With a number of successful startups headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, it can sometimes feel the startup scene in Glasgow is flagging behind. This weekend, however, saw the city welcome Startup Weekend for the second time.
No talk, all action. Launch a startup in 54 hours. Startup Weekend describes itself as a “global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities.” This particular Startup Weekend was in partnership with Cleanweb Scotland, therefore had a strong focus on sustainability and human well-being.
Friday saw an array of developers, designers, marketers and startup enthusiasts amalgamate at SocietyM, possibly Glasgow’s most stylish co-working space. 30 brave people pitched ideas, varying from ‘minimum viable accommodation’ to the gamification of eco-friendly journeys. 11 of these ideas came to fruition after a post-it note voting process.
I voted for a social dining app, which blossomed into ScranClan, and a mental health awareness site, which evolved into PsychEd.
Startup Weekend is intense, with attendees beginning work on the winning ideas immediately. Teams had until Sunday afternoon to develop a substantial portion of their startup and pitch a rough presentation to a few of the mentors. This means teams were working around the clock with only a handful of hours of sleep. Enter copious amounts of Red Bull.
Once teams had refined their presentations, it was time to move onto The Lighthouse for the grand finale. It was interesting how some ideas had evolved from the opening pitches on Friday to the final presentations on Sunday evening. PodStay, for example, was initially pitched as solving the issue of homelessness, but grew into “the easyJet of accommodation” (as described by one of the judges), offering minimum viable accommodation for everybody.
For me, one of the standout presentations was Green Bills, who went onto win the best low-carbon innovation award. I may be a tad bias; I had sat with the team earlier in the day and found their personalities and story interesting. The team comprised of three Rails developers, two of which were lawyers and had decided to move into programming only a few months beforehand, yet here they had built a working prototype within just a couple of days. Green Bills compares a person’s energy bill to their neighbour’s, encouraging people to switch provider and lower energy bills. A simple concept, yet one that proved incredibly useful. I know this as I used it myself, discovering I could save over £100 if I switched provider.
Startup Weekend was a success. Not only would I love to see it return next year, but I hope it paves the way for other tech-focused events to be based in Glasgow, and encourages a number of startups within the area.
Lastly, congratulations to the winner – EnergySaveAR – who enable you to scan household items to see how much energy they use, suggesting alternative energy saving products.