Invent Me

Name: Owen Williams
Company: Invent Me

Tell us what your business does…
Invent Me is a collaborative invention platform that takes the ideas of everyday people to market using the power of crowd sourcing.14322435_1071234299663944_2656300401752248639_nWhere did the idea for your business come from?
You can call us dreamers, or even super product nerds if you’d like. The fact is, we believe that by collaborating with talented individuals, funding bodies and other companies, we can make sure that best, most exceptional products will be developed without unnecessary barriers getting in the way.

We’ve managed to do this while also ensuring that these products have an even better chance of succeeding. We don’t just have a passion for superb inventions and original ideas. We’re also driven by our enthusiasm for harnessing the power of the crowd so that everyone can contribute to the products they believe in.

With a dedicated community behind us that pitches in time, specialist skills, and resources, we have the ability to create innovations that really have an impact.

What were you doing before starting up?
Myself and Ollie were running a product and graphic design consultancy. The idea for Invent Me actually developed after frustrations we found with the traditional product development process. Having run a small product design consultancy for couple of years, we noticed that people would repeatedly come to us with great product ideas, but often had no budget or time to fulfill their product’s full potential.

Our agency could only do so much to help them materialize their ideas on limited budgets, before having to turn them away.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Hell yeah! But not for the profit margins. We’re in it for journey and the freedom of being self-employed. We want to shape the way the UK portrays ‘invention’ and creating a company to deliver that message just made sense.

How did you raise funding and what challenges have you overcome?
A combination of savings, borrowing and income from the agency. We’ve managed to self-fund the platform up until now, but we’re now seeking funding from various angles. We’ve recently paid off all of our initial legal fees, which was a huge milestone for us.

What was your first big breakthrough?
Receiving over 20+ invention submissions two weeks after launch, signing up over 30 community members and adding two full time members to the team.

Why should you check out the Leeds Startup Weekend?
Having a team of like-minded individuals by your side when you’re starting up is invaluable. These sort of events attract top talent in tech. Who knows, you might even meet your co-founder! Also, the Leeds tech community is genuinely unrivaled.

If you had one piece of advice?
Life is like a theme park, no-one really cares about how much money you make, as long as you fill it with colorful rides.

Why I Love Startup Weekends

I heard about Startup Weekend back in 2012 when my friend Tina invited me to be a mentor on first Startup Weekend in Zagreb, Croatia. Before i got involved I liked the concept but was not prepared for how impactful and exciting the weekend really was To cut a long story short, I came to see the pitches on Friday and was due to come for couple of hours to mentor on Saturday, but I ended up staying for the whole 54 hours. And this is where my love for Startup Weekend started.

What struck me the most is the positive entrepreneurial energy the events capture, it’s that energy that gets you so motivated and gives you the push and persistence you need as an entrepreneur. The kind of energy that you are able to live on for the next couple of months and that inspires you not to give up and to start again if you fail.

Most of us need just that to start our own business.


The event was held in Zagreb School of Economics and Management and it was the first event of its  kind in Croatia. People that came were all really diverse. There was a good mix of different ages and backgrounds, youngest entrepreneur was 10 years old and ⅓ of the participants were women.

The idea that won the 1st prize is now a successful business. The co-founders met during Startup Weekend and took the idea forward. One of them left his successful career to start this business. The event helped not just participants but the whole tech and startup community in Zagreb. It helped built the entrepreneurial ecosystem, showed the public that investing in entrepreneurship and supporting startups was crucial and at a time when finding job is not easy provided some  business basic knowledge and an opportunity for people to build their own business.

Since my first Startup Weekend  I helped organise and was a mentor on three more Startup Weekends in Croatia and yes I stayed for the whole 54 hours for each event.   When I came to the UK I attended my first startup weekend as a participant in Sheffield. Which was also amazing experience and would recommend it to anyone.

Weather you have an idea or not, want to be an entrepreneur or you are still not sure is this the road you want to take or don’t have the confidence to start, this is a place to be.

Helena, Community and Portfolio Manager @ Dotforge

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 Exeter, June 2016: 54 Hours, 6 Business Ideas, 1 Winner

This post was written by Anna Lemos, a key researcher and creative content writer at CompanyFormations 24.7.


After writing a piece on Exeter as a startup hub, I was invited to a Startup Weekend. To my delight, I wasn’t simply there to document the event, but was registered as a participant to get involved and team up with the entrepreneurs at the event.

The participants ranged from second year university students to company owners, and even a lawyer who wanted to try something new. The event went something like this: Pitch – Vote – Test – Form Team – Brain Dump – MVP.

We were lucky enough to have the director of Startup Weekend, John Beadle, who had flown in from America to facilitate the event. Alongside 6 coaches and mentors, a panel of judges made up of 5 startup experts and The Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter, it was clear that any one of our ideas could become a reality thanks to the support and facilities.

Entrepreneurs; if you want to kick start an idea, then you need to get involved in a Startup Weekend. 12% of teams at Startup Weekend actually go on to forming their own company. Not convinced? Check out my highlights video and read the breakdown of the event below to get a real flavour for what this is all about.

Friday 10th June: Getting Started

Official registration time was at 5:30pm. After your name was ticked off, you had a lanyard around your neck and a Startup Weekend T-Shirt, you were ready to mingle. Dinner and ‘networking’ ensued (more like friendly chatting) before the welcome presentation and keynote speakers launched the whole event.

This is where the fun began. The welcome talks by John Beadle (Director of Startup Weekend), Jim Hill (Immersify) and Laurence Oakes-Ash (Exeter City Futures) got us buzzing. A few team exercises followed before the 60-second pitches.

