Exeter Startup Weekend

    Friday, July 17 - 19, 2015

  1. Overview
  2. Schedule
  3. Speakers
  4. Judges
  5. Coaches and Mentors
  6. Sponsors
  7. Organizing Team
  8. Blog
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Exeter Startup Weekend

Friday, July 17 - 19, 2015

Friday, July 17 - 19, 2015
Event starts at 5:30 pm

The Innovation Centre
University of Exeter
Rennes Drive
Exeter, Devon Exeter EX4 4RN

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Do you think you have the next big thing? Well, let it out and come and join Exeter's First Ever Start-Up Weekend

Be a part of Exeter's First Ever Startup Weekend.

Meet amazing people, Learn new Skills, Have Fun, Launch a Business

Do you want to Launch a Startup in 54 hours?  Then come along on Friday 17th - 19th July 2015.  No Talk, All Action is the Moto!

Whether you are the next Big Tech Thing, Food and Drink idea, Social Enterprise, Renewable Energy, Retail product, arts organisation or budding Start-Up Entrepreneur then Exeter StartUp Weekend could be the place for you to launch.  

Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences beginning with open mic pitches on Friday. Bring your best ideas and inspire others to join your team. Over Saturday and Sunday teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing Lean Startup techniques and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.
  • Learning through the act of creating 
  • Building your network
  • Finding someone you can actually launch a startup with
  • Learning a new skill and stepping outside of your comfort zone 
  • Getting face time with people who can help make your idea happen
At our inaugural Exeter Startup Weekend we want to help you go from concept to reality. These exciting weekend experiences foster great teams, high energy, and new ideas. 
Startup Weekend is a global phenomenon - 54 hours of fast and furious prototype development through to exploring potential markets and pitching.  It’s an unparalleled opportunity to build lasting relationships with co-founders, mentors and investors.

Over 36% of startups from these events are still going strong after three months.

The real value comes from taking an idea from concept through to execution using Lean tactics and working under high pressure with the best startup people Exeter and Devon has to offer.

Experienced business people or new entrepreneurs; designers looking for new ideas; developers wanting to challenge their skills - Startup Weekends are a fun and exciting way to to upskill and test yourself in the world of startups

Starting from 6pm on Friday pitches will be made, ideas chosen and lasting teams formed.  By late Friday night you’ll be on your way with goals set and roles assigned.

Saturday is all about validation - contacting potential customers and checking out if there is really a market for your idea - and reacting fast if you need to change.  Meanwhile if you’re a developer or a designer you’ll be furiously building the product.  

Sunday is about making it work and preparing for the final pitch to a panel of carefully chosen judges.  Throughout the process mentors from all backgrounds will be on hand.  

Celebrate!  We’ll put in place follow up events, and there will be other opportunities, including the chance to go on the Crowdcube 'Fit for the Crowd' Workshop and 'Sprint' funding Initiative, continued mentorship, co-working space, TechHub membership which includes workshops and meeting amazing startup entrepreneurs and other business support.

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Setup for Success Before/After Startup Weekend


Friday July 17th

5:30 pm
Arrive at the venue and get checked in

6:00 pm
Welcome & Speakers
Review agenda for the weekend and introduce speakers, coaches, and community leaders

6:20 pm
Dinner & Networking
Eat food, share ideas, practice pitches, get to know fellow participants

7:15 pm
Pitches Start
Optionally line up to give your pitch

8:15 pm
Attendees vote for the top pitches

8:30 pm
Form Teams
Teams start forming and discussing ideas

9:00 pm
Begin Work
Start to formalize teams and take an inventory of skills. Be honest, and direct about what resources and skills are needed for the weekend. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Saturday July 18th

8:30 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

9:00 am
Begin Work
Teams formed and setting up workspace for the weekend

12:00 pm

1:00 pm
After-lunch check-in, status reports, call for help

2:00 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches help teams one-on-one. They are here to help!

