The versatile nature of the Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend Sheffield is back in November! The 15th edition!!! Of the event in Sheffield will take place in the newest incubator in Sheffield – Kollider, on the 22 to 24 November and our goal is simple – we want to create the best environment for a weekend for the attendants to create the best startups they can.

The Startup Weekend celebrates entrepreneurship and thus is viewed by the public as an event solely focused on targeting people that want to be founders, just like Hackathons are mostly targeting computer programmers and Sales Competitions – business students and Salespeople.

This is profoundly wrong. What’s special about the Startup Weekend is its versatility and how it can be an experience that brings benefits to wide range of sectors and people of many professional occupations. Here is how the Startup Weekend can be of value for you besides the simple ‘create a business in 55 hours’:

  1. Future founders – the group that can probably benefit the most from a Startup Weekend. People that want to start their own businesses can often fall in the trap of the infinite amount of resources out there and get confused – what should they do exactly? The structure of the startup weekend has been proven to be a natural way of developing your business from scratch – pitch, create a prototype, validate, grow. And all of that – in 55 hours!
  2. Founders – many people that have started their own business take that as the last stop, as if learning is not valuable after that. We believe that even people that have gone through the different stages of building their startups can benefit enormously by going through the process again, may be finding mistakes that they did and having the chance to correct them. It is also an opportunity to face similar challenges that you have with your own business and have the opportunity to seek opinions from different people at the event – thus finding a solution faster and cheaper. Learning should never stop.
  3. Employees – so what you have an established career as an engineer? A different environment could be a great way to find a new motivation and try to solve a problem you don’t have the opportunity to solve in your regular job. Whether you work in marketing, HR, software development or as a bartender, sales assistant or secretary, the Startup Weekend is a great way to escape the daily routine of your job and dive deep into the fascinating world startup.
  4. Academics – buried in 1000-page long books, academics can forget to pay attention to the changing landscape of business around them and the Startup Weekend gives them the opportunity to learn new and practical solutions which they can implement in their teaching session after. It is also a good way to stimulate your students – they are more likely to spend a weekend building a business if their teacher is willing to do the same!
  5. – no matter what you want to do in life, learning how to build a business is a valuable skill. The intensity of the weekend and the pace you have to work with within 55 hours is unknown to laid-back students who most of the time leave everything for the last week. Well here you don’t have one week – you have two days, so the need for action can empower everyone to work harder and I believe this can be of huge benefit for students.

No matter of one’s background, we believe that the Startup Weekend’s versatility can prove beneficial to everyone. Sheffield’s Startup Ecosystem is not limited to the startups and incubators and should be expanded to universities, their enterprise entities, large enterprises across the city and public organizations supporting the new businesses, giving a chance to more people and teams to benefit from one another. And the Startup Weekend can be the cornerstone of this cooperative culture!


No idea – no problem

You have heard about this thing called Techstars Startup Weekend that is taking place in Sheffield 22nd-24th November 2019. You love the thought of spending a weekend building a business, but there is a problem in the back of your mind. You don’t have an idea!

No problem. Not everyone who attends has an idea. When people arrive, I usually find that only 25% do have one!

So, what do you do if you don’t have an idea? You join in. You listen to the other people who have an idea, and you join one of them.

I have been to a lot of these events at locations including Sheffield, Derby and Cambridge. I have attended (competed and done pretty well), I have volunteers, and I have coached. What I have seen happen every time is that by the end of the Friday 75% of people have an idea that they pitch.

They take inspiration from the people around them. They usually have something they have been thinking about for a while but don’t think it is “ready”. The reality is that we could probably all identify 100 different problems that people have. Most people believe they need to perfect the solution before they can pitch it. But the secret of a good idea is just that, understand the problems people have, the pain that they feel.

Even if people have only half an idea, if there think there might be something that people care about, then it is a great place to start. Pitch it anyway. Because the reality is that throughout the weekend it will take on a life of its own. It will grow and evolve. As other people work on it with you and you talk to potential customers, you learn new things. It grows, changes and evolves.

I have pitched an idea every time I have taken part, but I had only planned what I was going to pitch in advance twice. Sometimes it is something another attendee says that triggers the critical thoughts that becomes the idea. Sometimes it is something on the radio that day or something my wife said that morning. The sources of inspiration are many and variable.

So, don’t be scared if you don’t have an idea or you only have half an idea. Come along. If you want to pitch the half-formed idea, if not, then that is no problem too.

