After writing a piece on Exeter as a startup hub, I was invited to a Startup Weekend. To my delight, I wasn’t simply there to document the event, but was registered as a participant to get involved and team up with the entrepreneurs at the event.
The participants ranged from second year university students to company owners, and even a lawyer who wanted to try something new. The event went something like this: Pitch – Vote – Test – Form Team – Brain Dump – MVP.
We were lucky enough to have the director of Startup Weekend, John Beadle, who had flown in from America to facilitate the event. Alongside 6 coaches and mentors, a panel of judges made up of 5 startup experts and The Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter, it was clear that any one of our ideas could become a reality thanks to the support and facilities.
Entrepreneurs; if you want to kick start an idea, then you need to get involved in a Startup Weekend. 12% of teams at Startup Weekend actually go on to forming their own company. Not convinced? Check out my highlights video and read the breakdown of the event below to get a real flavour for what this is all about.
Friday 10th June: Getting Started
Official registration time was at 5:30pm. After your name was ticked off, you had a lanyard around your neck and a Startup Weekend T-Shirt, you were ready to mingle. Dinner and ‘networking’ ensued (more like friendly chatting) before the welcome presentation and keynote speakers launched the whole event.
This is where the fun began. The welcome talks by John Beadle (Director of Startup Weekend), Jim Hill (Immersify) and Laurence Oakes-Ash (Exeter City Futures) got us buzzing. A few team exercises followed before the 60-second pitches.
Now, the great part about the pitches was that you didn’t have to come prepared. If you’d had an idea there and then, you could get up and pitch. Within the pitches, you had to highlight the problem, your idea of a solution (which could be very vague) and what skills you needed in your team. Everyone was then giving 3 sticky notes to vote on their favourite pitches and to start to form teams.
At 9pm, we could start work. We were all supplied with business canvases to help us structure our ideas.
Saturday 11th June: In the Middle
The bulk of the work was done on Saturday. With Immersify giving us challenges and encouraging us to do some field research in the city of Exeter, our ideas really started to take shape. All the groups left the University campus at one point or another to talk to their target demographic.
Lunch was served at 12pm – note, all meals were included in the ticket – and coaches arrived just after lunch to start getting down to the details of our business plans.
Long hours of work led to our 6pm dinner, and the day finished at a time that was dependent on the team. My group only wrapped up for the day at 9:30pm.
Sunday 12th June: Crunch Time
Sunday was crunch time. We had to power through to compile our research, get our designs and business plans to a good stage and work on our 5 minute presentations. At about 3pm, we had tech checks and practice pitches before the 5:15pm final presentations.
The judges, Laurence Oakes-Ash, Tom Langdon-Davies, Richard Eckley and Georgie Hazell, deliberated and came to their final decision. The best pitch from Friday – awarded an iPod Touch – and the top 3 teams were announced with the winning team getting a fun prize. Most importantly, some of the judges put forward their interest in helping certain teams move forward – that’s how good some of these ideas were.
We then had a celebratory dinner, exchanged our last business cards and bid farewell to the participants, the organizers, the judges and the coaches. It will be interesting to see which teams take their ideas forward and bring them to market.
Less Talk, More Action
It is important to realize that this event isn’t about identifying a viable startup idea by crowning a winner, but a learning curve for all involved. The teams worked hard on their individual business plans for the final presentation, getting to a ‘proof of concept’ stage in just 54 hours. This normally takes months.
Not only was this an educational experience, but a fantastic networking event too. Making friends with a diverse set of people was a great aspect, but finding potential co-founders and experts as well as contacts for the future was an unbelievable opportunity.
My team was incredible (runners up in the competition), the other participants were inspiring and the feedback given by coaches, mentors, volunteers and judges alike was priceless.
Thank you Nat Collard for inviting me to such a spectacular event and good luck to those who are going to take their ideas to the next step.
The Exeter Startup Weekend, the third of its kind, returns this summer with its continued commitment to looking for ideas that could change the world. Set across three days (June 10th – 12th) in The Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter, the Exeter Startup Weekend will act as a hub for nurturing creativity, design and entrepreneurship.
