A new guest blog – Atif Mahmood from Lumici

Atif Mahmood

Today we hear from Atif Mahmood, Founder and CEO of Lumici, and a recent graduate of the latest Jisc/Emerge start-up programme.  Lumici is an online collaborative lesson planning platform enabling teachers to use and modify existing lesson templates from other teachers. Just like Google has solved collaborative working in the enterprise, Lumici is solving it for lesson planning but in schools.

3 way’s we successfully pitched at the end of our JISC accelerator to a panel of judges

Recently graduating from the JISC Startup Accelerator with what we wanted to come out with as a tangible outcome was an incredible feeling. Having been exposed to account managers, marketeers and even the Chief Executive we’re in the right place for 6 months to develop the right skills, grow a deeper understanding of the Further Education and Higher Education market and be market ready when we graduate from the accelerator and that’s exactly where we are now.

I also want to touch on how we grabbed the attention of JISC and why pitching in the right way during and at the end of the accelerator makes huge difference. So here are my 3 killer tips!

  1. If you want to stand out from fellow presenters, you will have to answer this question right from the start: “Why is your startup different?”

Every startup’s unique selling point is different, and it does not always have to be about your product. It could be the existing traction or the track records of your team. Gain the audience’s trust and confidence right at the start by giving them the right reasons to pay attention. Trust and confidence goes a long way in education and because too many edict startups make false claims and don’t deliver on why they really stand out, do some research on your competitors and really understand what makes you stand out. It’s something I learnt to do during my time at Emerge Education and JISC.

  1. Sell the benefits and value to your audience and not just product features. JISC have a huge portfolio of products and have a deep understanding of the needs of the current market in FE and HE and its customers so get to know JISC and sell them your benefits and value.

Think of JISC as an investor in you.  Here is a list of frequent questions from Investors, which links to profitability: Answer these questions

  • How do you monetise your product?
  • How scalable is your business?
  • How can you dominate the market and stay ahead?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • When can returns be expected?
  • Is now the best time to enter this market?
  1. Blanket and ambiguous statements. Efficacy and credibility go a long way in presenting your argument and case for your startup to JISC. Make sure you present evidence to support your case, and not just big bold claims that will definitely be seen as false. Let me give you an example:

AirBnBs presentation is a great example of how to be specific. When the founder talked about Market Adoption, he listed partner names, the size of the audience at events and a viable way to poach customers from Craigslist.

Impact, value and presenting your ideas with an evidence based approach is key in proving there is value in your product to customers in education.

Having this approach will help you immensely during and at the of your JISC Programme.

Jisc/Emerge Start-ups Programme Pitch Day

Introducing Michael Murdoch of The House, a key contributor to the Jisc/Emerge start-ups programme with a guest blog:



By Michael Murdoch, CEO of The House – www.thehouselondon.com

The Panel:

  • Emerge: Nic Newman
  • The House: Michael Murdoch
  • Jisc:  Paul Feldman, Jon Tucker, Phil Richards & Pete Scott

The Startups:

  1. Aula is a communication platform dedicated to education
  2. Hubbub builds a culture of giving in universities, making alumni, student and staff fundraising fun, engaging and inclusive
  3. Lumici halves the time it takes to plan lessons
  4. Vineup nurtures a culture of alumni volunteering
  5. Bibliotech is the Spotify for textbooks.
  6. Wildfire have created the world’s first AI content production tool that creates online content in minutes not months

The Process:

  • Each team had 10 minutes to pitch, followed by 10 minutes of questions from the panel and 5 minutes of questions from the audience in the room.
  • The panel de-brief then agreed to assess each startup based on the following questions…
    • Is Jisc interested in pursuing further?
    • What does Jisc want to offer them?
    • Is Jisc able to assist further with the startup needs?  

