Local Entrepreneurs Win At
Detroit Startup Weekend
Stephanie Dionne, Sandy Barris, Natalia Petraszczuk and Sarah Lapum
Special to the Jewish News
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bruary 6 • 2014
n just 54 hours, four local entre-
preneurs created a new, award-
winning company designed to
help people around the world achieve
VisionBoards.co was the winner of
Detroit Startup Weekend 5 on Nov.
17, earning its team the resources to
get the company off the ground. This
event, sponsored by Google, Amazon
and Coca-Cola, is held in 100 coun-
tries around the world.
Natalia Petraszczuk, a nonprofit
fundraiser and certified life coach,
came to the event on Friday hop-
ing to pitch her business idea for
VisionBoards.co and to meet other
professionals to join her team.
She was up against many other
entrepreneurs hoping to catch the
attention of local business leaders and
possibly even secure funding. Her ini-
tial presentation attracted the atten-
tion of Stephanie Dionne, a market-
ing executive; Sarah Lapum, a sales
and customer service specialist; and
Sandy Barris, a marketing consultant,
who offered their help and expertise.
"I was impressed with Natalia's
pitch," said Barris, now a two-time
veteran of Detroit Startup Weekend.
"It was obvious that she had practiced
it and was very well prepared:'
Sandy originally pitched a business
idea during the competition in 2012.
Although his idea didn't win, he went
on to develop his concept, an app
called Sales Goals on Fire. The app is
available on iTunes and helps people
set, track and achieve their sales
goals. More than 18,000 people have
downloaded the app worldwide.
The team spent Friday evening, as
well as Saturday and Sunday, refining
their vision for the business, creating
a website, analyzing the market and
preparing for their final presentation
to the judges and potential investors.
Their plans included a website and
app that will help people create per-
sonal vision boards both in physical
and electronic form.
Vision boards are promoted by
many people, including celebrities, as
a way to achieve their goals. One of
the most well-known proponents of
vision boards is Oprah Winfrey.
"A vision board is a way of putting
your hopes, dreams, and aspira-
tions together as a daily reminder
to help you stay focused and meet
your goals:' said Barris, the owner of
Business Marketing Services, a mar-
keting consulting firm, since 1988.
He lives in White Lake with his fam-
ily and attends Temple Israel in West
Customers can upload their own
images or choose from existing imag-
es on the site. They can then develop
an electronic or video vision board;
order a poster, canvas, cork or vinyl
board; or even create a bracelet.
VisionBoards.co has already attract-
ed fans, including Pete Thomas, the
winner of NBC's The Biggest Loser.
"The VisionBoards.co platform will let
me spend less time and energy creat-
ing images related to my future, and
instead spend more time actively real-
izing my future, with a support com-
munity and other resources dedicated
to keep me on track:' he wrote on the
NFL athlete Glenn Earl has also
taken note. "Vision boards and
bracelets are the perfect tool to help
an athlete maintain ultimate focus. I
can't wait to order mine:'
Since the company's win in
November, the team has been prepar-
ing for an official launch. The website
is currently accessible and will offer a
broad range of products in the com-
Visit visionboards.co to learn