What I Learned at Exeter Startup Weekend

As a result of the excitement of my Streetsmart Beautiful map team coming second in Exeter’s first startup weekend. I have reflected on the event.

First off I have to say the organisation and facilitation of the weekend was super good! The innovation center aids this by it’s modern feel. it encourages collaboration by being bright, open and airy. There was plenty of everything you needed to keep you going for 54 hours. The food from Pickle Shack was exceptional.

I learned so many things but I will begin with my personal thoughts. I went to the event  with a blue sky idea about mapping locations. Which I named Streetsmart for the event. I had great reservations about pitching. Although I’ve presented many times and spoken at conferences. I realised putting your own idea out there is very different. The pitch process is quite an experience. Everything hangs on the 60 second initial pitch that gets your idea in the running. Fortunately enough people voted for my initial pitch. So we formed a self selecting team to have a go at tackling the problem. Winning or losing depends upon
the five minute pitch.

Exeter SW 5 min pitches








This lets the judges decide whether your team has met the scoring criteria. The key to both pitches is following startup weekend pitching structure (more later). In fact once you’ve learned this structure it’s the key to organising your weekend. I was delighted that we achieved second place. I learned for myself that my ideas are as valid as anyones.  And my beloved small project way of working where people cluster around a subject really works! That was such a personal validation for me!

Once you’re selected as a project to work on then you form teams. This was awesome in that the teams were self selecting. I was exceptionally lucky to have a team of committed players. Who all contributed their skills and ideas. There’s something special that happens when people like a project and they gel it’s very exciting.  There were moments of stress but also great humour and humility too. The whole team were lovely people and I hope they got as much from the experience as I did. It may not seem much but 54 hours of focus on one thing is exhausting. I was very grateful for Monday off (that’s tip no.1)!

ExeterSW Coders










So my event learning in no particular order:

  • It is possible to pitch a completely blue sky idea
  • The initial pitch really matters it gets you in the running
  • Your initial pitch is also your lobby for team members so make it appealing
  • Small committed teams are ideal
  • Know the times of everything and put them in your plan
  • Schedule team check ins so that you don’t have to disturb everyone
  • Coders need a quiet corner away from the hubub
  • Plan to fit the final pitch structure: MVP, validation, execution, business model (include marketing)
  • Decide your MVP minimum viable product early on day 1
  • Go out and validate your idea (you could do this before the event)
  • Come back and refine it, often redefines your MVP
  • Learn the judging criteria and work according to this throughout
  • You can do the whole thing in a weekend but do most of your work on day 1
  • Pitch practice takes up a bit of day 2 so get your structure right early on
  • Take regular breaks and have fun
  • Network and make the most of the skills in the room

I’m sure the rest of the team can add many more things to this list. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed this weekend. Flexing my brain with really nice, smart people in a fab venue what could be better. I would strongly reccomend this weekend to anyone thinking of starting something up. The next one in Exeter is on November 20th. See you there!

Sheffield Startup, Airstoc, is hiring!

airstockStartup Weekend alumni startup, Airstoc, is hiring their first full time employee. They’re after a Software Engineer, preferably somebody who has been through a Startup Weekend or similar event. The new hire will start this September!

We’re pretty excited about this. This is the first startup to come out of Startup Weekend Sheffield that has gone on to create jobs within the digital sector in Sheffield, and that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy 🙂

I am personally excited about this because I know Giles, Andre and Manu pretty well now and I know how much blood, sweat and tears has gone into building Airstoc into the company it is today. The first hire of a startup is a real landmark. You could be that first hire!

Download job description: Software Engineer

Good luck. And here’s hoping we’ll be posting a few more of these in the next few months.

UPDATE: Wait, hold the phone! Here are a couple more. Tempted to apply for the Digital Media Executive myself :p Nah, I’ll let you go for it…

Sales Manager
Media Executive

Exeter Startup Weekend – 'Exeter on the cusp of a knowledge based economy'

You can’t start a fire without a spark or so the song goes. I can’t tell you how excited I am about Exeter Startup Weekend.  A weekend where with the helpful guidance of experienced mentors like Michelle Law you can help you take your idea and turn it into a business in a weekend!  Powered by Google and hosted at the Innovation Centre Exeter University, this is the place to meet great people, learn something new, and launch a business in a weekend.

Why should I go?

