On 18th and 19th November, I was lucky enough to attend the Sync the City event organised by tech and business start-up community SyncNorwich and UEA, which has been run for the third time at the King’s Centre in Norwich. It’s more than a hackathon – it’s a real opportunity to test, design and build a product as part of a business proposition. I was one of the participants who went to the event, along with the entire student cohort from the MSc Enterprise & Business Creation course. Participation to the event was linked to one of our semester 1 modules, giving all of us the opportunity to network, collaborate with like-minded individuals and eventually pitch our final idea to a panel of judges for the opportunity to win £4,000.
The event began with over 25 individual 60-second pitches which all participants then voted on. Those who gained the least votes were eliminated, and eventually there were 12 teams left to develop their ideas. I was part of team Room Halo, which aimed to solve the problem of the reliability of smoke detectors, by creating a device which plugs into a normal light socket fitting and plugging in devices via USB (not necessarily just smoke alarms). The concept went down well at the event, however competition was fierce from other ideas as well. Overall, I found that the breadth of different ideas great and there were lots of different people with different skill sets to talk to.
During the event, we had the support of some experienced mentors, most of whom currently own successful startups. Having someone to support you, to motivate you during the stressful periods (of which there were many) and to have an independent voice was so good to have. We have to thank our mentor Ali Clabburn, CEO of Liftshare, for this.
The whole experience was so valuable, as you learn so much in such a short space of time. One of the big aspects I learnt from the event is just how much you can actually do in just one day, if you are prepared to go out of your comfort zone. It makes you think, if you can effectively launch an entire business in 54 hours, why waste so much time…thinking?
With bonus prizes towards the end, we as representatives of the MSc Enterprise & Business Creation course somehow managed to bag them all! I managed to win three months’ office space from White Space in Norwich, which will help greatly towards my business idea later down the line, as I’ll be amongst existing startups. Other students from the course won sales training from Sandler Training, which will be invaluable as ideas turn to reality.
Watch Team Halo’s final pitch:
With Thanks to Chris Dixon for contributing to the NBS blog, and a special thanks to Peter Moore Fuller and SyncNorwich for the use of their media from the event.