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.




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)

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