Dayton Startup Week 2020
Sept. 21-25, 2020

Techstars Startup Week Dayton is a free, annual, week-long, entrepreneur-led, volunteer-run, community-focused conference brings together the region’s thinkers, dreamers, doers, makers, entrepreneurs and small business owners — this year in a virtual setting.

All experiences are welcome — whether a seasoned entrepreneur or new to the community, there is space to jump in.


Miss the live conference? No worries!

All of the Techstars Startup Week Dayton 2020 talks were recorded.
Scroll down to catch the talks you missed!

Techstars Startup Week

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In 2020, Startup Week Dayton will brought the community together around inspirational local founders sharing advice applicable across industry lines. Then we delved deeper into specific business needs with industry-specific tracks that include sessions on how to find funding and customers in the food & beverage, health/beauty/wellness products, medtech, materials & manufacturing and defense arenas.

Which sessions & speakers were beneficial to you? Which sessions tanked? Who should we bring to the stage next year? Which topics & speakers did we miss that YOU want to see? What workshops would best help you move your business forward?

Please share your feedback as we begin planning for Launch Dayton Startup Week 2021!

Thank you to our awesome Techstars Startup Week Dayton 2020 Title Sponsors:

Monday, Sept. 21

More Than Just A Job

More Than Just a Job: How to Be a Great Team Player
Marty Grunder, Founder, Grunder Landscaping

Grunder Landscaping founder Marty Grunder kicked off last year’s conference with one of its most popular sessions. This year, he returns to kick us off with a follow-up talk: It takes a whole team for any company to succeed. From hard-working field crews and salespeople, to office administrators and managers, we all play an instrumental role. Marty will help you examine your strengths and weaknesses as a team player and identify changes you can make to get the most, professionally and personally, out of your workday. Because when you’re part of a great team, you have more than a job—you have a purpose.

Tuesday, Sept. 22

Crafting a Clear Value Prop + Following It

Crafting a Clear Value Prop for Your Business + Following It
LeKeisha Grant, Founder, Ambition Unlocked

Why you? In this session, we will discuss what makes your business different and how to not only commit to that as your value proposition but how to present that to the community.  You will walk away understanding how to define yourself against the pack and how you are unique in your market.

Bringing Ideas To Life

Bringing Ideas to Life: How Dayton Entrepreneurs Made It Happen
Kemo A’akhutera | Cherrelle Gardner | Tae Winston  | Jesy Anderson | Mick Hopkins | Jon Powell

No entrepreneurial journey is the same. In this round of lighting talks, several Dayton founders will take the virtual stage to tell their stories of hustle and grit & share the often unglamorous details of how they actually got started. These talks will highlight the different paths to success open in the launch Dayton community.

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advice

The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Advice
Andy Cothrel | Sheri Scott | Chris Dimmick | Juanita Darden

Your crazy neighbor. Uncle Ed. Your butcher. They all offer you advice when you tell them you’re starting a business. What advice do you trust? Who can you trust? Who is trying to scam you? Our panel of seasoned entrepreneurs have seen and heard it all. They will share their stories of the worst advice they’ve ever got and guidelines for making sure you to think about before trusting Uncle Ed.

Managing Your Business Through A Crisis

Managing Your Business Through a Crisis
Kala Gibson, Executive Vice President, Head of Business Banking, Fifth Third Bank

Kala Gibson, Executive Vice President at Fifth Third Bank, and Board Chair for MORTAR in Cincinnati, will talk about managing your business through crisis. Kala will share lessons learned through the recent PPP application process, and he will offer advice on how entrepreneurs, particularly minority small business owners, can be best prepared for future grant or loan opportunities.

A Fireside Chat with Functional Formularies Founder Robin Gentry-McGee

Fireside Chat with Robin Gentry McGee, Founder, Functional Formularies
Robin Gentry McGee, Functional Formularies | Pam Cone, Aviatra — Dayton

Robin Gentry McGee’s journey with Functional Formularies began in 2005 when her father suffered a traumatic brain injury. A former chef versed in eating whole foods and using food as medicine, she was appalled to discover that the formula in father’s feeding tube was almost all sugar, which made the secondary symptoms of his coma worse. She set out to find a healthier formula for his feeding tube — and when she discovered there was nothing on the market, she invented her own. In 2018, Robin sold the company for an undisclosed sum. 
In this fireside chat with Pam Cone, Market Director of the newly launched Aviatra Accelerators — Dayton, Robin will talk about taking on the role of medtech CEO, her advice for other female founders breaking into new spaces, and discuss what she wished she’d known before jumping into her entrepreneur journey.

