Startup Weekend 2018

It was 3 years ago when I went out on a limb and signed up for this crazy event I heard about called Startup Weekend. I wasn’t experience in this world at all. I remember that whole week I was practicing my 60 second pitch every morning on my way to work and every evening on my way home. I was so nervous. Then it was pitch time. I got up there in front of a room of over 100 strangers and threw my idea out there. I thought I had the perfect idea. One that would change the world. My idea was to have people deliver groceries for people unable to go and get them themselves. This could be because they are just busy people or are just physically unable to do so. I thought it was perfect. I saw it as a way for stay at home moms, college kids and just anyone to make a buck.  I even had ideas on how to “video game-ize” the enter process and initially called it Shop Quest.

So, I threw my idea out there went and stood by my little poster with my idea written on it and it was like a flashback to elementary school Valentine’s Day when no one gave me any Valentine’s Day cards. No one picked my idea. Not one person voted for it. People actually came up to me and told me it was a bad idea that no one would want to pay for. “Have you thought about how this would work in this scenario? What if this?” All I could say is no… I don’t even know how to make this idea a reality really.

Flash forward 3 years and Shipt grocery delivery service is out in full force in the area and a lot of people I know have worked for them in some fashion. I don’t want to be the guy, “hey I had that idea once” because its not about ideas, its about execution. Past Chris was just so beat down by that rejection that I killed the idea. I wasn’t meant to make my millions off that idea (although that would have been nice 🙂 ). I had a great time being apart of the “Spectator App” team back in 2015 and I learned a lot and connected with many people. Our app was designed to be something that “spectators” would use to track runners with their phones. It would give people the best chance at seeing their runner(s) at various checkpoints. This actually exists now and I’m not sure if it was from the same duo that had the idea at Startup Weekend.

I think it really says something about your character to give up your weekend to an event like this. The event is full of people that desire for more. Sure, we all mostly have day jobs and some even were still in high school, but for a weekend we’re deep in the startup, entrepreneurial lifestyle.

Being a gluten for punishment I did the weekend again. I now run the Lakeshore Fab Lab and we want a robust solution for equipment lockout if you’re not qualified to run it. So I pitched that and some people were nice enough to vote for me. I pitched it and went back to wait by my little poster. When people started voting for mine I honestly panicked. Part of me was hoping to lose and just be able to join a team where I could be a more passive role. Well, that didn’t happen and I was panicked that now, I was going to have to lead people I did not know! Out of 40 ideas pitched, 10 were chosen as the top, including mine. I was lucky enough to get some amazing software developers to join my hardware expert team!

We all went into the project thinking we were going to develop a solution to lockout equipment for shops like makerspaces, fab labs and tech centers. The idea quickly changed and honestly ended up in a better place. I was open to how the team wanted to go. We are only as strong as the people involved so everyone needed to be on board with whatever problem we wanted to solve. Saturday was big into the product validation as some of us hit the streets talking to everyone downtown that we could. Several of us went to some retail stores to talk to different markets as well. While we were doing this we had the software and hardware gurus hard at work putting rough framework together.

I was so nervous the entire weekend of letting the team down. I felt kind of useless and never felt like I was doing enough. I can’t develop software (maybe I could some day but not with 2 days). I am not very comfortable with circuitry (I know enough to solder stuff together but that is it). The team ended up coming together and everyone had their own purpose. Somehow our rag tag team of nerds ended up winning the weekend (well tying with Phantom). We had a working prototype which was badass but I honestly thought the judges would want to see more of a concrete business plan. What is your marketing strategy? What is your ROI? IDK…. we’re just nerds making nerd things 🙂 Needless to say, we were a little light on the business aspect of things.

We ended up winning a book on Google’s startup method, Sprint and a 3 month membership to Start Garden. Some of us in the area could use that space but many of us were not from Grand Rapids.  I know the team wants to stick together and keep working on the project. If it ends up being something, great. If it falls through, we all learned important things I am sure.

The Power Buddy team:

  • Chris Kaminsky
  • Mark Farver
  • Jeff Demaagd
  • Derek Nelson
  • Mike Jeffery
  • DJ Martin
  • Randi Huckins
  • Wheaten Mather
  • Richard Neinhuis

Stay tuned to for any future developments.




Fab Lab Diaries – Week 1

So this week has been pretty crazy in my personal life let alone getting a fab lab up and running! I have dealt with the suicide of a friend, my grandma going to the hospital, other family drama, and then getting things ready for the open house that was on Thursday was just draining. I needed Thursday though. I needed to see the people and the kids be inspired by what we’re doing. It has been so hard losing my friend Ryan Kowalko but education was important to him. It took him 9 years to get his bachelor’s in Information Systems at GVSU but he did it. In his honor I set up an education fund for his daughter Emma (2 years old), if you can donate and feel obliged to.  I just want her to know how much her friends and family cared about her and her dad. I don’t want her to go through the same struggle he did…. Anyways… enough sadness.


