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A week in the life of a winning Startup Weekend Sheffield team

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Winning team, Airstock, tell us about their experience at Startup Weekend Sheffield, the following week in preparation for their huge video voting contest, and what the future holds for them now the event is over and the Global Startup Battle is looming.

Day 1 – Friday 15th November

It was time for the Start Up Weekend in Sheffield, a not-for-profit event, where aspiring entrepreneurs are given one weekend to create new businesses. All sounds very exciting indeed but you can’t help but feel slightly nervous about what to expect.  We started the evening with networking and eating pizza and it gave everyone chance to speak to each other and ultimately find out who we could potentially be working with over the next 54 hours. It was amazing seeing people from a diverse range of backgrounds come together with a passion for Start-Up business. Firstly, we have greetings from the hosts and an inspirational talk from a guest speaker, Emma Owens. Following this it is our turn to pitch for 60 seconds. Many of the delegates pitched some thought-provoking ideas but it was down to the voting to decide the most popular ideas for Start-Up.

Our idea, AirStock, has made it amongst the top 7 popular concepts chosen. We now needed to find team members, ideally, possessing a strong interest in the concept. This involves us establishing individual’s skills and what they can bring to this team.

Now the team is sorted, time to get into the initial planning. “The Business Model Canvas” was the platform to start this off and it is important that we spent considerable time on this area, allowing the team to compile all their ideas in a systematic manner. The canvas can now be employed throughout the weekend to improve the product by allowing the team to generate further ideas. As the evening comes to an end, and adrenalin is running high, we produce a plan of action for the following day.

Team Airstock at the presentations

Day 2 – Saturday 16th November

Following a brief catch-up over breakfast, Team AirStock started working on what is to be a crucial element of the concept – Customer Validation. For AirStock’s concept to become a success there essentially needed two groups of client – firstly, the contributors of the aerial drone footage and secondly, the customers of the footage (i.e. broadcasters and producers). This involves all members of the team telephone calling contacts and potential clients from a specific directory to discover how viable the product was. The general consensus we are receiving from both contributors and customers is that the product in question would prove to be an invaluable tool in their businesses. One client with a similar concept has asked us about potential partnership once the product is established!

After lunch, the team has split into groups to work on the next stages of the process. This included editing the footage, developing the website, creating a marketing plan and compiling a presentation for the competition on Sunday. Both passion and determination are being demonstrated from all team members during this process. We even have one of the developers deciding to code well into the early hours to ensure that the website is a success.

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Day 3 – Sunday 17th November

Today we are all feeling the tiredness but it is great to see everyone still pulling out stops to get it finished. We are spending much of today making final touches to the product and practising the presentation to ensure it is perfect before pitching to the judges. The team are given the opportunity to present a draft pitch to the Start-Up Weekend hosts, and they have given us extremely useful feedback and points for improvement.

With the 5pm deadline fast approaching, we relocate to the Mappin Building where the competition is being held. We have asked to go first as well so one of the guys can get his booked train, so now more pressure is pilling on us. Introduction to the event and judges and now our name is being called out – “AirStock first to present”.

It is a nervous experience as we haven’t had much time to practice the pitch but we feel it has gone well. We got the key messages across and it seems to have gone smoothly, so time to now sit back and listen to the other groups. Nothing more we can do.

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It is certainly interesting seeing the other teams’ products and how they have evolved over the course of the weekend. We are quite surprised by some of them and suddenly, nerves kick in as we start to realise how strong the competition is.

5As the presentations draw to a close, judges go off and make their decision while we drink some wine and relax, a little anyway. With the time now being 8.15pm, the judges come back out and start to announce their decisions.

3rd place is Accent – one down. 2nd place – Good Vid – two down. Oh no, we think it is between us and one of company, it could go either way.

1st Place – AirStock – Yes! That’s us, we have done it. An amazing weekend has been rounded off with victory. What a way to end.  Time to celebrate in only the way you should, cocktails please!