Are you an entrepreneur? Do you want to do something but don’t know how to begin? Ever had an innovative idea to not known what to do about it? Got a project up your sleeve but don’t know how to develop it? Need a team to help you move forward? Go to Exeter Startup weekend The clock is ticking. You may only ever get one opportunity as good as this, grab it!

I asked a business mentor recently what to do when you have a head full of ideas and can’t get them out?  He said do something! Well, now is your chance what are you waiting for?

Who will be there?

Lots of people like you! entrepreneurs, geeks, techies, brilliant minds, experts, inventors. You will be in your element and among your peers. There will be plenty of pitches and ideas. No one will consider your idea too off the wall. The collective talent in the room will be bristling to show what they can do to help your idea to fruition.

What will happen?

On Friday you’ll pitch your idea in a minute with the chance to collaborate and develop a team to work on it.  Throughout Saturday and Sunday you’ll develop an actual business or prototype a real product! On Sunday evening you will present your product and launch your business. In three easy leaps you’ll be ready to go! And there are prizes too!  Sign up now?

So why you?

Because this is for doers rather than consumers or curators.  Startup Weekend is the jewel in the crown of events. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is, throwing your idea out there, developing it with a team and watching it grow. Never in Exeter has so much talent and help from so many been available to entrepreneurs in one place at one time. It’s not that these support services and co creators don’t exist in Exeter; indeed the Innovation Centre itself contains many such brilliant people. It’s just that they are normally much less easy to access.

What here in Exeter?

Exeter is on fire at the moment, so many events. Last week I was at the pitching event where 20 new business startups pitched their ideas. This Thursday we had Exeter web meet up for anyone interested in all things web geek.  Also on Thursday, Friday, Saturday I was at ODI’s ‘Beyond The Smart City’ conference hosted by the Met Office. Next month there’s another Digital Exeter meetup. And what’s more, ExIST group are discussing big data at the new Exeter Science Park. I can hardly keep up! Even the City Council are getting on board with Chief Exec Karim Hassan announcing in Exeter Life (June 2015) that ‘Exeter is on the cusp of becoming a knowledge based economy’

Joe Baker






Drum roll please… [#SWMusicLit WINNER ANNOUNCE!]

Startup Weekend: Music & Literature (Sheffield, UK)
June 26-28th, 2015

What. A. Weekend.

I knew after the first few minutes on Friday evening that this event was going to be something special. Startup Weekend always attracts the most interesting, creative and genuinely lovely people. And this event was no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed the company of every single one of the 27 attendees, 7 coaches, 5 judges, 3 organisers and 6 volunteers. Absolute stars, every one of you.

Team leaders rushing to write on the flipchart for Half Baked
Such energy in the room right from the beginning!

If you’ve been following along on the hashtag, you may have already ‘OverHear’d (hehe) who the winners are. But if not… here’s the Leaderboard.


Over Hear
A website which simplifies finding and attending gigs and music events



Over Hear
A website which simplifies finding and attending gigs and music events



All you can eat audiobook streaming



Compare the Market for sheet music



All you can eat audiobook streaming



All three of these teams had solid presentations, got out of the building and spoke to their potential customers and users and built something workable that people would not only want, but would pay for. They offer real value propositions that solve real problems and meet real needs in the music and literature industries.

Pretty happy OverHear
Pretty happy OverHear with Oliver Higgins (center) and Ian (far left) from Santander Universities, our Partner for the event.

Some have mightier mountains to climb than others. Bookify would essentially be taking on Audible (Amazon) and OverHear would be taking on the likes of EventBrite and Skiddle. But you have to admire the tenaciousness and audacity. A refreshing can-do attitude from some amazing teams.

Other ideas pitched included…

An App feature which makes your playlist continuously evolve.
A scannable wallpaper to ‘taste’ and buy books
Research Path: A platform for efficient and organized research paper writing






This group more than almost any Startup Weekend cohort I can remember was more than up for all the silliness I had in store for them, really getting into the fun and energetic spirit of Startup Weekend. And here are the photos to prove it.

Click the image to see entire album
Click the image to see entire album
 We hope you can join us next time. Until November everybody!



Exeter will be staging its first ever Google Startup Weekend at the Innovation Centre, Rennes Drive,  University of Exeter on 17 to 19 July 2015. It promises to be an exciting opportunity for anybody with a new business concept looking to turn their idea (or no ideas at all!) into reality.

