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York runs its first Student Startup Weekend

Posted on 15 November 2017

Careers have worked in partnership with Santander Universities to organise York’s first Startup Weekend on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 November.

Someone barbequeing food

A group of over 30 students was invited to take part in a number of workshops and masterclasses, provided by finance and marketing specialists, to develop commercial solutions to a range of real world problems.

Participants were asked to consider a specific issue, ranging from the insecurities of working in the ‘gig economy’ to social isolation across the generations, then create a sustainable business response to it that could work at a local level.

The event was kicked off by recent York graduate Phil Daneshyar, an entrepreneur who recently appeared on Dragon’s Den pitching “Thirsti”, a tool to support and encourage people to drink water more regularly throughout the day. The students drew on Phil’s experience of continually questioning and refining his idea during the development of Thirsti to shape their creative responses to the scenarios during the sessions.

A range of innovative solutions were presented to a panel of judges from Santander, the University and alumni at the end of the weekend. These included a dating-style app to help landlords find tenants for spare rooms and new types of support services for those whose jobs are at risk from automation. The concept of a pop up barbeque shop that delivered predetermined portions of high quality food to address the problem of food waste, devised by a group of students from the Departments of History, Politics, Economics, Education and Management, was given special recognition by the panel.

The Startup Weekend created an accessible entry point for students to engage with the range of options offered by York’s Careers and Placements team to support enterprise, including sources of funding and a range of mentoring and support schemes. In 2016/17 over 100 students received support from Careers towards starting their own businesses ranging from cutting-edge technology to refurbishing riding saddles for sale in the Middle East.

Santander Universities’ support is used to deliver York’s Business Challenge competition, Enterprise Accelerator Grants, which enable students to focus on their business ideas during the summer vacation, and the innovative Digital Leaders programme, which facilitates talented students to network within the sphere of digital creativity. Further information about the schemes and opportunities can be found on the Enterprise webpages - please direct any interested students to these pages.

If you have any further questions about the Startup Weekend or how you can support an enterprising student please contact