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Day 4 – Monday 18th November

After a long, but amazing weekend with adrenalin still pumping, we awoke this morning with varying degrees of hangovers. We probably shouldn’t have celebrated in quite the way we did after surviving on very little sleep for 3 days., but it was certainly worth it and we were all still a little shocked by what we had achieved in 54 hours.

Today we had until midnight to produce a 1 minute video. This will be entered in to Global Start Up Battle and we have 10 days in which to push it to get people voting for us and be shortlisted as one of the top 15 start ups in the world.

We realised we had very little time in order to put something together so we got straight to work. We used contacts such as a friend who is a professional cameraman, Mike, to take the footage and the kind folk at Electric Works let us to stage the filming there. We basically ad libbed our way through it as we only had one shot to get it right.

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After the filming was finished, it was back to our office to start editing it down to 60 seconds and try and make it as good as possible. With tiredness kicking in, this was becoming increasingly difficult and things which would normally take a couple of minutes felt like they were taking hours. Pizza was therefore required to refuel us, as was additional support in the form of Lexie:

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Finally we did it, with 30 minutes to spare. Bags under our eyes were now halfway down our faces and our brains had gone into shutdown, but we did it and we were proud! Whether anyone else likes it or even how it may look once we have had some sleep is anybody’s guess.

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Day 5 – Tuesday 19th November

After four days of mayhem and no sleep, we finally started to realise what had happened when we saw our names mentioned in numerous news articles:

http://sheffield.startupweekend.org/2013/11/18/winners-media-release/

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/business-news/airstock-took-the-honours-and-proved-perfect-start-up-1-6251821

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/business/frantic-50-hours-produces-best-of-sheffield-business-1-6253242

It is suddenly real what we have achieved and we can’t believe the publicity we’re getting. This is much bigger than we had first thought and all of us believe we have a cracking idea which could really take off. All we need now is to get our launch strategy finalised for when the competition starts on Wednesday 27th November. We know we need at least 20,000 votes in order to make it into Google’s top 15 which is a huge task, but one we all believe we can achieve.

This was also the first day where we were not all together and so plans had to be put in place for how we could work as a team from our various locations. This has become our priority and we know we have 2 weeks to win this competition, which this will either make or break us (probably not break us as we love the idea, but you know what we mean).

Steven the Drone was born today as he became a real character.  We want to combat the connotations of drones being hobbyist and show how they can be used for actually producing amazing video footage. I’m sure we can surprise people with our current footage because it is unlike what people have seen before.

Day 6 – Wednesday 20th November

Steven the Drone has started to take off. He was amusing people with his silly antics and the situations he would ‘find’ himself in. He is also becoming a small celebrity in his own right, with people requesting photos with him.

steven

With Steven the Drone living the life of a star, the rest of us had to crack on with how to showcase his work and the amazing work of other drone operators. After days of living in a bubble, it became real how successful this business could become due to the real need for this platform.

An evening round at Manu’s house gave us the chance to get together and put a plan of action down on paper, whilst of course, drinking beer and eating endless amounts of cola bottles. I believe that is fuel that some of the most successful businesses have used when making crucial decisions….!

manu

Day 7 – Thursday 21st November

Our plan of action is prepared; time to start ticking items off the list. How far can we take this and how many votes do we realistically believe we can get when the competition starts on Wednesday 27th November? Hopefully over 20,000! Help from Samantha and Chris at Start Up Weekend has given us some fresh ideas and new targets.

Everyone’s spirits are still high and the momentum and hype is continuing as we build up our followers on twitter. Tweet us at @StevenDrone and @air_stock

Steve the Drone is getting involved and has started to let the popularity get to his head as he keeps making decisions which we don’t agree with.

team

But Steven Drone has no choice. He wants this as much as we do. So we decide to sit down with him and make sure he understands we are fully behind his work.

chat

With the team back together and Steven Drone back on our side, we are continuing to rally as we realise this weekend is going to be one massive push. It’s almost like the X-Men coming together to fight for what they believe in, and we certainly do not want to let our supporters down.

To come to the next Startup Weekend and follow in Airstock’s shoes, register online here: sheffield.startupweekend.org