Startup Weekend Manchester Paves the Way


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Startup Weekend ManchesterStartup Weekend hit Manchester for the first time this weekend as part of the Global Startup Battle – the largest community organised startup event in the world with over 130 cities around the world hosting events over 2 consecutive weekends.

Held at Manchester’s soon-to-open TechHub, the event attracted about 60 people from all over the UK. An eager bunch who all turned up ready to pitch, form a team, build something over the 54-ish hours and see if they would emerge victorious on Sunday evening as the winner with the opportunity to carry on developing and competing in London the following week.

What?

Form a team, a company and build your minimum viable product in a weekend? Sounds crazy, right?

If you’re wondering how much you can really get done in such a short space of time, think of it like this; On average most teams in Manchester were 4 people, and realistically worked about 30 hours across the weekend – that’s 120 hours of development time, product validation, financial model design and testing on one idea!

The effort really showed. Ten newly formed teams – who didn’t know each other until they met on Friday night – presented some of the most polished 5 minute pitches I’ve seen in a long time. The grilling 3 of the coaches put the teams through, and the practise pitch sessions beforehand, had really made a difference.

Highlights

There were some really solid ideas, here’s three that stood out for me:

  • Social Timebomb – a Facebook app that allows you to set a goal, pick a Facebook buddy to monitor that goal and if you don’t achieve what you said you would then that person can post embarrassing photos of you for all to see.
  • Right Crowd –  Recruit new staff by setting challenges for them to complete in lieu of sending a CV
  • Pre.vu – “Pinterest for Professors”, a way to store all your class content in a Pinterest style interface

You can find out more about all the teams and what they made at the Startup Weekend Manchester blog.

The overall winner of the weekend was, GoAnnotate, a simple service for writers (both aspiring and professional) to crowd source feedback on their work.

The panel of judges were particularly impressed with the speed in which they turned their MVP around, releasing it on Saturday night so they could gather real world feedback on it from writing communities (and Reddit!). They go on to compete in London against the other winners from around the world.

Special thanks go to Doug Ward and Shaun Gibson from TechHub and Tech Britain for organising such a solid weekend and for continuing to build such a great environment for aspiring entrepreneurs in the north west of England.

This weekend, and there will be many more, proved that Manchester is ready to become a leader in UK tech and that one of the ‘next big things’ is certain to come from here.


Martyn Davies is a Developer Evangelist at SendGrid and a creative developer based in London. He has worked in technology for over 14 years with a background in both the music industry and technology. A serial hackathon organiser, mentor and startup advisor, you’ll find him presenting, demoing, hacking and chatting at hack days, conferences and meetups in the UK & Europe on a regular basis.

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