Partnering with the Univesity of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, The Innovation Centre and SETsquared Exeter, this Exeter Startup Weekend is sure to build on the successful format of previous years and offer a number of different ways to learn how to apply entrepreneurship to your daily life. With prizes of mentorship and investment to be won from The Innovation Centre, SETsquared and Exeter City Futures, there’s absolutely no reason not to get involved!
What’s the Focus of the Exeter Startup Weekend?
Following a familiar structure to former Exeter Startup Weekends, the event will give entrepreneurs the chance to pitch an idea to the audience, with the top ten ideas getting voted through. These ideas will then be the ones that are worked on over the 54-hour weekend.
This year will have a particular focus on:
- Products and services which have the potential to enrich the quality of life and environment in the city of Exeter.
- New business ideas that help with the city’s sustainable needs, with the specific aim of reaching zero congestion and zero carbon emissions by 2025 in the energy, transport and health sectors.
However, any and every entrepreneurial idea is welcomed over the weekend, whether this is for profit or social good. The weekend is about discovering hidden talent, world-changing ideas and receiving expert mentoring with a focus on ‘less talk, more action’. By bringing together a large group of like-minded individuals, this is sure to be a fast-moving, high-powered weekend that produces some amazing startups.
What’s On Offer?
Tickets start at £25.00 for students and £35.00 for everyone else.
The weekend itself will run from 5:30 pm on Friday 10th until 8:30 pm on Sunday 12th, and will involve presentations, meetings, speakers, networking and, of course, food, so get ready for a jam-packed weekend! With the event now in its third year, the timetable has been tailored to ensure each and every attendee gets the most out of every day.
Can Exeter Become Britain’s Next Startup Hub?
It’s no accident that this startup weekend is placed in Exeter; the city is quickly becoming one of the main creative hubs in England. With the local councils placing an increased focus on innovation and backed up by some of the country’s most successful universities, Exeter is now home to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs. This event is not the first of its kind, with the similar Google Startup Weekend also hosted here in 2015.
With the University of Exeter being ranked 93rd in the world and a vast network of investment, grants and funds being supplied throughout the city, Exeter is attracting talent from all over the world to help nurture this entrepreneurial flair. The aim of the Exeter Startup Weekend is to go further with this and to put this entrepreneurship to work to benefit others in just 54 hours. With the success of previous years, and the guaranteed success of this year, Exeter, with the help of events such as the Exeter Startup Weekend, is quickly becoming firmly placed on the world map as a hub for innovation.
[Source infographic image via the embed code at the bottom of https://www.companyformations247.co.uk/blog/exeter-student-start-up-extraordinaires/#Infographic ]
The Exeter Startup Weekend is open to anyone who wants to make a difference, regardless of sector, career or age. If you believe you’ve got what it takes to be one of our next ten investable startups, get your tickets here or get in contact with us at email@example.com
Exeter City Futures, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, The Innovation Centre and SETsquared Exeter are looking to target and create 10 new investible start-ups in Exeter by the end of the year. They are particularly interested in products and services that could enrich the quality of life and environment in our City.
The Collaboration are looking for groups and individuals with fledgling business ideas to sign-up to the Start-up Weekend – a full weekend of pitching your idea, team working, business coaching and mentoring to take nascent ideas through to fully formed propositions.
Any business idea can be pitched and developed during the Startup Weekend, however, Exeter City Futures is especially interested in encouraging new business ideas that respond to the needs of sustainable cities –specifically to realise the goals of zero congestion and zero carbon by 2025 namely in the areas of Energy Transport and Health.
Exeter City Futures is offering a prize of an additional 6 month mentoring programme and possible investment for businesses that demonstrate scalable opportunities within these areas. The Innovation Centre and its SETsquared facilities will also offer prizes and continued support to those teams with the potential to create high growth businesses.
Startup Weekend isn’t just for entrepreneurs, engineers, technologist or those with a polished business concept , it’s open for everyone irrespective of sector, age or experience. To find out more about what’s involved in attending a Startup weekend you can watch the video of our last event here: http://bit.do/exestartupvideo
Please include attribution to companyformations247.co.uk with this graphic.
