Thursday 19 July saw CRL’s second ever demo day, where the five startups currently on our Accelerator programme showcased their products and two of the most renowned entrepreneurs from our community – Hadeel Ayoub of BrightSign and Andrie Danescu of Botsandus – presented on the highlights of their entrepreneurial journeys. The audience was a mixture of our mentors, partner organisations, journalists, other startups, prospective applicants for our programmes – the list goes on! We were overwhelmed by the support the startups received, and know that some lasting partnerships were formed.
Mat Hunter, CRL’s MD, kicked things off with a recap on what the startups have achieved since starting the programme. He then passed over to Marcus Shepherd, U+I’s Chief Finance Officer, with U+I’s take on how CRL fits within their wider strategy: ‘we’re proud to play a part in the stories of the amazing startups that are flourishing at CRL, the inventions that could change lives and businesses that are putting Hayes back on the map’.
We were honoured to have Hadeel and Adrei involved; Hadeel because her story is truly a testament to what can be achieved, not only when you have a groundbreaking idea, but also the passion and determination to make it a reality, and Andrei, given Botsandus are the perfect example of the transformative innovation that exists here at CRL.
Hadeel detailed how recent press and TV coverage culminated in emails from around the world, either requesting her product or offering their support. She finished by reiterating that as a woman in tech, and more specifically a mother, she is always juggling priorities – and so poignantly had a picture of her family as her final slide, and thanked them for their support.
Andrei compared the range of support necessary to launch a hardware product, such as Botsandus, to the planets around a star. He also described CRL and the close knit, supportive community that exists here as his ‘secret weapon’ – a testimonial the CRL team especially liked!
The CRL entrepreneur up first was Arun Thangavel, CEO & Founder at Waalflower, their first product is an innovative, wireless tablet charging solution. Arun delivered his pitch with such ease, professionalism and humour, it set the right tone for the rest of the evening. The electronics for the product were developed here at CRL, with the support of an in-house expert, and all initial prototypes were 3D printed here too. Arun’s pitch included teases of their upcoming Kickstarter video – Waalflower will be launching their Kickstarter campaign this Autumn, in the meantime keep an eye of their website: www.waalflower.com
Up next was Chakshu Saharan, Founder of Ignius, whose spent the past six months at CRL developing a tracking device to keep women safe when walking home from work, designed specifically for the B2B market in India. She kicked off with the sobering fact that India has lost nearly 20 million women from their workforce in the last 3 years – immediately setting the scene for why products such as hers are required as a possible solution. Chakshu’s brand has strengthen so much since being on the programme, which was evident through her pitch deck – www.ignius.co.uk
We then had Matt Gilbert of Animaro take to the stand. Matt discussed his love of art and engineering, and how his latest product – the solstice clock – perfectly combines both disciplines. He detailed the viral success that his products have enjoyed on social media, and how valuable testimonials from other well-known designers have been for his brand. His clocks are stunning, and we look forward to seeing them in shops soon – www.animarodesign.com
Bukki Adedapo of Gilaasi was our penultimate speaker, and reiterated how much can be gained from Accelerator programmes, since being a part of CRL’s programme he’s taken his smart glasses – which go from glasses to sunglasses with one click – from proof of concept to working prototype. Bukki’s product has a real wow-factor, and it looked like lots of attendees were testing them out for themselves at his stand after the pitches! – www.gilaasi.com
Finally Rowan Minkley & Robert Nicoll of Chip[s] Board were up. Chip[s] Board have had an incredible few months, from being invited to pitch for the Mayor’s entrepreneur award to being shortlisted for Santander’s entrepreneur award, and now joining Open Cell. We’ve watched them go from strength to strength, and the professionalism of their pitch at demo day was the cherry on the cake, culminating what has been an extraordinary six months for them – www.chipsboard.com
It’s incredible for the CRL core team to see how far the startups have come; the confidence and professionalism with which they pitched in just one sign of this, as is the stage at which their products are at.
We already look forward to welcoming the next Accelerator cohort; if you’re interested, make sure you apply by midnight 29 July.
See below for full gallery of pictures from the night: