Trust over control.

By Cindy Spelt, Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator

After years of involvement in setting up and growing businesses, I can tell you a lot about creative thinking, design sprints, customer journeys, business modelling, finance rounds, and so fort. The most magical moment of it all, is the formation of a successful team. In my eyes, the rest that comes to the table is purely ‘practical and mechanical’: writing a business plan is based on numbers (or positive hypotheses), a design sprint is a well defined path to walk – milestone to milestone, and business modelling is about filling in the gaps in a BMC framework. Not difficult, just do it! As soon as the human factor comes in, we move to a more complex level.

I was asked by the organising team of Startup Weekend Plymouth (UK) to write a small article about my experiences with startup weekends. I like to focus on ‘how to form a great team’. People attending startup weekends do not know each other (99% the case). They buy a ticket and hope to learn something new, become part of a great international community (like minded peeps) or meet their future co-founder. Partcipants are locked in a venue with strangers for 54 hours. How can this work, you might ask yourself?

Questions I often get are:

“Cindy, how do we get the most out of the participants?”

“Cindy, how do we make sure that we (= organising team) do not control the process too much?”

“Cindy, how can we make sure that people in the teams get along with each other?”

When I join the event in the role of facilitator one of my responsibilities is to guide the process of the formation of teams. I spend roughly 1.5 hours on this. This might sound too short to you, but I have some magical tricks. Let me share them with you:

(1) Be humble and real.

I open the event with a personal story about entrepreneurship focusing on my ups and downs. We all know that success doesn’t come quick and that we make mistakes along the way. I let people know that it is ok to be open and honest about the difficult challenges. By having this humble attitude, I set the scene for the weekend: ‘a real environment’ in which participants can learn and explore.

(2) Having fun by making fun of yourself.

Pitching is not difficult as it follows a very easy format: what is the problem? what is the solution? what do you need to make this happen? It can be that simple in this stage as the aim is to inspire people to join your team. You will work out the details later during the weekend.

But standing in front of strangers and pitching your new venture idea can be a big thing. To make this easier for the participants I like to engage them in a game called ‘half baked’. Participants join the game by not pitching their real ideas, but fake and funny ones. The more humor the better! As a result everyone is having fun and I get people on stage that have never pitched before. Who doesn’t want to have a bit of fun?!

(3) What is great in your eyes, might not be great in theirs.

I can be very impatient (for the people who know me, they will agree) and have clear ideas on the outcome of a process. I know exactly what I want. This dominant approach does not work under every circumstance. In some situations it is the only way as decisions need to be taken, and followed. Let me explain you why I do not use my dominant approach in the formation of teams.

Not that long ago, I was told, by my 10 year old ‘bonus’ son, that I do not have control over him. According to him I need the support of his father to make him listen to me. He was referring to a previous situation: I had seen that he was struggling with a certain topic and I put him around the table for a discussion. I had asked his father to join us too. In his eyes, I was not able to deal with him on an one-to-one basis. I needed his father to keep him under control.

I was slightly shocked by his approach and told him that it was not my interest to keep him under my control. As I had seen that he was struggling, I had put him around the table to open a dialogue between the three of us. I had asked him questions about how he felt, what his needs were to overcome the struggle and how we could support him. It had nothing to do with control, but with care and love instead. Inviting his father to join us enabled the family members to align with each other. I had explained him the difference between control and care. Keeping someone under your control means that you ask the person to deal with the situation on your terms. Opening a dialogue and asking how you can be of support to someone means that you allow the person to deal with the situation on his / her own terms. I told him that, we as parents, use both approaches – and that it is not always easy to know which one to use.

In the formation of teams I do the same. I ask questions of how I can be of support and I let everybody join the conversation, so I can align everyone’s needs, find a common ground and the best way to guide the team as a whole. By letting the team be in the lead of this process, I allow myself to take the role of advisor, guide or sparring partner. As soon as the team reaches a new stage of growth, I can be asked to be involved again. In this way, the team is in control of their own growth on their own terms. This doesn’t mean that you cannot inspire them by asking them ‘tough’ questions or giving them challenges to think about.

(4) Make people realise that they matter.

I studied people analytics (performance and collaboration analytics) at the Wharton Business School and learned more about the dynamics of high performing teams. What I retain as one of the most interesting lessons was that the best performing teams:

(a) listen to each other when someone else is talking

and

(2) know how to explore new ideas without losing the core of the project.

It is crucial to have an ‘inclusive’ approach – everyone matters. The best way to walk this talk is by paying undivided attention to each other when someone else is talking, to give everyone at the table an equal amount of time to join the discussion, and to ask questions to either understand better or to add more ‘richness’ to the point someone is making. We all like to be seen, heard and recognised.

Exploring new ideas – without losing the eye on the main elements of the projects – means excitement. With common sense you can, as a team, decide which new elements can be taken on and which ones should be put on the agenda for later. Exploring new possibilities is like being on an adventure together and can serve as a ‘bonding mechanism’.

In summary: show the behaviour that you like to see from others (‘be real’), create an environment in which learning is central (mistakes are ok), and know your place as a guide to be of true inspiration (trust over control).

On my timeline on LinkedIn I share my travel schedule – follow me if you like to meet me at one of the upcoming events!

By Cindy Spelt, Techstars Startup Weekend Facilitator








Taking Opportunities: Techstars Startup Weekend

By Katie Stote, Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth Attendee

Last April I was lucky enough to attend Plymouth’s first ever Techstars Startup Weekend – if you’re wondering what on earth I’m going on about, check out my previous blog post Techstars Startup Weekend on my website. I have to admit, on the build-up to the weekend I was getting increasingly nervous, I had no clue what to expect! What if I couldn’t muster the courage to talk to anyone and ended up stood alone like a lemon? What if the other attendees are all experts in their fields? What if the mentors are really intimidating? What if I wear the wrong thing? What if when I am speaking to someone, I say the wrong thing and look like an idiot? (Ah, the joys of anxiety). The truth is, no one knew what to expect, everyone was just as nervous as me, so we were all in the same boat!

An Outline of the Weekend:

We had about an hour-or-so of chatting, getting to know the other attendees and mentors and having some (really delicious) food. The mentors, who are incredibly knowledgeable in business, technology, startups and life in general, couldn’t have been more approachable and friendly. They were floating around the room chatting to the attendees about who they are and the work they do, as well as hearing the attendee’s different plans and career/academic backgrounds. The great thing about an event such as this is, even if you’re a super awkward and socially-anxious person like me, you can easily make conversation with people because you have a common denominator: the event. I mainly spoke to people about if they had a pitch or idea, where they found out about the event, if they worked or were a student and the conversation flowed easily from there. It was such a great range of people, some were students like me, some had businesses of their own, some had PhD’s and were experts in their field; it really was an incredible opportunity to connect with people from so many diverse walks of life.

After the conversations and food, the Techstars Facilitator Cindy Spelt who is an author, has been a CEO and a managing director of multiple successful companies and has spoken at many of the Techstars Startup Weekends worldwide, gave an inspirational speech to all the attendees, outlined what would be happening over the course of the weekend and gave us lots of great tips for creating a startup. The attendees who had pitches then went up and presented them; although I didn’t do a pitch myself, everyone was rooting for each other to do well in their pitches, which created a supportive and encouraging environment for pitching.

A little bit of important info: the pitches on Friday night can only be a minute long and you can’t use PowerPoint although you can bring props!

All the attendees were then given three votes each, and the people who pitched were given the opportunity to talk more to their fellow attendees about their idea and business plan. All the pitches were such brilliant ideas based within the theme of ‘Health and Wellbeing’, it was evident that everyone had worked really hard on outlining their idea and how they would present it! Once the winning pitches were announced the attendees got together into five groups with diverse ranges of skill sets and once the groups had registered with Cindy, the night was brought to a close.

The second day the teams began planning their startups, there were multiple talks from experts and the mentors walked around the room and spoke to the teams at their tables, discussing strategies and offering lots of great advice and guidance. Once they had a clear and simple idea for a product, the attendees were encouraged by Cindy to get out and speak to the public; if they would use their product, how much they would pay for their product (so that they have a realistic idea about whether their product would sell), and if their feedback was negative they would be able to adapt their idea to better suit their target market. Although the attendees were nervous about approaching the public with their short surveys, a number of them said that the people they spoke to were in fact very friendly and they were happy they had pushed themselves out of their comfort zone.

Although I was not there to experience it first hand, the last day of the weekend was for the final piecing together of the business models and to begin building the final pitch which the attendees presented at the end of the day to the judges. HUGE congratulations to the winning startup MemoryPad and runners up One Link One; they are both incredible ideas which are really going to help so many people, I can’t wait to see both of your company names on my App Store! Also, I want to say well done to every one who participated in the weekend, although you may not have won this weekend, all your ideas were fantastic and I really hope you decide to keep going with your startups!

A key part of the weekend is that you will really push yourself out of your comfort zone, which can feel incredibly daunting. However, when it then comes to the end of each day, you will be surprised by how much you really can achieve in a single day, once you push yourself past your worries and fear.

