Past event…

Event Ended

Carlson School of Management - University of Minnesota, Hanson Hall, 1925 4th St South

Have you ever had an idea for improving education? Here’s your opportunity . . .

. . to transform your education ideas into action in 54 hours. Find the right people with complementary skills and the passion & dedication to build an education product in one weekend. Design for learning, conduct user tests, receive coaching from experienced education designers & industry professionals and win prizes that will help take your idea to the next level!

Startup Weekend EDU brings together a diverse group of people – educators, technologists, designers, and business professionals – passionate about making a positive impact on education. In 54 hours, participants share ideas, form teams, design products and launch education startups.  Startup Weekend EDU begins with open-mic 60-second pitches on Friday night that result in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable education concepts. Teams spend Saturday and Sunday focusing on user research, customer development, validating their ideas and building prototypes with the help of experienced coaches from the education market. On Sunday, teams demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges. (Hosted by the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota at Hanson Hall, 1925 4th Street South, Minneapolis, MN 55455).

Here are some examples of startups that have come out of Startup Weekend EDU in other parts of the country:

ImagiLabs’s Challenge Box - educational adventure games for kids age 8-12 and seek to inspire them to explore real challenges until they find their moment of triumph
Qeyno - a career exploration game that helps inform students about possible STEM career options & offers guidance on how to achieve them
+ Kidfit Academy - a nonprofit running interactive physical & health education curriculum that empowers students to take control of their health & wellness with fun technology
+ PDnearMe - a marketplace for finding and tracking professional development for K-12 teachers
Your ticket includes 7 great meals, plus some freebies from the sponsors.  It's a great bargain!

We look forward to seeing you at the event!  Please email us with questions.  



May 2
  • 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


May 3
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend
  • Coaches start arriving to help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!
  • Lunch
  • Call for needs & skills
  • 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


May 4
  • Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee
  • Coaches start arriving… ASK QUESTIONS
  • Call for help (this is self motivated, so don’t be shy)
  • Lunch
  • Gut check. Start prepping for presentations
  • Dinner
  • Judging & awards
  • Wrapup
  • Go home!
Platinum Sponsors
Gold Sponsors

Todd Brekhus

President, Capstone Digital   |   LinkedIn

Todd Brekhus is an educational leader devoted to introducing innovative technologies to educators and administrators. Most recently, Todd created myON, a personalized literacy platform that supports more than 3.6 million students in literacy education. Todd’s vision for myON is to provide unlimited access to an unprecedented wealth of digital content so that every student can read any book at any time. As a former educator, Todd believes in providing every student with the personalized attention necessary to succeed, and the creation of myON allows teachers to personalize literacy instruction in such a way by providing students with amazing content at every level. In his tenure at myON, Todd has grown the Capstone Digital division to 25% of the company’s value.

Prior to his work with myON, Todd developed programs such as MarcoPolo for MCI WorldCom and served as President and COO of Learning Elements and Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of PLATO Learning. Todd is a graduate of Concordia College and Johns Hopkins University. He served as a teacher, humanities chair and technology coordinator in suburban Maryland for eight years. Todd now lives in Prior Lake, Minnesota, with his wife and four children.

Jay Haugen

Superintendent, Farmington Area Public Schools   |  

Jay serves as the Superintendent of the Farmington Area Public Schools, where he has applied to make the school an "innovation zone," a new state designation for schools seeking flexibility to experiment with teaching. He is also director of the Minnesota Association of Superintendents and Administrators.

Lois Josefson

Executive Director, TiE Minnesota and EduTech Showcase   |   LinkedIn

Lois is executive director of TiE Minnesota, an entrepreneurs' education, networking and mentoring organization. Lois has also organized the EduTech Showcase and Forum, a Minnesota based event connecting edtech focused researchers and entrepreneurs with educators, administrators, businesses and investors.

Don Smithmier

CEO & Co-founder, GoKart Labs   |   LinkedIn

Don is a heralded serial entrepreneur, recognized by Twin Cities Business as one of the top 100 people to help your business thrive. He's a pioneer in online marketing and education, a freakishly fine musician, and is regarded as a star among stars for his business acumen. Don was the founder of Sophia Learning and previously worked at Capella Education.

Josh Susser

Director of Corporate Development and Investments, ECMC Group   |   LinkedIn

Josh Susser is a member of the management team at ECMC Group, a nonprofit higher education finance corporation that supports student success through innovative solutions. Josh has established and currently manages a venture investment portfolio focused on solving difficult problems in U.S. education while delivering market returns.  Prior to ECMC Group, Josh was an investment banker. Josh graduated with a BA with honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is an MBA candidate (2015) at The University of Chicago.

