IN just 54 hours 12 new businesses were created during Startup Weekend Newcastle at Newcastle University Business School.
The weekend, which saw over 70 people attend, proved the global reach of the event with some attendees travelling from Spain and America. It was also the first time Startup Weekend had ventured outside of London, and proved the appetite the region has for innovation and enterprise.
From a location-based app called Vibe - a recommendation service for people looking for the best ‘hotspots’ to visit; InstaQuote, a text service providing car insurance quotes, to SaleBuzz, an app that notifies you of retail sales, a diverse range of start-ups were pitched on Sunday night to a judging panel.
However, it was JobLog – an online portal that connects employers with potential employees via video – that clinched the top prize by seizing the ‘most likely to win a million’ award. They won access to one year’s office space from Digital City Business plus an intensive mentoring package worth £10,000. The team will also receive one Rivers Capital fast track to £10,000 with the FIRST Deal programme.
Customer validation, the business model and overall execution, were some of the key areas which guided the judging panel’s decision, which included; Paul Lancaster from Plan Digital; Stephen Lightley, chief operating officer of North East Access to Finance; Newcastle University Business School’s David Goldman Professor of Innovation and Enterprise, James Hayton; Jonathan Gold, director at Rivers Capital Partners, and Caroline Theobald, managing director of Bridge Club Ltd.
The mentors, who helped coach and guide the 12 teams, ranged from leading marketing and digital business minds to an international domain-name expert from America; and meant that all groups had the chance to found their start-ups on solid foundations with a huge range of skills and expertise to tap into.
Newcastle University Business School’s David Goldman Professor of Innovation and Enterprise, James Hayton, said: “Over the course of the weekend we saw a group of 70 minds work incredibly hard to ensure that the weekend was a great success, and the ideas and consequent start ups were viable business ideas.
“The weekend created a great sense of community within the teams – it was 54 hours of shared vision, and I hope to see another Startup Weekend return to the North East soon.”
.Co Internet S.A.S, director of marketing, and sponsor of Startup Weekend Newcastle, Linda Koritkoski, said: “It’s been amazing to watch 70 strangers become 12 tight-knit teams over the course of only 54 hours.
“The ideas generated here surely have the power to be built into the next big start-up success. From the top three winners – JobLog.co, PlayZee.co, and TripTab.co – to the InstaQuote.co team getting on Hacker News on Sunday morning – I can’t wait to see what they all do next!”
Plan Digital, founder and mentor at Startup Weekend Newcastle, Paul Lancaster, said: “As soon as I heard that Startup Weekend was coming to Newcastle I contacted the event organisers straight away to offer my help.
“The city already has an extremely vibrant, tech start-up community with a strong ecosystem of grass-roots networking, supportive investors, low-cost workspace, talent and international conferences but events like this help shine the light on the area a little bit more.
"Although there were only five winners on Sunday, I was blown away by the passion and enthusiasm of everyone there, and think all 12 teams have viable business ideas which I would like to help develop further over the coming weeks and months."
Laura Brown, team member of JobLog, said: “I flew back from Mallorca to attend this event in the hope that I would make at least one good contact. To win the event with an amazing team is fantastic. We are excited about the future of JobLog and moving into our new office.
“It was really nice to meet so many talented people in the space of such a short time and I would like to thank everyone who made the event possible.”
Startup Weekend, event organiser Howard Kingston said: “Startup Weekend Newcastle is the first one we’ve run in the UK outside the London area. We were a little unsure what to expect but this weekend’s talent, passion and quality of ideas really shows that the North of England can match London’s any-day (or weekend).”
Startup Weekend is a world-renowned, 54-hour startup event that provides the networking, resources, and incentives for individuals and teams to go from idea to launch. In the past two years over 300 Startup events have been held, 35 countries visited, over 600 startups created, and more than 45,000 entrepreneurs inspired.
published on: 30th April 2012