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Startup Weekend Travel Tech New York

  • Voyager Clubhouse 137 West 25th Street, 11th Floor New York, NY, 10001 United States (map)


Kerri Zeil
Head of Amadeus for Startups

Kerri brings to Amadeus years of executive-level experience in ecommerce, travel distribution, strategic planning and global operations. Prior to joining Amadeus North America as Head of Amadeus for Startups, Kerri held roles at Orbitz Worldwide, and eBookers, where she was responsible for the execution of several global business and technology initiatives. With years of expertise in the industry and managing cross-cultural and cross-functional teams, her experience with both traditional and startup organizations gives her unique insight into how to best deliver technology solutions and services targeted to established online travel brands and industry startups.

Werner Georg Kunz-Cho
Co-CEO of Fareportal, Parent Company to CheapOair

Werner brings over 35 years of experience in the travel industry. Prior to Fareportal, Werner was the CEO of, a leading online travel agency, VP of Business Development at Lufthansa Systems, Director of Marketing and Sales North America at CityBird Airlines, General Manager North America at Swissair’s charter division Balair/CTA and Director Operations at Travac Tours and Charters.


Tracy Quitasol
Director, The Ignition Factory, OMD 

Tracy Quitasol is the Director of the Ignition Factory at OMD, which is part of Omnicom Media Group. The Ignition Factory is the innovations group within OMD Media. It provides intelligence to OMD clients on emerging trends, and technology and it generates novel media programs that capitalize on those trends. Tracy previously worked as head of business development for a start-up that uses video for personalized marketing and communications. She spent nine years at The New York Times where she built the company’s Idea Lab and led the product marketing and pre-sales teams. She has also held positions in marketing at Meredith Corporation, The Hearst Corporation and Time Inc.

Robert Heppenstall
Head of Data Commercialization, American Airlines

Robert leads Data Commercialization at AA.  He and his team build ground-breaking, nontraditional distribution relationships w/ third parties to unlock value for AA’s customers, partners, and the airline.  His team is pioneering the new “Official Source of American Data” initiative.  Regularly representing AA’s strategic interests with external partners of many sizes, Robert offers a unique perspective for travel start-ups.  He brings deep experience in corporate and channel strategy, alliance and equity partnerships, and B2B marketing.


Tristan Mace
Former CEO of Skylark 

Tristan Mace is an entrepreneur in New York City. Tristan created Want Me Get Me, a hotel booking startup acquired by Surface, and then founded a luxury travel startup called Skylark with a $1 billion travel corporation as his co-founder. He is a judge for the National Geographic World Legacy Awards and has been called a “disruptor shaping the next generation” by Travel+Leisure.


Kathi Moore
VP of Branding at Fareportal, Inc. 

Kathi Moore is the Vice President of Branding at Fareportal, Inc., parent company of CheapOair. She has extensive experience in consumer product development and marketing, working with CPG and Ecomm clients in the US and abroad. Kathi has also lead strategy development, pitch creation and presentation as part of her new business development roles for leading US Advertising Agencies.

Craig DiFolco
The Pitch Doctor

Craig, The Pitch Doctor, is a public speaking and media coach dedicated to the art of narrative, film & video, and communication. Since receiving his MFA from Columbia University, he has served as a presentation coach for over ten years, as well as a producer for Sunnyside Films.

John Lynn
Co-Founder of The Studio Project

John is a connector, innovator, and leader in the NYC tech scene. Prior to co-founding the Studio Project, which builds accelerators inside the world’s largest public and private institutions, John co-founded the NYC Innovation Collective, a network of 70+ accelerators and incubators that work to advance the industry by sharing knowledge, resources, and relationships. His time leading accelerators at Startup Institute and Techstars inspired him to found the collective. He listens almost exclusively to M83 and Arcade Fire, and was once pushed off a cliff by his mother. She laughed and, years later, so does he.