This week at the fab lab we’ve been busy filling the empty space with equipment. I was able to get 6 of the lower-end 3D printers up and going and then had to figure out something to print for an open house handout. I came upon a “Flex-i-rex” on Thingiverse and was able to print 12 at a time on the print beds. I ended up with like 400 of these things for the event. The people that grabbed one, LOVED it. It moves a little and people couldn’t believe it was 3D printed!

We have the Richard and Ann Kraft digital fabrication lab starting to come together. This will be the more professional grade 3D printers and CAD stations.  The computers will all have SolidWorks and have the capability to run other 3D software as well. The printers that are in this room are:

  • 1x Stratasys Fortus 450
  • 2x Stratasys Uprint SE 3D
  • 1x Stratasys Dimension Elite
Left to Right: 2x Uprints, 1x Dimension Elite, 1x Fortus

I can’t wait to get these bad boys up and running…. especially that Fortus! That thing is a beauty at $225k… it better be! I kept watching videos on YouTube of that machine to know what I’m in for. In order to get that up and running we have to verify an installation checklist and then they will send someone out to get it up and running. I may have to go to Stratasys training HQ in Minnesota as well… in the middle of winter. Woo.

I also started to play with the 3D scanner and had a cool demo set up for the open house.  I’ve used scanners before but none like this one. The Artec scanner is able to map textures onto the 3D model. We could use this scanner to scan a child’s arm to help develop a custom prosthetic for them. The possibilities are endless and who knows what someone will come to the lab with that they have use for the 3D scanner.

Tuesday the laser engraver/etcher will be installed and I will be trained on it with our lead community volunteer Forbes Gilcrest. He has a lot of experience with lasers in industry and has volunteered to help the fab lab. I will be working with him to communicate with people in the community that have interest in being a part of the fab lab, as volunteers, teachers, users or a combination of all 3. He will also sort of a be a number 2 on the equipment so I have to get up to speed and then get him up to speed.

The open house on Thursday was a huge success! I don’t think they anticipated that many people from the community coming! The building was full of the people who donated money to the college (some of their names are on the buildings/rooms) and even more of the general public! There was standing room only for the entire night! They were supposed to have guided tours but the speakers went on too long so people ended up wandering on their own. Eventually when a tour guide showed up I was like “haven’t I already been giving people tours!?” I loved how much interest there was around what we’re doing there. I can’t wait to be up and running.

Video of the donor wall unveiling.

I keep hearing people say “we’re glad they went with you, you’re the person for the job.” I hope I don’t fall flat on my face!

Goals for next week:

  1. Start to use the epilog laser
  2. Website and social media pages
  3. Learn the 3D scanning software
  4. Start to assemble the Roland vinyl machine
  5. Don’t burn down fab lab

Random fab lab pics from the week:

If you’d like to be apart of the fab lab as a member, technical expert, teacher, a general volunteer or just to stay in the loop.

Send me an email:

Habits of Successful People

October’s GRIN (Grand Rapids Inventor’s Network) meeting was on the habits of successful people and in general how to build habits. The group of people that come to these meetings are trying to do something bigger than themselves whether it is an invention or if its building a business. The same “habit muscles” that you develop to get you up and working out each day could be also useful for making sure that you work on things you need to for your big thing! The meeting was run by Steve Chappell, who organizes GRIN, and has in-depth knowledge and experience on developing and maintaining habits.

The reason we have habits, good and bad, is that they are easier on our mind. They act as a kind of automation tech for our mind that make things in every day life easier (or harder when it comes to bad habits 🙂 ). It takes about 66 days to form a habit according to new research Steve presented. I was shocked! I was always told like 21 days. Research released in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that out of 96 people over 12 weeks the average time it took the participants to form a new habit was 66 days.

The habit cycle, shown below, consists of a cue, a routine and a reward. An example of this cycle could be you setting out your workout clothes the night before getting up early to workout, the workout, and you reward yourself after work with some sit on your butt time to binge some Stranger Things! In order to develop a habit you need to have a habit contract written out. This is your goal habit you want to develop. Using our working out example you would write down “I will work out every other morning at 6:30 am at the YMCA.” With your goals/habits written down you are 3X more likely to succeed at them.




