Help make Startup Weekend Sheffield: Music & Literature AWESOME!

Buying books from Amazon and reading them on your Kindle… or listening to them on Audible. Cashing in CDs and subscribing to Spotify. Having your music discovered on Soundcloud.

Love it or hate it, technology and entrepreneurship are disrupting the music and literature industries. From the way we consume music and literature to the way it is created, produced and sold, they have all been affected by increasingly frequent new inventions.

But there is still room for innovation in this area. Still so many more possibilities, opportunities, improvements.

At Startup Weekend Sheffield, we’re known for bringing together creative problem solvers, critical thinkers, and technical talent to take great ideas from concept to reality. These exciting weekend experiences foster great teams, high energy, and new ideas in health, transport, education, social and more. Now, we want to do the same for music and literature.

But we need to find our dream team. Behind every Startup Weekend Sheffield, there’s a team of passionate organisers and volunteers who work hard to make these events happen. Could you be part of this team?

We’re looking for:

Passionate and committed organisers

Interested or have experience in how technology can be used to disrupt the music or literature industries? Have a background in music/literature/technology and feel like you have insight to bring to the table?

Being a Startup Weekend organiser requires commitment of time and effort and is completely voluntary. You must be available on every day of the weekend (26-28 June 2015) and for regular meetings and preparation work for three months prior to the event. If you would rather have less time commitment, but still be involved during the event, perhaps applying to be a volunteer would be a better option.

If you’d like to join the team, please send us the following:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Mobile phone number
  • Twitter handle
  • LinkedIn URL
  • Location

And answer the following questions:

  • Have you been to Startup Weekend before? If so, which city and when?
  • Why would you like to be involved in organising this event?
  • Tell us about your background in music/literature/technology
  • If you could book any speaker for this event, who would you book and why?
  • Do you run any meetups or events?
  • Do you have experience/expertise in (Please include all that apply and don’t worry if none apply):
    • Marketing
    • Sponsorship
    • Getting great speakers/coaches/judges
    • Creative design
    • Technology/website management/coding
    • Events management

Deadline for application for this event is Friday 27th February. If you have any questions, please get in touch.

Energetic and enthusiastic volunteers

Startup Weekend literally could not happen without the support of our amazing volunteers throughout the weekend. They’re the ones who keep the weekend running smoothly and make sure that all the attendees have everything they need to have the best time possible.

Being a Startup Weekend volunteer requires commitment of time and effort and is completely voluntary. You must be available on the weekend (26-28 June 2015).

We need volunteers to commit a minimum of 8 hours throughout the weekend. Duties may include:

  • manning the reception desk
  • directing attendees to amenities
  • directing attendees between buildings
  • contributing to social media
  • keeping the venue clean and tidy
  • moving furniture and equipment around
  • setting up food and drinks
  • distributing stationery

Although we can’t offer any financial reimbursement (hence ‘volunteer’), we will feed you at mealtimes, give you a Startup Weekend Tshirt and invite you to the after-party. And you get to soak up the creative atmosphere and spend your weekend doing something a little bit different.

If you’d like to join the team, please send us the following:

  • Name
  • Email
  • Mobile phone number
  • Twitter handle
  • LinkedIn URL
  • Location

And answer the following questions:

  • Have you been to Startup Weekend before? If so, which city and when?
  • Why would you like to be involved in volunteering at this event?
  • Tell us about your background in music/literature/technology
  • Do you have experience/expertise in (Please include all that apply and don’t worry if none apply):
    • Social media
    • Photography
    • Videography
    • Creative design

Deadline for application for this event is Friday 1st May. If you have any questions, please get in touch.


Lessons Learnt from Cambridge Startup Weekend

Lessons Learnt from a Startup Weekend By Alexandre Navarro

Last weekend, I took part in the FinTech Startup Weekend at the Judge Business School in Cambridge, UK. Since I come from a more technical background, mostly engineering and machine learning, I thought it would be an interesting experience to familiarise myself with these events. This way, I would be better prepared to pitch and develop an idea at a future event.

Apart from learning more about pitching, the business canvas and some basic MBA tools, the event allowed me to gain several insights into the more subjective aspects of starting a company. These aspects comprise a wide range of subjects from product design to spotting the signs that your team probably has a focus issue. I tried to distil these lessons down to four core concepts:

1 An exercise in faith and reason

Eventually you will need to face the hard truth that founding a company is a ludicrous idea from a risk perspective. The odds against the success of new companies are slim and, even if you succeed in the early startup phase, there is a chance your company might never leave the startup zone (and become one of the so-called zombie startups).

Therefore, if you want to found a new company, you definitely need to have a deep connection to your product and business idea. I advocate that either this should arise from experience, gained through scrutiny of current products and business strategies, or through actual hands-on experience. While the romantic idea of a sudden stroke of genius may be very attractive, these ideas usually do not survive even a simple internet search.

However, one should never rely on faith alone: there is a time to be reasonable as well. A healthy dose of scepticism is crucial to a considered analysis of your business idea. Too much self-identification with the customer can be detrimental as it introduces a ‘sloppiness bias’ in the analysis. People who are over-excited about an idea tend to downplay all possible setbacks and assume that demand exists which is simply not there. Moreover, over-optimism leads teams to take business assumptions for granted with little or no evidence to back them up. In short, putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is valuable, but you should not get carried away.

2 The people element

No matter how smart, fit, and well prepared you are, founding a company and developing a product is too much work for just one person. We cannot forget the time-to-market element in product development and, workload aside, a fresh perspective is usually welcome.

This leads us to the important people element of the startup equation. Most advice on founding a company mentions the need to be careful who you collaborate with, often mentioning some the legal aspects of company share allocations. But before you get anywhere near that stage, you must first find people to help you get to that stage.

That means you need to find people you like to work with and who complement your skill set. It is a mistake to choose a team with the same characteristics as you. A group that focuses too much on the business side but forgets all about the product is as problematic as a group of techies who only focus on adding product features irrespective of market response.

3 Focus

This brings us to the startup’s focus. Initially, focus on the actual product, without losing sight of the business case – not the other way around. This is may seem counterintuitive, but when you are starting a new company, you do not have the resources to build anything more than the core of your business. Nothing is more at the core of a startup other than its product.

That is exactly why MVPs (minimum viable products) are important. They help shape your product and your business model to the real world. This forces small startups to use the same techniques major engineering companies use for new projects: Front-End Loading (FEL) development. Roughly speaking, in FEL methodology, a new project starts with back-of-the-envelope design and calculations to check if the business case is worth a more thorough study. If the answer is negative, the business should pivot, otherwise the team develops the design further and rechecks its economic feasibility. Considering this at every step of the creation of a MVP helps to maintain focus on the business case.

Another crucial point for a startup that is set up during an entrepreneurial event such as a startup weekend is that one should always strive to make a case that outlives the event and not to tailor it only to the judging criteria. Focussing just on ticking boxes to meet the competition’s criteria will not be enough to build a sustainable business. Moreover, by striving to think beyond the competition, the startup should automatically meet the criteria of any serious competition.

4 Hanadi’s Law

Several times during the competition, our dear Hanadi said, “Because this is Cambridge and it’s me, Hanadi, the rules have changed”. While some people may take this as a surprise, and some even complain about it, rules change all the time in real life and there is no way to escape that. I call this Hanadi’s Law: “Rules can, and will, change”.

This line of thought brings up some interesting consequences. For instance, it shows that complying with rules just for the sake of compliance is not generally a useful strategy. You may be irrationally constraining yourself to a given model, which may be completely unsuitable for your situation.

As an example, not all advice dispensed by startup gurus and consultants will be applicable to your situation. Whatever is the current trend will eventually fall out of favour. History is full of stories of wrong predictions from experts and consultants. In fact, many successful businesses develop precisely in niches that experts have already neglected or dismissed. Therefore, I feel that all advice should be taken with a grain of salt.

I summarise all this in the motto: “advice is a trail, not a rail”.


In conclusion, I feel I have gained a lot of experience out of a single startup weekend, and I emphatically recommend anyone who is interested in gaining some insight into entrepreneurship to take part in events such as the one I attended.

Maybe more importantly, the greatest lesson I took from this event was that assuming a critical position, observing and drawing lessons from such events is crucial to avoid simple but crippling mistakes when starting your own business.