Even if you do pitch an idea, it might not get selected. There are always more ideas than people to form teams. You might pitch or not. Either way, there will be an idea that you like from the other people who attend too. So, you might want to join them anyway.

That is part of the spirit of the event, join in, whether it is your idea or someone else’s. Join a team and see what you can build over the weekend. You never know you might leave it with a business you can take forward, a bunch of new friends or the cofounders you need for your next idea.

What have you got to lose? A weekend of fun, with great people awaits. Did we say that it includes all your meals too! And you might even win some prizes!

What are you waiting for? Buy your ticket today!

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye! Until next time that is…

Wow. What a weekend!

 Can you believe two weeks have passed already?

All of us on the organising team had an absolute blast with you guys at Startup Weekend. It’s crazy to think from humble beginnings back in 2012, we’ve now had 10 successful Startup Weekends in Sheffield!

We’ve had hundreds of attendees join us at multiple venues over the years, pitching hundreds more amazing, innovative and downright awesome ideas. We’ve witnessed teams rise to the top, going on to further success after the weekend – but we’ve also witnessed teams fail to validate and find viable revenue streams, and consequently fall apart.

It’s all part of life as a startup.

What’s really cool is what you all achieved over one short weekend.

We started on Friday with 42 enthusiastic participants, of which 40 were complete Startup Weekend newbies. As organisers this is wonderful to see. The reason we volunteer our time to organise these events is to inspire, educate and empower people like you to come and have a go at starting your own business’.

From here, 25 kick-ass ideas were pitched, before being whittled down by popular vote into 8 well-rounded teams.

 With the help of 1 inspiring speaker (Thanks Paul!) and 8 incredibly supportive and experienced coaches, every team managed to validate and produce MVPs to present to our judges.

Ultimately, come Sunday evening, every single team pitched brilliantly to a panel of judges known to be tough-cookies (especially with the last minute appearance of Scott Woodley from Tutora). You weathered their questions and inquisitions before 3 teams were finally crowned winners of the 10th Startup Weekend Sheffield, plus one most excellent crowd-favourite.

Of course, we then all went to celebrate with far too much food and plenty of refreshing cocktails – it’s what everyone looks forward to about the weekend, right? 😉

It’s important to know that whether you win at Startup Weekend or not, if you’re passionate about pursuing your ideas and can validate a need for your product/service within your target audience, you should absolutely go for it.

We want to be inviting you guys as mentors and judges at our 20th event, so get cracking!

To cap it off: We really enjoyed ourselves and we hope you did too. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making Startup Weekend AH-MAY-ZING!

Stay in touch, let us know what you’re up to and just ask if you need any support. See you next time, maybe?

Chris, Chrissie, Eva, Giorgio, Harriet & James

P.S. – If you’re interested in Ted’s loose-leaf tea he was peddling all weekend, you can check out his startup DiversiTea here!

Sheffield Startup Weekend – 2-4 June Demo List!

Here are the amazing teams and what they are building this weekend at Startup Weekend Sheffield 2-4 June 2017.

Awesome Ever After

Online children’s stories giving a modern twist to traditional tales with interactive problem solving and choose your own endings.

Fair-Minded Jobs

A unique employment agency helping future employees with mental health issues find work in the tech industry whilst educating employers about how they can make their workplaces a better place for these people to work.

F**k off Fund

The F**k off Fund helps you GTFO ASAP when you’re in trouble abroad. A chatbot that holds your hand through the stressful process of getting home, giving you a logistics plan when you’re too distressed to think straight.

HomeGrown Britain

HomeGrown Britain reconnects you with your farmer to help you understand where your food is coming from. It gives you the ability to be able to choose high-quality farmers and get your produce straight to your door.



Muze App

Muze App aims to make the world a richer place, adding value to and working with museums and exhibitions. Increasing engagement through augmented reality and enabling a new community of ad-hoc exhibitions.


Live with a host and learn a language through a culturally immersive experience. Making it easier for people who want to learn a language to ‘actually’ learn it.

What Startup Weekend Taught Me About Teamwork

Guest post by Alex from Crafted Syntax, 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

For more information, visit or email

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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, 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 started. It was all the motivation we needed to put other things aside and start working on as our main project.”

Dimitrios Kourtesis, Co-Founder at

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 – just search for ‘Startup Weekend Sheffield.

For more information, visit or email

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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


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’”