Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Startup Weekend in London

Hello Startup Weekend family!

As you may already know, we are hosting a warm-up event and party for the 10th anniversary of Startup Weekend in London, on the 20th of September, 6:30pm at the Shoreditch Platform. Bring your Startup Weekend T-shirt and get ready for some networking, fun, music and awesome vibes!

What to expect

You will be able to meet old and new friends for the community, alumni, mentors, judges, speakers, and get to know more about how you can be involved in Startup Weekend. And please don’t hesitate if you haven’t participated in a London event, our party is open to members from all Startup Weekend communities globally!

As the Startup Weekend fall events in London are just around the corner, we will also be sharing a couple of tips, or what we call the Startup Weekend Survival Guide, so that you can prepare accordingly for your next event.

Fun with GIFs

We also wanted to let you know that we have arranged some serious fun for you. Thanks to Momentous Photo Booth we will be having a GIF Photo booth for you to take photos, convert to GIFs and upload on Twitter/Facebook! So make sure to bring your energy and show the community what Startup Weekend London is all about!

Hope to see you there! Register now on Eventbrite

PS: If you don’t know the password and wish to attend, request access at london@startupweekend.org

4 + 1 Emerging Technology Trends in Marketing and Advertising

I made my entry in the nascent, back then, European startup scene in 2006, when I launched a startup with two of my best friends, a platform for classifieds for boats, and I stepped foot in the already buzzing Silicon Roundabout in early 2010. I have a soft spot for NYC and London startup scenes as they both are in the unique position to translate tech in various industries that thrive in the same city, as well as set new trends, via collaboration of diverse international talent from creative and technical fields.

This is why, when I took over my role as Innovations manager for 18 at Havas UK, I was excited to introduce my new colleagues and partners in innovation to my world by taking them on a London Startup Tour.


Our tour ended like any tour should, with beers and good conversation, back at Havas HQ for Startup Weekend MADTech WarmUp. Itxaso Del Palacio, Investment Director at Lepe partners, Farid Haque, founder ERLY STAGE STUDIOS and Investment Associate at Lean Investments and Howard Kingston, co-founder of Adludio joined me on stage to discuss emerging technology trends that will impact advertising and marketing in the near future. So what does the future hold for marketing and advertising?

  1. Chatbots: Lets get this hot trend out the bag first- you knew it was coming! There are more than 135,000 results on Google news about chatbots and every brand wants one! Are chatbots the future of online interaction between brand and consumers or a fad much like Facebook commerce back in 2011? The truth is that FOMO has brought the “death” of many tech trends. Brands mindlessly jump on them, only to quickly pronounce them overhyped and move to the new one. Surely enough same seems to be happening with chatbots. There’s a plethora of branded bots out there already, but in most cases the experience seems underwhelming and not that different from chatting with an automated telephone menu. Being innovative doesn’t necessarily mean being first, it means being adaptive and adopting new technology trends in a meaningful way to deliver better products or services. In the case of chatbots it is more important than ever for brands to think about their “voice” and “personality” and how that will translate via text to their customers. What will also come into play is how brands will connect and use the wealth of data they have at hand to create truly personalized experiences that bring value and enable consumers to make informed buying decisions, a top priority for gen Z.
  2. Native advertising in games: Farid Haque advised this is the time to invest in native advertising in games, especially mobile. The reason why is due to the combination of the rise of mobile, ad-blocking and explosion of mobile gaming. Recent research projects an increase of 156% for native advertising, amounting to €13.2bn (£10.3bn), over the next five years. The majority of native advertising growth will be on mobile, estimating a future spend of €8.8bn (£6.8bn) in 2020. And while playing games is one of the top media activities on mobile, only 17% mobile game professionals said they served native ads in their free-to-play mobile games.
  3. Personalized communications powered by IoT: A lot has been written about IoT as the future of advertising. Itxaso Del Palacio highlighted the impact IoT can have, not by transforming our kitchen into another place to add a banner to or by tracking consumer behavior, but by pushing to our mobile relevant and personalized information. London buses are already powered to push relevant information to passengers via beacons, and more and more telecoms and retailers are getting ready to explore this emerging platform.
  4. VR: Inevitably VR was brought up as one of the most important emerging tech trends for advertising, marketing and beyond in the coming years.Howard Kingston compared VR to the rise of mobile a few years back and everyone on the panel agreed although VR has obstacles to overcome, it’s going to be a dominant platform. The key again like in the case of chatbots is long term investment and vision aligned to the brands’ broader strategy, instead of thoughtless execution which is bound to be met with disappointment at such an early stage for VR.
  5. AI: From cognitive marketing and bots to personalization, AI will be a game changer for advertising. AI can leverage vast amounts of data and adapt ads instantly to each individual’s personality and situation to create a truly personal brand experience. In the war of screen real estate, startups like Persado can enable brands to get the right call to action, while phraseepromises to deliver the perfect email subject line. Even in the case of influencer marketing brands now have the opportunity, with startups likePick1, to reach out to influencers that are aligned with their brand values and therefore form more authentic and long term relationships.

