then recruit developers, designers, marketers, and project managers to join their team and help launch their startup. On the final day participants will present their startup to a panel of judges who will pick a winner.

What does Startup Weekend provide?

Startup Weekend is a chance for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and see if they are feasible to market. As each chosen group works on their startup they will also be building and assessing their own theories and strategies. Many participants find that they learn new ideas and skills from the people on their team. During work hours and meal times participants will have time to build networks with members of the local technology community. These networks can lead to job offers, funding for your idea, or even a partner to launch with.

Startup Weekend - Full from Eighteen Eighty on Vimeo.


1st Place

  • Angel Investors Pitch
  • Spark Plaza membership
  • Baker Donelson Lawfirm Package
  • AcelNow bootcamp
  • Video featured by AccelNow and Launch TN
  • QuickBooks Pro
  • 3 hrs. of QuickBooks training

2nd Place

  • QuickBooks Pro
  • 3 hrs. of QuickBooks training
  • Baker Donelson Lawfirm Package

3rd Place

  • QuickBooks Pro
  • 3 hrs of QuickBooks Training



Nov 16
  • 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


Nov 17
  • 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


Nov 18
  • 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!

Eric McCarty

Marketing Director at ITD Interactive

Eric is a photographer and entrepreneur. After launching 3 internet
startups, he has helped get ITD Interactive up and running as an
Inbound Marketing agency. His first internet business in 2008 debuted
6 months prior to an almost identical venture by well-known internet
entrepreneur/investor Jason Calacanis. Also in 2008, Eric won the
inaugural WillThisFloat Business Pitch Competition.

More recently, Eric has combined his photographic and entrepreneurial
interests to build Blue Ridge Parkway Daily (BRPD). BRPD has quickly
become the leading social networking presence for the nation's most
visited unit in the National Park System, with over 40,000 fans on
Facebook and Twitter.

His varied photographic experience includes newspaper photojournalism
and a successful sole proprietorship of 13 years focusing mainly on
weddings. His work has been selected for publication in the New York
Times, Elegant Bride, Grace Ormonde's Wedding Style, and Decision
Magazine, among others. The Knot, the nation's leading wedding
planning resource, used one of Eric's images in a campaign to over
30,000 brides nation-wide.

Anthony R. Lettich

Acting Executive Director – The Angel Roundtable   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Tony Lettich has served as Acting Executive Director of The Angel Roundtable since August, 2012. The Angel Roundtable is a select network of successful entrepreneurs, investors and community and business leaders in the NE Tennessee / SW Virginia region which provides investment capital, strategic advice and mentoring to early-stage companies, to help them achieve market leadership.

Mr. Lettich has an extensive background in Finance and Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A). He previously served as Vice President & CFO of CP Kelco, an Atlanta based specialty chemical company with sales approaching $1.0B, overseeing the company’s global financial operations. Prior to CP Kelco, Mr. Lettich served as Director, Corporate Financial Analysis & Division Controller, Developing Businesses at Eastman Chemical Company. Mr. Lettich has also worked within Eastman’s Corporate Venturing, M&A and Licensing groups and with Union Carbide Corporation.

Mr. Lettich has participated in the start-up / creation and merger / acquisition of numerous businesses / companies. This includes the start-up / creation of commodity and specialty manufacturing and sales businesses in the US, UK, EU and Asia, and e-commerce / service companies in the US. His M&A experience also includes the sale of numerous businesses / companies

Kanishka Biddanda

Kanishka Biddanda is a serial entrepreneur, building best-in-class companies that help to improve its surrounding communities. He is co-founder and creative director of the advertising agency The Creative Trust Agency, Inc. In the past 12 years, he has developed and led strategic marketing & communication campaigns for multiple Fortune 500 companies as well as numerous mid-size consumer market-based businesses, nationally and internationally. During this time, his campaigns have generated clients hundreds of thousands of dollars in ROI as well as being recognized by the advertising industry by being awarded several ADDYs - the prestigious advertising industry award.

He also founded a downtown redevelopment company and in 2009, he successfully led one of his restaurants, Bone Fire Smokehouse, to achieve the national award from ABC's “Live! with Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa” Morning Show for the “Best Ribs Recipe in the Nation”.

He is also the founder of Racks by the Tracks Blues, BBQ, and Beer Tasting Festival - which has sold-out 4 years in a row and hosts nearly 10,000 attendees from a 5-state area.

He is a board director for several prominent regional organizations and corporations. His business successes have been covered in numerous publications and he has been recognized by The Business Journal as 2008’s Top Young Entrepreneur in the Region, a 40 Under 40 recipient, as well as receiving awards from numerous advertising industry organizations.


Jose Castillo

Founder at Spark Plaza   |   LinkedIn

Jose Castillo is an expert in the convergence of business and technology. He speaks to groups around the world, produces content through print, audio, video, and online, and consults with Fortune 500 companies and startups. Engaging presentation style, real world stories, and a passion for the flavor of new ideas, will keep things spicy!