Google’s Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon which takes place over 54 hours from Friday through to Sunday evening. You can pitch your idea, develop it, explore potential markets and plan a business launch.  An unparalleled opportunity to build lasting relationships with co-founders, mentors and possible investors. Startup Weekend Exeter is a non-profit, community-building event. It brings together entrepreneurs of different backgrounds. They include software developers, marketers, designers and many other enthusiasts.

Participants have 60 seconds to make a pitch (optional), which their peers whittle down to the top ideas.  Teams form around those ideas to develop them. The weekend culminates with presentations to an audience of judges and potential investors.  With prizes on offer such as access to co-working space and professional support on offer for the best efforts.

Whether you are the next big tech thing, have a tasty food and drink idea, are into social enterprise. Maybe you are committed to renewable energy, have an idea for the best ever retail product. Want to promote an arts organisation or are a budding entrepreneur. Then StartUp Weekend Exeter is the  place for you to get your idea off the ground.

In the past 3 years StartUp weekends have attracted many thousands of entrepreneurs.  Over 500 new businesses have been born as a result. Teams have even started to generate revenue during the 54 hours event.While others have gone on to raise funds from business angels or venture capitalists. These numbers don’t include the unprecedented networking opportunity.  On-going professional relationships and amazing experience for participants.  Startup Weekend is all about “Build a Community. Start Companies.  No Talk. All Action.”

Exeter Startup Weekend will be the beginning of a journey for individuals. They can come and turn their vision into reality through collaboration and teamwork.  Experts such as, Wout Laban from the Netherlands will facilitate the event. Will  travel across Europe to Exeter to help people realise their business ideas and explore their potential.

Robin Jackson Director of the Innovation Centre:

“We are really excited about holding Exeter and the Peninsula’s first ever Startup Weekend in July at the Innovation Centre, University of Exeter.”

“Exeter Startup Weekend will be the beginning of an amazing journey and a fantastic weekend of entrepreneurship, startup technology, collaboration and celebration for participants.  It will also start to put Exeter ‘on the map’ as a Startup community”.

You can purchase tickets at a subsidised rate, thanks to the generosity of the local sponsors at: www.bit.do/exetersw

Sponsors include The Innovation Centre,  CrowdCube, Andromeda Capital,  Ashfords Solicitors, The University of Exeter, Frobishers, Haines Watts Accountants, TechHub Boston and Zenen Education.

For more information on this event please contact Natalie.collard@spaceforsuccess.co.uk

Follow on Twitter  @ExeterStartup

Website: http://www.up.co/communities/uk/exeter/startup-weekend/6604

30 entrepreneurs, 21 ideas, 6 teams. 1 AWESOME WEEKEND BEGINS


The weekend is officially underway! We kicked off last night with great food, great music and awesome conversation. Thirty entrepreneurs have gathered together for a weekend full of creativity, collaboration and problem-solving within the music and literature industries.

We heard 21 pitches, nine of which were voted through, and after half an hour of intensive recruitment, we now have six teams working hard validating their concepts, developing their business models and building their demos.

We have Spotify’s ‘Let’s go outside’ playlist on in the background. An ode to the beautiful weather… and a little hint to the teams to GET OUT OF THE BUILDING and talk to customers.

We were worried having a theme might mean we would get a lot of similar ideas, but the variety is actually pretty cool. We have teams working on solving all kinds of problems, from technical solutions to saving space in libraries and cafes; to creating a playlist that grows with your tastes; and overcoming your fear of publishing written work.

We can’t wait to see how these ideas and the others progress over the weekend. Follow along on Twitter at #SWMusicLit and watch as the weekend unfolds…

The Impact of UP Global in 2014

2014 saw the return of Startup Weekend Swansea. Like the first event it was a huge success, with another nine teams formed over the weekend. A weekend full of excitement, networking, collaborating (and blood, sweat and beers!) saw Skippr taking the 1st place, with Delegator 2nd and Innovo 3rd.

We also saw three teams enter the Global Startup Battle, which was previously won by Adlet. While Innovo made it through to the finals, the competition was very high and 2014 sadly did not see Swansea do the double.

Startup Weekend Swansea has a fantastic success rate; of the 18 teams formed over the two events nine are still trading, well above the overall Startup Weekend continuation rate of 35%.

