Exceptional Participants & Coaches, Part 3


Exceptional events like Startup Weekend, Maker Edition attract exceptionally talented people. Not only do we have a remarkable lineup of coaches, but we’ve have also seen many amazing participants sign up. We’ve interviewed several of each and share a few of those conversations here.


Steven Mitchell, Senior Software Engineer, Emeritus


Q: What made you interested in Startup Weekend, Maker’s Edition?

A: I have wanted to do a startup weekend for some time. The Maker’s Edition just put it over the top to make it a must do.

Q: What is your background and what relevant experiences are you bringing with you?

A: I am a software developer by trade; I have also been a Program/Product/Project Manager, Tester, Application Architect and various other positions required to take a vision and make it a product. I have worked on both small teams to large teams. I started my career by doing Skunk work projects for Microsoft.

Q: Are there any areas of technology, design, or business you’re particularly excited about?

A: The area that excites me the most are the machines that build the product; 3D Printers, CNC, Laser Cutters, Ceramic printers. The materials used to make these objects. Elegant appearing objects for purposeful use. I am still new to CAD/CAM. I plan to build my own tools and write some of the software to implement my ideas.

Q: Do you have an idea you’d like to work on?

A: I have a lot of ideas I would like to work on. The long term goal is to build multiple islands that are around 25 km^2. These are complete ecosystems that will require a complete over-haul of how agriculture, aquaculture, and manufacturing (resource gathering) are done in sustainable ways. Fundamentally move away from cow-and-plow processes to individual cultivation.

There are many milestones and technologies that are precursors for the end goal; Infrastructure printers, parallel printers, multi-material printers, multi-scale printers, lots of robotics, biological printers, material/binder technology, self-assembly technology, assembly by environment extraction, energy storage innovation, sensor innovation, local GPS innovation (I guess that would be LPS :)).

I learn best by doing and being with those who are doing. I find the iterative development cycle invigorating, thought-provoking and inspiring. For now I am focused on learning the CAD/CAM field.

Q: What kinds of outcomes would you like to see from the event?

A: (1) Create something, (2) Exposure to the maker process/environment, (3) Meet others who are interested in making things.


James Young, President and Creative Director, Nice, Inc.


Q: What made you interested in coaching Startup Weekend, Maker’s Edition?

A: I’ve known about Startup Weekend for a while now. With the “Maker Edition” focused on physical products I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to offer my skills and perspective to an area of design I know and love.

Q: What is your background and what areas do you expect to offer the most guidance in?

A: My main area of expertise is Industrial Design and User Experience. My latest adventure has had me hiking through the peaks and valleys of launching a product and building a company. I have lots to offer from both areas.

Q: Are there any areas of technology, design, or business you’re particularly excited about seeing at the event?

A: I’m excited about the unknown or overlooked problems that people want to solve. The discussions centered around what makes these projects viable businesses is a particular interest.

Q: What kinds of outcomes would you like to see from the event?

A: I’d like to see us grow stronger as a community of makers, entrepreneurs, and inventors. There is a lot of great talent in this area. We should be harnessing it to collaborate and expand new companies and businesses.