And our Winners are:
After an amazing 54 hours of pitching, mentoring, customer validation, business model canvas, fantastic food, highs and low’s, our eventual winners are:
VoiceLab – A voice analysis app that helps to identify a healthy voice and give tips for improving the quality of voice projection
All three of these teams had solid presentations, got out of the building and spoke to their potential customers and users and built something workable that people would not only want, but would pay for. They offer real value propositions that solve real problems and meet real needs in the music and literature industries.
Other ideas pitched:
As a result of the excitement of my Streetsmart Beautiful map team coming second in Exeter’s first startup weekend. I have reflected on the event.
First off I have to say the organisation and facilitation of the weekend was super good! The innovation center aids this by it’s modern feel. it encourages collaboration by being bright, open and airy. There was plenty of everything you needed to keep you going for 54 hours. The food from Pickle Shack was exceptional.
I learned so many things but I will begin with my personal thoughts. I went to the event with a blue sky idea about mapping locations. Which I named Streetsmart for the event. I had great reservations about pitching. Although I’ve presented many times and spoken at conferences. I realised putting your own idea out there is very different. The pitch process is quite an experience. Everything hangs on the 60 second initial pitch that gets your idea in the running. Fortunately enough people voted for my initial pitch. So we formed a self selecting team to have a go at tackling the problem. Winning or losing depends upon
the five minute pitch.
This lets the judges decide whether your team has met the scoring criteria. The key to both pitches is following startup weekend pitching structure (more later). In fact once you’ve learned this structure it’s the key to organising your weekend. I was delighted that we achieved second place. I learned for myself that my ideas are as valid as anyones. And my beloved small project way of working where people cluster around a subject really works! That was such a personal validation for me!
Once you’re selected as a project to work on then you form teams. This was awesome in that the teams were self selecting. I was exceptionally lucky to have a team of committed players. Who all contributed their skills and ideas. There’s something special that happens when people like a project and they gel it’s very exciting. There were moments of stress but also great humour and humility too. The whole team were lovely people and I hope they got as much from the experience as I did. It may not seem much but 54 hours of focus on one thing is exhausting. I was very grateful for Monday off (that’s tip no.1)!
So my event learning in no particular order:
- It is possible to pitch a completely blue sky idea
- The initial pitch really matters it gets you in the running
- Your initial pitch is also your lobby for team members so make it appealing
- Small committed teams are ideal
- Know the times of everything and put them in your plan
- Schedule team check ins so that you don’t have to disturb everyone
- Coders need a quiet corner away from the hubub
- Plan to fit the final pitch structure: MVP, validation, execution, business model (include marketing)
- Decide your MVP minimum viable product early on day 1
- Go out and validate your idea (you could do this before the event)
- Come back and refine it, often redefines your MVP
- Learn the judging criteria and work according to this throughout
- You can do the whole thing in a weekend but do most of your work on day 1
- Pitch practice takes up a bit of day 2 so get your structure right early on
- Take regular breaks and have fun
- Network and make the most of the skills in the room
I’m sure the rest of the team can add many more things to this list. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this weekend. Flexing my brain with really nice, smart people in a fab venue what could be better. I would strongly reccomend this weekend to anyone thinking of starting something up. The next one in Exeter is on November 20th. See you there!
You can’t start a fire without a spark or so the song goes. I can’t tell you how excited I am about Exeter Startup Weekend. A weekend where with the helpful guidance of experienced mentors like Michelle Law you can help you take your idea and turn it into a business in a weekend! Powered by Google and hosted at the Innovation Centre Exeter University, this is the place to meet great people, learn something new, and launch a business in a weekend.
Why should I go?
Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to do something but don’t know how to begin? Ever had an innovative idea to not known what to do about it? Got a project up your sleeve but don’t know how to develop it? Need a team to help you move forward? Go to Exeter Startup weekend The clock is ticking. You may only ever get one opportunity as good as this, grab it!
I asked a business mentor recently what to do when you have a head full of ideas and can’t get them out? He said do something! Well, now is your chance what are you waiting for?
Who will be there?