By A. Navarro

Your invitation to hear from 9 awesome new startups TONIGHT!

This has been a most excellent Startup Weekend indeed. I mean, all Startup Weekend are awesome… obviously. In fact, if you manage to get through a Startup Weekend without saying ‘awesome’ at least 15 times, you’re probably not doing it quite right.

Anyway, what I mean to say is Startup Weekend is always a hive of creativity, problem-solving, collaboration. But this Startup Weekend has seen a few added extra gems… for example, an impromptu but mandatory dance party…

And built amazing and totally viable Lego bridges…

Look how happy Organiser Chris is. Hurrah for Lego!
Look how happy Organiser Chris is. Hurrah for Lego!

There are many brilliant things about this Startup Weekend, but as always, one of the most brilliant things is the teams. The problems being solved this weekend are so wide and varied, no industry is safe from the entrepreneurial minds of our awesome attendees. We have politics, health, transport, education, and even gaming. Whatever your startup interests, there’s a smorgasbord of ideas here to tickle your tastebuds.

So, with that in mind, we would like to invite you to come and share in the excitements and achievements of our teams over this weekend at our free pitch session today. These teams have been working hard to launch their startup in just 54 hours and they want your support!

The event takes place in Mappin Hall, Mappin Street, Sheffield at 5pm. Amazing things happen at Startup Weekend. One of these startups could end up being the next big thing of 2015.

To register for this evening (and the after-party), visit:

See you tonight!


Venues and car parks

Here’s a handy map of venues and car parks for this weekend’s Startup Weekend Sheffield:

Startup Weekend venues


Startup Weekend is NOT about the prizes. It’s about the learning, the meeting people, the energy, the fun, the buzz, the inspiration and even the delicious Wibbly Wobbly Burgers and Pizzetta Pizzas… definitely not about prizes. But we wanted to ensure that if you have to receive a prize, not only are they incredibly useful in terms of taking your new startup forward but pretty awesome too!

So without further ado we announce this years Lancaster University Startup Weekend grand prizes:


By the courtesy of key figures on the Manchester and UK Startup scene, one lucky team will receive access to Manchester’s #1 Collaborative Workspace for Startups : SpacePortX!

Our local university based ‘incubator’ Mind Your Own Business will also give one team a Fast Track straight into the final round of their selection process. Where successful teams will be allocated university office space for free.


Our top three teams will also earn their place in the Champions Circle of Global Startup Battle, and be given the opportunity to compete on international level. Where teams will have the opportunity to win prizes such as:

  • All expenses paid trip to UP Global Headquarters for an extensive team mentoring experience.
  • All expenses paid trip for the Global Entrepreneurship conference.
  • All expenses paid to New York for a NASDAQ media tour.
  • 20 000USD for GA courses
  • Booth at the CES Eureka Park, access to the LAUNCH conference.
  • and much more

Beyond this there are loads of other prizes from sponsors such as Zoaring Adaptive, NuBlue, Blinkist and Podio.

Stay Connected:

Like the Lancaster University Startup Weekend page on Facebook.
Follow @LancasterUniSW on Twitter.

Start Preparing Your Pitch!

MicIf you’re coming to Lancaster University Startup Weekend – you only have 1 week to prepare your pitch for Friday night!

Alli Blum wrote a great post on preparing for the pitch for Philadelphia (US) Startup Weekend.

  1. Focus on the problem you want to solve
  2. Mention how you think the problem should be solved
  3. Talk about your secret sauce
  4. Tell us what you already know
  5. Showcase your winning personality
  6. Show up with an idea that does something meaningful
  7. Name your idea

Here’s how the Co-Directors of think you should plan it out:

  • 5 to 10 seconds: Who are you?
  • 10 to 20 seconds: What’s the problem your product/service solves?
  • 10 to 20 seconds: What’s your solution?
  • 5 to 10 seconds: Who do you need on your team?

Now, with all of that advice – start preparing your pitch! I know that we’ll hear some great ones Friday, 21st of November!

If you still need advice on preparing your pitch, you want to run your pitch by someone before Friday night, or you just can’t figure out where your hamster got to feel free to email us at LancasterUniSW (at) Gmail (dot) com (or you can click the contact button on our home page).

