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What is StartUp Sussex?

StartUp Sussex is a competition run by Sussex University as a way to help students develop entrepreneurial skills and also to see whether their idea is worth pursuing.  The prizes range from £10,000 to £6,000 depending on whether you come 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. There is also a social impact prize worth another £10,000 of funding.

How we got in

One of the requirements for getting into StartUp Sussex is at least one of your team members being a student at Sussex University. Luckily for us we met that requirement. The other requirement was sending a 50 word introduction to your idea and why you deserved a place. I believe there were only about 50 positions available. However, they admitted to letting more people in as there were so many good ideas.

Getting in wasn’t really that hard. The main difficulty was fitting our idea into 50 words. Once we scrutinised our 50 words and submitted it the form all we could do was wait. Luckily, or perhaps by this point I shouldn’t say luckily, we got in.

The competition is split into phases

Phase 1 was the beginning, everyone that successfully got into StartUp Sussex was here. This phase consisted of weekly presentations/talks to all the competitors talking about business, marketing, entrepreneurial skills, and looking at past winners. The main focus of phase 1 was the presentation at the end. We had to do a 2 minute presentation about our idea to every competitor and judges. The judges then decided whose ideas were good enough to allow into phase 2.

Although we thought the presentation went very well, we still weren’t certain we did enough to pass. After all, there were only 10 positions in phase 2 and there were a lot more than 10 people in phase 1. However, I have to admit that although my business partner and my friends and family had doubts, I was almost certain we were going to get into phase 2. I knew our idea was worthy.

And of course, after a few weeks of waiting, we received the email saying we had reached phase 2! Not only that but part of getting into phase 2 meant we were given £500 funding to spend on our idea. Which at the time was much-needed.

We had some breathing space

As phase 2 started a few months after phase 1, we had some time to calm down a bit. Although in my opinion could probably have been released at this time, it was time to start taking it a lot more seriously and professionally. Part of this involved re-designing sections of the website to make them not only look usable but also to make them look professional. We also looked into registering as proper business. Though I admit part of wanting to do that was so we could call ourselves Founders, CEOs, and all those cool titles.

A few months later phase 2 began

This is where we are right now, half way through phase 2. This phase is quite similar to the first although there are only 10 competitors and we get our own mentors to help us! We also began going to the meetings as a team this time rather than only one of us going in phase 1.

This phase is a lot heavier on the business side of things, what you need to do, what you shouldn’t do, the best way to do things. The end goal of this phase is to do a 10 minute presentation to a panel of  judges convincing them that your idea is worth investing in. We are also required to write a business proposal including all the fine details about and how it will succeed.

Although presenting for 10 minutes to a panel of potential investors is rather daunting, I’m still quietly confident. If anything as time goes on I’m only liking our idea more and more.

When we win

Perhaps acting as if we’re going to win is the wrong idea although I’m not sure it will have any negative side effects. Confidence is important in life and if you don’t think your idea is worthy then why would investors think your idea is worthy?

Winning StartUp Sussex will help enormously. The £10,000 funding alone will be incredibly helpful but we also get a mentor, membership at the Sussex Innovation Centre, and also the fame that comes from winning. I have no doubt in my mind that if we win StartUp Sussex will turn into a career for all of our team.


If we don’t win we’ll still win

Losing would be extremely disappointing. Especially as I know our idea is worthy.  However, things can happen. We could mess up the presentation, make a mistake on the business proposal, or other ideas could simply be better than ours.

No matter if we win or lose, will continue to exist. I believe could organically grow into a huge company due to it’s basic idea of a dead man’s switch for vulnerable people. Obviously winning would make this process a lot easier, but we definitely wouldn’t give up. We’ve already learnt a huge amount from StartUp Sussex and we believe that we’d be able to take from being a startup business to a fully functional professional business.

And if all else fails…I suppose we could at least put “almost won StartUp Sussex” on our CVs, right?

Either way, competition is fun. And also required. Hopefully will win, the only way you’ll know for sure is to subscribe to our blog so you see our latest updates 😉

Thanks for reading! 🙂






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