The habit cycle

One step toward making sure you develop healthy habits are creating “mini-habits.” These are very simple goals you set for yourself that take no effort to complete. These may seem pointless when you want to jump to the end of your goal but are very important psychologically.  Completing these simple tasks give you the constant feeling of accomplishment which helps to enforce the routine. So if you wanted to learn a language, rather than being able to conjugate advanced sentences you could focus on only learning 1 or 2 words a day. By introducing “mini-habits” in your life you will notice an increase in your productivity and accomplishments.

Let’s say your motivation level is shown in a chart (see below). As the day goes on your motivation/willpower changes. You may be less prone to work out at 6pm after a long day at work an so you may no complete your 30 minute workout like you had planned. What may not sound so daunting is a 5 minute workout. By ensuring your habits are small and easy, you guarantee success. Then once you have developed these mini habits, larger habits become easier.

Motivation Chart

So once you are on this path of habit development it is important to know that if you miss 2 days in a row your chances of continuing along the path of habit development drops to 55%. miss 3 days and you’re at 90%! If you miss only 1 day, no biggie, your chances drop 5%.


In order to help you develop your habit(s) and stay accountable there are apps out there now that you can put money towards to help you stick them out.  Two of them being “Beeminder” and “Stickk“. These apps have you put your money where your mouth is! If you start a plan you will pay financially for straying from it!


When forming habits you should focus on 1 habit at a time. Just like with anything in life if you take on too many at once you won’t be doing any one that great. The best time to jump on your habit formation is morning as well. We’ve all been there. You really want to work out and get fit but by the time you get home, life just gets in the way and all of a sudden it is 9 pm and you are ready for bed and not a 30 minute workout! If you attack your habit 1st thing in the morning you don’t let the rest of the day get out of hand!

If you’re having troubles developing habits or finding the motivation to get up and get your habit done remember to make “mini habits.”

Things to remember to help develop habits:

  • Daily mini habitsDaily Mini Habits
  • “The 5 Second Rule” – If you are laying in bed not wanting to workout, countdown to yourself “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!” This doesn’t allow your brain to think and sort of jump starts you to an “up and at ’em” mentality
  • Make checklists via a notebook you carry around or with an app or computer. There is some legit psychology to checking things off a list!
  • Work on “Keystone Habits” first to help develop further habits

Keystone habits are ones that can lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain reaction in your life that help you out in many different ways.  For example, in my own personal life me and my wife both jumped onto the fitness habit and do decent at it most weeks. This healthy habit of exercising caused us to not desire to eat fast food, thus allowing us to achieve financial habits as well as fitness habits.

Some examples of keystone habits are:

  • Having family dinners
  • Making your bed every morning
  • Exercising regularly
  • Tracking what you eat
  • Developing daily routines
  • Meditating
  • Planning out your days

Good luck to you on your habit development journey! I struggle with healthy habit formation as well but feel free to contact me if you need any help! Heck, even if you just want to talk about your habit formation successes and failures!


Check out my YouTube video from the meeting!

MI MINUTE - Habit Formation (GRIN October 2017)

Reading list:


Grand Rapids Comic Con – Magneto Cosplay

So this year for the Grand Rapids Comic Con (GRCC)I wanted to do some sort of a cosplay because we’ve gone to Cons but we have never really dressed up. It started out with grand plans about 10 months ago when I bought a couple packs of these foam exercise mats on sale from Aldi’s. Our plan was to go as Destiny guardians. This task seemed hard as heck but made sense because of all the Destiny props we have. Anyways, it gets to be like 2 weeks before GRCC and I’m like…. crap. I haven’t done anything. What cool costume can I throw together? I settled on Magneto because I had seen the helmet someone designed on and I’ve always liked him as a bad guy.
The construction of the costume included both a 3D printed helm and foam as my chest armor. I wanted to keep this Magneto more to the modern version, as seen in Xmen: Days of Future Past. I also took some inspiration from other cosplayers that have done Magneto as well.
In order to cut the foam to a prop scale I used an old black t-shirt to mount the foam blocks to.
Magneto Cosplay (2)Magneto Cosplay (3)
I went to a local Goodwill and bought just some black dress pants along with black boots.
On Amazon I purchased some black rubber gloves and a long red undershirt.
The cape is just a generic “vampire” cape from a Halloween costume store.
In the Days of Future Past movie Magneto has these insignia on his cape so I drew them in OnShape and 3D printed them as well.
I also felt like Magneto needed something more so I drew and I-beam in OnShape an made it look bent. I printed that in halves, bondo’ed it together, and painted it to look like metal. I actually added this to Thingiverse’s contest.
Magneto Cosplay - I-beam.png
I actually had issues when printing off the helmet components. I scaled up some by 10% but forgot to do so with others and it was just a mess that ended with me rushing to print pieces off Friday night before the con. Once they were all done I put them together with auto bondo. I had to use blue tape to hold the general shape and apply bondo multiple times.
Then it was hole patching and sanding time! This was where I spent most of my night really…. At 1am when I was ready to airbrush I realized my airbrush was dirty and clogged! I had to run to a local Meijer to buy spray paint to finish it up. I plan on re-sanding and airbrushing later to make it look better though!
The end was a pretty good 1st cosplay if i don’t say so myself. 😀

