← Techstars Blog

Startup Weekend is a worldwide movement that brings together entrepreneurs, designers, developers and startup experts to build creative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems – all in one exhilarating weekend. Here’s what organiser, Andy Stannard had to say about the experience.

 

Startup Weekends are all about building products, teams and friendships to teach entrepreneurship and maybe even form a new business. They start on a Friday with networking and pitching, before participants vote on their favourite ideas and form teams. On Saturday the teams research the business idea and it’s viability using the lean business canvas as a guide and then move onto customer research and prototyping. Sunday is finally about refining the work and creating a presentation to tell the story of the idea. Throughout the weekend mentors are on hand to offer guidance and feedback, allowing the teams to gain valuable insights and experience.

The teams

At Startup Weekend Derby we had six teams formed for our first ever event;

That Crowd – an event booking site
Ari – a new design for a single blade razor
Groüp&go – a group ticket booking site
Get Hired – an industry-specific career advice service
Cook anywhere today – combining travelling with cooking lessons
The rent is too damn high – a property rental information portal

What’s great about Startup Weekends?

Startup Weekends have had a huge positive impact on my life. They’ve helped me to gain confidence, make new friendships and build a huge respect for startups and the people behind them. I love the can-do attitude of the attendees and the feeling of energy that flows through the event. Startup Weekends are always full of positive people who dream big and put their words to action.

You’ll typically find people collaborating, discussing and helping each other whilst others have their heads down hammering away new prototypes and preparing customer surveys. Throughout Startup Weekend Derby I was delighted to hear so many people mention how inspired they were feeling.

Getting started in Derby

Much like the teams taking part, running an event is a real team effort. My good friend Giorgio Cassella who I met at Startup Weekend Sheffield also wanted to put on a Startup Weekend in Derby. We both felt Derby has huge potential with its strong community of talented people. Derby is well known for its huge engineering companies but that more creative industry players often seemed to get left out. This is why we choose Derby, to help strengthen the creative tech scene and encourage more collaboration between university students and established industry professionals.

The Derby tech community soon stepped up to help run the event, including my friend and colleague Stela Zlatkova, entrepreneur Sean Price, and Business Woman and Derby University employer engagement lead Bev Crighton.

As word got out, and with the help of our industry contacts, we managed to put together an amazing group of mentors for the event. We had Phil Hornby, Helen Clark, Ben Smithwell, Chris Kemp and Sharon Stevens-Cash all offering their help and advice – they provided great sounding boards to the teams. As an organiser, it was great to see how the team’s ideas progressed into well throughout and researched products; complete with prototypes. All the mentors were amazed by the work produced.

And the winner is…

After pulling together on the Sunday for a final push on their products, we all collected back into the lecture theatre to see the team’s final presentations. We had a great panel of judges including Samantha Deakin Hill of Campus Capital, Dawn Foote of Katapult, Justin Johnson of Biotaware and Bruce McLeod the Enterprise Advisor of Derby University.

All the teams made extremely professional presentations and the mood in the room was one of energy and illation. The judging took a long time due to the closeness of the event, but ultimately the winners were Cook anywhere today with GetHired closely following as the runners-up. We also included two sponsor awards with the inniAccounts Award For Innovation going to The rent is too damn high and the Spark Award For Creativity going to Group & Go.

Our amazing sponsors

Events like this wouldn’t be possible without having sponsors to provide the money needed for supplies and catering. We were very fortunate to have inniAccounts quickly offer to help not only as a sponsor but as volunteers at the event. James Poyser, co-founder of inniAccounts, gave our keynote speech. Discussing the inniAccounts journey from just an idea to a startup and finally onto a fully established business. Our attendees appreciated his honest summary of the issues and struggles faced by startups aswell as his pragmatic advice on how to overcome these problems.

We were also very happy to have Tutora as a pledged sponsor for the event, especially as they were going through a funding round at the time.

The Spark Agency and RDS also stepped in to help with funding the event. Without all these amazing sponsors, Startup Weekend Derby wouldn’t have been possible.

We’re just getting started

Well done to everyone involved, I feel very proud to have been part of such a great event. But this event is only a starting point. We’re going to continue growing and getting even better. So, if you would like to get involved simply find us on Facebook at Startup Weekend Derby or send a tweet over to @SWDerby. We’re always on the lookout for volunteers, organisers, sponsors and participants. Let’s get started!

Giorgio Cassella