4 SWSheffield teams make it onto Ignite Pre-Accelerator

This Tuesday saw the first Sheffield-based Ignite Pre-Accelerator programme kick off at the Evolve Coworking Space with bundles of beer, sacks of snacks, and startups-a-plenty.

A four week course aimed at preparing concept stage startups for the journey ahead, the Ignite Pre-Accelerator covers Customer Development, Product Development, Investment and Pitching.

Applications were competitive with space for only 10 early-stage startups. On the organising team at Sheffield, we were so proud to hear that four of the teams from our last Startup Weekend (June 2016) were accepted onto the programme and will be working hard over the next few weeks to validate some of their business assumptions, and build on their Minimum Viable Products (MVPs), in a bid to achieve product-market fit.

Congratulations to:

Spare Change, Escape the Weekend, PhotoQ, and SwipeMail!

This could be you! Our next Startup Weekend is 18-20 November 2016. What’s more, Ignite Programme Lead for Manchester, George Bettany, will be joining our judging panel! Register now!

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Putting the ‘Global’ in Global Startup Weekend


This November, more than 15,000 entrepreneurs will come together for over 200 events during the two weekends on either side of Global Entrepreneurship Week. When you add them all up, they become Global Startup Weekend.

To celebrate, Techstars has organized some bonus Insider Crowdcast sessions with Techstars experts and previous attendees, and special perks for all attendees of Global Startup Weekend. These include:

  • GSW Insider Crowdcast: Finding Your Revenue Formula
    Wednesday 1st November, 7pm
    Save my Spot!
  • GSW Insider Crowdcast: What to Expect at Startup Weekend – Past Attendee AMA
    Wednesday 2nd November, 5pm
    Save my spot!
  • GSW Insider Crowdcast: Developing your 60 Second Pitch
    Tuesday 8th November, 4pm
    Save my spot!

As well as all this pre-support, winning teams of Global Startup Weekend will receive membership into F6S Alpha, an invite-only membership for selected founders to access $1 million free growth serviecs. Read more.

Techstars says there are more to be announced over the next few weeks.
Keep track of new perks, prizes and resources!

But What About Sheffield?

Good question! We’re also embracing the global Global theme and will be introducing specific judging criteria and a special prize track for world-beating, global ideas. As well as the usual criteria of validation, execution, business model, and design, teams will be rewarded for thinking big and solving worldwide problems with simple, scalable solutions.

If you haven’t got your ticket yet, there’s still time. Check out our judges and mentors (including a Global Business Evangelist for Microsoft), and register now before it’s too late.

Event: Global Startup Weekend
City: Sheffield
Date: 18-20 November 2016

Any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out on Twitter (@SWSheffield), FB, or on sheffield@startupweekend.org


Friday Night: What to Expect

Whether you’ve been waiting months for Startup Weekend to arrive or if you just signed up this week, you’re probably a little unsure about what to expect. I’ve created a guide to help you know what’s what on Friday night.

Dinner & Networking

Or as I like to call it – stuffing my face and meeting new friends. This is my favourite part. The people I met during Dinner & Networking are the friends I still have. They are always available for me to ask quick questions about absolutely anything. Learn who has what skills, you never know who you may need to ask for a favour. Get to know your new friends!

60 Seconds to Pitch

Got an idea? You get 1 minute to pitch in front of the group. No ideas, no problem! Sit back, relax, and enjoy listening to the pitches. If you change your mind and get a last minute idea, feel free to get in line. Getting your idea out in under a minute may seem difficult, try using the the anatomy of a pitch guidelines:

60 second pitch anatomy

Choose Your Project

As a group, you will decide which projects will be worked on over the course of the weekend. Each of these will require a range of skills. From the top projects – choose which one you’ll work on over the weekend.

Build a Team

Whether it’s your idea or someone else’s, you’ll create a cross-functional team to work with over the weekend. Use the rest of the evening to learn about each member’s skills and abilities. Make a plan for conquering the weekend and winning Startup Weekend!

Get the Buzz

If you’re experience is anything like mine was, you’ll go home with a buzz – don’t forget to get some sleep.