Lots of people like you! entrepreneurs, geeks, techies, brilliant minds, experts, inventors. You will be in your element and among your peers. There will be plenty of pitches and ideas. No one will consider your idea too off the wall. The collective talent in the room will be bristling to show what they can do to help your idea to fruition.
What will happen?
On Friday you’ll pitch your idea in a minute with the chance to collaborate and develop a team to work on it. Throughout Saturday and Sunday you’ll develop an actual business or prototype a real product! On Sunday evening you will present your product and launch your business. In three easy leaps you’ll be ready to go! And there are prizes too! Sign up now?
So why you?
Because this is for doers rather than consumers or curators. Startup Weekend is the jewel in the crown of events. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is, throwing your idea out there, developing it with a team and watching it grow. Never in Exeter has so much talent and help from so many been available to entrepreneurs in one place at one time. It’s not that these support services and co creators don’t exist in Exeter; indeed the Innovation Centre itself contains many such brilliant people. It’s just that they are normally much less easy to access.
What here in Exeter?
Exeter is on fire at the moment, so many events. Last week I was at the pitching event where 20 new business startups pitched their ideas. This Thursday we had Exeter web meet up for anyone interested in all things web geek. Also on Thursday, Friday, Saturday I was at ODI’s ‘Beyond The Smart City’ conference hosted by the Met Office. Next month there’s another Digital Exeter meetup. And what’s more, ExIST group are discussing big data at the new Exeter Science Park. I can hardly keep up! Even the City Council are getting on board with Chief Exec Karim Hassan announcing in Exeter Life (June 2015) that ‘Exeter is on the cusp of becoming a knowledge based economy’
Exeter will be staging its first ever Google Startup Weekend at the Innovation Centre, Rennes Drive, University of Exeter on 17 to 19 July 2015. It promises to be an exciting opportunity for anybody with a new business concept looking to turn their idea (or no ideas at all!) into reality.
Google’s Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon which takes place over 54 hours from Friday through to Sunday evening. You can pitch your idea, develop it, explore potential markets and plan a business launch. An unparalleled opportunity to build lasting relationships with co-founders, mentors and possible investors. Startup Weekend Exeter is a non-profit, community-building event. It brings together entrepreneurs of different backgrounds. They include software developers, marketers, designers and many other enthusiasts.
Participants have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), which their peers whittle down to the top ideas. Teams form around those ideas to develop them. The weekend culminates with presentations to an audience of judges and potential investors. With prizes on offer such as access to co-working space and professional support on offer for the best efforts.
Whether you are the next big tech thing, have a tasty food and drink idea, are into social enterprise. Maybe you are committed to renewable energy, have an idea for the best ever retail product. Want to promote an arts organisation or are a budding entrepreneur. Then StartUp Weekend Exeter is the place for you to get your idea off the ground.
In the past 3 years StartUp weekends have attracted many thousands of entrepreneurs. Over 500 new businesses have been born as a result. Teams have even started to generate revenue during the 54 hours event.While others have gone on to raise funds from business angels or venture capitalists. These numbers don’t include the unprecedented networking opportunity. On-going professional relationships and amazing experience for participants. Startup Weekend is all about “Build a Community. Start Companies. No Talk. All Action.”
Exeter Startup Weekend will be the beginning of a journey for individuals. They can come and turn their vision into reality through collaboration and teamwork. Experts such as, Wout Laban from the Netherlands will facilitate the event. Will travel across Europe to Exeter to help people realise their business ideas and explore their potential.
Robin Jackson Director of the Innovation Centre:
“We are really excited about holding Exeter and the Peninsula’s first ever Startup Weekend in July at the Innovation Centre, University of Exeter.”
“Exeter Startup Weekend will be the beginning of an amazing journey and a fantastic weekend of entrepreneurship, startup technology, collaboration and celebration for participants. It will also start to put Exeter ‘on the map’ as a Startup community”.
You can purchase tickets at a subsidised rate, thanks to the generosity of the local sponsors at: www.bit.do/exetersw
Sponsors include The Innovation Centre, CrowdCube, Andromeda Capital, Ashfords Solicitors, The University of Exeter, Frobishers, Haines Watts Accountants, TechHub Boston and Zenen Education.
For more information on this event please contact Natalie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter @ExeterStartup