I was also lucky enough to be asked to go on BBC Radio Devon to talk about the weekend and why I think this is such a great opportunity for anyone who wants to be involved. When I received the email asking if I wanted to do the interview, I was sat on my sofa in my PJs and instinctively typed out an email saying, ‘thank you for the opportunity but I don’t feel confident enough to do that’. Just before I hit ‘Send’ I rang my mum, you know just for a second opinion, I knew I was holding myself back from an incredible opportunity and I needed my mum to tell me to sort it out and say YES. Of course, she told me I should go for it and that I would regret it if I said no, so, before I had the chance to change my mind, I deleted the first email and with sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat, agreed to do the interview. It was at 7:30 on Saturday morning (I drank A LOT of coffee that morning) and although I felt a lump in my throat and could barely talk beforehand, I got through it! I did the interview, managed to not completely mess it up (I pictured accidental swearing, constant stuttering or just becoming completely mute) and it was one of the proudest moments I have ever experienced.

Only a little over a year ago I was suffering from daily panic attacks and would avoid seeing friends or family because social situations made me too anxious… At this weekend, I have spoken on the radio, held conversations with CEOs, professionals and academics and approached people who were strangers and learned that I actually have a lot in common with many of them. I feel incredibly proud of myself and also so thankful to the Plymouth Startup Weekend organisers for asking me to be involved in the event; I have met so many incredibly inspiring people with amazing stories, challenged myself and gained so much experience which I will be able to use in every part of my life.

So, what could you gain from taking part in a Techstars Startup Weekend? Confidence through challenging yourself and learning what you’re really capable of; Public Speaking experience which is an invaluable skill to have in both an academic and professional environment; Knowledge and advice from a whole range of mentors who have created their own successful startups, ran their own companies and have a wealth of experience to share; Networking with similar, like-minded people which is a prime part of both building your career as well as any business ideas you may have. It’s so exciting that this is only the beginning for Plymouth; more of these affordable and innovative events will be coming to Plymouth in the future, which means more opportunities for students, creatives and those with entrepreneurial minds! You don’t have to be in the ‘big cities’ to have access to big opportunities anymore, they are coming to us! Make sure you don’t miss out!

By Katie Stote, Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth Attendee

You can read more written by Katie on her blog here!








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








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.

SolarBoats

HiLife

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.

Lingoforall

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 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








More prizes for the Winning Team

Lean Startup London

Exciting news, Lean Startup Summit London is giving everyone in the Winning Team of Startup Weekend Buckingham a Silver Pass for their Startup Summit June 13 and 14!

Lean Startup Summit London is a two-day, heavily-interactive, network-boosting event that brings together innovative practitioners from industries such as fintech, cleantech, media, cybersecurity, and social good. We’ll gather during London Tech Week on June 13 & 14 at the London Stock Exchange and Here East to bring together startup ecosystems, enterprise innovators, and Lean Startup coaches from around the world. The focus will be on the practical ways UK organisations continuously adapt and innovate for the long term through techniques validated in environments of extreme uncertainty—such as Lean UX, Lean Governance, and Lean Scale-Up.

A Silver Pass will give you access to one day (June 14th) of keynote talks and breakout sessions.








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








Grand Prizes

The first, second and third prizes are provided by InnovateMK.

InnovateMK is an initiative sponsored by Tech Mahindra in association with Lividia Ltd and The Cube. Their goal is to drive innovation in the Milton Keynes area, this area has long been known for its many start-ups in a variety of sectors – including digital services and automotive technologies.

According to InnovateMK anyone can become an entrepreneur. The work place and economy have been changed and are continuing to change because of digitisation, automation and globalisation. Everyone should be able to have a career path defined by what they can create not one that is characterised by their employer.

InnovateMK is built for innovators who work with disruptive technologies. A range of services, facilities and world class technology is available on site for you to use and partner with.

First Prize – 3 month Incubator Service at InnovateMK

During these 3 months you will have:

• 5 days per week access to the innovation facility
• Mentor access
• Connectivity
• Founders Community

Second Prize – 2 month Incubator Service at InnovateMK

During these 2 months you will have:

• 5 days per week access to the innovation facility
• Mentor access
• Connectivity
• Founders Community

Third Prize – 2 month Incubator Service at InnovateMK

During these 2 months you will have:

• 5 days per week access to the innovation facility
• Mentor access
• Connectivity
• Founders Community

See you at Startup Weekend Buckingham!








Startup Weekend Derby Roundup

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!