From tense to triumph… why you should give Techstars a go
by MSc Entrepreneurship student and The Sustain Ability Project founder Chloe Lingard
I recently took part in the Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth - and what an experience!
Having, officially, started my entrepreneurial journey back in September 2021, I was attending the weekend to network and find people interested in the tourism and culture sector. I made the decision not to pitch, as I really wanted to be a part of someone else’s entrepreneurship journey, as I have been fortunate to have access to a range of support at Falmouth University’s Venture Studio, Launchpad.
I came to find myself a few hours later forming a team and working on an idea, which was we named, Safe Cities.
The first night was nerve-wracking, as I was stood with about thirty other attendees, some I knew, many I did not, and we were all bonding over pizza and what we thought the Techstars weekend might hold.
Then it all began, the facilitator, Roger Osorio, did an introductory talk and we got to pitching. You only had 60 seconds, but they gave a pitch format, and it was great to hear everybody’s ideas, there were a few that stood out and some, more hard-hitting than others.
Once we all voted on the top five, we got to forming teams, and started developing our ideas. Step one was the business model canvas and the beginning of many post-its!
The next day we joined for breakfast and were fortunate to have a workshop from Stewart Noakes and met the first set of mentors. The majority of the day consisted of testing our ideas, researching competitors, interviewing potential customers, and enjoying all the delicious local food provided by the organising team. To round up the day, in the evening we had a session on branding and the importance of defining your purpose before the team decided to head home for the night.
The third and final day soon came around and it was time to get our pitches ready but not before meeting the second set of mentors, who came with a range of experience, skills, and knowledge. We were not pitching until the evening, so we spent the entire day creating and refining our pitch; there was even enough time for practice and feedback! At 5pm laptops went away, and everyone gathered in the presentation area, where the judges were waiting, and last-minute tech checks were happening.
It was clear nerves were high and as 5pm loomed, pitches began, with some presenting together and others going solo, but every idea was pitched, and it was great to hear what others had been working on all weekend!
As the pitching session came to an end the judges had asked all their questions and it was time for the deliberation. Whilst they made their decisions, we celebrated with a vegan dinner and cake, it was an amazing atmosphere. Everyone was congratulating each other, and many were last minute connecting on LinkedIn as the Techstars weekend was coming to an end.
Finally, the judges were ready with the results but first all teams were given feedback, which was invaluable. They told each team what they really liked, areas to consider and how they could improve the idea for it to be viable.
To round off the night the winners were announced, and I couldn’t believe it, we won the Techstars Startup Weekend Plymouth! After listening to the stories of women who feel unsafe when travelling in the dark, it felt like we could be the ones to change the narrative with our idea.
I didn’t know what to expect when I registered for my first ever Techstars event, but I had an incredible time, from the local food on offer, to the 54 hours of support and meeting a variety of peoples who were excited to support our ideas coming to life in the future.
I have to say, I don’t know what’s next for Safe Cities, but I do know that I can’t wait to go to my next Techstars event at Falmouth University’s Launchpad!