Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator Spotlight: Cindy Spelt

How did your journey with Techstars Startup Weekend begin?

Back in 2014 I was ready for a new adventure. The new generation, fresh from school, was active, creative and tech savvy. They inspired me with their thinking, their business ideas and knowledge. A week before the event, I saw a post on Facebook about a Startup Weekend in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and decided to buy a ticket. I was convinced that I would meet those tech savvy people there and was excited to work with them.

Half an hour before the event my best friend called me. We had a nice chat and I told her that I was tired from the week and not really motivated to go to the event. And then she said: why don’t you just go and check it out? Since it’s only 10 minutes away from your home, you can always go home in case you do not like it… And so I did. It turned out to be the BEST weekend of my life. Life changing. True story.

Why did you decide that you wanted to take the step from being an Organiser to becoming a Facilitator?

I became addicted. To the people, the atmosphere and the energies it gave me. At each event you meet amazing like-minded people. As a facilitator you enlarge your network and the opportunity to meet local people. For me being a facilitator is something natural. I love doing it, it doesn’t cost me too much energy, although after a weekend I feel satisfied, and also a bit tired. Straight back to work is sometimes a bit challenging.

What do you enjoy most about being a Facilitator?

I get attached to the people. I understand how exciting it is to pitch on Friday and how nervous people are for the Sunday evening Pitch Night. I feel for them. They worked so hard the whole weekend, and then the moment comes to bring everything to the table. I am nervous too, for them. I am always proud of what I see on Sunday evening. They all went through some learning curves and teams show true team spirit. It is beautiful to see. Startup Weekend is the place to be if you are looking for a transformational experience. And those are the BEST! I cannot get enough :-). I always want MORE.

What is your best memory of facilitating at a Techstars Startup Weekend?

I got a request from a participant to practice his Friday evening pitch with the organising team, a couple of days before the event would kick off. I was impressed by the level of ambition and humbleness of this person. Of course I accepted it and invited him to one of our team meetings. We gave him advice and his idea was chosen on Friday evening. They won the first prize on Sunday evening too. I love the level of ambition of the people coming to Startup Weekends. We have a lot fun and at the same time we are damn serious about setting up a business and creating impact. I love this combination!

Do you have any advice for those thinking of taking the plunge and applying to become Facilitators?

Just do it. It is a great experience. I learned a lot from other facilitators, like Stavros (Greece) and Dwight (Amsterdam). When I felt a bit more confident I found my own way of doing it. I am just me, myself and I. In all the surveys the feedback that I get is that participants see how natural I am by just being myself and how much I am enjoying it too. Participants are not looking for a show, they value authenticity more. In the end, all SW-peeps are part of the same family. So, you can just be yourself and enjoy the ride! So find your own uniqueness in the way you like to facilitate, and it will be great!

Education Entrepreneurs Community Leader Spotlight: Lida Tsene of Athens, Greece

43CB7BFA-8673-46FD-8144-C09281B64EAAName: Lida Tsene

Location: Athens, Greece

Role in Education Entrepreneurs: Organizer and Facilitator of Startup Weekend Education

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?

I like to create and share stories, organize interesting events, and participate in impactful communities.

Twitter Handle: @lidatsene

Favorite person or hashtag to follow on Twitter : @brainpicker

What do you do for work? 

I’m the Director of Communications, Arts, & Educational Programs, and the Founder of Comicdom Press at Athens Comics Library. Essentially, I am a communications specialist, applying my science to different fields (academia, events, entrepreneurship, education, arts, etc). You can learn more here.

What do you like to do for fun? 

I read comics, practice ballet, and experiment with creating things with my hands.

If you could have any teacher (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would it be and why?

161e6ada3df18a34a9f9e1834d364049Professor X from X-Men. He is a true leader that guides his students, respects their different personalities, and inspires and motivates them to explore and seek knowledge through various paths.

How did you discover Education Entrepreneurs?

Being a member of the Startup Weekend community, I read about it on UP Global’s webpage.

What’s been your involvement in Education Entrepreneurs to date?

I  co-organized the first Startup Weekend Education event in Greece in 2014, and I am a Global Facilitator.

What’s the most challenging thing about being an Organizer and Facilitator?Sometimes it’s challenging to convince teams – especially educators- to have faith in their ideas and not give up during the weekend.

What’s the most rewarding thing about being an Organizer and Facilitator?

Seeing complete strangers not only transform into your co-workers over the weekend, but also become long-time partners and friends.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to those trying to build an education innovation community?

Try to work as much as you can with educators, as they are the key to unlock innovation inside and outside of classrooms. Provide them with as many resources as possible, listen to their needs, and build networks to foster collaboration between them and other creative people.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you’d give to people trying to create edtech products?

Understand the needs of students and educators, use crowdsourcing for new ideas, validate your product, and hack education as we know it today.


What’s the legacy you’d like to leave in education?

Long-term, I’d like to contribute to making the learning process an open, innovative, and collaborative adventure. Short-term, I’d like to teach others how they can use comics as an educational tool in every classroom and library.

What’s your favorite edtech company and/or innovative school, and why?

I will go with a classic choice: Khan Academy. It was a brilliant idea that gave everyone access to knowledge. It’s technology in the service of education, and it’s a company that truly lives by its motto, “You can learn anything!”

Finish the sentence: In my dream world, education would be…

…as creative as a comic book story.