Startup Weekend: not just ‘a University thing’

I can barely believe we have another Startup Weekend on the horizon here in Sheffield. In some ways it doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since we ran our 1st event, with no idea how people would react to it and certainly no concept of how much of a community would grow out of it. But it was more than 5 minutes ago. It was 3 ½ years ago, in November 2012. Continue reading “Startup Weekend: not just ‘a University thing’”

Startup Weekend for Designers

At Startup Weekend, we have three ticket types: Developer, Designer, and General (marketing, business, non-technical). In reality, you’ll probably get stuck into a bit of everything during the weekend, but it’s important for us to know as organisers that there’s enough technical talent in the room to build a few killer teams that create kick-ass products that work well and look good.

Unfortunately, it’s a global problem at Startup Weekend that we struggle to recruit designers. Ideally the ratio would be 1/3 developers 1/3 designers 1/3 general. We tend to get about 1/2 developer and 1/2 general with a couple of designers thrown in at Startup Weekend Sheffield. This is a shame as when we do have a good number of designers, the event is always much better than when we don’t.

So here’s my call to action for designers to get involved in the next Startup Weekend Sheffield (20-22 November 2015). And here’s 10 reasons you should attend. Feel free to get in touch to add anything you think I might have missed!

1. Meet and make friends with awesome people who are creating and building stuff from scratch.

2. Get advice and valuable face-time with expert mentors who could help you in your career.

3. Take the opportunity to promote yourself as an awesome designer.

Do all of these things at Startup Weekend Sheffield.

4. Oh, and have fun. Lots of fun.

5. At Startup Weekend Sheffield, you won’t be forced into teams with people you don’t like to work on ideas you don’t have a passion for. You get to choose the project you work on and the people you work with. You can even pitch your own idea and build your own team.

6. At Startup Weekend, you’re not limited by client requirements. When it comes to the creative concept, you are the designer and you get to choose.

7. Turn your daily workflow process on its head and experiment with iterative design and Lean UX. You might find you love it.

8. Collaborate.

9. Create a visually stunning presentation that secures you and your team the coveted 1st place title.

There’s so much a designer can get out of attending a Startup Weekend, it would be wrong to try and fit it all into this blurb. So check out the website, register, and see for yourself.

10. And use the following code for 20% off Designer tickets: DESIGNSW

Next event

Date: 20-22 November 2015
Venue: Electric Works, Sheffield (next to the train station)
More info: http://www.up.co/communities/uk/sheffield/startup-weekend/7381
Twitter: @SWSheffield
Email: sheffield@startupweekend.org
Awesome slideshare I found: http://www.slideshare.net/IrynaNezhynska/designers-guide-tostartupweekend

Fantastic teamwork, barely any sleep, a whole load of laughs, farrrr too many sweets!

1782077_553144098117191_483121715_nI attended startup weekend in March and November of 2014.

Nervous to arrive, and slightly new to the networking and entrepreneurial scene in Sheffield, the pizza table and friendly faces talking excitedly around it, immediately helped me feel welcome. There was a real mix of students, alumni, and working professionals, so conversations were easy, and there was a lot to talk about with people from different backgrounds.

Then came the pitching. I think pretty much 95% of the room were scared to pitch initially, but this soon fell away as one-by-one, individuals started having fun with the pitches and the audience really warmed up to them. By the end of the session, pretty much everyone had pitched in an idea (even if it was just to join in the fun of it with a crazy idea!).

Selecting the top ideas, and picking teams was reasonable easy as I went for the team with a fun but practical idea (the Gyrocup) and a team of uni students, grads, and 2 working professionals (so a nice mix). This then resulted in some fantastic teamwork, barely any sleep, a whole load of laughs, farrrr too many sweets (brought down by one member of the team in a binbag from Cadburys factory!), and an obscene amount of coffee and Redbull. But trust me, this is part of the fun of startup weekend…I mean, if you actually go home and sleep for more than 5-6 hours a night that weekend, you’re probably not getting the full experience! You WANT to be there working your socks off for your team, and you WANT to be in on the fun!


We came second overall in the awards, but the Gyrocup is still well known within the startup weekend Sheffield community to this day.