Stay Connected:
Like our page on Facebook.
Follow @LancasterUniSW on Twitter.

New tracks and prizes announced for Global Startup Battle

As you may be aware, the November Startup Weekend ties into Global Entrepreneurship Week and the Global Startup Battle, which is awesome news for those of you who have already bought your tickets for Startup Weekend as that’s how you get access to the bigger competition.

This year, as well as the champion’s track, there are other tracks to be entered, which means more chances to win on a truly global stage. These tracks are being updated all the time with new prizes and judges, but here’s what’s available right now:

Champions Track: The Champions Track will showcase the best of every city and Region. To compete in this Track your team must place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd at your local Startup Weekend. Learn more.

Startup Women Track: We’re honoured to support building diversity with a Track focused on women entrepreneurs and highlighting their work and talents. The Startup Women Track drives participation at all levels by accepting teams that have a female founder, led by a woman, or consisting of 50% or more women members. Learn more.

Education, Empowered Track: From improving the way we learn to increasing access to education, we’re looking at you to join us in creating a world where everyone is empowered to be a thinker and a maker. Education, Empowered Track is sponsored by General Assembly. Learn more.

Do the KIND Thing Track: Bring your socially impactful ideas to Do the KIND Thing Track. With commitment to social entrepreneurship with impact, this Track focus is to make the world a little kinder, one act or idea at a time. This Track is powered by KIND Healthy Snacks. Learn more.

The Innovator’s Track: The .CO Innovators Track is calling all Startup Weekend teams that are launching their brilliant ideas on a .CO domain. Prizes for this Track include a trip to Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH Festival – the best place to launch your startup, raise money and learn about starting a company. This Track is powered by .CO. Learn more.

So if you want access to the Global Startup Battle, the competition, the glory and all those amazing prizes, make sure you’ve got your ticket to Startup Weekend Sheffield. It’s where it all begins.

Register now.

The Roles at Startup Weekend

So. Startup Weekend is a 54 hour event where you can get a crash-course on being an entrepreneur. But how are you going to participate in Startup Weekend? There are a variety of ways anyone can participate. I had an interesting experience where I signed up to be a developer but had reservations on developing when I arrived. It was fine – I still played a part as a Project Manager and assisted with some development decisions. In other words – whatever ticket you choose, while it is very important, there are so many more ways to participate in Startup Weekend.

But that doesn’t necessarily help you decide which way you’ll sign up to participate, does it? Never fear. I’ve pulled together a little guidance on each role at Startup Weekend: Developer, Designer, and Non-technical!

This ticket type applies to software engineers/coders/developers – in short, anybody who can and will write code.
Honestly – that description is pretty perfect. What can you expect to do at Startup Weekend, though, if you sign up as a Developer? You might start with a pitch. And then you might work with the non-technical and designer to ensure your concept is effective for completion in 54-hours and then start to code. Or maybe you don’t have an idea to pitch. Or you might pitch an idea that doesn’t make the cut Friday night. You can still join another team and work with that team to complete the idea and code during the weekend either alone or with another developer (or two)!

This ticket type applies to anybody with a background in design (graphics, UX/UI, etc.)
Again, the ticket definition hits it spot-on. Know anything about design? Great! This ticket is for you. You might spend your time creating a logo or elements of an online-tool (like buttons, etc) or even laying out pages on a site. Or creating the many graphics needed for a site. If you have some coding knowledge for design, that’s great! If you know a bit about UX/UI but can’t complete everything for it – this is the ticket for you, too! And your time to learn more about creating the best experience online. If you’d like to read more about this unique way to participate. Also check out this great blog post on The Role of Design in Startup Weekend.

This ticket type applies to business, marketing & PR, and anyone with a non-technical background.
I love this ticket type description. It really can serve so many purposes because there are so many things to be done at Startup Weekend. It takes a great team to pull off creating a business in 54 hours. Are you a great marketer? This ticket type is for you. Do you know a lot about running a business? Or starting one, at least? This ticket type is for you. Are you a great writer? You might also make a great blogger or copywriter for a website or tool. This ticket type can also be for you! Also – don’t forget – you can pitch an idea Friday night, too. Maybe that’s what you think you’re coming with – just an idea for a business. And that’s fine. You can watch your idea unfold in 54 hours and learn the many different things you need to get that started with a great team while helping each developer, designer, marketer to get this accomplished.