6:30 pm

7:30 pm
After-dinner check-in, status reports, call for help

10:00 pm
Finished for the day. You may stay and work as late as the venue will allow

Sunday July 19th

9:00 am
Arrive, simple breakfast & coffee

10:00 am
Coaches arrive. Final opportunity to ask questions

12:00 pm

12:30 pm
Coach Meetings
Coaches arrive… ASK QUESTIONS

3:00 pm
Presentation Prep & Tech Check
Final hours of worktime should be focused on perfecting your presentation, tech-check for final presentations also takes place

4:00 pm

5:00 pm
Final Presentations

7:30 pm
Judging & Awards

8:30 pm

9:00 pm
Go Home!


Darren Westlake

Darren is the co-founder of Crowdcube. Crowdcube is the first crowdfunding website in the world to offer people equity in exchange for their investment. Since launching in February 2011 Crowdcube has raised over £85m in over 260 deals and has over 180,000 registered investors. Prior to Crowdcube Darren founded and exited 2 businesses in the field of Voice over IP. Based on his experiences and frustrations in raising money for companies Darren came up with the idea for Crowdcube and founded the company.  Darren has been awarded the Financial Services Entrepreneur of the Year at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2014 and Debretts has recently named him in their list of the 500 Most Influential People of 2015.

Event Judges

Heather Fairbairn
CEO Tickbox Solutions Ltd

"Heather has had a very varied business career. From Oxford she joined BP as a graduate trainee and ended up in ship chartering.  She later had her own businesses, ranging from large housing developments to Newquay Zoo, an innovative care village for the elderly and a community interest company to help women through the menopause. Since moving to Devon, the Innovation Centre has become a focus of her interests, founding or investing in three businesses here. Wise Goose provides training in executive coaching; Theta Technologies has developed a wholly innovative, acoustic non-destructive testing technology for engineering industries and TickBox, where she is currently the CEO and which aims to make politics relevant and accessible to all."

Richard Warren

Richard Warren is a core member of the Investment Team at Crowdcube and is responsible for the development, analysis and strategy of equity investment propositions. Richard graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BSc. (Hons) in Economics and is currently studying towards a Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments Diploma. A keen entrepreneur since his teens, he founded several e-commerce businesses while working for a succession of Motor Racing teams prior to discovering Crowdcube.     Now using his experience and enthusiasm to help other entrepreneurs successfully grow their own businesses. His specialisms in making things move quickly and efficiently uniquely position him in the fast expanding world of equity Crowdfunding.

Stewart Noakes

Stewart established Exeter Management Consulting Limited (EMCL) after completing the transaction that saw his first entrepreneurial start-up become part of the QualiTest Group in 2012.

Through EMCL Stewart has continued his journey with start-ups and entrepreneurial endeavour as a Non Executive Director, Mentor, Coach and Angel Investor. Part of this includes links with Level39 in canary Wharf and also Techhub London.


Mark Lomas
Partner, Chairman of Ashfords

Mark is a Partner, Chairman of Ashfords and Head of the Intellectual Property Team. "Firm chairman Mark Lomas heads the IT/IP department and regularly advises on software development contracts and licensing agreements. One client says: "He's absolutely fantastic, with great knowledge. He made the process very clear and logical".  Chambers 2015 Edition   He specialises in advising clients on all aspects of intellectual property and information technology law. With over twenty five years of experience in practice he advises, drafts negotiates, and guides clients on research and development agreements, technology transfers, start-ups, joint ventures (including on their governance) acquiring, disposing, defending, enforcing and licensing patents, copyright, designs, databases, and trade marks, plus protecting rights in technical, commercial and personal information. He frequently works across national borders and has in depth knowledge of all of the legal and commercial issues in bringing IP and ITC products to the market in both the private and public sectors.

