Creating space for entrepreneurs to flurish

Final Group Photo Nov 2016
Final Group Photo Nov 2016


So the first Leeds Startup Weekend has just drawn to a finish. Late at night in the Belgrave Music Hall the community of entrepreneurs took their ideas from concept to execution over a 52 hour period are not quite ready to see the weekend come to a close. Despite the fact that most worked so hard and are ready to for a solid night’s sleep they are eager to make the most of the last evening by networking with their new connections and friends.  Combine that with the fact they ventured well out of comfort zone to do things like pitching, walking up and getting feedback from complete strangers or just building a collaborative team from people they had met less than 1 hour before anything this amazing group did after was well deserved.

Startup Weekend is almost magical in that every time the event is run – which now take place in over 150 locations around the world – it blows away expectations for what you can accomplish in a relatively short time. When it takes place a new part of the entrepreneur community is born. For me the weekend is far more than just starting a business. It’s really about finding like-minded people who have a similar attitude and tenacity – they all want to build a business and all see innovation and creativity as the norm. In a world where most of us work for someone else, with the majority of people in the UK working for some sort of public sector organisation. Be it the NHS, Local Government, schools, military etc – then finding others who bring together their ambition, creativity, ability to adapt and learn and most of all take a risk with their ideas in a way that is exposing and fulfilling is surprisingly unusual.

One participant said it well “I feel like a door has opened in my mind.”

Product Designer Peter Roll talking through hardware prototyping

Creating the space where strangers can connect, share ideas and be challenged from mentors and judges is very important. This weekend was created by an amazingly talented group of people from freelancers to entrepreneurs and just as importantly key people from both universities in the city. This meant that no one organisation was responsible for the event. Importantly, it is a group effort, and it puts aside the agendas of each partner to create a space where constituents from all our networks can connect and grow new potential companies. We were helped by Eva, an experienced Startup Weekend facilitator who has run several weekends in Macedonian and Bulgaria – the startup community is international and close knit.

Are you ready to build awesome companies? @naloria getting us ready for a big weekend
Are you ready to build awesome companies? @naloria getting us ready for a big weekend

Here’s a rollcall of the teams:

Bloom – Inspired by her personal experience of living with her curls, Abigale and her team built a personalised subscription service providing your monthly supply of haircare products chosen just for you and your hair.

Vimla Appadoo @thatgirlvim coaching session with team Bloom

Personal trainer Mark and his team developed a time saving, money saving approach to eating healthy with WIP – personalised meal plans and food delivery service.

Motivated by their own experiences Where’s My Child is a wrist band that helps you keep track of your child, while giving them the freedom to roam within a selected safe distance, warning you when they stray too far away.

Each week 11 people commit suicide in the UK, this is a shocking number, even more worrying were the findings by Andrea and her team that very few people knew where to seek help if they were worried a friend or loved one – Help Geoff was the interactive game they developed to address this issue.

Q was also inspired by a big health problem, but this one was the amount spent on legal bills by patients and the NHS in litigation. First Resolve offers a high level assessment of the potential of each claim using powerful algorithms and also promoting the potential for a swifter, less costly mediation approach.

Building on his experiences of working in an innovative company, MB and the team developed Tracktion, a tool for surfacing innovations and ideas from across the workforce and using crowd validating the ideas through peer review and voting.

FB Seekers working well into Saturday night

FB Seekers were the largest team and had world domination ambitions for their market place for student’s sourcing skills such as language tuition, cleaning and IT support from fellow students.

These are all awesome teams and the point of the weekend was that everyone built a startup idea, learnt a hell of a lot, made some awesome friends and had fun!

If you want to join us next time follow @SWLeedsUK. If you want to find out more check out our how it all worked out blog! 

Big thank you:

Spark – University of Leeds, Leeds Beckett University, Unilever, 3Volution, KPMG, Infinity Works and Futurelabs for sponsoring the first Startup Weekend: Leeds