Since Startup weekend, I have started a business full-time after graduating, ran another business for a short while with a cofounder from startup weekend, and made a genuine friend who is also starting her own business as a result.

Connect with Natalie on LinkedIn

Register for the next Startup Weekend Sheffield


Stop Talking, Start Doing

How winning Start Weekend empowered me to co-organise the craziest Train Hackathon in Europe


What have I actually built?

I am Sally, 22, a Chinese girl who has always wanted to start her own business. With a background in linguistics and social psychology, I love to observe problems in life and try to solve them in the smartest way. One thing that I have learnt about how to start up is to ‘start fast, learn fast, and fail fast’. I started joining business competitions, playing around with theories and creating pitch decks.  In the process, I faced challenges like co-founder problems, cultural barriers and technical difficulties. All these experiences are still invaluable to me, but something seems to be missing.

What can you do in 54 hours?

You can go hiking, camping, to an outdoor concert or to the beach for a break. But how about building an actual workable prototype? From generating ideas and forming teams all the ways to innovating business model, building a working prototype and pitching it in front of judges and investors? Is it possible for someone with zero experience like you?

The answer is YES!

What have I done during Startup Weekend Sheffield?


I formed a team with these awesome people: Elizabeth, the NHS insider and innovator; Pete, the magical developer; Nima, the entrepreneurial doctor; Laury, the genius PhD in Physics; Hidayah, the developer ninja and Jamil, the all-rounded engineer.

We instantly clicked with each other, identified the problem of missed doctor appointment, and decided to work on Appointment Dr, an interactive SMS system for patients to book, cancel, rebook and swap appointments. We managed to perform customer validation, reaching out to general practitioners (GPs) , patients, and department heads of hospitals.

The most exciting thing was that our idea had been pivoting from the first hour till the end. Now you can imagine that we have 54 hours of heaven and hell – you kept on shaping your business with the most talented people who you could imagine in all kinds of ways. There was a moment that we started to shout at each other and could not bare to breathe in the same room with each other’s presence; but eventually, we got back together and worked towards a common goal: building the product. As expected, we actually built a long-lasting camaraderie and friendship.

What happened after winning SW Sheffield?

In the end, we were lucky to win the first prize at Startup Weekend Sheffield. We didn’t carry on with the project after identifying with a thorough market research. Yet, this experience has opened my eyes and empowered me with a seemingly impossible confidence – you can co-create anything in 54 hours, with the right people and right approach.

During the event, I met River, an all-rounded techie entrepreneur and we talked about co-organising a hackathon on a moving train. So here we are now, running our SECOND crazy hackathon on a moving train, travelling at 200km/h. This time, the Department of Transport and the rail industry is providing full support for  making the greatness happen. I have fallen in love with giving back and empowering more people like myself; and have also co-organised a variety of hackathon and SWs, such as Ameehacks and Macau Startup Weekend.


The 54 hours has changed my life. And my life at the moment is dedicated to creating life changing 54-hours for those who embrace innovation and make amazing things happen.

I believe that when a cool idea becomes a real life innovation, it will benefit millions of people whom you might never meet in your life.

Stop talking? Start doing?


There’re loads of ideas popping out. There’re loads of problems waiting to be solved. Have you taken any actions other than just putting it down on your Eureka notebook?

Go to a Startup Weekend or hackathon! Form a team with random talented people and build it over the weekend! I guarantee you that the 54 hours is definitely gonna be AMAZING!!

Sally is now a marketing associate for Hack Partners, the co-organiser of the legendary Hacktrain. She is also doing a MSc at Imperial College London and founded Startground, an invite-only community connecting quality start-ups to Investment in China.

Global Startup Battle Tracks and Prizes


Startup Weekend Sheffield
November 20th, 2015


Startup Weekend Sheffield is one of over 250 Startup Weekend events taking place around the world during Global Entrepreneurship Week and what better way to celebrate than with a Global Startup Battle? I can’t think of one!

Prizes this year include:

  • All expenses paid conference trips
  • Startup resources and tools
  • Free workspace at top coworking spaces around the world
  • Mentorship from top tech companies
  • Founder trip to Seattle

More to be announced. Keep track of prizes.