Feeling Inspired?

Join us for Startup Weekend Marketing & Advertising 13–15 May, at Havas HQ. Book NOW using the code SWMAD20 and get 20% OFF:


LETS BUILD STUFF!!!!!!!!!!! ❤

Preparing for the weekend

To better prepare you for the event, here is what to expect on Friday night!

Get to the right place on time! You have to register at 6:30pm at Google Campus. That means being here on time.


What To Bring

  • Laptop
  • Business Cards
  • Something to take notes on
  • A paper ticket is not required. Your name is on a list.
  • Lots of energy and excitement.



Pitches on Friday night will be in a “pitch-fire” format, which means you will have just 60 seconds to get the audience interested in your idea. You will have no slides or props -just your voice. You won’t have time to go over features, so just focus on the core of the idea and make your enthusiasm contagious. Here is the format for pitches that we recommend:

  • Who are you and what is your background? (5-10 Seconds)
  • What is the problem that your product is solving? Or, begin with a story (10-20 Seconds)
  • Explain the product and how it solves the problem (10-20 seconds)
  • Who do you need on your team (a developer, marketing, designer?) (5-10 seconds)
  • Finally, make up a name for your startup so the facilitator can give it a title


Voting & Forming Teams

After pitches, you will have more time to mingle. If you pitched an idea, this is your time to start recruiting others that may be interested in your idea. If you did not pitch, or if you are having trouble finding others to join your team, use this time to seek out those that pitched other ideas that you found interesting.

Next, the crowd votes on their favorite pitches.This is simply a way to encourage quick team forming. This is by no means an exclusive process and if you pitched an idea and it is not voted as one of the top ideas, you are more than welcome to work on it if you find some other people who want to work on the idea with you. From there we will form teams and these are the startup ideas that will be worked on over the weekend.

Preparing for the weekend

Last but not least, we want you to be as prepared as possible so please check out the Attendee Startup Tools document for training videos, best practices, and more! You can also find helpful tools here.


Atom and Startup Weekend – the future of FinTech, built today!

Atom is an app only bank for businesses and consumers. They are proud to call themselves the UK’s first bank designed for digital and optimised for mobile.

Atom is building an intuitive, transparent, personal, low cost and social bank – a bank for the digital future.


Some of the hallmarks of the Atom experience:

– One app for all

– Real time contextual information. There is no menu, as relevant contextual information is brought to the customer in the moment

– Intelligent data objects

– 3d animated experience

– Notification engine (in-App, Push, SMS, eMail)

– Real-time transactional service

– Forward looking and predicitive

– Rules engine ensures automated transactions

– Fun / engaging


All these features are key to Atom’s central goal – redefining what a bank should be. By making things straightforward, personal and ensuring great value Atom can deliver what no one else can.

With these ideas in mind Atom will be handing out one or two spot prizes to the participants who delivers the best ideas/solutions/products around these areas:

– Internet of things (connecting Atom to external device capabilities)

– iBeacon – nudge behaviour pre-purchase

– PFM (personal finance monitoring) – Setting up/managing financial goals, rewards, ‘what-ifs’, etc.