Now, the great part about the pitches was that you didn’t have to come prepared. If you’d had an idea there and then, you could get up and pitch. Within the pitches, you had to highlight the problem, your idea of a solution (which could be very vague) and what skills you needed in your team. Everyone was then giving 3 sticky notes to vote on their favourite pitches and to start to form teams.

At 9pm, we could start work. We were all supplied with business canvases to help us structure our ideas.

Saturday 11th June: In the Middle

The bulk of the work was done on Saturday. With Immersify giving us challenges and encouraging us to do some field research in the city of Exeter, our ideas really started to take shape. All the groups left the University campus at one point or another to talk to their target demographic.

Lunch was served at 12pm – note, all meals were included in the ticket – and coaches arrived just after lunch to start getting down to the details of our business plans.

Long hours of work led to our 6pm dinner, and the day finished at a time that was dependent on the team. My group only wrapped up for the day at 9:30pm.

Sunday 12th June: Crunch Time

Sunday was crunch time. We had to power through to compile our research, get our designs and business plans to a good stage and work on our 5 minute presentations. At about 3pm, we had tech checks and practice pitches before the 5:15pm final presentations.

The judges, Laurence Oakes-Ash, Tom Langdon-Davies, Richard Eckley and Georgie Hazell, deliberated and came to their final decision. The best pitch from Friday – awarded an iPod Touch – and the top 3 teams were announced with the winning team getting a fun prize. Most importantly, some of the judges put forward their interest in helping certain teams move forward – that’s how good some of these ideas were.

We then had a celebratory dinner, exchanged our last business cards and bid farewell to the participants, the organizers, the judges and the coaches. It will be interesting to see which teams take their ideas forward and bring them to market.

Startup Weekend Exeter 2016 Winners
Startup Weekend Exeter 2016 Winners: 10k Teeth

Less Talk, More Action

It is important to realize that this event isn’t about identifying a viable startup idea by crowning a winner, but a learning curve for all involved. The teams worked hard on their individual business plans for the final presentation, getting to a ‘proof of concept’ stage in just 54 hours. This normally takes months.

Not only was this an educational experience, but a fantastic networking event too. Making friends with a diverse set of people was a great aspect, but finding potential co-founders and experts as well as contacts for the future was an unbelievable opportunity.

My team was incredible (runners up in the competition), the other participants were inspiring and the feedback given by coaches, mentors, volunteers and judges alike was priceless.

Thank you Nat Collard for inviting me to such a spectacular event and good luck to those who are going to take their ideas to the next step.

The Exeter Startup Weekend; Helping Exeter To Become Britain’s Next Startup Hub

The Exeter Startup Weekend, the third of its kind, returns this summer with its continued commitment to looking for ideas that could change the world. Set across three days (June 10th – 12th) in The Innovation Centre at the University of Exeter, the Exeter Startup Weekend will act as a hub for nurturing creativity, design and entrepreneurship.

Partnering with the Univesity of Exeter, Exeter City Futures, The Innovation Centre and SETsquared Exeter, this Exeter Startup Weekend is sure to build on the successful format of previous years and offer a number of different ways to learn how to apply entrepreneurship to your daily life. With prizes of mentorship and investment to be won from The Innovation Centre, SETsquared and Exeter City Futures, there’s absolutely no reason not to get involved!

 What’s the Focus of the Exeter Startup Weekend?


Following a familiar structure to former Exeter Startup Weekends, the event will give entrepreneurs the chance to pitch an idea to the audience, with the top ten ideas getting voted through. These ideas will then be the ones that are worked on over the 54-hour weekend.

This year will have a particular focus on:

  • Products and services which have the potential to enrich the quality of life and environment in the city of Exeter.
  • New business ideas that help with the city’s sustainable needs, with the specific aim of reaching zero congestion and zero carbon emissions by 2025 in the energy, transport and health sectors.

However, any and every entrepreneurial idea is welcomed over the weekend, whether this is for profit or social good. The weekend is about discovering hidden talent, world-changing ideas and receiving expert mentoring with a focus on ‘less talk, more action’. By bringing together a large group of like-minded individuals, this is sure to be a fast-moving, high-powered weekend that produces some amazing startups.

What’s On Offer?

Tickets start at £25.00 for students and £35.00 for everyone else.

The weekend itself will run from 5:30 pm on Friday 10th until 8:30 pm on Sunday 12th, and will involve presentations, meetings, speakers, networking and, of course, food, so get ready for a jam-packed weekend! With the event now in its third year, the timetable has been tailored to ensure each and every attendee gets the most out of every day.

Can Exeter Become Britain’s Next Startup Hub?

It’s no accident that this startup weekend is placed in Exeter; the city is quickly becoming one of the main creative hubs in England. With the local councils placing an increased focus on innovation and backed up by some of the country’s most successful universities, Exeter is now home to some of the best and brightest entrepreneurs. This event is not the first of its kind, with the similar Google Startup Weekend also hosted here in 2015.

With the University of Exeter being ranked 93rd in the world and a vast network of investment, grants and funds being supplied throughout the city, Exeter is attracting talent from all over the world to help nurture this entrepreneurial flair. The aim of the Exeter Startup Weekend is to go further with this and to put this entrepreneurship to work to benefit others in just 54 hours. With the success of previous years, and the guaranteed success of this year, Exeter, with the help of events such as the Exeter Startup Weekend, is quickly becoming firmly placed on the world map as a hub for innovation.

 [Source infographic image via the embed code at the bottom of ]

The Exeter Startup Weekend is open to anyone who wants to make a difference, regardless of sector, career or age. If you believe you’ve got what it takes to be one of our next ten investable startups, get your tickets here or get in contact with us at

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’”

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.