Photos from the MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019

On Friday and Saturday during the Welcome Week you took part in our hackathon with the Surrey County Council. We wanted to show you – not tell you – what Design Thinking for Startups module was all about. The goal: to guide you through the process of working from identifying and framing a problem to an idea and a prototype in under 24 hours. Why: to help you realise it doesn’t take months to get an idea off the ground and a business started – just a clear objective and a dedicated space.

All photos from the two days are below. You can download them and reuse on your blogs with the photo credit:

MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019 – photos by Claudia Weaver

Many thanks, Claudia!

Reflect, connect the dots, and take a leap of faith

Four weeks have now passed since we met during our Welcome Week.  This Friday in class we will register your teams with Young Enterprise, and you will all become startup co-founders. It is a great leap of faith to take, and it will require from you to learn, adapt, develop, and mature very quickly. Your team and your startup will most likely be your greatest challenge this year.  

Theories are helpful to describe what might happen to your startup and your team, but the actual path each team will take will be different. Are you ready?

Personality tests are helpful in an attempt to generalise about who you might be, but your real personality will emerge in relation to the real challenges you face and the attitude you take. Your CV is helpful to describe where you’ve been and what you’ve done before, but it cannot predict the future – where you go and which skills you ‘deploy’ (with passion) is, from here onwards, entirely up to you.

Everything we have done together since the day we met has been designed to lead you to the moment when you take a leap of faith on who you are, who should be on your team, and what you stand for.

Are you connecting the dots yet?

On our first day together, you were asked to share a little about yourself, and you all reached for your CVs. Three days later you already understood your CV was as good as a blank page if there was no human story to go with it. No human life is linear and no good story comes without struggle at the centre of it… Who are you and what is your story?

Our Welcome Week hackathon was a crash-course designed to illustrate what your MACE experience is about and what it takes. Hard work, no? Genuine curiosity is difficult.

MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019. Photo by Claudia Weaver


MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019. Photo by Claudia Weaver


MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019. Photo by Claudia Weaver


MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019. Photo by Claudia Weaver


MA Creative Economy Hackathon, Welcome Week 2019. Photo by Claudia Weaver


Thanks to the hackathon, in only two days you all went through the cycle of uncomfortable – comfortable emotions many times, and as you learnt, connected, and developed – you all had fun, too.

What you and your startup team stand for is entirely up to you (provided our startup insurance covers it) but make sure it is a good investment of your time and effort. Make sure you allow yourself to grow by accepting that you will have to go through the cycle of uncomfortable – comfortable emotions many times again.

For many of you, most of this is new, and as such it is uncomfortable. A new country, new way of doing things, new ideas, new you… you don’t need to be comfortable with it all – you only need to be willing to try it all out.

Remember the importance of curiosity, positive attitude, grit and growth mindset, and above all – remember the importance of a bit of fun and laughter, please. You are of no use to humanity if you lose your sense of humour!

A final thought for you to consider:

You are registering your startup teams this Friday, however we are above all one big team. We have a big class full of great, interesting minds – let’s make it one great team.

Rebecca Imaizumi: 7 things that make a good pitch

I attended the finals for The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Award at City Hall yesterday and here are some things that I learned from the pitches and the interaction between the contestants and the judges that you might find useful in preparing for a pitch in the future.


  1. Anticipate what questions the judges might ask.

Every contestant was asked “what would you do with the £20,000 prize money?” It’s important to know how that prize money is going to be used. The judges seemed to be more interested in ideas that have already been prototyped or tested, rather than purely theoretical. This was mainly prevalent in ideas that dealt with tech or science, where it has been established theoretically but hasn’t actually been accomplished. The judges seemed to be interested in ideas that could really use the prize money to proceed to the next step. For example, ideas that can use that prize money to start production or manufacturing because they have received wide support and interest, and in some cases pre-orders, rather than using the prize money for future research.

  1. Practice, practice, practice!

Not one contestant had a cheat sheet while they pitched. They memorised their lines and rehearsed it many times. As the saying goes, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Sure enough, the winner of the tech category had a very strong pitch, very calm, very in control, I was very impressed by their pitch. On my way home, I forgot what his idea was until I gave it some thought, but I remembered being impressed and how memorable it was.

Impact is in how you deliver your pitch, more so than the words you use.

  1. Passion is contagious

Naturally, when someone is passionate about their idea it’s more interesting and exciting to listen to. When the “why” behind their idea comes to the forefront and the listeners make that connection, the pitch becomes much stronger, much more real and meaningful. Put your personal story of “why” with a good balance of other important facts about your idea and the pitch comes alive.

  1. Know your competitors

The judges always asked, “who else does what you do? How well are they doing it? If not, why hasn’t anyone else done it?” If you don’t know, then you haven’t done your research. On the other hand, the contestants that answered well also knew their idea very well. Knowing your competitors is also about knowing your own product/service inside and out.

  1. If your idea is complicated, do everything you can to simplify it

Some ideas included many technical jargon or concepts, which were hard for anyone who’s not in the field to understand what exactly it is they were trying to say. Try to break it down so that anyone who doesn’t have any knowledge or expertise in that field will understand.

  1. Be absolutely clear what problem you’re solving and how you’re going to solve it

Some contestants were very clear on what problem they were solving, but some weren’t as clear when it came to expressing how they solve that problem. Articulating the problem itself and how you solve it are equally important.

  1. Have fun and be confident!

The pitches that stood out were by contestants that exhibited confidence both in themselves and in their ideas. Practice your pitch in front of people and get as much feedback as you can before pitching. Practicing is the surest way to gain confidence in yourself and in your idea.

This was a learning experience for me as I had pitched as a semi-finalist in the prior week. I had a cheat sheet then, just in case I got nervous or lost my train of thought. But I realise now that the reason why I needed that cheat sheet is because I hadn’t practiced enough. Most people get nervous, that’s expected and it’s ok. But what makes a good pitch is a pitch that you’ve practiced so much that there’s no way you forget your lines, because it become second nature to you. It’s like singing along to your favourite song. You know it by heart and it’s not a matter of forgetting or not because you got this! The more you pitch, the more you understand your idea and where you want to go with it.

So, the next time you’re going to pitch, give yourself enough time to practice, rehearse, revise, practice, rehearse some more and then practice some more!

This article was brought to you by Rebecca Imaizumi, founder of The Unified Wolves, an experiential design agency that creates bespoke experiences through the performing arts. Follow us on Twitter/Instagram @TheUnifiedWolves, or visit us at for more content like this!

Photo credit: Photo by Matthias Wagner on Unsplash