Glenn Woodcock

With a background in mathematics and science, Glenn Woodcock has twenty years of business experience in technology and finance companies.Glenn did post-graduate research in mathematical biology and has a degree (first class) from Sheffield University in Astrophysics.He began his commercial life developing software in computer automated machining and inventing compression algorithms for online computer games.From 2000 to 2008 Glenn was responsible for various aspects of risk systems for the Royal Bank of Scotland, ranging from stress testing, regulatory reporting, Risk InfrastructureControl, Pricing, Basel II and integrated financial reporting. Much of this time was spent focusing on practical implementation of regulation.In 2008 Glenn founded Andromeda Capital, specialising in investment in renewable energy, financial and risk management technology. He co-founded Sparx over two years ago to scientifically investigate exactly what it is that makes the best learning experience. By fusing world-class technology and data analysis with educational insight, Sparx is focussed on finding ways to ensure everyone can reach their full potential.

Ben de Cruz
Senior Partner at Haines Watts/Director at Spacex

Ben is senior Partner at Haines Watts accountants and is responsible for a diverse portfolio of clients, including owner managed businesses, professional partnerships, large insurance network providers and wealthy individuals.  He  also acts as a non executive director for charitable and not for profit organisations as is a Director of the successful Spacex which recently launched a successful  Kickstarter funding programme.  Since 2003 Ben has been a director and the treasurer of the Exeter Chamber of Commerce.

Coaches and Mentors

Tom Carrington-Smith

Tom oversees the development of new products at The Eleven - a startup studio obsessed by building great ideas into brilliant businesses. The Eleven's current companies include BORN SOCIAL, making pretty and YOUTH London.

Tom previously co-founded UniSport in 2010 whilst in his second year of University. UniSport live streamed University hockey, football and cricket for the first time ever, working with brands like Red Bull and Under Armour and growing to over 200,000 users in 50 countries. 

Ben Hayes

As Head of Digital at DDA - a consultancy that works predominately within the world of film - Ben works within both the Brand and US/UK Film departments, with a client base ranging from major US and UK film distributors and producers through to consumer and entertainment brands. His team works across a range of disciplines, including website development, online marketing, social media, and influencer programmes. Current and recent clients include StudioCanal’s ‘Shaun the Sheep The Movie’, Hewlett Packard's sponsorship of Cannes Film Festival, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta Mission, and a number of Universal Pictures' film titles.   Ben formally ran a social media agency for two years, where he worked across a number of FMCG and consumer brands.

Thor Mitchell
Chief Product Officer for Crowdcube

Thor Mitchell is Head of Product for Crowdcube.  Thor was at Google for nine years, based in London, Sydney, and Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters. While at Google he was primarily focused on developer products and strategy, and managed a number of popular services including the Google Maps API, and the Google+ Platform. Prior to Google, Thor worked on networking and messaging products at Sun microsystems.

Michelle Law

Michelle became an independent consultant focused on business strategy and development following a 13 year career in global investment banking in London, Hong Kong and Sydney.   Her most recent role was Asia Pacific Operating Officer for the investment banking division of UBS and prior to this she led the corporate strategy function of UBS’s Australian operations.  She began her career in corporate advisory and equity capital markets and has worked with growth companies across a range of sectors and completed numerous fundraising transactions. Michelle has experience in all aspects of senior management including financial management, reporting and budgeting, strategic planning, HR, legal and regulatory issues and internal audit.  Michelle holds an MA in Economics from Trinity College, University of Cambridge.

Jonathan Melruish-Sprague
Founding Partner Account Director

Jonathan is a co-founder of Koncept, a venture technology company which works with technology startups to develop their ideas into successful businesses. Their portfolio currently includes 16 startups who are working with LifeFitness, FitBit, the Deltic group and Vodka Revolutions to name a few.