Sales Panel

Sales Panel
Charles Nick, Third Wave Water | Pam Cone, Aviatra — Dayton | Donerik Black

Our panel will talk about the differences between sales, marketing,  and PR or content development; the importance of building a sales strategy into your strategic business plan; and share tips on how to build an effective sales funnel.

Social Media + Digital Marketing 101

Social Media + Digital Marketing 101
Arielle Jordan, Curafied | Israel Olaore, LMG | Josh Reid, Inphlu

Our powerhouse panel of social media experts will talk about using social media for sales versus branding, including tips on how to keep posts interesting and engaging; how to save time on social media management; and how to understand and use analytics.

Company Culture Panel

Evolving a Company Culture in Ever-Changing Times
Jackie Gamblin, JYG Innovations | Michael Martin, SmartData | Ben Callahan, SparkBox

Your culture is changing, whether you want it to or not. Let’s recognize this together and be proactive in how we address it. Join us to start creating workplaces that are better for everyone, not just for a few. In this panel, we’ll discuss: How the changing world impacts our company cultures; Ways to create a safe space for challenging conversations in the workplace; Benefits or programs that can make a real difference for your team through trying times.

How to Scale a Business

How to Scale a Business with Piada COO Lance Juhas
Lance Juhas, Piada | Will Foster, Picnk

Piada COO Lance Juhas will share how Piada adapted to COVID, what changes will be permanent for their business model, and what you need to have in place to think about scaling up and going national in this fireside chat with Dayton food startup Picnk founder Will Foster.

A Fireside Chat with Arcani Coil Care Founder Jerricha Hoskins

A Fireside Chat with Jerricha Hoskins, Founder, Arcani Coil Care
Jerricha Hoskins, Arcani Coil Care | Kait Brown, Savorista

Jerricha Hoskins always dreamt of owning her own business, even when she was living in a homeless shelter with a toddler. In 2019, her company, Arcani Coil Care, reached $1.8M in sales. Earlier this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Jerricha purchased a warehouse to scale up production for her Black hair product line even further and keep the manufacturing jobs in her West Dayton neighborhood.
In this fireside chat with Kait Brown, founder of craft decaf startup Savorista Coffee, Jerricha will share her launch story; offer tips on how you can build up and market your own consumer product co, and talk about what’s next for Arcani Coil Care.

A Fireside Chat with Steve Hightower

A Fireside Chat with Stephen Hightower, Founder, Hightowers Petroleum Co.
Stephen Hightower, Hightowers Petroleum Co. | Te’Jal Cartwright, What’s the Biz

Stephen Hightower is the founder of Hightowers Petroleum Co., one of the country’s leading fuel suppliers. His $400M business enterprise consists of five national and international businesses, all providing energy solutions. A self-made entrepreneur since 1979, Steve Hightower will talk with Te’Jal Cartwright, founder of What’s The Biz, a digital talk show that highlights Black entrepreneurs’ stories, about transitioning from the family janitorial business to the petroleum industry, top problems to look out for as a business owner, and how you can also build a business than spans the decades.

Virtual Happy Hour + Startup Trivia
feat. local startups:
avant-garde bar Tender Mercy | crowd favorite Liftoff Entertainment

Snag your signature Startup Week cocktail from new avant-garde bar Tender Mercy and play Dayton startup trivia hosted by Liftoff Entertainment.

Startup Week Early Risers Pitch Competition + Startup Storytelling Night

Ten startups across both tech and main street categories will compete for $10K in cash + services. Throughout the evening, we’ll also present the first Launch Dayton Startup Storytelling Night in collaboration with LORE. Founders, including The Chicken Spot’s Anthony Head, Baba Love Organics’ Vaniti Bryd, Chalance Epic, tend+flourish’s Kate Edmondson & Third Wave Water’s Charles Nick will take the virtual stage between pitches to share their launch stories.

The Startup Week Early Risers Pitch Competition is sponsored by The ONEIL Center, which will provide services to all finalists.