While we are starting to plan this year’s event, we thought it would be nice to share UP Global’s 2014 Impact report which provides a look into the work of the community and highlights the numbers and stories from around the globe that made this year special.

Hopefully these stories and figures will inspire you to join us at this year’s Startup Weekend and help us continue to show the UK and the rest of the world why Swansea is one of the best places to create your startup.



Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 7.51.05 PM


In this report

  • View the growing numbers of our powerful community
  • Relive the UP Global Summit in Las Vegas
  • Read how entrepreneurship is thriving in Syria
  • Learn how Community Leaders are providing everyone access to Startup Weekend
  • See our programs’ latest numbers – including funding raised by Startup Next alumni
  • View the incredible number of Startup Weekend events in 2014
  • Check out how Startup Week rocked it’s first year
  • Read the White Paper we created with Google to foster thriving startup ecosystems




This report is dedicated to the hard work and passion of the Community Leaders who are committed to supporting, building, and sustaining entrepreneurship in their own backyards. They are the leaders of the entrepreneurial movement and the basis of the world’s largest network of innovators. Congratulations to our family of Community Leaders on another awesome year! Thank you for all you do!

Pledges = prizes!

If we’ve said it once, we’d said it a million times… STARTUP WEEKEND IS NOT ABOUT THE PRIZES! It’s about problem solving and collaboration and building awesome products that change the world… even if just for a few people.

Having said that, we’ve been listening to Startup Weekend Sheffield alumni and their problems and pains for three years now! Yea, I know… we’re basically Dear Deirdre for Sheffield entrepreneurs. Our original business model of ‘make better with beer and pizza’ worked for a little while, but we fear it just doesn’t go far enough.

So… equipped with the memories of hundreds of conversations with Startup Weekend teams, we’re building prize packages to increase your chances of startup success following on from Startup Weekend. And the Sheffield startup community (and beyond) has pooled together to fund it all!

This is not an exhaustive list of prizes as the more we raise, the more we can add. This is also subject to change AT ANY TIME if we think we’ve come up with a better deal. But this is a peek at some of the post-event support we’ve got lined up for Startup Weekend Sheffield: Music & Literature teams.

University of Sheffield Most Disruptive Music Startup Award

  • Access to co-working space in a Sheffield City Centre location for three months
  • A two-day design/development sprint with a local company (one of epiGenesys, Evoluted or Yoomee)*
  • Tickets to MADE Festival 2015 (for up to six team members)
  • Access to startup support coaches
  • A one-to-one legal advice session with gunnercooke
  • A one-to-one basic accountancy and business startup session with Hart Shaw
  • A collection of six books: The Lean Startup, Business Model Generation, Value Proposition Design, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Running Lean, Lean Customer Development
  • Web hosting and domain registration for one year

University of Sheffield Most Disruptive Literature Startup Award

  • Access to co-working space in a Sheffield City Centre location for three months
  • A two-day design/development sprint with a local company (one of epiGenesys, Evoluted or Yoomee)*
  • Tickets to MADE Festival 2015 (for up to six team members)
  • Access to startup support coaches
  • A one-to-one legal advice session with gunnercooke
  • A one-to-one basic accountancy and business startup session with Hart Shaw
  • A collection of six books: The Lean Startup, Business Model Generation, Value Proposition Design, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Running Lean, Lean Customer Development
  • Web hosting and domain registration for one year

Inventure Most Disruptive E-commerce Startup Award

  • Access to co-working space in a Sheffield City Centre location for three months
  • A two-day design/development sprint with a local company (one of epiGenesys, Evoluted or Yoomee)*
  • Tickets to MADE Festival 2015 (for up to six team members)
  • Access to startup support coaches
  • A one-to-one legal advice session with gunnercooke
  • A one-to-one basic accountancy and business startup session with Hart Shaw
  • A collection of six books: The Lean Startup, Business Model Generation, Value Proposition Design, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, Running Lean, Lean Customer Development
  • Web hosting and domain registration for one year

Santander Universities Overall Winner Award

The overall winning team will also receive:

  • #SWSheffield Winner trophies (for up to six team members)
  • A ‘how to pitch’ training session

To be in with a chance of winning all this, you have to be in the game! Register for your Startup Weekend ticket today and start practicing your pitch!