Susan Sigda
Associate Director; Head of Partnerships @ Startup Institute 

Susan is Associate Director of Startup Institute, where she focuses on strategic partnerships and business development. Prior to joining Startup Institute, Susan served as a business development and financial advisor for a number of early-stage startups. In her current work in the innovation economy, she draws on her extensive Wall Street experience, where she held senior roles in credit sales and corporate advisory for a number of bulge-bracket firms. Susan holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from Amherst College.

Haithem Elembaby
Program Director at NUMA NY 

Haithem is a serial entrepreneur and community organizer. He exited one company and went on to start a few more. His most recent role is as Program Director of NUMA NY, which is providing resources to high growth startups to help them scale. Haithem is also involved in various corporate innovation programs and is an advisor for several entrepreneurs.


Grace Lee
Founder of WishPoints  

Grace Lee is a serial entrepreneur, startup founder of WishPoints, Angel Investor of Tastemaker Africa, business design strategy advisor, former corporate executive in healthcare for 20 years, predictive analytics/big data technology designer, and Contributing Columnist for Entrepreneur magazine. She has traveled to over 80 countries across 6 continents, mostly for free. As a life, health & wealth coach, she enjoys mentoring startups founders, women entrepreneurs, and innovative executives on to live life by design.

Julia Macalaster
Co-Founder & COO at PreeLine 

Julia Macalaster is the co-founder and COO of PreeLine. She is a fashion and technology professional who has worked in strategy consulting, e-commerce and mobile solutions. Driven by a passion for new and entrepreneurial opportunities, Julia first entered the e-commerce industry as the founder of her company, Winship LLC (a men’s underwear brand) in 2012, and later with Mack Weldon (, an e-commerce men's basics company based out of New York. Julia's experience in mobile solutions began during her time as a management consultant with Booz Digital. There she worked with one of the largest public companies in the US developing and implementing their mobile payment and loyalty solutions strategy. From there Julia further developed her experience with mobile technologies at MicroStrategy, where she worked with top retail brands to find mobile solutions and strategies. Julia is passionate about always driving to find the solution to every problem. She attended Princeton University and rowed on the varsity crew team. She currently resides in New York.


William Beckler
Founder at

Former Director of Innovation at Travelocity and now co-founder of successful accommodations metasearch site

Shalonda L. Hunter
Founder and Chief Strategist at Fastlane Interactive 

Shalonda is Founder and Chief Strategist of Fast Lane Interactive where she helps startups focus on how to properly identify target audiences and execute the proper techniques to get desired results.

Natasha Fong
Brand Marketing Specialist at Airbnb 

Nat lives and breathes travel and magical experiences with Airbnb as a Brand Marketing Specialist. A former lawyer, foreign trade and investment officer, management consultant, startup founder - she is passionate about curating and creating consciousness-upgrading experiences and connecting mindful entrepreneurs.


Chris Bigelow
Front End Engineer at Intent Media Inc. 

Chris has years of experience as a problem solver and product architect. He leads a team of engineers at IntentMedia, a data science company that predicts user actions on travel websites and delivers custom experiences based on where a user is in their travel shopping process.

Jeff Hittner
Founder & CEO @ Your Project X

Jeff leads Your Project X, which helps people (re)discover their passions to build careers they'll love.  Jeff has more than 18 years experience as an entrepreneur, consultant, professor and changemaker.  He is the founder of five social ventures, including IBM’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consulting practice.  In 2011, he developed the curriculum for the first MBA in Sustainability on the East Coast, at Bard College, where he was the Leadership professor.  He was also two-time Chairman of the Carnegie New Leaders at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.  Jeff’s passion has always been at the intersection of education and entrepreneurship.  Prior to your Project X, he ran a career transition program for 64 New Yorkers, built global education programs including a blended learning initiative for high school dropouts in Latin America and career discovery programs for youth in Europe.  Jeff received his Masters in Cultures and Development Studies from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from The College of William and Mary in Virginia where he was an elite gymnast.  As a thought leader, Jeff has been published in a half dozen major publications, including Forbes.  His most recent blog post can be found here.