Previous Sheffield successes for Global Startup Battle include: Goodvidio (final stage in the Innovation Track) and Airstoc (semi-final stage in the Champions’ Track). That was back in November 2013 and in the last 18 months, they’ve raised almost £1m between the two companies. Could that be you in a year’s time? Only one way to find out!
Register for Startup Weekend Sheffield

You can’t enter Global Startup Battle without first attending one of the GSB Startup Weekend events taking place in November (unless you participate in the all new Open Track — more details coming soon), but due to the many tracks available, you don’t even have to win to get involved. You can attend in whichever city you like… Sheffield will be the best of course. Only kidding. But not really.

So, check out some of the tracks you could enter and the criteria for entry:
Champions’ Track
Great in the Making
The Innovators
Disruptors and Big Ideas

More to follow. Keep track of the tracks.

You gotta be in it to win it! Get your Startup Weekend Sheffield ticket now!


Just do it! Develop that warrior spirit.

Attending the StartUP weekend (SW) competition in November 2014 was the most useful and eye-opening experience I had as an undergraduate.

I had recently completed my placement year in Brussels working for an EU public affairs consultancy. While the job was a great experience, and living in the EU capital certainly had its advantages (gauffres and frites in particular), I realised it was not for me.

I wanted to have a go at developing my own business idea, or at least I wanted to learn more about what the process entailed, before deciding to apply for a conventional graduate scheme.

Suddenly a new appetite for entrepreneurship had opened up for me and although I hadn’t fully engaged with the University of Sheffield Enterprise beyond my role as a Social Innovation intern in second year, I had now realised the immense value it held and what it could teach me about the process I had become so passionate about.

I was sat in the Politics Department when I received Sam’s email. Written in its characteristic warm and friendly style, it instantly hooked me. I saw it as a sign to finally take a leap of faith and pursue the business idea I had come up with in Brussels. The price deterred me at first, but then I saw it as an investment in my education, and it most certainly generated great returns.

Here are a few of reasons why:

The People

Having fun at Startup Weekend!

The people I met during SW are the most important element of the event. There was a contagious positive energy in the room which made me realise that building a business can be fun and that the people I surround myself with can genuinely help me come up with better ideas (on a side note, I do believe it was the impromptu dancing session at 7 pm on the Saturday that allowed us to be natural, friendly and open).

More specifically, the process of creating a teamaround the idea I pitched was incredible. Since I had only met them that Friday night, it was challenging to align our views and build something together. We talked, ate, agreed, ate, disagreed and then ate some more, until we finally reached a group resolution and transformed the original idea into something different but exciting. Even though we didn’t win, we all felt a huge sense of accomplishment and pride for what we had achieved in just over 30 hours.

The Business Knowledge

You may be aware that the world of start ups contains one too many acronyms and business jargon which for someone like me who studied Politics and International Relations was not easily accessible. During SW I learned what many of those terms meant, i.e. USP, MVP, ROI, lean canvas, customer validation, pivoting etc, and the next time I heard them I felt really smug and cool as I knew what they meant.

The Collaborative Edge

Even though this was a competition that could have potentially led the teams to becoming the ultimate GLOBAL winner, people still managed to find the time to offer their skills to the wider group. For instance, graphic designers helped marketing folks in other teams, or web developers chipped in when others got stuck. Also, the coaches available on Saturday were extremely helpful in overcoming obstacles and thinking creatively about problems. Overall, this easily accessible pool of support created a friendly and warm environment throughout the competition.

The Pitch & The Final Presentation

Giving the final presentationThese two moments were a personal challenge. On the Friday night I decided to pitch and this was huge because I am quite a nervous public speaker. Yet, after successfully delivering the speech and passing that hurdle, I felt so much more confident and thought that if all else failed, at least I had pitched and got over the initial nerves in front of so many people. Also, on the last evening, I helped deliver the final presentation to the judges. I spoke clearly, overcame my nerves and kept within the time limits, and this made all the difference to my public speaking skills (which are thankfully getting better…)

The Aftermath

As I said, our team did not win any of the three places, however this didn’t stop me for pursuing my dreams, furthering my interest in entrepreneurship and connecting with like-minded people.