Shannon Castillo

Director of Redevelopment at Washington County Economic Development Council   |   LinkedIn

Shannon Castillo is the new Director of Redevelopment for the
Washington County Economic Development Council. Specifically, she is
the champion for the revitalization of downtown Johnson City. She
graduated from Milligan College with a double major in Business and
Communications and just reiceived the honor of accepting the Business
Journal's Top 40 Under 40. Along with her husband Jose, they live
near downtown, go to church downtown and own a business in downtown.
Their daughters, Sophia and Olivia attend school in the Johnson City
school system and on any given day, you can see their family hanging
out with their neighbors on West Holston Ave or cheering on the
Fairmont Soccer team at Civitan Park. There’s never a dull moment in
their household.

Ryan Hayes

Software Engineer   |   LinkedIn

Ryan is a software engineer, speaker, writer, and entrepreneur with over 10 years of professional development and consulting experience. Ryan has helped teams deliver award-winning applications including multiple Webby Awards and nominations for companies such as Discovery, AOL, The National Academies, Toyota and more. After years working as a consultant under Red Hat in Washington, DC, Ryan moved back to the Tri-Cities and formed Sonata Cove Software, LLC at the start of 2012 to bring his network of experts together to provide a mixture of software expertise and business understanding, with a dash of the Lean Startup Method to transform businesses, teams, and their web and mobile products of all sizes.

Ryan is a two-time Microsoft MVP Award Winner for 2011 and 2012 for development expertise and community leadership.

Scott L. Patashnick

Small Business Consultant   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Scott L. Patashnick is a creative business innovator with a unique combination of marketing, accounting, legal and technical skills and expertise. He received his B.S. degree in Accounting from the University of Denver (Colorado) and received his law degree from the UNH Law School (New Hampshire), where he specialized in contracts and intellectual property law. He is a member of numerous state bars and over the last 25+ years has founded and been involved in well over a dozen small business---including store fronts, mail order and online---selling products, services and software, both into domestic and international markets. He currently splits his time between western Massachusetts and upstate New York providing IT consulting, marketing and legal services.

Scott has spoken at numerous IT conferences, published articles relating to IT and law, created online coursework, taught courses and is looking forward to rolling up his sleeves, foregoing a lot of sleep and sharing 54+ hours of non-stop ideas, solutions and problem solving at StartUp Weekend scheduled at the E.T.S.U campus in Johnson City in November. He is a fan of and was an active participant in a Startup Weekend held earlier this year.

Bradley Batt

Brad is the founder of BlueZebra Sports, a SaaS (Software as a Service) company which provides solutions for managing sports officials for college conferences. Current NCAA Division I conference clients include the Big Ten, ACC, Big East, Conference USA, Big 12, Pac-12 and many others.

He has an extensive background in software development. Starting a career out of college at Compaq in Houston, he later spent several years as a software consultant at Fortune 500 companies and government entities, including Shell Chemical, Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Reliant Energy, Andersen Consulting, and the City of Houston.

He is passionate about entrepreneurs, small business, technology, and believes that opportunities for software businesses are better today than ever. He also officiated NCAA Men's Basketball for 15 years, including working in the Southland and Summit League conferences.

Mario Hankerson, Esq.

Sr. Executive   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Mario Hankerson, Esq. received a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice and
Criminology in 1998 from East Tennessee State University (ETSU). He went on to earn two Masters degrees, an M.A. in Criminal Justice in 2002 and an M.S. in Computer Science in 2003, also from ETSU. He also earned a
certificate in Entrepreneurial Leadership in 2004 from ETSU. He completed his Juris Doctor at Vermont Law School in 2007, and took MBA courses at Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Mario has worked as an IT Contractor designing and creating software for
clients, and installing and servicing desktop computers and network servers. He helped his dad set up his transportation company. Mario taught undergraduate Criminal Justice and Computer Science courses as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at ETSU, and worked as Technical Business Analyst. Mario is a former Collegiate All-American football player, and briefly played professional football for the Baltimore Ravens.

In 2008, he began work at Equity Services, Inc., a subsidiary of National
Life Group, Inc., in Montpelier as a Compliance Officer. In this position
he ensured firm compliance with all trading activities and regulatory
obligations, advised on regulatory, operational and reputational risk and
interpreted MSRB, SEC and FINRA rules, relevant statutes and case law.

Mario is a member of the Board of Directors and General Counsel to Chandler Center for the Arts Inc. in Randolph, Vermont. He is also President and President of the Board of Directors of Chandler Holding Company, which is the for-profit arm of Chandler Center for the Arts.

Mario's broad legal background with experience in corporate and commercial law and unique combination of high tech training and business and transactional legal experience inspired him to leave National Life Group in late 2011 to launch Hankerson Law Group, PLLC where he could bring his unique perspective to clients.

Mario launched Drive Development Labs, LLC in early 2012 to create custom software and provide technology consulting services for businesses. In addition, the company creates IPhone and Android applications.

Dave Lawrence
Steven Jenkins
Scott Downie
Dani Webb
Katie Hurst

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