GVSU Engineering Design Conference 2017

Each year in August my alma mater, Grand Valley State University, holds a design conference at the Kennedy Hall of Engineering. It is a time where alumni from the university, current students, family and friends of students and just the general community can come check out the student’s projects. They consist of a mix of class projects and senior projects. The senior project section of study occurs the last 2 semesters of the program. The 1st semester is really to plan out the project by meeting with experts and  the customers and prototype some simple concepts. The 2nd semester is really build and debug and hopefully get sign off. Some are luckier with the last one than others! It was not uncommon to have a senior project take an extra month or two…. or 5….. although I hope 5 is rare, it has happened to people I know!
My senior project was to design and build a thermoforming machine to make gauges for the company that go in service vehicles, RVs, boats, ATVS, and pretty much anything but cars and trucks. Our project started out being form and punch with a budget of $25k. In the last few weeks of the 1st semester we realized that both were out of the $25k budget! Our sponsor saw what we proposed and reduced our requirements to just the forming machine. This in itself was difficult come to find out because trying to form an acceptable part took us to the last day in September before our sponsor gave us sign off. Making the equipment move and form was “easy” compared to trying to diagnose why are parts were slightly always out of spec.
Enough about me! These are the projects that I had the most time to talk with the teams and learn from them. It is by no means a “top dog” list. Full list here:
1) Adient – Robotic Inspection
Team: Adam DeBoer, Jesse Hendriksma, Ethan Ruffing, Joseph Russell, Gunnar Savalox
This project featured 2 Fanuc robotic arms that are used in combination with a vision system to inspect the MIG welds on car seat-frames for weld defects, things such as burn through and missing welds. This process was previously done manually by people and it can help them with through-put.
2) Cascade Engineering – Valet Trash Cart
Team: Jacob Miller, Matthew Smeenk, Travis Stillson, Kyle VanderStelt, Benjamin VanderWall, Brian Westerhof
The Cascade team had the task of taking a company’s product/service and improving it. The company was having complaints about the previous version of the cart and in some cases even lost contracts based on that! The cart is used to transport residential trash bags from places like apartments, condos, and retirement communities in Florida. The previous cart was loud, heavy, leaked and was not very ergonomic. They also increased the carrying capacity of the cart by integrating a system similar to how you would grab plastic bags from a grocery store checkout! This team had to put themselves in the shoes of those using the old cart and “trash” the old design!
3) City of Grand Haven – Musical Fountain
Team: Brett Burton, Alexandria Graff, Luke Hubbard, Brett Johnson, Jordan Tatchin
The musical fountain in Grand Haven has always been an icon of West Michigan. this project team was tasked with developing and implementing new features for the aging fountain infrastructure. The water patterns haven’t changed much since the creation of the fountain. The current nozzles shoot water straight up at various heights with very little sweeping actions. One cool feature that I saw was the addition of a double helix sweep (you can see this in the video below).
4) CWC (A Textron Company) – Mold Vacuum Flow Improvement
Team: Christian Bialek, Joseph Carroll, Ashley Garrett, Thaddeus Tjapkes
This project wasn’t the “flashiest” project but it stood out to me with regard to my interests. They were asked to reduce the number of scrapped parts due to inclusions of loose sand during the casting process. Walking by someone would have seen their videos and been like “oh cool, they made a vacuum.” What they did was take a complicated issue, run simulations using software called Star CCM to verify that the problems being experienced were actually what was going on. To verify the simulations they checked various locations inside the vacuum hood with flow meters and compared these numbers to what the simulations said should be the flow rate. From here they designed a streamlined hood and had MUCH better air flow!
The left shows the CFD of the old vacuum hood and the right image shows the re-designed.
5) GVSU Formula Racing Team – Formula SAE (a freakin’ race car)
Team: Abby Merritt, Gerrett Pelowski, Daniel Penninga, Andrew Stafford, Trevor Thomas, Joel Wessely
So if there was an award for luckiest students, it would go to these ones! Their project was to design and manufacture a Formula SAE race car! It had to fit within the guidelines of the SAE rules while also being a substantial improvement to the previous year’s car. The students were to use simulations to design a better frame and suspension while reducing the size of the car (lower vehicle weight). The students were able to re-use many of the previous car such as drivetrain, and engine components.