– PFM (personal finance monitoring) – Categorising spend in the best possible way (Geo location, category, brand, trends, comparisons)

– Community – lending, group payments, saving, Atom-wide and personal communities for information sharing)

Whether or not your idea touches on these points doesn’t matter. It’s of great value to all of you to know what one of the most innovative and exciting brands of the UK Fintech industry is thinking about. So keep these themes and areas of interest in mind come May 6th!


We look forward to seeing you there. Get the last few tickets here

The Startup Weekend Team and Atom Bank.


Startup Weekend Judging criteria

With prizes ranging from cash, professional mentoring, swag and internships at great companies there is a lot at stake during Startup Weekend.

Of course, the weekend is about much more than winning. But in order to keep your head on your shoulders during the hectic 54 hours it’s important to remember what you are expected to present at the end of the event. We therefore wanted to give you a look into what our judges will be thinking about on Sunday evening.

The Startup Weekend judging criteria is broken up into three sections. Teams are judged according to the following 3 criteria (weighted equally):

  • Business Model
    • How does the team plan on making this a successful business? Have they thought about (either solved or identified problems) competition, how to scale, acquiring customers, their revenue model etc?
  • Customer Validation
    • Are teams building something that people actually want? How well does the team understand their customer and their customer’s needs. Did the team get out and talk to customers? What is the value proposition to customers?
  • Execution & Design
    • Have they established a “Minimal Viable Product” for the weekend (software, hardware, etc.)? *Note: an MVP is the minimum set of features to be able to start collecting data. Does it deliver a compelling and captivating user experience? Were they able to demo something functional?

Get your ticket today to get the chance to impress the judges with your idea! Tickets available here

The Developer’s Guide to Startup Weekend

A 54 hour Hack-a-thon of the magnitude of Startup Weekend is a bit preposterous to those of us whose timeline usually consist of months not hours. Think about it. We need to come up with an idea, develop this idea in a team environment, develop a working prototype, and develop a comprehensive business plan. All in 54 hours… umph, Sounds Crazy! But, guess what, it is crazy. And such an Awesome experience. So, what does a savvy Hacker need to bring to this event? Or is the question what doesn’t a Savvy Hacker need at this event?

Here are a few things are more seasoned Hackers recommend bringing to the event. If you plan ahead, your first Startup Weekend can be a success. If you don’t plan ahead… Well, let’s just say your head might explode.

This is a Social Event

Bring your Hacker skills, but don’t forget this is a networking event and you have to mingle. The first night is all about networking. Here you will ask people, what they are (Biz Dev, Designer, Coder, Human, or Zombie), What they do for a living, What brought them to the event, etc. Just small talk. The point of this exercise is to find some people you wouldn’t mind working with. A lot of people are active on social media and blogging, use this to your advantage. Be Friendly & Social!

 Ideas are free, as in FREEDOM!

Don’t be afraid to share your idea. Remember you are here to work in a collaborative work environment and the only way your idea is going to get some ideas to move is to share. Everyone at the event has the next million-dollar idea. At the pitch session you will probably hear close to 50 pitches. If your ideas are good, you won’t have to force them on anyone. Good people will find you!

You are an Amur Leopard or Black-Eyed Tree Frog i.e. You are Rare & Special ?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of Hackers who show up to these events. You are a commodity and lots of people will be coming to you. Every project needs programmers and most of the time, people will approach you. Use this to your advantage and pick the idea you like the most. Chances are you won’t be the only Hacker on your team. Also, the mentors have experience and will offer guidance throughout the event. Enjoy the ride my Black-Eyed Tree Frog, just don’t wound up like Steve Irwin!

It is a LONG Weekend…

Yes, it is a long weekend, but the food is free and it won’t be all work. If you find good team they may let you sleep an hour between Hack sessions. The reality of the situation is that you will put in a couple of long rewarding days. If you need personal space, we recommend bringing headphones with you. This will enable you to tune out those around you and get some work done. Remember from our last point, YOU ARE A COMMODITY. Let your team know that you need some uninterrupted time to get the next feature done. Stock up on energy drinks, do some yoga, and bring some positive energy. You’ll need it!