Whichever ticket type you choose, there are so many ways to participate at Startup Weekend. From Friday Night through Sunday evening. It can be as much or as little as you like – but you’ll get the experience of watching a business start faster than any other situation.

Still have questions about what ticket to buy? Or just want to say hi? Just email us at lancasteruk (at) startupweekend (dot) org (or you can click the contact button on our home page).

Stay Connected:
Like the SW Lancaster page on Facebook.
Follow @LancasterUniSW on Twitter.

Hello! I’m Vegard – your web and social organizer!

Hello! I’m Vegard!

I’ll be writing blog posts to prepare you for Startup Weekend Lancaster and I’m really excited to be an organizer for this event. I went to my first Startup Weekend in Stavanger in April 2012. I had a blast and my team, RedContext, won 2nd place in the competition. I’ll admit – I was nervous before the weekend and continued to be nervous as it started. I wasn’t sure where I would fit in, what I was going to do! But Startup Weekend was an experience that I know many others would like to have – and Lancaster University is close to my heart (as a Lancaster graduate) so I’m super psyched to help bring it there for a second year!

In addition to writing blog posts each week I’ll also be managing the facebook and twitter pages and I’m more than willing to answer any questions you may have or just talk to you about what socks you’ll wear that day. So feel free to email me. 🙂

I’ll also be providing site updates. Any time there’s a change in our sponsors, coaches, judges, or schedule (or anything, really) I’ll be sure to update the website. And, with my blog posts, I’ll let you know if there’s anything new and exciting!

For now – why don’t you check out our Sponsors, Coaches, and Judges via our homepage and get associated with the schedule. You can even checkout the Startup Weekend site and get familiar with the event a little!

If you’re already convinced Startup Weekend is for you – you can get a ticket here and come spend 54 hours with myself and the other great organizers taking a business from concept to creation.

Stay tuned for more information on the different roles of participants in Startup Weekend!

If you have questions about Startup Weekend, or just want to say hi, email us at LancasterUK [at] StartupWeekend [dot] Org (or you can click the contact button on our home page).

Stay Connected:
Like the SW Lancaster page on Facebook.
Follow @LancasterUniSW on Twitter.

Our Startup Weekend Story…introducing planabee

Planabee founders: Celina Ploskonka (left) and Laura Thomas (right)
Planabee founders: Celina Ploskonka (left) and Laura Thomas (right)

This is a guest post by Celina Ploskonka, founder of Planabee and Startup Weekend Sheffield attendee. Celina attended Startup Weekend in March 2014 and her team came in third at final presentations.

Last year I was lucky enough to win a ticket to Startup Weekend Sheffield, a three day event during which you work as part of a group to turn a concept into a minimum viable product. I went along to the event with very few expectations, having never attended an event like this previously, and it ended up being the starting point for our new and exciting business idea, planabee – a mobile website providing  people who plan events with a supplier search and booking system, event planning tool and social hub all in one place.

During the weekend I met a whole host of interesting and extremely useful people from a range of backgrounds and industries. It was a new and exciting experience to work alongside my ‘dream team’ and it gave me a real insight into the stages involved when developing a new product. I met some great people who provided me with inspiration and support throughout the weekend, and thereafter, which really got planabee off to the best possible start. Prior to this event I had very little experience in pitching a business idea to an audience, and in all honesty I found the idea completely terrifying, but after going on to finish third at the event not only was I really proud I also gained a huge confidence boost and have since gone on to do countless other pitches and presentations.

Since the Startup Weekend my business partner and I have been on a whirlwind journey and planabee has developed and come a long way since the initial idea. We’ve spent the past few months fine-tuning our concept, conducting thorough market research, finalising our business plan and looking into several funding options. We’re hopeful to begin our software development within the next few weeks, with the aim of launching our finish product to the market at the beginning of next year. Overall this has been a fantastic journey, which wouldn’t have come about if it wasn’t for Startup Weekend Sheffield, so we’re extremely grateful and would encourage any other young entrepreneurs to go along because you never know what you might get out of it!