Jonathan Neumann

Jonathan won the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013 - the biggest tech competition in the world - thanks to a music player when he was still a student at Exeter. Using the experience gained, he decided to found his own company, Audio Y, which specialises in apps inspired by the world of music. Based in London he is developing Split The Beat, a social music app that allows 2 people to play the same Youtube music video at the same time in perfect sync and to tap into their social network to discover new songs. His other app, Birdcast, aims to solve the problem of connecting social media with events and has been accepted into UCL's Digital Business Labs 2015 Summer Cohort. Finally, Jonathan is also in charge of an iOS development team for a B2B company.

stewart noakes

Stewart has been an IT consultant since 1998 and joined QualiTest in October2012 as the CEO for the UK and India divisions. 

Stewart has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from the University of Exeter and also a Masters Degree in Optics. He is a regular conference speaker and visiting lecturer at universities in the UK on the Strategic Value of Software Testing, Corporate Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Company Values. 

Matthew Rusk

Matthew studied History at the University of Exeter between 2009 and 2012. Eager to generate an income to pay for his university fees he created Guitar Lessons Exeter, teaching guitar to all ages and abilities from the uni’s music department. With over 25 hours teaching per week in second year he hired a secondary guitar teacher to take on the overflow work, charging them commission each time they taught a lessons to a “referred student”. With the students being generated from a well optimised local website, third year saw him trial the new website in Belfast and Bristol for guitar and singing respectively to see if he could generate local students for teachers in these cities. The trial was a success and marked the start of a UK expansion that now see the business operate in every UK city across four instruments, working with over 100 teachers and with over 10,000 students. The business’s flagship website, Guitar Lessons London (www.guitarlessonslondon.com), is one of the UK's biggest guitar schools with multiple teachers tutoring students throughout the capital. Matthew was also lucky enough to be the 2012 - 2013 University of Exeter Student Entrepreneur in Residence, an experience that was critical in making the business a success.

David Solomides
Accelerator Educator

David is an approved and registered GrowthAccelerator Coach and a past University of Exeter Business Mentor of the Year.  He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, a Professional of the Institute of Operational Risk and has created and grown businesses both within the UK and internationally. He is an experienced Non-Executive Director and specialises in facilitating significant growth in both established and early stage businesses, implementing change and thinking "outside the box". He also has a passion for bringing business into education and runs the ZENEN Business Challenge, to introduce enterprise to primary and secondary students. 

Ben Tyson
Managing Director

 Ben is one the Managing Directors of BORN SOCIAL (www.bornsocial.co.uk) one of Europe's leading social media management agencies for challenger brands and SMEs alike. He studied History at Exeter and after graduating in 2012 joined The Eleven (www.theeleven.co.uk) where he helped set up BORN. Today, the agency over 80 clients spread across the globe and Ben helps lead their 25-man team based in their offices in London and Amsterdam."

Dan Wiseman

Dan set up his company Web Wise Media whilst studying drama at the University of Exeter. Initially it was just a way to help generate an income to pay for his studies, but over the years Dan built a reputation for delivering excellent web sites and online marketing solutions. Now Web Wise employs 6 members of staff and promotes the lean startup methodology for small businesses venturing into the online world. Dan's skills include web programming, design, e-commerce, SEO and social media marketing.

Event Sponsors, and Partners

The Exeter Startup Weekend team is grateful for the support of local community partners without whom this event would not be possible.
Learn how to become a sponsor here.

Signature Sponsors



Organizing Team

Techstars Startup Weekend Exeter is 100% led by volunteer community leaders.
Learn how to get involved here

  • Nat
  • Joe
  • Robin
  • Katy
  • Mithil


Wout Laban

My name is Wout, I am very passionate about creating new opportunities in and around education, for people, companies and communities. Always keeping an eye out to share knowledge and create valuable connections along the way. Over the past two years I’ve done so for our Startup Gibbon a platform that helps companies share knowledge, educate employees and create a culture of learning.
I’m very engaged in the the startup scene in Amsterdam where I organise different meetups around community management, host workshops about customer development and organise Startup Weekend. Next to that I facilitate Startup Weekends around Europe as often as I can. A great way to learn and connect with the different entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world.

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