What Startup Weekend Taught Me About Teamwork

Guest post by Alex from Sanderson Labs, attendee of Startup Weekend Sheffield in June 2016. 

When I found out about @SWSheffield, I debated for a long time whether I should go or not. I didn’t want to launch a business, I already had one, and there was no plan to change that. So why go?

Well, I wanted to see how I felt about working on businesses with a team, as opposed to being a freelance/indie developer, which can be isolating. This was a chance to get out and find out what I wanted. There was going to be 3 meals a day (very important), what did I have to lose?

At the event, a guy called Ted gave me the obligatory t-shirt and name tag before telling me where the food was. I grabbed some snacks and sat down amongst the other attendees. I managed to get chatting to a few people, and before I knew it, my nerves had gone.

Pitch Time…team formed, now it began, for real.

I didn’t have an idea (like most) and that wasn’t a problem, you don’t need to have an idea. After the people who did had pitched, the facilitator offered everyone else the chance, even if it was a small half-baked idea. I decide in that moment to take a chance and get the experience. So, I stood up and gave it a go. I would say it wasn’t my finest moment, but I delivered!

Pitches over, ideas narrowed down to the popular ones, it was time to join a team, my main reason for coming along. I’d made a choice and sold my skills to Saskia, who had an idea named ‘Spare Change’. Our team of 6 was formed, and now it began, for real.

We grabbed a table, which would become Spare Change HQ for the weekend. This was my first opportunity to see how working in a team felt. There’s no hierarchy or power plays here. This is proper teamwork. We all offered up our thoughts and within a few hours we had refined a high-level idea into a well-defined business plan. Tomorrow was the day we would validate, but for now it was home to bed, worn out from the excitement.

Saturday…it’s work that you actually want to do.

We regrouped over breakfast (very important), shared ideas we’d thought about overnight and what followed was 24 hours of exhausting, exciting and fun work. This is work, but it’s work that you actually want to do. You have the choice of doing something new or sticking to what you know. You can go out and pound the pavement doing customer interviews, or remain indoors working on mockups and pitch decks. The weekend isn’t about what you can and can’t do, it about what you want to do.

When Things Clicked…the importance of a good team.

About halfway through, I realised the importance of a good team. A team needs to be balanced. Someone with the skill and passion to do a job that you don’t like is invaluable. You can’t do everything on your own, and I don’t pretend I can, but sometimes I thought I had to, being a solo-founder and all. I learnt that it’s OK (and good) to trust in others.

When 2pm Sunday hits all too soon, you need to trust in all to deliver a good pitch. It’s a team effort. After working most of the night (optional), there isn’t much energy to worry, just have fun instead.

Advice: You should listen to the organisers, they’ve primed the judges on what to look for, so focus on hitting the same points. They will tell you, so listen!

Is that good advice? Yes, we followed that, and we won! I’ll tell you now, the feeling of winning after an exhausting 56 hours is immense. In that moment, everything you’ve worked toward, pays off! We won prizes, and had an awesome afterparty with everyone that attended.

A Year On…

I still enjoy steering my own ship, but I changed from wanting to be a one-man band, to build a valuable team and working together. Although we disbanded the idea a few months on, I made a good friend (shoutout to Harry) and we’re working on a new idea.

I gained a lot from the Sheffield Startup Weekend experience and I recommend it to all. There’s a lot of fun to be had, a lot of knowledgeable people to meet and plenty to learn about yourself. You’ll make friends, win prizes (even if you don’t win 1st place) – I came away with a unicorn 🦄 mug and a chicken 🐥 …

Tickets are available online via Eventbrite.com

For more information, visit www.sheffield.up.co or email sheffield@startupweekend.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SWSheffield / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StartupWeekendSheffield

Get ready for launch – Startup Weekend Sheffield returns!

After debuting our first event way back in 2012, the team behind Startup Weekend Sheffield are gearing up for a special 10th edition of our weekend long entrepreneurial extravaganza.

Taking place on 2nd – 4th June at the University of Sheffield’s Diamond building, Startup Weekend sees participants progress from pitching an idea to launching a real business, in just three days. At the end of the weekend, teams present their ideas, the research behind them and show off the prototype to an expert panel of judges.

Sheffield has a huge pool of talent and is an ideal location for you to launch a new venture, and a Startup Weekend is a great place to kick it off. It’s a chance to learn, be inspired and meet likeminded people to collaborate with.

A team of mentors, experts in all aspects of business, development, design and pitching will be on hand to help teams develop their ideas of the weekend. As a special theme for the 10th event, we’re inviting ‘blast from the past’ judges and mentors who have helped host previous events. If you’re an experienced Startup Weekender you’ll probably recognise a few!!

At other Startup Weekends all over the world, teams have gone on to create successful businesses worth millions of pounds and Sheffield has its own success stories. Drone-footage company, Airstoc, and Goodvid.io, a platform to connect brands with user generated video content, were both conceived during a Startup Weekend Sheffield event.

“Attending Startup weekend generally did transform my life. It opened my eyes to the tech world and what could be achieved in a short space of time with the right team. For Airstoc, we used it to test out an idea and even more importantly, to find potential co-founders, which enabled us to start our own business the following month. For anyone who is interested in entrepreneurship, or just wants a fun weekend, I highly recommend it.”

Giles Moore, Co-Founder and CEO at Airstoc

“I wasn’t sure what to expect from Startup Weekend other than the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with like-minded people. But it turned out that it was Startup Weekend Sheffield that got Goodvid.io started. It was all the motivation we needed to put other things aside and start working on Goodvid.io as our main project.”

Dimitrios Kourtesis, Co-Founder at Goodvi.io

You don’t need to have an idea or an existing team to join in. You don’t even need to be from Sheffield to take part with people from all over the UK joining in. Just turn up with an open mind, the will to get started, and a ticket!

Tickets are available online via Eventbrite.com – just search for ‘Startup Weekend Sheffield.

For more information, visit www.sheffield.up.co or email sheffield@startupweekend.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SWSheffield / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StartupWeekendSheffield

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!