Wednesday, Sept. 23: MedTech

Led by track captains Andy Cothrel, Blue Marble Medical, and John Lewis, BioOhio

Unmet Needs: Opportunities in MedTech

Unmet Needs: Opportunities in MedTech
Dr. Chuck Watson, CMIO Kettering Health System

Every year hundreds of new medtech innovations enter the market – yet, human healthcare is still rife with unmet needs. This session discusses current unmet needs that are top of mind for the clinicians and administrators running healthcare in the region. You will come away with:
• At least one idea for your next medtech venture
• A better understanding of the challenges facing healthcare and how to break through and get noticed
• A reality-check on how the COVID fight is going and what is really needed to make a difference

Customer Discovery versus Market Research

Finding the Pivot: Customer Discovery vs. Market Research
Dan Sands | Joe Thomas | Nicole & Bernard Dalichau | Josh Gratsch

This insightful session will explore the critical differences between customer discovery and market research, and how insights gains from both activities can lead (or wish they would have led) to pivots. You will come away with:
• Enhanced understanding of customer discovery and how to do it right
• A better idea of how to do market research and the resources to conduct it
• Real-world insights about pivots that you can relate to your own venture

Almost Free Money

Almost Free Money
Jennifer Spohr, TVSF | Stephanie Fertig, NIH | Henry Ahn, NSF | Jordan Roe, ESP | Anissa Lumpkin, DoD \ John Owen, MedTech Launch Fund

Nothing is free – even grants take time and effort, and carry an opportunity cost. This panel features:
• 5-minute pre-recorded overviews from sources of non-dilutive seed capital for medtech (TVSF, NSF, NIH, ESP, DoD, and MedNext Fund), followed by feedback from Dayton-area companies who have received those funds, discussing actual the grant process, funds received, and funds uses, as well as the difference those funds made for their ventures.
You will learn:
• What free money sources best fit your venture
• The scope of funds available and their uses
• Ideas about how grants can work for your venture
• An expanded network with whom you can talk grants
• New energy to keep rolling the seed funding boulder

12 Months of MedTech Deals

Don’t Tell Me, Show Me: 12 Months of Medtech Deals
Faith Voinovich, Ohio Innovation Fund | Ben Pidgeon, VisionTech | Roger Edwards, Accelerant | Kili Preitauer, Facilitator

Every year Startup Week features funders talking about what they like to see in a deal. This year, we turn that around, and the most active regional funders tell us what medtech deals they actually funded in the past 12 months, and what it was about those deals that made them happen. You will come away with:
• Real data on medtech deals investors like, and why
• A sense for the size and kinds of deals that are happening in the regional medtech space
• Faces and names to go with venture financing sources

Begin with the End in Mind

Begin with the End in Mind
Russ Schuster, Cardinal Health | Aaron Johnson, Stryker

Everybody wants the exit, and most exits in medtech are sales to strategics. This panel has representatives from regional and highly active strategics with extensive M&A track records, to talk about what they look for (and what they do/do not value) in a deal. You will come away with:
• An understanding for how different M&A is among various strategics
• A better idea of what strategics are really looking for and what makes them pull the trigger vs. walk away
• An expanded M&A-relevant network of contacts

Functional Formularies: An Exit Success Story

Functional Formularies: An Exit Success Story
Robin Gentry McGee, Functional Formularies | Andy Cothrel, Blue Marble Medical

The southwest Ohio region has had a number of successful medtech exits in the past few years. One of our regional exit heroes, Functional Formularies Founder Robin Gentry McGee, shares her story! You will come away with:
• Inspiration to push your venture forward
• Insights that help you along the path to exit
• An appreciation for how our regional ecosystem has grown and matured in the past few years

Wednesday, Sept. 23: Materials & Manufacturing

Led by track captains Eric Wagner & Kaila Miller, Converge Technologies

The State of Manufacturing in Ohio
Glenn Richardson, JobsOhio | Paul Jackson, The Entrepreneurs Center | Eric Wagner, Converge Technologies

Hear what’s next for manufacturing across Ohio from JobsOhio’s Glenn Richardson; learn about regional resources available in Dayton to help you launch and scale your manufacturing co from The Entrepreneurs Center’s Paul Jackson; and discover how to move your product from prototype to production from Converge Ventures’ Eric Wagner.

The State of Manufacturing in Ohio

If You Build It, Who Will Buy It? Customer Discovery in Materials & Manufacturing
Nick Ripplinger, Battle Sight Technologies | John Bair, Ubihere | Dean Zody, Ghostwave

How do you find your customer in the Materials & Manufacturing industry? Hear from a panel of three founders who will share how they connected with B2B and military customers, how feedback from those customers helped shape product iterations, and how their understanding of their target customer evolved over their startup journey.

If You Build It, Who Will Buy It?

A Manufacturing Founder’s Story
John Staub, Founder, Priomatics

John Staub launched Priomatics in 2018. John will share lessons from his startup journey about the realties he didn’t expect, things he would have done differently, and the nuts and bolts advice he has for future founders.

A Manufacturing Founder's Story

Seed Deals: Capitalize and Finance Your Tech Startup
David Willibrand, Thompson Hine

During this interactive presentation, learn the legal factors involved in organizing, capitalizing and financing a startup. Highlights include how to read and write balance sheets, cap tables, valuations, stock options and more.

