The next chapter for me started here


Last year was really a life changing year for me. It was the year that I started taking interest in activities outside my degree area which was more rewarding in many cases. I made a few decisions along the way. Decisions that completely changed my life and one of them was what you are about to read. It’s called Sheffield Startup Weekend.

This decision, when I’m looking back was the key point to which I see all of the success I may have right now is because of this experience.  This was the first true entrepreneurial experience where I had a chance with my newly formed amazing team to create a working business model in just a weekend!

I decided to sign up for the event as a designer since I had no knowledge in programming and IT. The event at first looked similar to one of the events I had participated before as a game designer to make a game under 48 hours for windows 8 tablets. However, this one, was a bit more serious, and challenging, as we had to make a BUSINESS MODEL in 54 hours. So, I was sure this is going to be fun.

Attending the event I met really great people from different backgrounds, Coders, Business people, other designers and ofcourse our mentors. The event started with a few key note entrepreneurs giving a speech at the beginning which really inspired everyone to do their best during the whole weekend.

We were immediately given a chance to pitch the business ideas we might have in front of everyone in only a minute and then all the ideas were written on flipcharts for others to see. The point was for coders, designers, marketers and all people to choose the best possible ideas to form teams around.

The first night ended with us forming teams and finalising our plans on what we’re going to do the next following days as we had to have our prototype ready for the final business pitches. During the rest 48 hours , we did market research by hitting the streets of Sheffield, started working on prototype, designing the branding and even were thinking about how to make money out of it!

This all paid off at the end when the team stood up to pitch the model in front of judges at the end of the competition. Over the weekend, we made an app called Hands Free Cookbook.  A recipe app that didn’t require touch; aimed at overcoming the problem of messy, food-covered hands when trying to read a recipe from the mobile phones.

We couldn’t believe the news when our idea won Sheffield Startup Weekend, finding ourselves the following days, pitching the model in front of Silicon Valley Judges and 50 other entrepreneurs running against other winners from around the country.  This was the point where our business model, Hands free Cookbook, impressed quite a few people on a big scale making us the runners up idea of Startup Weekends in the UK.

The challenge didn’t end there as we participated in the Global Startup Battle afterwards, having to create a single 30 second video and then starting to build our fan base around the idea in just a week running against 120 other winning teams globally! An intense week of PR and marketing was lying ahead of us. This challenge gave us a chance to practice that PR & marketing skills of ours and be sponsored by our students Union, Faculty of Engineering , University of Sheffield Enterprise by the during our campaign, gathering 2000 fans worldwide, ALL IN JUST A WEEK! Making us one of top 30 startups in the Global Startup Battle.

All I am saying, is that I wouldn’t just recommend this event, I absolutely want to make sure you don’t miss this opportunity in July if you’re looking for a different experience and an insight into the tech startup world. It was just last week that I had an interview with one of the engineering companies where they were more interested in asking me about what we had created in the last Sheffield Startup Weekend than all of my other activities within the university….or even my degree. We ended up talking thirty minutes about it.

Either if you want to secure the job of your dreams or maybe create your own, this event can be a kickstart to your dreams.

Alireza Parandeh