Founders Festival


Both the Founders Festival and this follow-on Startup Hackathon are about launching businesses. If you fall into the categories below, this is a must event for you:


  • Anyone with a business idea they want to launch in September
  • Mentors and experienced entrepreneurs who want to be at the heart of a new business
  • Co-founders with skills that a startup needs
  • Service providers for pre-launch and startups

There are two fundamental reasons why most startups fail. Firstly, they fail to identify a genuine customer need. And secondly, they don’t launch with the right team. We tackle both of these during the Hackathon process.

The Startup Hackathon is open to all pre launch Founders no matter where they come from


The Process is simple. Founders load their ideas into a Private Nest where the business case of the idea is captured. We’re not asking for all the Intellectual Property, but merely the basics. This would include a short description, whether this is a B2B or B2C idea; who your ideal customers are, how far you’ve developed the idea; and a few other key facts.

From there you are matched with a mentor to help you validate the idea and potential co-founders can show interest and help build out the business canvas and validation. The earlier this is started the greater the likelihood  the idea will attract the cream of mentors and co-founders. 

The Hackathon weekend is all about putting the pieces together to launch a new business with the right team and strategy for customers.

Obtain your free ticket and enter your business idea or mentor/co-founder status click here to get your free ticket

Match making ideas to mentor/co-founders

Work as a team, on the business canvass and idea validation

Hackathon weekend – Launch a new business to the world!

About the Organisers

Sponsors and Supporters

Remember the Founders Festival:

An intense but fun day of talks, workshops and networking covering all the important aspects of launching business.

London & Zoom AGENDA

11.30 – Introduction and Opening of the Festival🚀 – Simon Krystman , Jake Shaw 


12.00 – Idea Pitching CompetitionDavid Sexton, Simon Krystman 


12.30 – Lunch (Provided to attendees at ARU London)


12.45 – Social Impact Pitch PartyDoug Karr


13.55 – Welcome address for afternoon Founders SessionsCharles O’Dean


14.00 – Session 1. Ideation & Intellectual propertyMatthew Dixon

I am a British and European patent attorney with over 25 years’ experience advising technology companies on their intellectual property strategy at all stages of their growth from start-up
through rounds of investment to mature businesses.

14.30 – Session 2. Marketing & Branding – David Gluckman

Having started in advertising, I escaped into brand development in 1969. Most of my experience has been in the drinks business. Brands I created include Baileys, Le Piat d’Or, Smirnoff Black, Ciroc, Tanqueray Ten, J&B Jet, The Singleton, Aqua Libra, Purdey’s, Sheridan’s, Spey Royal and a brand of our own, Coole Swan – indisputably the world’s best cream liqueur. 

15.00 – Session 3a. Business modelChris Fox

I am an independent business strategy development and execution consultant. I help senior leaders to develop and execute evidence-based future-oriented business strategies.

15.30 – Session 3b. Customer profilingPeter Illes

I am the founder and managing partner of Further Digital Solutions, a development company specialized providing human-centric digital solutions.


16.00 – Session 4. Idea validation Simon Krystman

I am a passionate entrepreneur who has successfully set up and exited a number of businesses in the digital and innovation space over the past thirty years; most recently launching a suite of products for start-ups and early stage companies.

16.30 – Session 5. Product developmentChris Sorensen

I work with early stage companies to enhance their go-to-market strategies, increase their Product Market Fit Score, improve their revenue and growth strategies, and make them more attractive to venture investors.

17.00 – Session 6. Building the team (Co-founders)Jana

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Behind EVERY successful business is a SUCCESSFUL TEAM. I combine the required legal and business know-how with my international outlook and entrepreneurial experience – to support cofounders to build teams that last.

17.30 – Session 7. Finance & OperationsWinifred Soribe ,Michal Dallos

An entrepreneurship enthusiast who is currently finalising a PhD in entrepreneurial finance.

I help owner-managed entrepreneurs to design and implement the company succession according to their wishes in order to secure the company value and to have it paid out.


18.00 – Session 8. Investment readinessJames McMillan

When I’m asked what I do, it isn’t as simple as giving my job title. In a nutshell, I help businesses to grow. This includes making it quicker and easier for entrepreneurs to source investment for start-up businesses.


18.30 – Session 9. Company formationGraham Halliday

Corporate Solicitor at Marriott Harrison LLP


19.00 – Closing address & Networking 🎉

What the delegates thought of Founders Festival 2022:

James MacMillan

Founders Festival is a fantastic platform to engage with early-stage ventures and their teams. As a speaker the event was fun, with a superb vibe and energy. The audience asked really insightful questions and it was a fantastic opportunity not just to showcase my own expertise but also meet and network with everyone involved.

James MacMillan

CEO, MyNexus

Simon Krystman

The Founders Festival proved to be a great success both with the online and in-person attendees. The state-of-the-art venue supplied by our partner ARU London was the perfect setting for a very engaging event, with lots of talks, idea pitching and networking. So many new business ideas have been captured, ready for nurturing with experienced mentors. Given the success and level of interest for another Festival, we have already started planning for next year.

Simon Krystman

Co-founder, 12Ronnies

David Sexton

This was a truly excellent and enjoyable event, adding know-how and energy to the passion of entrepreneurs. The event was a wonderful mix of entrepreneurs, aspiring business start-ups and experts, all working together to drive future businesses.  A great place to network, explore ideas and meet fascinating people. Working with the 12Ronnies, we now have an event which will drive new business start-ups and support future business leaders perfect for those students aspiring to take on the mantle of the entrepreneur

David Sexton

Principal, ARU London

Charles O’Dean

This inaugural Founders Festival event, which was the result of a collaborative partnership between ARU London and the 12 Ronnies, is designed to support entrepreneurial activity amongst students and former students. That it was so well attended and enjoyed by the participants and the contributors augurs well for future events and the development of a truly supportive business community”

Charles O'Dean

Director, ARU London

Lorraine Western

The Founders’ Festival was an exciting and inspiring event. I know our students and alumni gained so much from the expertise of the speakers, who generously shared their time, skills and experience. It was good to see the energy in the room as the participants asked questions and chatted to other like minded entrepreneurs. I’m looking forward to the next one already!

Lorraine Western

Head of Careers, ARU London

Alina Dumitru

The atmosphere at the Founders Festival was buzzing with new ideas and useful information so much so that if I didn’t already have a business I would go right away to create one. It gave me the confidence that if you have the right tools and mentors you can be astonishingly successful. I especially appreciated that the speakers were sharing useful concepts stemming from their business experience, not just theoretical stuff. Also the organisation pre and post event was spot on!

Alina Dumitru,

Alumna of ARU London, Co-founder of Skintuition

Famo Muhyadin

Thank you to everyone who contributed to a wonderful day, including the speakers, event coordinators, and the lovely venue which is provided by #ARUlondon. I must say that I have never been more pleased to be an ARU student than today; everything went so well since it was instructive and simple to network. As I met and connected with wonderful individuals. I am quite delighted to have attended the #foundersfestival2022 and am looking forward to the follow-up from ARU. I was having so much fun that I didn’t even have time to snap pictures, for which I am presently chastising myself

Famo Muhyadin

Student, ARU London

Want to Partner with the Startup Hackathon and next year’s Founders Festival?

If you want to meet and get connected to a global community of the brightest entrepreneurs from leading universities in the UK and around the world, and be involved in the largest Hackathon of new business startups, anywhere,