Seed Deals: Capitalize and Finance Your Tech Startup

IP & Banking Resources for Manufacturing Startups
Ben Kern | Mary Shancey, Bank of America Merrill Lynch

You bring the manufacturing expertise, but what legal and financial documents do you need in place to run an effective business? In this session, Ben Kern talks IP and protecting your innovation & Mary Shancey shares bank lending opportunities for manufacturing startups and what you need to qualify for them.

IP & Banking Resources for Manufacturing Startups

If You Can Imagine It, You Can Print It: How to Leverage Additive Manufacturing in Your Company
Kimberly Gibson, IC3D Printing | Matt Hoyng, Michael Pratt, UDRI

You’ve got a great product, but how do you quickly and efficiently get it to market? In this sessions, learn about the time and financial benefits of 3D printing, how to make a 3D printing file, and where to go in Dayton to get your design printed.

If You Can Imagine It, You Can Print It

How to Find Venture Capital
Harry Friedberg, BX3 | Bill Baumel, Ohio Innovation Fund | Ernie Knight, Valley Growth Ventures

Considering VC money to back your startup? During this venture capital roundtable, VCs themselves share what they’re looking to invest in, how and where they search for the next piece of their portfolio, and what you need in place to be considered.

How to Find Venture Capital

Wednesday, Sept. 23: Health/Beauty/Wellness Products

Led by track captains LeKeisha Grant, Ambition Unlocked & Tae Winston, The Entrepreneurs Shoppe

Jolistic Branding: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

Holistic Branding: How to Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace
Vaniti Byrd, Founder, Baba Love Organics

From sourcing responsible products to biodegradable packaging, your branding is what can make your business memorable. Vaniti Byrd, founder of Baba love Organics, will discuss the importance of eco-friendly products, how the dollars can truly be in the details, and how to standout in what is viewed as a crowded marketplace.

Prepare to Mkae It Big

Prepare to Make It Big
Emerald Sparks

Financial guru Emerald Sparks is on the team of multiple health/beauty/wellness founders in the region who are going global. She’ll share what you have to have in place so you’re prepared to make it big.

Funding Your Health & Beauty Co

Funding Your Health & Beauty Co.

Health, beauty & wellness founders often struggle to qualify for traditional business loans. In this session, three entrepreneurs in the space share how they funded their ventures from straight bootstrapping, investment from friends and family, crowdsourcing on the Kiva platform, and pursuing revenue-based funding through Shopify.

The Customer-Centric Startup

The Customer-Centric Startup
Katie Hill, Entrepreneur in Residence, The Entrepreneurs Center

There’s a lot to think about when launching and growing a business, but one thing you cannot afford to lose sight of is your customers. Join client service guru and TEC entrepreneur-in-residence, Katie Hill, for a dynamic session focused on building your business on a foundation of delighted customers. She’ll cover the gamut, from customer discovery to customer loyalty, and the critical opportunities in between. This session is not to be missed!

How to Pitch Retailers to Carry Your Product

How to Pitch Retailers to Carry Your Product 

Want to get your product on retail stores? Learn what retailers search for in new products, how to prepare to communicate with these retailers, and what branding & packaging elements you need in place to be ready for these conversations.

Thursday, Sept. 24: Food & Beverage

Led by track captain Mandy Groszko, Ella Bella Gluten-Free

The Rise of Eban’s Bakehouse
Eric Michael Braddock, Founder, Eban’s Bakehouse

Eric and Adrienne started Eban’s Bakehouse in September 2011 in their one-bedroom apartment in Columbus Ohio. They baked 4 loaves at a time in the home oven, which Eric delivered from the back of his Harley Davidson motorcycle. One account grew to 7 within 3 months, and the bakery moved to a commercial kitchen in an 1860’s Victorian house, enabling the co to double sales in 2012. In 2013, Eban’s quadrupled capacity and again doubled sales, reaching new markets in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus. Today, Eban’s Bakehouse products are available in 800 Kroger stores and in 75 Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets across 12 states.

In this kickoff session for this year’s Food&Bev entrepreneurship track, cofounder Eric Michael Braddock will share the story of how Eban’s began, how they scaled up so quickly, and how they landed those top retail accounts.

The Rise of Ebahn's Bakehouse

Food Photography + Marketing 101
Alli Mullikin, Founder, Alli Mullikin Photography

Photographer Alli Mullikin will teach attendees how to take photos consistent with your brand; lighting, composition, and editing basics; and how to create images that will sell your food.

