Startup weekend Derby – it’s coming!

So you’ve come across this event called Startup Weekend but aren’t entirely sure what it is. This is the post for you!

What is a Startup Weekend ?

A Startup Weekend is a get together of people who want to work together and build something. They may have an idea, a dream or just a desire to help build something new. Over the weekend ideas are pitched, selected, validated, prototyped and presented. All with the help of each other and some battle hardened industry experts acting as mentors for the weekend. Finally on Sunday evening people present their business to a panel of Judges, a winner is selected and everyone celebrates to a great weekend.

Does it have to be an online business ?

NO! Lots of people do online sites etc but teams work on physical products such as food and drinks or even services. I’ve even seen a cheap water filtration system for the 3rd world being built as a social enterprise business.

Sounds interesting right! So how does the weekend actually work?

Friday: Everyone gets together for some food and networking. A wise entrepreneur will tell a tales of toil and plight that ends in ultimate triumph. This leads onto a fun idea pitching warm up that prepares people for the main event the “Pitchfire”. If you have an idea this is your chance to pitch the room and hopefully get selected to form a team. You only 60 seconds per pitch so keep it concise and let people know what you need help with.

Once everyone who wants to pitch has had their 60 seconds worth its time to network, talk and cast votes on your favourite ideas. Then the topmost ideas get to form teams where ideally you want a selection of skills such as a designer, developer, marketer to help bring the idea to life. Even if you idea did not get through you can still form a team if you can get at least three people to agree to join forces.

With a team formed its time to go home and try and calm your over excited brain down and to try and coax it to sleep ready for Saturday.

Team forming, can I go with a pre existing team? Yes, you can but the rule is you must not have worked on the idea before. Most people go as an individual though or with friends but without a set idea.

Saturday : You have and idea and a team now what. The mantra for the weekend is ”No talk, all action” so its time to get out and validate your idea. Although you do need to talk we want to make sure your idea solves a problem that people have, so you need to know what problem is that your idea solves. Who is it that experiences this problem and where would you come across them on the weekend? Its time to get out and speak to the public about the problem NOT the solution. Note down the stories and then get back together as a team to share your research.

Do people have this problem your idea solves? If not maybe the research highlights something similar that you can “PIVOT” too? If they do its time to start doing some prototyping, research on possible rivals, research, etc.

Sunday : Time to carry on where you left off, if you have some product prototypes show them off. If you have no prototypes now is the time to build them. Try and find some people from your target market again and get some feedback. Would people actually hand over some hard earned cash for this? You get some google Adwords credits and a free domain in your pack for the weekend, use them to create a marketing site and see what kind of engagement you get.

Remember you have a presentation looming at the end of the day so you also need to start laying down some slides about the problem, your solution, the market research and how the business would work.

Try and rehearse your presentation and get some feedback before you do it for real.

Sunday evening : time for everyone to get together and marvel at what each other has achieved. Each team puts on a short presentation followed by a Q&A session with the judges. After every teams presented, the judges go off to confer and you get to eat and wait. The winners are announced and its time to relax, chat and celebrate an amazing weekend with your new friends.

Did I mention that Derby is having its first ever startup weekend this March ? We have an awesome team of mentors and judges lined up, so get involved!

http://www.up.co/communities/uk/derby/startup-weekend/9962

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2016 a year in review

After what has been nothing short of an eventful year – I recently posted the below on the business desk East Midlands news website last week when questioned on how 2016 has been.

What has been your highlight of the year?
For me it must be the birth of my son Henry in October, couple that with the transactional completion of getting out of the digital agency space and taking a well-earned break over several months before joining the RDS Global board of directors.

And your lowlight?
Moving away from digital agency world after a decade of hard work and fun to helping that transition work for all involved over to their new home.

How do you think 2016 will be remembered?
The year we lost some of the world’s best known entertainers, the political scene was flipped on its head and of course the year Steve McClaren came back to Derby county.

Hero of the year (business or otherwise)?
Personally – Jessica my far better half who has helped me in countless ways. In the business world however I would say Nottingham based entrepreneur Justin Johnson who in an early 2016 discussion helped to analyse where my attention and focus was at.

And villain?
Too many to name, but tend to reside under a single business address.

What’s your New Year’s Resolution?
Continue to develop and grow personally, professionally with RDS & my other ventures.

Post first appeared on thebusinessdesk.com

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Remembrance Sunday 2016

PR, agency, business, life and investing – it is all trivial really when you think about it.

Today is a day for remembrance.

