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!…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

Exeter City Futures Targets 10 New Startups

Exeter City Futures, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, The  Innovation Centre and SETsquared Exeter  are looking to target and create 10 new investible start-ups in Exeter by the end of the year.   They are particularly interested in products and services that could enrich the quality of life and environment in our City.

The Collaboration are looking for groups and individuals with fledgling business ideas to sign-up to the Start-up Weekend – a full weekend of pitching your idea, team working, business coaching and mentoring to take nascent ideas through to fully formed propositions.

Any business idea can be pitched and developed during the Startup Weekend, however, Exeter City Futures is especially interested in encouraging new business ideas that respond to the needs of sustainable cities –specifically to realise the goals of zero congestion and zero carbon by 2025 namely in the areas of Energy Transport and Health.

Exeter City Futures is offering a prize of an additional 6 month mentoring programme and possible investment for businesses that demonstrate scalable opportunities within these areas.  The Innovation Centre and its SETsquared facilities will also offer prizes and continued support to those teams with the potential to create high growth businesses.

Startup Weekend isn’t  just for entrepreneurs, engineers, technologist or those with a polished business concept , it’s open for everyone irrespective of sector, age or experience.  To find out more about what’s involved in attending a Startup weekend you can watch the video of our last event here:

Please include attribution to with this graphic.

Cambridge Start Up Hub Infographic

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.

Startup Weekend London Food – WINNERS!

Thanks to everyone who made this event a SUCCESS!


Now the champions of the champions, here are the winners and their prizes:

1st Prize: Enlabed

  • Move professional kitchens from the Stone Age to the digital era starting with food labeling
  • Team: Marco C, Gianluca N, JJ T
  • Prize: 1-month membership at WeWork Moorgate for the team, Crowdfooding mentorship/advisory

2nd Prize: Recipes for Now

  • App suggesting recipes to time-poor shoppers based on local grocery inventory
  • Team: Nelson C, Tyson R, André L, Renata L, Hans-Jan K
  • Prize: Cinnamon Bridge workshops

3rd Prize: Feed Me

  • Are you hungry? Show you pictures of food and then take you there. Tinder for food
  • Team: Abdul K, Rebecca C, Rob J, Teslim A, Tunde O, Elise L
  • Prize: Startup Manufactory workshop

Each of the top 3 teams will also receive a Shaken cocktail box — our gifts for their celebration parties!

Honorable mentions:

  • Brain Bars
  • Fridge Wizzard
  • Freet
  • Shift

And let’s not forget about the MVPs!

  • Brain Bars – Estelle
  • Enlabeler – JJ
  • Feed Me – Rob
  • Fridge Wizzard – Evert
  • Freet – Ash
  • Shift – Nic
  • Recipes for Now – Hans

They are getting free HelloFresh boxes, so get cookin’ 😉

Vote for Allergy Manager in #GSB2015

Allergy Manager are taking part in the Global Startup Battle and need your help! They have entered the Disruptors and Big Ideas Track, ‘for the entrepreneurs setting out to change industries with visionary ideas.’

We are obviously bias, but we think they have a great idea and the ability to change the way people cope with allergies. Voting is open until Friday 4th December and you just need to create an account or login with Facebook to vote for them.



On Friday, 13 Nov, Startup Weekend friends old and new came together in London at Innovation Warehouse for networking, learnings and drinks.

Many thanks to Innovation Warehouse for providing the space, and to Big Hug Brewing and Vita Coco for spoiling us with drinks for the evening.

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David Haber, Lead Software Engineer at Soma Analytics and Co-founder of Import Classes, shared his top web development tools for non-developers, giving the attendees of our upcoming event a toolkit to ‘hack’ their way to a Startup Weekend win.  David has kindly shared a list of the tools he discussed here.



Next up, we welcomed our panel of previous SW winners to discuss their experiences and top tips for SW success.  The panel featured JinA Bae from ChopChop, Ray Ziai from Mode for Me, and Amalia Agathou, seasoned Startup Weekend mentor and organizer.  Everyone agreed – Startup Weekend played a crucial role in building the network they needed to get their startups off the ground.  Some of our favourite quotes from the panel included:

  • “Be translucent about your skills and be specific to what you can bring to the table and what you are looking for. Become friends and bond with your team beyond the Startup Weekend.”
  • “Make the most of the mentors!”
  • “Be flexible and make sure you validate your idea. You might find out something you didn’t know as you go.”
  • Bootstrap as long as you can – the more progress you’ve made, the more negotiating power you have”


Thanks to everyone for making this a great evening!

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming event, Startup Weekend Food, 4-6 Dec, where you might meet your next co-founders and can put all of this great advice into practice! 

For any questions, email us at:




The GSB2015 Hashtag Battle Has Begun!

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If you have been to either of our previous Startup Weekends, you will know all about the hashtag battle.

All of the Startup Weekends taking place over the two weekends around Global Entrepreneurship Week have the chance to take part in The Global Startup Battle and a friendly, (but very competitive!) part of this is the GSB Hashtag Battle.

This is your chance to help us show the world what we’re up to and what a great community Swansea is!

What is the Hashtag Battle?

A friendly competition between cities and a way for everyone in the community to get involved while teams at Startup Weekend build away on their new startup.

When is it happening?

The battle begins Thursday, 12th November at 8am PST and will end on Tuesday 1st December.

How to participate:

It’s super simple – any tweets you send out to/about Startup Weekend Swansea, make sure you include the hashtag #SWS2015

Keep on eye on how we’re doing by heading over to the Hashtag Battle page and see where we rank and follow the greater global conversation.

This year you can also view where we stack up against other Startup Weekends taking place on the same weekend.  We are competing with some major cities, including Lyon, London, Toyko and Paris.

Anything else?

Yes! We will be closely watching who is helping us rise up through the ranks and there will be a token of gratitude (read: awesome prize) for the person who is the most prolific user of the #SWS2015 hashtag.

Why not click on the button below to get started…

Tweet: I’m cheering on @swanseasw to win the #GSB2015 hashtag battle! #sws2015 -


Important Notes:

  • Please be a good citizen and don’t tweet nonsense just to drive up numbers.
  • Be aware that we will experience bot attacks throughout the battle, if you see this, please send the offending handle to and we will blacklist them.
  • If you don’t see your event on the Hashtag Battle by Regions, it’s because we don’t have a hashtag on record for you. Please contact your Organizer and have them reach out to so we can get an official hashtag on file for you.
  • More than anything, this should be about a lively global conversation, please ask yourselves “Does this tweet add value?” before you send it.


  • No paying for tweets in any form. Organic content only.
  • No paying for people to tweet for you
  • No Twitter bots, if any bots or automation is used, we may remove your city from the competition
  • Nothing automated whatsoever!
  • Tweet content must be related to GSB and your Startup Weekend event (no useless content just to get a tweet out)