Food Photography & Marketing 101

Funding Your Food&Bev Co.
Charlynda Scales, Mutt’s Sauce | Heather Finlayson, Fifth Third Bank

The impact of COVID has taught us hard lessons on the importance of cash flow and knowing your banker. Today’s banking institutions are doing more than just providing funds, they are investing in the entrepreneur. The business owner’s professional and personal development directly impact the company success.  Charlynda Scales, owner of Mutt’s Sauce, LLC, will discuss her relationship with Fifth Third Bank and how they have invested in her journey. Heather Finlayson from Fifth Third Bank will expand on their many opportunities and goals with Dayton-based businesses.

Funding Your Food & Beverage Co

From Your Kitchen Table to Retail Shelves
Holly Hoffman, Belmark |Rachel DesRochers, Incubator Kitchen Collective

Have an amazing family recipe you want to share with the world? In this session, Holly & Rachel will help you take your product from your kitchen table to grocery shelves with tips on how to write nutrition labels, what to consider in your product packaging, and who to work with to produce your recipe on a large scale.

From Your Kitchen Table to Retail Shelves

Find Your Foodie Customers
Brandon Leong, RangeMe | Victor Mithouard, The Good Trend | Matthew Lorenz, Export Food

After listening to this panel of food retail experts, you will learn what national platforms can help you connect with customers, how to figure out where your customers are shopping, and what major retailers want when they’re searching for new products and brands.

Find Your Foodie Customers

The Rapid Fired, Hot Head Story
Ray Wiley, Founder, Hot Head Burritos & Rapid Fired Pizza

Ray Wiley grew up on the West Coast and cut his teeth in the restaurant business during the early years of Pizza Hut when his father owned, and then sold, several stores. Supervision of 10 Skyline Chili stores in Columbus, Ohio brought Ray to Dayton in 1989, when he purchased his first Subway. In 2002, Ray owned 15 stores and was named Subway’s Regional Franchisee of the year.

In 2007, Ray launched Hot Head Burritos, and in 2015, he launched the first Rapid Fired Pizzas. Today, Ray and his partners own 13 of the 70+ Hot Head stores and 11 of the 30+ Rapid Fired Pizza stores. In this keynote talk, Ray will reflect on how many attempts it takes to make a successful business, how to choose between franchising or building your own brand, and share his top piece of advice to help you find success.

The Rapid Fired, Hot Head Story

Friday, Sept. 25: Defense

Led by track captains Ryan Helbach, Tangram Flex &
Anissa Lumpkin, Lead Program Manager, AFRL SBIR/STTR Program

A Look Forward: Brig. Gen Heather Pringle

A Look Forward: Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, Air Force Research Lab Commander

Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle will share the Air Force’s R&D priorities looking forward. Learn how your startup can take advantage of new opportunities to work with the defense community.

Women in Defense Roundtable

Women in Defense, Doing Biz with Govt Roundtable
Nina Joshi, CEO, UES | Lisa Coker, CEO, Infinite Management Solutions | Lt. Zoe Walters, AFWERX

Women leaders in the defense industry will discuss their experiences working with the Department of Defense, how they leveraged their network, and offer advice for all new startup leaders.

Insights on the EOP

Insights on the Entrepreneur Opportunity Program
AJ Rolling, Cat-wood Metal Works | Joe Diemunsch, DIEM_Labs, llc. | Ryan Jankord, Adyptation |Terry Cunningham, T3 Accelerator

Launched by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) as another pathway to commercialization, the idea of the AFRL Entrepreneurial Opportunity Program (EOP) is that AFRL scientists and engineers will apply their skills, and possibly an intellectual property from the lab, to start or help grow a technology company. AFRL lab employees pursue one of three avenues: consider the possibility of licensing Air Force technology; apply their skills from the lab in a commercial role that could help solve Air Force problems; or temporarily support a business already licensing Air Force technology. In this panel, three startup founders who participated in the Air Force’s Entrepreneur Opportunity Program talk about their experience and share tips on how to best capitalize on the program.

Meet the AFRL Small Business Hub

Meet the AFRL Small Business Hub
Bill Harrison, Director, Small Business, AFRL

What are AFRL SB Hub’s top activities currently? What partners are they currently looking for? Learn how to tap into startup resources available through AFRL.

T3 Transition Accelerator 2020 Highlight Reel

T3 Accelerator Demo Day

Hear pitches from companies across the country who have completed the latest T3 Accelerator, Dayton’s transition accelerator program focusing on rapid commercialization of key technologies considered critical to the success of the U.S. Air Force.

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