Ruby on Rails is King!

Just get over it. Your Java skills won’t cut it. Your late night hacking on the Linux kernel won’t give you much help this weekend. Ruby and Ruby on Rails seems to be very popular at these things. The one thing that rails gives you that other frameworks don’t are the fast scaffolding of an application. Python junkies can still be useful, as a few groups will go towards the Django/Pylons/etc. route. You can even go as the sole developer in a group if you find yourself better than average at another MVC framework.

Also, that windows laptop really won’t cut it. I hate to say it (as I’m typing on my Windows 7 laptop), but Ruby on Rails sucks on Windows. No worries though, just download VirtualBox and the latest copy of Ubuntu and go wild. Installing Rails on Ubuntu is a breeze if you follow the simple instructions. For those still inclined to stick with windows, you can follow these instructions instead.

Have A Blast

Remember, this is your weekend. You are doing something different, exciting, and worth bragging about. Don’t stress out about adding last minute features and just roll with the punches. There are no managers riding your coattails nor is anyone harping on you about the extra features. Complete as much as you can in the time given and try go for the gold. If you’re on a good team, follow the rules laid out before you, and come in with a great attitude then, and only then, will you survive Startup Weekend.

We look forward to seeing you at Startup Weekend Fintech on May 6th! Get your dev tickets here.

The Designer’s guide to Startup Weekend

Whether you’re a web designer, graphic artist or art director, Startup Weekend offers an opportunity to test your skills, make valuable connections and apply your expertise to a fresh idea.

What will you get from the weekend? Here’s a great visual summary from designer Iryna Nezhynska.

Get your ticket for Startup Weekend FinTech here.

Startup Weekend Fintech announcing Atom Bank as headline sponsor!

We are thrilled to introduce Atom as our headline sponsor! As one of the biggest and most exciting names within FinTech Atom’s sponsorship shows just how valuable Startup Weekend is to the startup ecosystem, and how it is the event to attend for cutting edge ideas and entrepreneurship.

Atom will be working closely with the organisers to provide assets, ideas, swag and mentoring to the attendees – as well as featuring on the judging panel.

Atom wants to let people know that “Start-up Weekend is a perfect opportunity for Atom to work hand in hand with FinTech innovators, getting directly involved and sharing ideas with the design and developer communities. The Atom Bank App will be forever evolving and now we’ve got our banking licence and have launched, the weekend provides us with a great way to work directly with talented individuals to get input and ideas on what the future of banking should look like.”

As a headline sponsor Atom is excited to work with Startup Weekend attendees on specific areas of interest that include Internet of Things, iBeacon (nudge behaviour), Personal Finance Management (both around Goals and Spend Categorisation), and Community sharing.

We can’t wait for the weekend to get underway and with the support of Atom we are confident that the event will be a great one all our attendees!

Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to the event!

The Startup Weekend team

[bctt tweet=”Startup Weekend #FinTech announcing Atom Bank as headline sponsor! http://www.techstars.com/content/community/startup-weekend-…headline-sponsor/”]

How to Get the Most Out of Your Startup Weekend

Have you ever felt the urge to:

    • Lock yourself in a room with 100 people for 54 hours
    • Test your limits of sleep deprivation
    • Get grilled by some of the toughest industry experts around?

If the answer is yes, then chances are, you’re a crazy-ass entrepreneur and you should sign up for your local Startup Weekend.

It isn’t always pretty. It will be one of the most gruelling, mentally-draining weekends of your life. You will go at 1000 miles/hour, and guess what? It still won’t be fast enough.

But, if you can stick it out, you will have gained the equivalent of months worth of learning, building, and networking in one weekend. Hell, you might even start your first company. It worked for Groupnotes.

But you need to prepare before showing up. Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.

Without further ado, here’s the lowdown on making the most out of Startup Weekend.

1. Make Friends with the Makers

By the end of the first hour, you better be buds with at least one developer.

You will be in a room with 100+ high-energy entrepreneurs – and everyone wants to meet people. You need to very quickly narrow in on the people that you need to meet. The worst thing you can do is team up with clones of yourself. You need to find people with complementary programming and business skills to help build, test, and validate your product.

