On 2 March, over 40 prospective students and offer holders arrived bright and early at Imperial College Business School for an innovation and entrepreneurship boot camp: Startup Saturday.
The event aimed to celebrate the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Imperial College London. Attendees joined us to develop an idea through a day-long boot camp, before pitching it to an expert panel.
Phil Carter, Head of MBA Programmes Marketing and Recruitment, welcomed the group. He explained the reasons behind the event:
“The purpose of today is to showcase all the different initiatives we have going on in our programmes that will allow you to explore entrepreneurship, and other ways you can potentially connect with Imperial outside of the programmes.”
We heard next from Full-Time MBA alumnus Byron McCaughey, co-founder of VC-backed prop-tech startup Track, who spoke about his time at the Business School, including how to make the most of being part of Imperial College London:
“Whatever your entrepreneurial itch is, you’ve got this amazing opportunity to scratch it. You have a chance to explore so many different areas at Imperial, and I really challenge you when you come into the programme to go and explore. Get out into the college and see what is out there.”
The keynote was delivered by ‘serial entrepreneur’ and Full-Time MBA alumna Claire Cockterton, who is a specialist in building technology innovation centres and the 4th most influential woman in UK tech according to Computer Weekly.
Claire has founded Plexal, based on the Olympic Park; LORCA, the London Office for Rapid Cyber Security Innovation; Level39, London’s fintech accelerator; Innovate Finance, the UK’s Fintech trade body; and ENTIQ, an innovation advisory firm.
Claire explained to the group why she chose to study at the Business School:
“I chose Imperial to cultivate my love of innovation, entrepreneurship and design. I wanted to explore a set of ideas and meet people who were better prepared for the world ahead, which is shifting and uncertain and shaped by those who dare to be different and bold in the face of the world’s biggest challenges.”
Claire’s talk centred on the importance of resilience in the innovation and entrepreneurship sector.
Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty. Resilience is the skill that determines how well we thrive in all sorts of circumstances.
“The Imperial MBA, with its focus on entrepreneurship, will ask you to exist in a very creative space. Taking an idea to market, transferring a scientific discovery to a commercial model, developing a product with human-centric empathy. Being in this creative space requires a lot of vulnerability and openness. You will feel passion for your ideas, you’ll have to employ ingenuity and you’ll stretch resources to breaking point, all of which will demand tremendous resilience.”
After a fascinating Q&A with Claire, the group headed to the Imperial Enterprise Lab.
Byron introduced the group to everything that goes on in the Lab, highlighting its amazing impact, such as the £17 million of funding raised, 41 businesses incorporated and almost 2000 individual students engaged.
After this, we heard from two student startups who’d had help from the Enterprise Lab.
Firstly we heard all about Pluvo, an innovation which uses processes inspired by rain to filter out dangerous pollutants and pays for itself by creating a stunning new advertising medium.
Then the team behind Socrates, who are finalists in this year’s Venture Catalyst Challenge, told us about their idea: a medical education assistant that enables users to develop consultation, diagnostic and clinical-reasoning skills outside of the hospital using real patient data.
Back in the Business School, the group heard from Lean Startup Coach Davide Turi, who is also Founding Partner at Studio Zao.
He explained lean startup, a methodology for developing businesses and products which aims to shorten product development cycles and quickly determine whether a proposed business model is viable.
Taking on board everything they’d learnt so far, it was time for the group to split into their eight teams. Their challenge was in to identify an opportunity enabled by technological disruption, and craft a business idea to capitalise on this to make an impact in London (a Smart City).
After several hours of brainstorming, researching, presentation making and pitch preparing, it was time for our teams to do their big pitch.
The three judges were ready to decide which team’s idea was best, based on a three-minute pitch and a three-minute Q&A. The panel was made up of Dr Ileana Stigliani, Associate Professor of Design and Innovation at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Department; Xavier Ballester, MBA alumni and Director at Angel Investment Network’s Startup and Property Divisions; and Phil Carter.
The impressive pitches were:
- SmartSteps An app aimed at people who live, work and travel in London zone 1-2, incentivising steps taken with points that can be used towards rewards at corporate partners
- EasyEnergy A decentralized energy provider, offering affordable energy from localised power using rooftop solar panels
- Peddler Aiming to solve the issue of bikes being stolen with a subscription service, where an alarm is provided to attach to a bike’s pedal which notifies the owner if it is stolen
- Community van A subscription delivery and logistics service platform for small to medium customers, helping them to reduce delivery costs and pollution
- DigiCare ‘A healthcare platform in your pocket’ which addresses the unhealthy city lifestyle by rewarding staying healthy
- Eradicate Homelessness in Urban Areas Using CCTV to identify the location of homeless people, and consequently informing them about helpful resources
- Helpocracy A local residents network delivering goods to people in need, on short notice, expediting delivery by using local commuters (like cyclists and walkers)
- XData A virtual data advisor, giving people visibility of what they are doing online and empowering them to make decisions based on this
After the judges took time to deliberate, Xavier revealed the winners…
Third place: XData
Second place: Smart Steps
First place: DigiCare
After a day of hard work, attendees then celebrated their success at a networking reception. A big group headed to continue celebrating in South Kensington afterwards.
The day truly allowed everyone who attended to unleash their entrepreneurial potential, with some amazing ideas shared. We’d like to say a big thank-you to everyone involved.