Latarria Coy
Account Manager at The New York Times

Latarria Coy is a strategic account manager with over 14 years of expertise in consultative advertising sales, client relationship management, and business development within the marketing and media space. She has held sales, marketing and product roles at The New York Times for 10 years and excels at translating client objectives into integrated programs combining digital, print, mobile, social, branded content and experiential media. Latarria is an impactful leader who strives to inspire and motivate creative thinking and decision-making.


Madelena Mak
Founder of MiniMap

Madelena is the founder and designer of MiniMap, and also the award-winning mentor-in-residence at Startup Institute. She had previously worked on Trillian and ZocDoc, and her work has been featured in Wired Magazine, and Brooklyn Paper.

Chris Lopinto
Travel Expert, Founder, Advisor, Investor

Chris Lopinto is a serial entrepreneur and angel investor. Since founding ExpertFlyer in 2004, Chris Lopinto has been a pioneer in providing airline data transparency to consumers.  Prior to ExpertFlyer, Chris founded, built, and then sold an IT consulting company in Long Island New York. Prior, he served as the Director of IT at ProductivityNet, a network management software startup. Chris is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Austin Samsel

I'm a full stack developer and I specialize in UI Development, working with React, Javascript, and CSS. I care a lot about the visual details that make technology experiences great. I've worked with with Creative Agencies and early stage start ups. Currently working on MiniMap. Previously I co-founded Body Actualized Center which was featured by the NY Times and Vice.

What is Startup Weekend?

Have you ever seen a new product, app, or business and thought to yourself, "that was my idea a few years ago"? If you have, that means you did not have a process for taking that idea from concept to creation.

Startup Weekend is your chance to learn how to put your idea into action within a matter of days! Whether you are looking to...

  • get introduced to the world of startups and entrepreneurship
  • learn the process for going from concept to creation
  • meet experienced, talented, and passionate entrepreneurs in NYC
  • join or build an all-star team
  • make meaningful connections and become part of a global community
  • learn and practice new skills to take back to your job or beef up your resume

To get a feel for the event, check out our awesome wrap-up video from Startup Weekend Music Tech edition! Many thanks to our amazing sponsor, Sony Music, for putting this together for us!

Who is Startup Weekend For?

It doesn't matter what you do or where you come from, Startup Weekend is designed as an inclusive event and program that brings all sorts of people together including...

  • aspiring & experienced entrepreneurs
  • developers and other tech-related professionals
  • designers of all types
  • non-technical talent (i.e. business, sales, finance, legal, etc.)
  • students from universities and even high schools
  • professionals looking to switch careers or build new skills
  • and passionate visionaries

What's the twist?

Travel Tech edition means you will be focusing on solving problems and filling gaps in the travel industry. Let your own experiences or desire to travel inspire you! Whether you have ideas to improve NYC subways systems or to make travel around the world easier, the ultimate objective of this event is to empower you to take any idea from concept to creation!

Your ticket includes:

  • Access to the full weekend-long event
  • Opportunity to pitch your idea on Friday night @ Pitch Fire
  • Mentoring by all-stars from the Travel Tech world and the tech startup community
  • Tasty meals all weekend
  • Collaboration with awesome Travel Tech professionals from throughout NYC
  • All-star judge's panel lead by startup and Travel Tech leaders
  • Membership in the Startup Weekend Community (>200K alumni)
  • A process for taking any idea from concept to creation in a matter of days
  • A #SWagbag and over 100 new awesome Facebook friends!

Do I need to come with an idea?

If you have an idea for a startup, then great! We hope you pitch for the weekend. If you don't have an idea, that's quite alright! Come and spend the weekend, listen to the ideas being pitched, and see if something piques your interest! The weekend is all about learning about the startup ideation process and learning from each other. If you have more questions, check out the Startup Weekend First Timers FAQ!

Join us for a very special weekend! 

Questions? Press inquiries? Please email us at