You might be talking to your future co-founders, developers, or idea generators. But remember, you won’t have a product unless you have people who can help you build.


2. Know How to Pitch: It’s All About the Story

“You’re not just selling your story — you’re selling yourself” says Matt Gardner of Groupnotes, the 2012 Startup Weekend’s Global Startup Battle winners. If you want the people you meet to become life-long mentors and friends – you better make yourself stand out.

You’ll be in a room full of 300 people who are vying for each others’ attention. If you aren’t able to express who you are and what you want to do clearly and quickly, people will have trouble connecting with and remembering you.

Here’s the kicker – all of your hard work boils down to a 5-minute pitch with a demo.

Ahead of time, you’re not gonna know what the hell you need to say, but there are some things that you can practice.


  1. Look at the judging criteria ahead of time so that you’ll rock all the sections.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the brief from the headline sponsor so that you make sure you focus your idea on their area of interest.
  3. If your pitch is less than 5 minutes, you should only have one person up there. Make sure that you pick somebody awesome. Make sure that they have a bulletproof understanding of the business.
  4. Give someone the job of brainstorming the hardest questions that the judges will ask. Figure out how to respond to all of these questions from vertical integration to alternate routes to monetization, competitors, etc.

What is Matt Gardner’s #1 piece pitch advice? Focus on validation: “if you cannot prove that this product is needed and has demand, you don’t have a product”.


3. Don’t Build a Company: Build a Product

Entire companies aren’t built in 54 hours. If you’re planning to sit around and form a fully-fledged new venture, Startup Weekend will be a total waste of time. It’s all about kicking ass at one thing —  developing your product.

Leverage the expertise of your mentors to build a strategic plan and core business model around it. Don’t worry about the administrative stuff — that doesn’t need to be perfect. If you focus on a building a quality product, you’ll find that that is what continues to have value beyond Startup Weekend.


4. Expect that People Might Leave

People often sign up for Startup Weekend without really knowing what to expect. Some people will love it, others will go running for the hills. And that is not the end of the world.

Focus on building trust and motivating your team. When people feel like a valued member of the group, they will want to stick around. “Everyone on the team has their specialty, and you need to be able to trust that they will get the work done on time and with good quality”, says Matt. Things get pretty damn brutal, and it can be tempting to quit. But if people are motivated and engaged, nothing will be able to drag them away.


5. Build Your Network: Take Coffee Breaks with 15 People

From your peers to mentors, everyone at Startup Weekend is there because they really, genuinely want to be there. Experienced entrepreneurs are busy as hell, but they volunteer at Startup Weekend for one reason — they love to help and give valuable advice.

If you do it right, you’ll be able to capitalize on that good will for years to come. “Don’t just talk to them, listen to what they have to say” explains Matt Gardner,  “their opinions may be wildly different from how you think, but that’s a good thing – they will help play devil’s advocate”.

These are some of the coolest relationships that you’ll form in your life. You never know where your peers are going to be in a few years, and you never know who will become your most trusted advisors. Most importantly, you ever know what you will learn about yourself.

Have fun. Bond. Make time for 1:1s. At the very least, you’ll have a great conversation.

For many, Startup Weekend is the start of something bigger, so make it count.



(Author: Renee Warren, Co-founder of Onboardly http://blog.clarity.fm/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-startup-weekend/)

Are You a Foodie? #SWyum recap

After months of preparation, SW Food has come and gone! Before our memories fail us, let’s try to capture the most unforgettable moments of #SWyum.



In our first blogpost, we mentioned the international mix of our organizing team, representing the UK, US, China, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy… and how our love of food brought us to organise the event. The attendees beat us at our own game by travelling to London for our event, from countries including Belgium, France, Ireland, Sweden, and Switzerland, to name a few. Wow!

And it didn’t stop there. We had a brilliant designer join us remotely from Dubai, who helped several of our teams with amazing designs throughout the weekend. So special shout out to Zahed Mirza!

