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Startup Weekend showcased Leeds’ growing philosophy of inclusiveness

One of the key takeaways in Startup Communities by Brad Feld is that startup ecosystems must be led by entrepreneurs looking to stay in the area for a long period of time. Ecosystems can be enriched by other stakeholders in the community – ‘nontrepreneurs’ – such as government, universities and investors; but real impact, he argues, above all comes from founders who welcome other entrepreneurs and view the growth of the startup community as a positive force for all.

It’s easier said than done; founders are incredibly busy people people, and if I wasn’t directly helping them in my role at Tech Nation, I’d sometimes feel guilty for taking up their time. That’s why when I go to events like Startup Weekend, which took place at Wizu Workspace in Leeds over the weekend that just passed, it’s all the more encouraging to see local startup leaders take time out of their hectic schedules to share their knowledge, experience and offer advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. Although I only went for the Sunday, I saw faces recognisable to anybody in the Leeds startup scene. Too numerous to mention them all, its 14 mentors included Synap CEO James Gupta, and Global Digital Week founder John Munn.

Responsible for making Startup Weekend happen this year was Taras Lanchev, founder of Focus app, Crypto Daddy and various other business ventures. Slumped back on a Belgrave Music Hall bench sipping water out of a plastic cup with his battered name sticker on it on Sunday evening, he looked like a bloke who had worked on Startup Weekend for five solid months. The mentors’ collective experience clearly paid off, as the weekend’s overall winners ‘GDPR’, and runners up ‘Student Experience’ and ‘High Street’ were all great ideas that 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 are my tweets on the Startup Weekend pitches:

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