Northern Michigan Startup Week

Celebrating entrepreneurship, innovation, and the growing startup community in Northern Michigan

Registration opened March 1 for most Northern Michigan Startup Week events happening May 9-15, 2022 (some will open later in March).

Happening May 9-15 in Traverse City, Northern Michigan Startup Week offers an action-packed week celebrating entrepreneurship and innovation. Events are scheduled for each day of the week and include Techstars Startup Weekend, three pitch competitions, and events featuring local space industry experts, investors, and the broad startup community. 

Northern Michigan Startup Week is a collaborative initiative organized by local startup and tech ecosystem leaders 20Fathoms, TCNewTech, Newton’s Road, and Northern Michigan Angels. Funding is provided by lead sponsors Boomerang Catapult, Hagerty, Northwestern Michigan College, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

All events are open to the public and will offer opportunities for both students and adults to learn about tech entrepreneurship and the startup ecosystem, make new connections, and develop new business ideas.

“You don’t need to be working at a startup to attend these events,” said Keri Amlotte, Director of Marketing at 20Fathoms and spokesperson for Northern Michigan Startup Week. “Everyone is invited and the events will be of interest not only to startup veterans, but to anyone who is curious about entrepreneurship, has an idea for a new business they want to explore, or those who simply want to learn about some of the exciting things happening in our local startup scene.”

Northern Michigan Startup Week is built upon the success of a more narrowly focused event called Traverse City Startup Weekend that happened in 2014. Since then, the region’s tech and startup ecosystem has grown significantly: 

  • Founded in 2015, TCNewTech hosts monthly pitch competitions for local tech enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.
  • Founded in 2018, 20Fathoms provides startup incubation and a coworking space for entrepreneurs and tech professionals. 
  • In 2020, Northwestern Michigan College opened the West Hall Innovation Center and Michigan Tech University opened a research hub in Traverse City.
  • Numerous startups have been founded and scaled in the Grand Traverse Region including ATLAS Space Operations, Birch Infrastructure, Interactive Aerial, SampleServe, ActionGlow, FirstIgnite, Promethient, and Naveego.
  • Members of Northern Michigan Angels have substantially increased their investments in emerging companies.
  • Newton’s Road has significantly increased access to STEM education resources and increased awareness for tech careers. 

The idea for Northern Michigan Startup Week came from Bradley Matson, Administrative Director of Northern Michigan Angels, and Keith E. Kelly, Engineering Technology faculty member at Northwestern Michigan College. 

“The startup ecosystem in our region has grown a lot since the initial Startup Weekend in 2014,” said Bradley. “We wanted to plan a community event that showcases that growth and the opportunities available. We expect this to be an annual event with a broader regional focus in the future.”

Bradley Matson, Northern Michigan Angels

“Startups and tech entrepreneurship are an important piece to our region’s economic development strategy because they lead to high-quality job creation, additional business opportunities, and an overall vibrant community,” said Keri. “The momentum is building in Traverse City. Through Northern Michigan Startup Week, our goal is to provide education, inspiration, and open the door to the next big ideas.”

Calendar of Events

  • Monday, May 9, 5 pm: Space Night

Host: Newton’s Road, in partnership with ATLAS Space Operations and Northwestern Michigan College

Space Night is a social gathering of Space Professionals and local space enthusiasts. Meet and engage with Michigan-based entrepreneurs at the forefront of the space industry to hear about their experiences here in Michigan and beyond, including where the industry is headed. There will be two panel discussions with networking opportunities before and after. We welcome interested adults and teens in hopes we inspire them to consider a career in the space industry!

  • Tuesday, May 10, 12 pm: Funding Innovation Luncheon
    Host: Northern Michigan Angels. 

  • Wednesday, May 11, 5:30 pm: Startup Expo & Community Celebration
    Host: 20Fathoms
    Gather at 20Fathoms, Northern Michigan’s hub of entrepreneurship for an evening of celebration and discovery. This event is a celebration of the region’s resilient and vibrant community of innovators and entrepreneurs and will include a business expo, awards presentation, food, drinks, music, and mingling. 
  • Thursday, May 12, 5:30 pm: University Idea Showcase
    Host: TCNewTech.
    Participating universities will showcase their best student ideas to compete for cash prizes and a traveling trophy. A panel of judges will determine the best and most innovative idea and the audience will vote via text message for their overall favorite team. This pitch competition is open to idea-stage entrepreneurs and student-led early-stage startups based in Michigan universities.
  • Friday, May 13, 5:30 pm: Northwest Michigan Student Pitch Competition
    Hosted by Newton’s Road and Northwestern Michigan College, in partnership with Northwestern Michigan College Foundation
    Watch student teams from local high schools and Northwestern Michigan College compete for prizes in two entrepreneurial pitch competitions. Students will showcase the important STEM and business skills they’ve been learning in their programs and present their ideas for how to solve problems they’ve identified. Cash prizes will be awarded after each competition.
  • Friday, May 13 – Sunday, May 15: TechStars Startup Weekend

Hosted in partnership with Techstars

Learn how to think, work and build like a startup in 54 thrilling hours. Techstars Startup Weekend is an exciting and immersive foray into the world of startups. Over an action-packed three days, participants will meet the very best mentors, investors, co-founders and sponsors to learn how to get more done faster — and, maybe even start a business. 

  • Sunday, May 15, 5 pm: TechStars Startup Weekend Pitch Competition
    Hosted in partnership with Techstars

This is the grand finale event of Northern Michigan Startup Week. Attend this Demo Day event to watch the Techstars Startup Weekend teams pitch their startups to a panel of judges for a chance to win cash prizes. 

About Northern Michigan Startup Week

Northern Michigan Startup Week is a celebration of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the growing startup community in Traverse City and throughout the region. The 2022 event is happening May 9-15, with events happening daily. Everyone is invited to attend and discover new opportunities and foster big ideas happening right here in Northern Michigan. A collaborative initiative, Northern Michigan Startup Week is organized by 20Fathoms, TCNewTech, Northern Michigan Angels, and Newton’s Road. Lead sponsors are Hagerty, Boomerang Catapult, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Northwestern Michigan College.