*We’ll allocate each winning team to the company most suited to help depending on what the team needs and what they’ve done over the weekend. The sprint might include designing a logo, creating a landing page, developing a prototype application, building a promotional website, and/or something else. The sprint will have to be arranged according to the company’s schedule and take place in July or August 2015 (unless a later date is agreed between the company and the team).

Future Proof Payments Systems

Dominic Broom, Treasury Services, at BNY Mellon introduces the weekend’s theme and introduces the challenge

The payments business is undergoing a period of enormous transformation.In fact, even our understanding of the word “payment” is evolving, as we explore new definitions and iterations of what constitutes a transfer of value.

So what has caused such unprecedented change?

  • Firstly, the digital era is very much upon us. Technology is embedded in our every-day lives, fuelling greater expectations for flexible and mobile solutions, capable of facilitating modern-day lifestyles. Global commerce has become increasingly digitised and 24/7;supported by sophisticated technology that enables instantaneous multi-channel transfers of value and accompanying data, irrespective of location or payment type. Technology has also enabled the entrance of new types of payment providers, to a market traditionally dominated by banks; thereby creating a fundamental shift in service and product provision.
  • Secondly, shifts in economic power are creating a much more multi-polar and international world, which coupled with changing demographics, is leading to shifts in global commercial activity.  This is resulting in a renewed focus on payment speed, efficiency and cost, which in turn is driving innovation in new types of payments, and the need to navigate a broader range of markets, through a broader range of channels.

But the fact is that banks are struggling to respond. Cross border banking infrastructure has simply been unable to keep up with the pace and extent of these market and customer changes, and most legacy payment systems were not designed to provide real-time payments.As a result, banks face numerous challenges:

  • They need to provide a digitally enabled, seamless and easy-to-use service to clients, when the behind-the-scenes reality is anything but that. This is especially challenging when payments infrastructures, payment scheme standards, business practices, cultural preferences and regulatory requirements currently differ between countries.
  • Banks also need to both comply with and adjust to an unprecedented and increasing onslaught of regulation.This affects the business strategy, revenue streams, and requires far greater transparency and control of the reporting and interpretation of data, resulting in significant additional cost.  This cost is both financial and an opportunity cost, as limited technology resources can result in non-regulatory innovative projects become deprioritised.

So how can we overcome these challenges and provide the commercial payment capabilities that new and future business leaders expect? How can we provide a payment mechanism that is fit for the 21st century: one that can be layered onto or built into legacy infrastructure, whilst remaining flexible to future adaptation in line with market developments, and taking into account the more complex monetary and data components of a modern-day transfer of value?

This is your task: to conceive a future-proof payments infrastructure that seamlessly supersedes existing payment systems,whilst addressing the need to provide greater transaction speed, security, flexibility, accessibility and data-enrichment. This all needs to result in lower cost, while complying with current and upcoming regulation, and take international payment standards and legacy infrastructure into account.

BNY Mellon experts will be on hand to offer guidance and answer any queries. Be creative; as unparalleled change equates to an unparalleled opportunity to reshape the world of payments.I look forward to seeing your visions for the future.

Author of post: Dominic Broom, Treasury Services, at BNY Mellon.

Return of the GIF – Giffie Wins SW Southampton 15


That was epic – Startup Weekend Southampton 2015 – A big success!

Thanks to everyone who made this event a success! Here is a list of the winning teams and their prizes:

1st Prize: Giffie

·               Android Tablets

·               Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

2nd Prize: Lock8or

·               Bluetooth Speakers

·               Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

3rd Prize: Destinatiofor.me

·                  Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

Best Multimedia: Talking Toy

·                  Amazon Fire TV Sticks

Best Pebble watch Hack: Safety Pebble

·                  Pebble Watches

Best Life Hack: Tap Tapp

·                  Amazon Fire TV Sticks

Best Entrepreneur: Food Recycle – Norbert Naskov

·                  Digitiser Pen

Best Designer: Whereabouts – Bence Szikora

·                  Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

Best Hardware Developer: Lock8or – Jack Walker

·                  Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

Best Software Developer: Safety Pebble – Manuel Lopez

·                  Creative Tim “Get Shit Done Pro” kits

Most active Twitter: Marina Svishcheva

·                  Bluetooth Headphones

Video Gaming tournament winner: Valentine Orji

·                  External Battery


Stay tuned for updates on the next SW Southampton!