Tuesday, 23 February 2016

B Start-Up Boot Camp 2016 attracts 57 enterprising students

Who knew you could walk 2 miles in the Learning Centre? My name is Bob Lee and I am part of the team at Careers Network who helped to organise and run our first ever B Start-Up Boot Camp and by the way, what an enjoyable experience it was.  In short, the Boot Camp was made up of 57 Students, 28 Pizzas, 11 teams, 8 Dragon's, 5 minutes to pitch, 4 Rooms, 4 speakers, 3 days, 2 teams in the pitch-off finale, 1 winning team, 1 very close runner up, 1 Virgin Experience raffle winner and above all a dedicated group of students.

Not all of the students started the experience with a business idea in mind but with a little help from Virgin Start­Up Head of Development, Ian Mason, IBM Cloud Architect, Pete Cripps and Design & Innovation consultant Chris Sadler, teams were quickly put into the right direction and mentored along the way. The first day was very much about team formation, coming up with an idea and running with it. Between the training workshops students were inspired by guest entrepreneurs; James Eder, the University of Birmingham alumnus of the year (Student Beans) and also Michael McLeod, a current student at the University of Birmingham who is finding success with his company UniGreenScheme.

There was a gentle buzz around the main room during the Team Time sessions which allowed the students to work on their projects and gave them the freedom to work like entrepreneurs. One team conducted market research in Birmingham, another team created a company name, website, logo and their own t-shirts within 24 hours, teams were eyeing the first prize and going full steam ahead.

If Saturday was about ideas and information gathering then Sunday was most definitely about working on presentations. The final day (Monday) was all about the delivery. 11 teams in total waited patiently in the 'Green Room' waiting to be called into one of two rooms with a panel of four dragon's in each. This is the moment I realised I had walked two miles in the Learning Centre thanks to the inguity of FitBit watches (for those unfamiliar with FitBit, think of a watch that records number of steps and miles covered per day and you are half way there) and countless pacing up and down to ferry teams to and from their final pitch.

The two panels put forward the two highest scoring teams and outcome was a final "pitch­off" front of a packed room of students and eight Dragon's. Team 4 and Team 10 both gave excellent pitches. The judges were split but the final vote favoured Team 4's 'Better Boarding' idea which gave a solution to improve Virgin train. Congratulations to Komlan Adjigble, Zilvinas Cesulis, Dominic Jackson, Oleksii Koval, Nina Ma and David Rusizana who came first.  The entire team will be rewarded with first class train tickets to Virgin HQ at the Battleship Building in London with the chance to receive mentoring from Virgin staff.

The weekend was summed up perfectly by Team 4's Dominic Jackson:

" You don't get many chances to sit down with like-minded people and combine your strengths to create something special.  The atmosphere all weekend was very friendly and I think it was very rewarding for everyone involved"

We would also like to thank all eight dragon's who attended the final presentation night including Jemma Blaylock and Emma Hill from KibiKibi.co.uk, entrepreneurship lecturer Natalia Vershinina and Andrew Miles, Kate Jermey, Tripp Martin, Sandy Purewal and Sam Murphy from the Birmingham Business School.

See more photos on Twitter using hashtag #bstartupbootcamp


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