Attendees at StartUp Weekend
Delegates at StartUp Weekend

Up-and-coming entrepreneurs, with bright ideas for innovative new businesses, benefited from the advice and encouragement of respected business mentors during a high-energy weekend at Cranfield School of Management.

StartUp Weekend, co-ordinated by the School’s Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, provides a safe space for fledgling business ideas to be developed and pitched to experienced mentors, with the aim of finding the most viable business opportunities.

PhD, MSc and MBA students, as well as potential start-up companies from outside the University, brought ideas ranging from technology for disease detection, to new recruitment software and artificial intelligence toys for children with disabilities. Each delegate was encouraged to assess technology-readiness, cash flow and market need through a variety of presentations and group discussions.

Dr Shai Vyakarnam, Director of the Bettany Centre and Dr Stephanie Hussels, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship, jointly led proceedings during the weekend. Stephanie said: “The idea behind StartUp Weekend is to provide aspiring business people with the support they need to turn their idea into a sustainable business. The sessions we run during the weekend encourage them to consider all aspects of how they go about doing that.

“We could not host these weekends without the support and expertise of our alumni, who are extremely successful in their fields, and I’d like to extend a huge ‘thank you’ to those who returned as mentors this year.”

One such mentor was Stella Donoghue, who studied an MBA at Cranfield from 1999-2000. Stella has since worked in finance director and managing director roles within a variety of fast-growth, private-equity-backed businesses.

She said: “My experience at Cranfield has certainly enhanced my career.

“I am delighted to be able to give some time and expertise back to the School of Management now, and to see ideas generated at these events come to fruition.”

Dr Richard Goodwin is an Executive MBA student and Consultant Radiologist and Chief of Service at Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital. Richard attended the StartUp Weekend with his innovative idea to develop secure knowledge management software for clinicians across all disciplines to meet their needs for lifelong learning and professional development. 

He said: “Attending StartUp Weekend helped greatly with my business concept, in particular with clarifying next steps in the ore-revenue stage. The mentors and experts encouraged us to think outside of the box to perfect our pitches and make sure we had covered as many eventualities as possible to ensure our business concepts were realistic.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity to learn from some inspiring business mentors, and I look forward to now working more closely with the specialists in the Bettany Centre to get my app off the ground.”

Participant in a previous StartUp Weekend, CorrosionRADAR, secured more than £350,000 funding earlier this year to further its research. The Cranfield spin-out firm was established by an international team of four scientists and business professionals with the main aim of addressing the at-that-time-unmet industry challenge of monitoring corrosion in oil and gas pipelines.

Cranfield runs two StartUp Weekends each year. For more information, and to register for future events, see our StartUp Weekend page.