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#Failfest: A Conversation In Failure

Tuesday, September 16

Everyone fails. The question is, how do we learn from it?

If we want bigger business wins, we can't be afraid for a big loss. Hear from some of the region's most successful entrepreneurs on their "big failures", both in technology and out.

This fun and quick paced event will allow speakers to share their personal stories with the audience. Leave with some awesome tips and advice for how to overcome speed bumps on the way to the top, deal with negativity and most importantly, picking yourself up and (sometimes) starting again!


  • 2:30pm - Doors Open and Networking
  • 3:00pm - Welcome & Opening Remarks
  • 3:10pm - Individual Presentations Begin
    • Chris Tonjes
    • D Watkins
    • Krzystztof Sitko, Aegle
    • McKeever Conwell, RedBerrry
    • Valerie Gaydos, Capital Growth, Inc.
  • 4:30pm - Event Close

Business Track Presented By


400x400 (1)

Business Track Supported By




Additional Support from


101 N. Haven Street, 3rd Floor


  • Krzysztof Sitko

    Krzysztof Sitko

    Krzysztof Sitko is the cofounder of health IT startup Aegle. He studied electrical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. He writes about his thoughts on entrepreneurship and engineering experiences on his personal blog.

  • Chris Tonjes

    Chris Tonjes

    A native of New York City, Chris has over 20 years of IT experience, including working in finance, wireless communications, and government. Chris has a broad based background supporting mainframe applications, middleware, web and mobile applications, and large-scale enterprise resource planning projects.

  • D. Watkins

    D. Watkins

    D. Watkins is a writer whose work has been published in The Huffington Post, Vice, StopBeingFamous, 1729mag, and Salon. Watkins has been featured on NPR’s Tell Me More, Monday Morning, The Marc Steiner Show, and Huff Post Live. Watkins holds a Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore. He is an adjunct professor at Coppin State University and runs a creative writing workshop at the Baltimore Free School. Watkins' debut memoir “Cook Up” will be published by Grand Central in 2015.

  • McKeever Conwell

    McKeever Conwell

    Mckeever E. Conwell, 2nd aka Mac is a Baltimore native that attended Morgan State University where he majored in Computer Science. In October of 2009 Mac decided to start his first Tech Startup,, along with 2 friends from college. The team went through two accelerators, Accelerate Baltimore followed by NewMe Accelerator, where he was later named entrepreneur in residence helping the following class through the program. After working hard to make a great product, Mac and his team failed and Given shut down in 2014 after 4 years. But, with that failure Mac learned a lot which lead to his latest venture RedBerrry (with 3 r’s) which was recently accepted into Dreamt Ventures in Philadelphia. Mac has been a guess on Huffington Post live several times and his companies have been featured in many media outlets such as USA Today, Washington Post, BET, CNN Headline News, Black Enterprise and many more.

  • Valerie Gaydos

    Valerie Gaydos

    Valerie is an active angel investor and Founder of the Angel Venture Forum. She has been involved with many start-up companies in the areas of operational development and strategic planning for more than 20 years. She is the founder and president of Capital Growth, Inc. (CGI) which was founded in 1994 as a venture capital data and information publishing company. CGI currently specializes in business building and actively invests in early stage companies. From 2004-2007 Valerie served as President of the Pennsylvania Angel Network. She also served as director of the Private Investors Forum (Philadelphia) and founded the Angel Venture Forum (AVF), an ad hoc group of angel investors in the Mid-Altantic region. She is a member of the Lancaster Angel Network, serves on the Policy Committee of the Angel Capital Association (ACA) and is the director the Accelerator For Commercialization of Technology (ACT) initiative at the Maryland Center for Entrepreneurship.