Inspiration for entrepreneurs at the Launch48 event

BOARD meetings, business plans, networking, prototyping. Wait, isn’t this meant to be a weekend?

Participants get down to work at a Launch48 event
Participants get down to work at a Launch48 event

BOARD meetings, business plans, networking, prototyping. Wait, isn’t this meant to be a weekend?

Sure, the Launch48 event in Newcastle isn’t exactly as relaxing as wrapping yourself into the couch and watching football. But web firm QRky founder Nicolas Holzherr said attending a previous 48-hour challenge loaded him up with techniques for starting a business.

He said: “What I have learned from developing ideas from pitch to launch in 48 hours has made this weekend the single best event I have attended all year.”

Launch48 will be hosted by Northumbria University from Friday, April 27, to Sunday, April 29, and the university helps it will energise the local community and encourage them to pursue the challenge of entrepreneurism.

It challenges participants to collect in teams to develop interesting ideas, building up a business plan and creating the seed of a sustainable business within 48 hours.

North East-based talent looking to get a crash course in start-up creation have a few options to choose from this spring. Codeworks held a weekend “hack” for developers and cultural organisations last weekend at the Tyneside Cinema, while Newcastle University Business School is hosting the 54-hour Start-up Weekend challenge from April 20.

Ian Broom co-founded Launch48 with Adil Mohammed in 2008 after helping to organise Startup Weekend the year earlier. He says people go to Launch48 because “they know it will give them the structure to get things done”.

“It’s a bit of a stressful environment, but it helps people to fly”, he said. “We want people to step out of their corporate or academic mindsets.

“It tears down the preconceptions of what it takes to get a business off the ground. It teaches people to put down structure right from the beginning. It’s also a shot in the arm for innovation, in that it all happens in a short time but the results linger for a while afterwards.”

An interesting feature of Launch48 is its inclusion of “board meetings”, in which teams outline their progress and receive business development tasks from the organisers and mentors. Mentors are also gathered from the local area, so they can continue to support the teams after the event if they’re interested in their embryonic businesses.

Broom said: “A lot of events are focused on putting something together that’s cool. That’s not necessarily sustainable as a business idea.

“The board meetings happen four times during the events and the teams get recommendations on what they should do before the next meeting. There’s normally a large list of things. We’re deliberately asking them to do things that ask them to work together, and make the most of the different resources available in the team.”

Launch48 has helped create businesses such as deal site Vouchacha and fashion bookmarker Fashiny.

The event is largely focused on developing web and mobile business ideas, although Broom said there is a fairly even split of developers, marketeers and entrepreneurs. Laura Ford has attended the event both as a mentor and as a participant. The director of software company Bit Zesty said: “Launch48 is a brilliant way to meet and get to know new people. It is amazing how much can be achieved in such a short time when a bunch of like-minded people put their heads together. If you are business or technically minded, you just have to give it a go ... it's so much fun.”

Northumbria’s assistant director in research and business services Hugh Rhodes said: “A lot of the traditional barriers to entry in business have come down. It makes things a lot more achievable. A lot of the biggest barriers are now down to perception. It still takes a lot of sweat and hard work to be successful, but it’s not as hard as you think to take the next step.”

Tickets for Launch48 cost £29.95 including refreshments, from


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