First, SW brought some really awesome people in my life who I am happy to have bounced ideas off, shared ups and downs with and get business and life advice from.

Second, it was because of SW that I worked with a client around the original idea I pitched and gained more insight into the challenges and opportunities of the process.

Third, it was after SW that I actively started searching for job opportunities and programmes related to entrepreneurship, which led me to where I am today: a member of the New Entrepreneurs Foundation (NEF) 2016 cohort and the Operations Manager of a Soho-based healthcare startup.

I applied for NEF after SW and 11 months later here I am tackling this massive journey of becoming an entrepreneur. I have used SW to illustrate a wide range of examples, skills and knowledge in my interviews, and I genuinely believe I wouldn’t be on the NEF programme having not shown some serious grit and passion during that cold weekend in November.

At the end of the day, for me attending SW was all about putting myself in really new, sometimes really uncomfortable but mostly really awesome situations, where I learned new things about myself and the world.

I strongly believe that we live in a world that belongs to learners, achievers and creative thinkers, people who can really show grit, passion and determination to make bold things happen.

SW Sheffield was a fantastic first opportunity for me to develop that warrior spirit.

Now it’s your turn. Whatever the outcome is, it holds no risk. Just opportunity.

Just do it, I know you will have an excellent time. Who knows, you might also change your life in the process and be part of that next big idea.

Perpetual peace,


Any questions you may have, don’t hesitate to give me a shout. I’m always up for connecting with interesting people. Here’s where you can find me:

EMAIL         mihaela.gruia@hotmail.com
TWITTER    @mihagruia
LINKEDIN   https://uk.linkedin.com/in/mgruia

Get involved in the next Startup Weekend Sheffield!

I found myself immersed in 48 hours of collaboration and positivity

OverHear Winning Team
That’s me, 3rd from the left!

I first attended Startup Weekend in November 2014, following a suggestion from a friend and previous winner. As an enthusiastic computer science student I had attended numerous hackathons in the past and was immediately struck by the difference in atmosphere. In contrast the highly competitive, 24 hour, energy drink fuelled coding binges I was so used to I found myself immersed in 48 hours of collaboration and positivity.

Startup Weekend attracts a diverse crowd of individuals from a large range of backgrounds, and by the speed at which ideas progressed the advantages of this diversity quickly became apparent. Being from a largely technical background I had little experience of concept validation or customer interaction but the amount I was able to learn about these topics with the help of my teammates was immense.

However, Startup Weekend has proven to be more than just a learning experience for me. I was used to developing software to solve problems that were of interest to me, but following the weekend I had gained insight into how I could apply my skills to produce something meaningful. This inspired me to attend my second Startup Weekend in June 2015 that my team and I won.

Perhaps the best aspect of the weekend is that winning is only one of many indications of success.

Interaction with the coaches as well as the public had not only provided the basis for significant improvement in the concept, but had inspired in us confidence of the real world value in what we had developed.

Events following the weekend moved quickly, and through the contacts we had obtained over the course of the weekend we found ourselves negotiating for the opportunity to be the official provider of mobile applications for Tramlines festival. This provided an entirely different experience, actively seeking out opportunity for our fledgling business. We were successful and over the course of 3 weeks in the run up to the festival we produced mobile applications for iOS and Android that were downloaded almost 3000 times. The enthusiasm we had from our experience at Startup Weekend was vital as we had to dedicate many sleepless nights to development, but the sense of achievement that resulted was incredible.

I think what I managed to achieve in the 3 weeks from the start of Startup Weekend to the start of Tramlines with a team of people I had never met before really is a good example of what the weekend and entrepreneurship generally is about. Working with people you’ve never met before is a very effective way of developing ideas and products to solve problems for people you have never met, and I can’t recommend it enough.

My two Startup Weekends have given me opportunities that would not have otherwise arisen, useful contacts and through my experience following the event an invaluable demonstration of how I can apply my skills (something I have exploited fully whilst applying for graduate schemes). Whether you are at university or not, if you have an interest in gaining experience and progressing your abilities whilst trying to improve the world around you, Startup Weekend is certainly one of the best and most enjoyable ways to get started.