The First Ever Lean Startup Yorkshire Gathering
It’s been a while in gestation but finally on Thursday 13th February 2014 the very first Lean Startup Yorkshire meetup took place. The venue was the Round Foundry Media Centre in Holbeck, Leeds. Conceived as a time and place for networking as well as learning the room soon filled with the buzz of conversation as snacks and drinks fuelled the initial informal discourse. The exact format for future meetups is still in flux but the current thinking is to schedule two fifteen minute “Demo” slots followed by a main presentation. The demos should hopefully provide an opportunity for local startups to share what they are doing without to much investment in preparation. The main presentation will bring a chance to learn something. Candidates for either slot should drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This first evening roughly followed that for format with the addition of Emma Cheshire, Program Director for the dotForge accelerator and Linda Broughton. Co-Founder of LSx and Co-Working entrepreneur.
Emma, deputising for Lee Stafford kicked off with a short explanation of how dotForge has been nurturing both local and international startups with their incubator program fashioned on similar programs like ignite 100 and Springboard in the UK and Techstars and the original Y Combinator in the US. Emma emphasised their desire to inspire and attract more local talent and ran through a list of recently graduating startups now attracting follow on investment.
Linda Broughton took the opportunity to announce plans to launch a fifteen thousand square foot Google Campus style co-working space in Leeds, currently code named “Engine”. She was keen to point out that while cool furniture and pets would likely feature, catalysing a much needed entrepreneurial ecosystem was a key goal and with her experience running the NTI, one of the first co-working spaces in Europe, is a crucial asset.
The inaugural duel demos were from AirStock.cc and Shortlister.com both recently launched and from Sheffield and York respectively. AirStock was started in a single forty eight hour push at a recent Sheffield Startup Weekend going on to win the event and a obtain subsequent credible finish in the Global Startup Challenge. Manu Matute walked through the AirStock.cc website and its library of stunning aerial drone footage, he talked a little about the architecture and answered a series of questions related to the business model.
David Dewey followed with Shortlister.com, a job candidate screening service where candidates record answers to interview questions with a web cam. The questions are delivered with a striking animated talking head, avoiding the need for pre-recorded questions while retaining an engaging candidate experience.. Questions about the technology came thick and fast with David explaining the rationale and value proposition of each design choice. Shortlister’s look and feel attracted a lot of interest both in the room and on the twitter stream.
Those who came to learn were not disappointed. Manuel da Costa of Digital Tonic delivered some insightful and straightforward guidance on conversion optimisation honed from plenty of practical experience with clients. After first setting the stage with a measurable definition of conversion rate he went on to cover the squint test, quantitative and qualitative feedback, avoiding the “hippo” syndrome and use of the scientific method. There were useful tips for those with low traffic websites and less statistically significant data plus shrewd advice on tools and tactics.
The conversation and networking continued afterwards in a well attended après drinks session next door at the Midnight Bell, where there was plenty of enthusiasm to keep the group going with a repeat event.
Thanks must go to all the speakers, everyone who helped make the event happen and a special thanks for Paul Cockerill from Light Space Photography who kindly did a great job with the photos.
See you on 10th April,