The fourth edition of Sync The City was run from 23rd to 25th of November 2017 at Norwich Cathedral, it was an event organized by SyncNorwich and UEA which had the objective to bring together entrepreneurs with business mentors and technology expertise to develop a start-up in just 54 hours. At the event were five participants (Kat, Arthur, Esteban, Luis and Jonathan) from MSc Enterprise & Business Creation course.
The event began with 1-minute pitches of more than 30 entrepreneurs, including the 5 MSc participants, who presented their business ideas. The mentors selected 20 with the most potential for developing a prototype during the event, and after that, all the attendees voted for the best 12 final ideas. Kat Hawes had the privilege of being selected as one of those ideas-
“I was originally too scared to pitch but then to think I got through to being chosen to work on my idea was amazing! I met some really inspirational people from developers to computer scientists to designers. It’s incredible that everything can change by pitching your idea for just 1 minute to a room of people. By the end of the 54 hours I was on stage pitching for 5 minutes to an even bigger room of people full of the teams, the public, and 5 judges including the CEO of Start-Rite Shoes. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Sync the City, do not pass up on this amazing experience” said Kat.
The rest of us 5 were divided into different teams to develop one of the winning ideas. Throughout the whole event, we were advised, pushed and celebrated by mentors assigned to each of the new teams. Their help was crucial to successfully structure and develop the business ideas. “Sync the city is one of those chaotic ventures that no one can explain how it works, but it actually does. None of it would be possible without the mentor’s guidance and expertise” said Esteban Rojas, one of the MSc representatives at the event.
During the 3 days, there were many different workshops held in a parallel room, which ensured basic knowledge to at least one of the participants on each team. “There is an incredible amount of skill and experience all in one place. If you’re not sure how to make something work you can be sure that there is someone in the room that does. It was an amazing opportunity to work with a team of really skilled people all doing what they do best.” (Arthur)
On the afternoon of the last day, all the teams were required to showcase their developments during a technical revision, “despite some potential setbacks, we worked hard to get the prototype and final pitch over the line “. (Jonathan) In the evening, the room was left empty to let the organizers adapt the space for the final pitches and award ceremony, while we got a delicious meal. Shortly afterwards, everybody came back to the main room and the final pitches began. “It is a very exciting moment when your teammate gets to the stage and begins to tell the story that you built together for the last couple of days” said Luis Rua.
In the end, another team including several UEA graduates won with their LoneSafeApp -a great idea to help lone workers to be safer- won the main £3000 prize. Unwind -an app for stressed people to talk to- was the winner of the people’s choice. I’m sure all the participants learnt something new, and for me, it was just the beginning of a lot more of this kind of events.
We as MSc Enterprise and Business Creation team, want to thank Norwich Business School, Fiona Lettice UEA PvC of Research and Innovation, Julie Schofield Head of UEA Careers and all of our friends at SyncNorwich for giving us the opportunity and we hope they continue encouraging students to do this real-world activity.