Tech Nation’s Rising Stars semi-final showcased the best of UK entrepreneurial talent

Tech Nation’s inaugural Rising Stars pitch competition is in full flow in Manchester right now. Yesterday, 16 startups from arcross the UK delivered three-minute pitches in a bid to make it through to our Grand Final, set to take place in London later in the year. And the quality was high. The four judges sat in the front of the stage were seen mentally wrestling with some of the concepts presented, asking no shortage of questions in an attempt to understand them. I livetweeted the event over on Tech Nation’s account, which you can catch up with here. Today at Barclays Eagle Lab in Manchester we are set to welcome another 16 startups who will recieve pitch training before showing what they’re made of this afternoon.

Here’s a Trello board with 100 ‘proven’ ways to help your startup get to 100 users

Trello’s great for organising internal teams, and it can also be used for sharing ideas to the outside world. That’s exactly what somebody’s done with this Trello board, posted to Linkedin, which claims to feature 100 supposedly proven tips that startups can try to reach their first 100 users. The mega-board is broken down into smaller sections – such as referrals, organic social, and strategy. I’ve posted the resource in a few places, including my Yorskhire Startups Facebook group, and it’s recieved a positive reaction from founders in my network. Even if you just pick at its bones, there’ll likely be a few juicy tidbits of knowledge in there.

The importance of continuous learning

It can be hugely beneficial to have a boss who encourages continuous learning, especially when moving into a new role in a different field. I’ve iterated on a learning system in the past two years that basically involves using Evernote to capture information from a number of sources: online articles; ebooks; podcasts; audiobooks; magazines and newspapers. In the organisations I’ve worked in, I haven’t seen a willingness to facilitate continuous learning across teams through the adoption of new tools such as Evernote, which seems something of a missed opportunity.

What is the Startup Culture Canvas?

The Startup Culture Canvas is a template for designing and cultivating a purpose-driven organisation from the ground-up. It will be familiar in name and appearance to anybody who has heard of the Business Model Canvas, which is a template based on lean startup methodologies used for fleshing out business models. The Startup Culture Canvas works in a similar way, breaking down culture into five sections – Purpose, Values, Aspirations, Goals & Strategies, and Business Proposition – to help teams articulate a shared vision for the kind of company and culture they want to cultivate.

Ey up (and onwards): Yorkshire Startups passes 500 members

Milestone alert: Yorkshire Startups has grown to surpass 500 members, around 18 months after I created the Facebook group. And, without meaning to sound corny, the group has a noticeable energy 18 months later. It’s lively without being overbearing and a useful promotional resource without feeling sales-y. I still make an effort to start conversations when things go a bit quiet, but there aren’t many weeks that pass without at least five different people posting. Here’s to the next 500!

Startup Weekend showcased Leeds’ growing philosophy of inclusiveness

Startup Weekend recently took place again in Leeds thanks to organiser Taras Lanchev, founder of Focus app, Crypto Daddy and various other business ventures. The weekend event’s overall winners ‘GDPR’, along with runners up ‘Student Experience’ and ‘High Street’ were all great ideas that solved genuine problems – and I could all see becoming viable businesses down the line. Who knows – one of them could be another Zapier (a Startup Weekend Columbia success story that’s a $35m-valued business today). Whatever happens, the weekend showed that Leeds is home to entrepreneurs who see the value of giving up their time for the benefit of others, and the more that it continues, the greater chance there is that everybody can become winners.

Here’s ‘Product Market Fit’ as defined by an experienced investor

Earlier this year I sat through an excellent presentation given by Capital Enterprise CEO and investor John Spindler at the Barnsley Digital Media Centre. There he gave his take on product-market fit, breaking it down into three parts while throwing in a few metrics to use for good measure. At its most basic level, he said that product-market fit is about ensuring that a product works and does what it says on the tin – a pizza delivery company being able to deliver a product to a customer quickly and for the price that they want to pay, for example. This does not mean that a product should only meet the minimum standard, he stressed – it’s about having one that’s best-in-class. Check out the other parts here.

Why I joined Tech North as community engagement manager

Community management is a fascinating and multifaceted role. On the one hand it’s a listening exercise: what challenges are tech startup founders in the region facing, and how can I help? The latter could involve anything from pointing them in the direction of a Tech North programme – such as Northern Stars or Founders’ Network – to writing an article about their startup or connecting them with somebody in the sector. I often have to explain to people what my role entails, so it made sense to publish an article on the Tech North website explaining just that. You can read it here.