Silver Sponsors

Molly Schroeder

Google Certified Teacher, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer, Technology Integration Specialist   |   LinkedInGoogle+

Molly Schroeder is a Global Digital Learning Specialist, Google Certified Teacher and Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer. She presents nationally and internationally at conferences, workshops and conventions on how to integrate Google Apps and other emerging technologies into learning. She tries to model Moonshot Thinking and Living in Beta to transform learning for teachers and students. Her background is in Elementary Education and she also holds a certificate in Educational Technology and Gifted Education.


Laura Andersen

Service Designer and Founder of Twin Cities Jams   |   LinkedIn

Laura is a customer experience and service design consultant with 15 years experience in digital marketing and multichannel customer experience, spanning non-profit, agency and corporate environments. In March 2013, she established the Twin Cities Service Jam, which has since spawned Ed Jam and the 2nd Annual Service Jam this winter. Laura also partners with Open Twin Cities to organize and facilitate Civic Tech and Design events like Capitol Code Open Data Jam and the upcoming Hack for Minnesota. Laura has a service design consulting practice in the Twin Cities, working primarily with the public sector, nonprofit agencies and the startup community.

Jon Bacal

CEO and Founder, Venture Academy   |   LinkedIn

Jon is the CEO and Founder of Venture Academy, the nation’s first 6-12 school integrating personalized digital, entrepreneurial and accelerated college learning. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Office of New Schools for Minneapolis Public Schools. He has also founded Hiawatha Leadership Academy and SchoolStart and served as an education advisor to the city of Saint Paul.

Scott Cole

Co-Founder and director, Founding Futures   |   LinkedIn

Scott is a co-founder and director of Founding Futures. Over his 35 year career, he has owned and sold several technology companies, provided senior leadership for many high tech enterprises as well as management consulting and organizational development services for nonprofit as well as for-profit organizations. His passion for transforming education was ignited first as the director of a K-8 Waldorf school where he was instrumental in guiding a five year growth initiative. Scott later became director/principal of an inner city charter high school, guiding the transition from private to charter, leading it through a particularly challenging time. He is committed to eliminating the education disparity that exists in America, and believes one of the most powerful ways this can be accomplished is through connecting technology services and the many service providers who support families and schools in pursuit of closing the achievement gap.

Joel Donna

Co-Founder and CEO, 3Ring   |   LinkedIn

Joel Donna, Ph.D. is a former rural Minnesota science teacher. He has expertise in research and development using technology to support beginning teachers and technology integration in the science classroom. He served as the STEM Specialist for the State of Minnesota and is currently on leave as a Lecturer in the University of Minnesota Learning Technologies. Joel is a current a Bush Leadership Fellow and is the President and CEO of the non-profit organization, 3Ring. 3Ring was the Social Division Runner Up in the 2013 Minnesota Cup.

Hal Galvin

Founder, Provectus   |   LinkedIn

Through Provectus, Hal has closed many acquisitions and taken on multiple interim general management engagements, including running a division of MTS Systems and CEO roles with Cybeq Systems, Cycle Software Services, and Alumiplate. Hal has a BS in Electrical Engineering from SUNY at Buffalo and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where he attended as a Bush Leadership Fellow.

Matt Hardy

Co-founder   |   LinkedIn

Ed-tech entrepreneur, AngularJS evangelist, PHP developer, WordPress hacker, and former classroom teacher.

Co-Founder at, the world's largest education blogging platform.

Mark Hines

Director, Account Services, GoKart Labs   |   LinkedIn

Mark is a technology enthusiast and digital native with over 15 years of experience with a blend of business, marketing and technology expertise to help some of the countryʼs best known brands maximize the value derived from digital properties. His specialties include: Digital strategy, technical architecture, program management, executive leadership, process engineering, team leadership, business development, user experience, web strategy, social strategy, content strategy, marketing automation.

Chris Janzen

Director of Course Development, Capella Education Company   |   LinkedIn

Chris has spent over a decade in course development at Capella Education Company after starting his career as a web designer at Target Corp.

Matt Johnson

Director, Creative Strategy, GoKart Labs   |   LinkedIn

A "Creative Realist" with the unique ability to see the bigger picture behind new ventures and the importance of designing not only incredible products and experiences, but more importantly sustainable business models. A chronic inventor, serial entrepreneur, and dedicated leader focused on creating/cultivating a culture of digital innovators.

Aaron Kardell

Entrepreneur   |   LinkedIn

Aaron is a serial entrepreneur, a software engineer and currently is the Founder & CEO of Mobile Realty Apps and the Co-Founder and Advisor of Previously Aaron founded or co-founded several companies, including Altona Ed (a student information system acquired by Pearson) and Connected Information Systems (a startup focused on safe social networking acquired by Edmodo).