What are the resources that you think anyone interested in innovating in education and/or building community should check out?:

Anything else you’d like to share?

Keep calm and continue to innovate and disrupt education!



More about Education Entrepreneurs

Education Entrepreneurs is the largest initiative in the world focused on helping people use entrepreneurship to improve education. Its suite of offerings include Startup Weekend Education, Startup Digest Education, Workshops, online resources, and a global network of Community Leaders. Spanning six continents, Education Entrepreneurs has created an unprecedented opportunity for anyone, anywhere to shape the future of education.

Startup Weekend Volos: Faye Orfanou as a Mentor

faye orfanou

Faye Orfanou studied Law in Greece (Athens University), Germany (LLM in private law at Frankfurt University), London (LLM in banking and finance law at King’s College London).  She worked for 10 years (1997 -2007) as attorney-at-law in Athens Law Firms, for both international and Greek clientele in the areas of corporate law, contract law, banking and finance law, administrative law, tax law as well as in the areas of city planning and environmental regulation. For 2 years (2007- 2009) she worked as legal consultant for the Managing Authority for EU Funds of the Ministry for Public Works.

In 2009 she was appointed Special Secretary for EU Funds in the Greek Ministry of Education, a position she held for almost 3 years until July 2012. As Special Secretary for EU Funds she had the opportunity of policy design and policy implementation in the areas of education, lifelong learning and research. She designed or re-designed numerous innovative actions in the fields of education and lifelong learning.

Since 2012, making use of the knowledge, experience and networks she acquired as Special Secretary, she has developed an activity as technology transfer coordinator, mainly through Add2value pc (, a company she has co-founded, while also she has been working as legal consultant in selected projects.

At the same time in order to support people in entering and progressing into professional life she co-founded the non profit organisation “αέλια – working life lab”(

Throughout her professional career she has been an active volunteer in environmental NGOs (mainly WWF Greece) as well as in social ventures. Due to her activity in support of youth entrepreneurship during her Secretariat office term, she was selected and appointed as member of the Committee for Institutional Interventions of the Greek Federation of Hellenic Associations of Young Entrepreneurs (“ΟΕΣΥΝΕ” and she offers services as a mentor for the Athens University of Economics and Business and the Orange Grove of the Dutch Embassy.

She speaks fluent English, French, German, Spanish and Italian and has basic knowledge of Portuguese, Russian and Turkish.

Vibrant Co-Creative Athens: A city opening up to a more sustainable future

This post was co-authored by the Athens Startup Weekend Edu Team. 

Come and spend the weekend of Jan 17-19, 2014 with SWEDU and become part of the innovation in education startup movement in Athens.

The Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

If you have an idea that can change education, come and pitch it at the 1st Startup Weekend themed “Education” in Greece. Mind you, this is only the second SWEDU in all of Europe!

Athens SWEDU is co-organized by a team of passionate learners, educators, social innovators and ed-tech designers. Some 50 energetic students, their professors at the Department of Communication, Media and Culture at Panteion University, Athens, The Impact Hub Athens Co-Founders and a talented UI Designer, have joined their efforts and enthusiasm into making SWEDU Athens a hot spot for innovation in education and learning. The event is hosted by The Impact Hub Athens, housed in a beautifully restored old house in the old center of the city, recently opened as a social startup and co-creation workspace.

Why Athens? Why education?

We aspire to make an impact on our present and our future. The time seems ripe as the country has been undergoing severe financial hardship and social discontent for the last 6 years, and unemployment is especially high among those under 25. University students, in particular, feel extremely insecure at the prospect of a future with very limited opportunities. Many are already fleeing abroad in search of more viable life and career prospects.

And yet, this is a time of great challenges and booming creativity along with a rising startup ecosystem in Greece, making its first bold steps in the global markets. The crisis is considered by many – especially by the youth – as an opportunity to “think out of the box” and make their own positive impact in their city and further ahead.

The Greek startup entrepreneurial ecosystem has been nurtured by the networking initiatives and social media writings of a small and pioneering tech and entrepreneurial-minded community, initiated many years before the outbreak of the economic crisis. The latter, however, may be considered as a “social accelerator” for raising citizens’ awareness of their own potential for creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Over the last 3 years startup initiatives have flourished further as new funding, investing and advisors’ schemes, startup incubators and accelerators, and co-working spaces have mushroomed – especially in Athens.

Athens SWEDU aims to bring education at the forefront of a new emerging culture; namely, the culture of creative, problem-solving originators comprising the rising entrepreneurial scene in the country. As Athens SWEDU organizers we aspire to boost innovative ideas in order to build sustainable startups that can have a transformative impact on the learning process in various fields, including and mixing technology, culture, science, communication, entrepreneurship, marketing, design, social and sustainable innovation either on mobile and web platforms or in the physical settings of schools and universities.

Featuring a strong and diverse lineup of well established entrepreneurs and investors, mixed media designers, marketing and communication technology experts, science communicators, legal IT/Startup advisors and Ed-Tech educators as our inspiring speakers, mentors and judges, SWEDU Athens will provide participants with a valuable opportunity to interact with some of the biggest players in the country! We invite out participants to share their ideas and aspirations, and form a new generation of educational startups.

If you happen to be in Athens, or want to fly in for the occasion, tickets are available for purchase here.

Visit to learn more and do contact us for further information.