One of the striking things the organisers noticed was how easily the participants interacted and collaborated throughout the event (we even noticed a few people consulting and giving feedback across teams!). With so much to fit in to 54 hrs, it’s easy to get caught up with the work – but the people you meet and the network you build are ultimately the most valuable takeaway you’ll get from Startup Weekend.




Mentors, Speakers, and Judges:

We had 20 brilliant speakers, mentors, and judges, who provided top-notch support to our teams. Participants noted the high quality mentorship as being a highlight of the event, so thank you all!

Friday: Patrick Drake of HelloFresh, kicked things off by inspiring us all with his story of how leading a double life of playing lawyer by day and chef by night, lead him to venture out to pursue his love of food full time.

Saturday: Danny Bluesone of CyberDuck gave us a wonderful talk on lean UX and personas to get the teams on the right track with their product design. Our mentoring sessions for Sat included: Corrado Accardi of Pizza Rossa, Fahim Hussain of Market Munch, Ali Meruani of Menuspring, Tania Pasia of Red Badger, Ivan Shyr of Sussex Place Ventures, Chris Steinau of Uncover, and David Voxlin of Craved.

Sunday: On Sunday, we continued mentoring with seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organiser Amalia Agathou, Kastytis Kemezys of Cinnamon Bridge and Dave McDougall of Hult Business School. Our judges who helped us make the tough call on deciding the winners of the event were JinA Bae of CHOPCHOP (a former SW winner herself!), Madeleine Blyth of Techstars, Kastytis Kemezys of Cinnamon Bridge, Ryan Perera of Henchman, Ivan Shyr of Sussex Place Ventures, and Raj Sharma of Only By Nature.

Startup Weekend is ALL about community, and we loved seeing so many SW community leaders come out for the event. Special shout out to our new friends from SW Ireland, who we were thrilled to meet and get some top tips from. And another special shout out to Ryan Kuder from Techstars, who stopped by throughout the weekend to help mentor some of our teams.





Now what you’ve all been waiting for – the menu for the weekend, followed by a few of our favourite #foodporn moments 😉  We guarantee that SW Food was certainly the best fed hackathon in town!

Friday: We started the event off in true hackathon style with pizza and beer – but took it up a notch with mentor Corrado Accardi’s Pizza Rossa.

Saturday: Best to start the day happy and healthy with breakfast from MangoMango and your not so average salads from Pollen & Grace. Harry Thuillier of Oppo hand delivered some of his delicious Oppo ice cream, and even found some time to talk to us and help out some of the teams. After an exhausting day of hard work, our lovely sponsors from Hungry House were there to save the day with some delicious Thai and Indian food.

Sunday: Keeping it simple again for breakfast, with a spread of bagels and fruit. For lunch, Hungry House spoiled us AGAIN, with sushi from Youme sushi, and we also had some sandwiches from Pret. And finally, we had some delicious Hummos Bros. Gipsy Hill helped us to top off the event by sponsoring beer – it was a huge hit, and the packaging put a smile on everyone’s faces.

Snacks and drinks: We were spoiled with choices from our snack sponsors, who helped fuel us throughout the weekend. A HUGE thank you goes out to: Nari Palm Juice, Nudie Snacks, Propercorn, Rude Health, Urban Fruit, and Vita Coco.







Before this blogpost gets out of hand (thanks for making it this far!), check out a great recap of the pitches here. Our recap of the winning teams, and the team MVP awards is posted here.

The winning teams won awesome prizes, including office space at WeWork, places in Cinnamon Bridge’s food startup bootcamp, advisory with Crowdfooding, and a workshop with Startup Manufactory. Shaken Cocktails also sponsored a box for each winning team to celebrate. The MVP winners each got a HelloFresh box to continue the #yum at home. We hope that these prizes will help encourage and support them in continuing with their entrepreneurial pursuits.

Last but not least, the organising team wants to thank our wonderful facilitator Maria-Christina Tsitsopoulos, for her support, and putting up with our crazy antics over the weekend 🙂

This was our first time organising a Startup Weekend, so thanks all for making it one to remember! Keep an eye out for us in the future, because in the words of M. Schwarzenegger – We’ll be back.