Kirk Lundeen

VP Reseller Development, Pearson VUE   |   LinkedIn

Kirk oversees the strategic development and implementation of the Pearson VUE Reseller Program. His responsibilities include directing the market strategy, channel reseller sales and product development teams to achieve the clients’ goals for program growth.
With 22 years of leadership in the education industry, Kirk was instrumental in building the worldwide infrastructure for the computer-based testing industry. As one of the original founders of Pearson VUE (then Virtual University Enterprises), Prometric, and most recently Integral7 (acquired by Pearson VUE in 2010), he has gained broad experience in developing customer service organizations and building global infrastructure that has proven invaluable in his current role.
Kirk holds a BA in Management and Economics from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Eric Nelson

Teacher and Founder of Fantasy Geopolitics   |   LinkedIn

Eric is a purpose-driven Lifelong Learner, focused on empowering young people to stay curious and improve the world. He has served as an Upper School Social Studies Teacher at North Lakes Academy Charter School in Forest Lake, Minnesota for the past five years, where he had the idea for Fantasy Geopolitics. After designing on paper a social learning game following countries and world leaders as they compete for news headlines, he entered Chicago StartupWeekend EDU to develop a digital prototype, which he has further funded through Kickstarter.

Curt Prins


Curt Prins saw the game-changing potential of mobile back in 2009, and has since applied it as a mobile strategist working with agencies and clients including the United Way, Snap-On Tools and Obama for America. He tracks emerging market mobile innovations, messaging and technology trends.

You can subscribe to his weekly mobile update by texting 3FER to 75309.

Rob Rosen

Partner and Director, Digital Marketing & Analytics, GoKart Labs   |   LinkedIn

Rob is a Partner and the Director of Digital Marketing & Analytics at GoKart Labs. Rob and his team are focused on unlocking new growth for GoKart clients through evidence driven digital marketing. He's been planning and buying digital marketing programs for 15 years for a variety of clients in a variety of industries. Including higher education, financial services, retail, news and packaged goods. He and his team manage millions of dollars in digital media spend that includes paid search, display, mobile, video, social and affiliate channels. Previous to GoKart, Rob led all digital customer acquisition efforts for Capella University where he managed $40MM in digital spend that contributed to 30-35% year over year growth.

Jarin Schmidt

Product Strategist, Pearson   |   LinkedIn

Jarin has spent over 14 years representing Pearson in the credentialing industry. His background in design, strategy and product development keep in forever focused on, “building cars, instead of faster horses.” What separates Jarin from his peers is an ability to develop and execute new products within the context of a large corporation. Mr. Schmidt currently serves as the Product Lead for a start-up initiative within Pearson called Acclaim.

Dick Senese

Director of Academic Affairs, Capella University

Dick is the Director of Academic Affairs at Capella University. In this role, he provides leadership to academic initiatives across the university and the delivery of academic resources to learners. He has been a faculty member and administrator at a number of colleges and universities. He also previously served as the Associate Dean in Capella University’s Harold Abel School of Psychology, now the Harold Abel School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and is a licensed psychologist.

John Stavig

Director of Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship, Carlson School   |   LinkedIn

John is the director of the Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship at the Carlson School of Management. He holds a BSB from the Carlson School and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. John has over 15 years of experience in management consulting, private equity and industry. Most recently, he served as the CFO of an early-stage communications firm acquired by Verizon. As a founding principal of a $100 million private equity fund, he sourced and managed investments in numerous early-stage communications firms. John also served as CEO, CFO and board member for several start-up and early-stage technology firms. In these roles, John raised more than $300 million in capital and led numerous investments, acquisitions and divestitures. John also previously taught in the MBA program at the University of St. Thomas.

Andy Stockinger

Product Strategist, Pearson

Andy has over a decade of experience in the education and technology industries as a teacher, product owner, and strategist. As a student of strategy, Andy is focused on figuring out how to develop strategies that inspire action and which are informed by customers and the ways in which they use products. As a Product Strategist at Pearson, Andy guides product development and innovation projects.

Sue Talley

Ed.D. Dean of Technology School of Business and Technology, Capella Education Group

Sue is the recently named Dean of the newly created School of Technology, part of Capella University's new College of Business and Technology. She was previously a professor at Pepperdine University after formerly working in marketing for 8 years at Apple and as a Manager of Instructional Services at TIES.

Ann Zweber Werner

Founder & President, Whitewater Learning   |   LinkedIn

Ann Zweber Werner, PhD, is the founder and president of Whitewater Learning®, which provides online professional development for educators. Prior to this endeavor she developed and was employed as the director of the licensing program for educational administrators at the University of Minnesota, served for over 20 years as a principal in urban and suburban secondary schools and was a classroom teacher. She was a member of the founding Minnesota Board of School Administrators, chairperson of a charter school board, is a Bush Fellow, member of the Minnesota Principals’ Academy train-the-trainer program, and a graduate of the Aubrey Daniels Performance Management training.

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