No Talk, All Action: how Startup Weekend brought great ideas to life in just 54 hours

No Talk, All Action: how Startup Weekend brought great ideas to life in just 54 hours

“No Talk, All Action” sums up what Do It Day is all about, but it’s also the motto of Startup Weekend, one of the largest and most engaged grassroots movements of active and empowered entrepreneurs globally. So when XVIII Havas heard of The Drum’s Do It Day Fringe, we thought it’d be a perfect match for our work with EDF Energy and Startup Weekend in Manchester.

EDF Energy, having just closed the applications for EDF Energy Pulse Awards, played a critical role in the relaunch of Startup Weekend in Manchester. The event is the world’s starting point for entrepreneurship, hosting an immersive 54-hour programme from Friday night to Sunday morning that brings together designers, developers, entrepreneurs, and experts from all domains to share ideas, form teams, and launch startups to market or tackle business challenges.

On the afternoon of Friday 4 November, 47 people from diverse backgrounds and a variety of talents came together to climb out of their comfort zone, take a chance, co-create and for the majority of them, make their first foray into entrepreneurship. After some networking and ice-breakers, 27 people felt brave enough to take to the stage and pitch their idea within only 60 seconds. After popular vote, we were left with eight ideas around which the participants organically formed teams.

On Saturday, the teams focused on getting all their ideas on the table, customer validation and mapping out the roadmap to their MVP for Sunday. A line up of amazing mentors joined the teams to offer their expertise and guidance including Rupert Wingate-Saul, investment director at AXM Venture Capital and Paul Bason, director of digital innovation at Manchester Metropolitan University.

On Sunday, the focus shifted to preparing the pitches, although we had the amazing case of a team pivoting their idea only two hours before the final pitch, and despite that they still managed to secure the third place in judging. The event culminated with an esteemed panel of judges determining the overall winner based on three criteria: validation, execution & design and business model.

Among the judges were Martin Bryant, community editor at Tech North and Jon Corner, chief executive of The Landing MediaCityUK and chairman of the RiverMotion Group. The overall winner was Celebration Planner; a platform connecting entertainment related businesses with celebration planners. The first runner up was BARzaar, an app to pre-order your drink at a bar and the second one, TripleC; a contactless charity card that helps combat homelessness.

The commitment and drive of the attendees throughout this intense process reflected what makes Manchester such a promising and rapidly growing tech cluster. According to Tech Nation, Manchester has the UK’s second highest GVA growth – 92% between 2010 and 2014 and a total of more than 51,000 employees in the sector. Manchester offers a unique value proposition to businesses thanks to its vast graduate talent pool from the local universities and an engaged and supportive local community including government and city initiatives like Tech North, Project Forward and City Verve, along with private ones like Manchester Digital and Barclays Rise.

EDF Energy aims to continue promoting innovation and contributing to the developments of the future UK wide. In the words of Xavier Mamo, UK R&D director for EDF Energy: "We have R&D partnerships and facilities in Manchester and we don't just want to focus our innovation efforts in London. Hence Manchester was a perfect city for this event". In startups we believe good ideas can come from anywhere and it’s time corporate world believes this too. Don’t you?

Amalia Agathou is Innovations Manager at Havas Media Group

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