<img class="alignnone wp-image-74 size-large" src="http://seanprice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/remembrance-page-banner-2340×922-1024×403 Continue Reading.jpg” alt=”remembrance-page-banner-2340×922″ width=”840″ height=”331″ srcset=”http://seanprice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/remembrance-page-banner-2340×922-1024×403.jpg 1024w, http://seanprice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/remembrance-page-banner-2340×922-300×118.jpg 300w, http://seanprice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/remembrance-page-banner-2340×922-768×302.jpg 768w, http://seanprice.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/remembrance-page-banner-2340×922-1200×472.jpg 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 840px) 100vw, 840px” />

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Safe and Sound Group – Fighting CSE

This weekend held at Shuttle Hall is the <a href="http://safeandsoundgroup.org weight loss supplements that actually work.uk/”>Safe and Sound Group gala dinner which I shall be attending. I have donated personally to Safe and Sound and through RDS Global – we are a sponsor of the evenings event. 8gbj8luu_400x400

Whilst I could go on about the work they do to fighting child sexual exploitation – I really do encourage you to simply visit the web site, read, donate if you can and support what is truly a wonderful local Derby charity with a big mission.

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Social media isn’t really a job

I’m just going to go out there and say it…..social media is NOT a job, its not even something you should be spending your valuable time on.

Oh and I hear you:

  • “But Sean – what do you know!”
  • “You ran an agency that had social media as a paid service”
  • “My marketing agency/PR person say XYZ”
  • “You clearly haven’t seen the ROI””Why do you use social media at all if your time is so valuable?”
  • “Its part of our marketing / PR strategy / content play {insert BS marketing buzzwords}”

And thats great folks – but the fact of the matter is – social media, which we pretty much called Web 2.0 some 5+ years ago, and before that we just called it ‘the web’ or ‘the internet’ is just that – its just the internet, nothing has really changed.

Or the best one ‘we generated over £150k for our clients in the last 3 years through social media’…..its bullsh*t…no you haven’t….your ‘clients’ made a conscious decision with or without your help to put marketing spending or ‘time’ as we can also refer to it – into an app/website and look for sales leads.

Does that mean at the previous agency I ran where we sold social media as a service between £600 and £6000 a month was wrong of us? Not at all, just as all the other ‘agencies’ will tell you they delivered ROI, so did we. But ROI isn’t the point because no one is calculating that properly at all (trust me – paying your social media agency £500 a month and generating £2000 a month ‘direct’ isn’t ROI).

We had a small social media team at the previous agency – that turned over more money than any dedicated social media company in the local area – because we didn’t just teach businesses how to fish, we did the fishing for them with a temporary licence.

One thing is to teach someone they must do A, B & C on twitter to land business (chances are you won’t by the way) – its 100x more effective to become a part of the clients organisation and act on their behalf – fully integrated with who they are and how they operate. Driving £10k a month of sales through Facebook that can be tracked, reported and then guess what – allowing the client company to bring that fully in house rather than paying you a sum each month to keep that water flowing.

Right now there are too many 18-25yr old ‘digital marketing experts’ who have less than 2 years of experience, because having a Facebook and instagram account does not qualify you as an expert. Too many people writing short form blog posts (~300/400 words) because they read an article from 2015 about how Google loves fresh, short content or they took a course 4 years ago in ‘SEO’ which tells them they should do ‘keyword research’. The world loves a shortcut and too many businesses are relying on these ‘kids’ to make returns they just cannot do.

Unless you have relevant industry experience, time actually doing the work, learning the craft – you cannot pass yourself off as any form of expert. Remember that whole 10,000 hour thing – some of these ‘experts’ haven’t even done 10,000 hours of work in their ‘careers’ yet, not even adding up the hours spent flipping burgers at Mcdonalds before they started their ‘guru’ level of digital marketing 3 months ago!

Social media is NOT a job, social media is just another word we use now for ‘the internet’, your 20k tweets, 400 instagram posts and 6 years of Facebook counts for NOTHING. A real business has a real plan, which involves sales and marketing – ‘twitter’ and the other ‘social’ sites – are just pools of attention, ‘eyeballs’ as we used to refer to them – where your potential customers are spending their time.

Market to those attention pools – but you would be amazed what you can achieve by not paying £25k a year for a ‘social media expert’ or a ‘expert 20yr old digital marketing exec’ – but instead by applying 20% of your marketing budget (cash+time) to these pools and making them work for you, not costing your business every month in time and marketing spend.

I don’t profess to have all the answers, but over ten years in agency world tells me that there are a lot of businesses out there who are on a regular basis paying for an unnecessary service, wasting away valuable funds that their businesses could re-invest elsewhere for a far better return.

 

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