In March 2017, the shortlisted startups attended Digifest in Birmingham to pitch their ideas to the panel.  This was the start of their journey to join the latest cohort of the Jisc/Emerge Startup Programme.  After a long day of pitches privately to the panel, the teams had the chance to pitch to the attendees of Digifest in the main hall and encounter their fate via an online voting system. The six teams named above were chosen to complete the programme starting in May 2017.

Throughout the programme the energy was high, with in person workshops every other month, online discussions monthly, weekly check-ins, monthly deliverable report and six specialist sessions for each venture on subjects like brand, tech, SEO, growth, UX and UI.  It’s all part of the startup journey helping each team develop their ideas, test out their hypothesise and grow as organisations.

On Friday 24th November, months of hard work for each team culminated with a 10 minute presentation and time for questions from the panel and the room.  It was a chance for the startups to show their progress, refine and test their offering and to pitch for further support from Jisc.  Each team did brilliantly, keeping their presentations succinct and to time with plenty of questions flowing from the panel and audience in the room.  Of course, some were more challenging than others, but this was the point, helping the startups further strengthen their proposition so they are ready for sales, partner or investor presentations in the future.

The panel reviewed all pitches after the morning and afternoon sessions and had a difficult time making their selection.  After much discussion the feedback was collated and will be shared with the teams in the coming week.  

On a personal note, it’s been a pleasure to support the Jisc Startup Programme again this year.  From initial selections to the final pitch day, it’s a joy to see the teams develop over the course of the programme taking on ideas and thoughts from a range of practitioners who have the experience and knowledge to fast-track their progress. I look forward to being involved for the next cohort in 2018 too

Introducing Edtech Launchpad


Student giving a presentation

Edtech Launchpad is about supporting students, start-ups and companies to develop new edtech ideas.  Its split into three parts:

  • Student ideas competition open to all UK students 16+, judged in categories schools, colleges, universities – Summer 2018 – register your interest now. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #studentideas
  • Running for the fourth time our start-ups competition open to early-stage startups, as well as successful teams from the ideas competition who have a market-ready product – Spring 2018 – Find out about the startups selected following our 2017 competition. 
  • New this year is the accelerator is aimed at startups, worldwide, with a small number of paying customers- 2018

We want to identify and work with students, as well as products from startups and established companies, that have the potential to benefit the further and higher education sector.

Taking part in the competitions will help develop entrepreneurial and employability skills as well as offering the chance to access further support.

All successful entrants will receive coaching and mentoring from both Jisc and Emerge Education,our partners in this project, to further develop their ideas and products.  Start-ups will also be eligible for equity funding.

We think companies taking part in our accelerator could have a significant impact on our members and become suppliers of essential services.

By developing relationships and working with them in their early stages, we can steer them in the right direction to ensure they meet the needs of the further and higher education sectors. We can also mitigate risks and provide reassurance to members when they’re buying products from startups.

We’re excited to think of the fresh ideas that will be entered into this years competitions.



Accelerating with Jisc

Welcome to our Edtech Launchpad blog.  We will use this blog to share participant journeys and programme updates.

Our first post is a guest blog from one of our 2017 edtech start-up accelerator cohort,  which has been running Jun – Nov 17.   Martin Campbell from Hubbub talks about his experience:

Martin Campbell - guest blog

Martin Campbell – guest blog

Over the past six months, I’ve taken Hubbub, a tech startup which revolutionises how higher education institutions and charities raise funds, through the accelerator programme run by Jisc and Emerge Education.

As a seasoned entrepreneur with several companies under my belt, I expected to find much of the material pretty familiar, but what surprised me was the value of looking closely at the two areas that the accelerator has focused on.

First the programme takes a back to basics approach, looking at the core problem that the business is solving, what customers think that problem is and what “solved” looks like for them.  Whilst I initially did some eye rolling at this “haven’t we been here before” I was quickly brought up short by realising that: yes, we had been there before, but stuff has changed and stuff has been forgotten.  Reconnecting with the basics of our product and our customers has enabled us to cut out a lot of the extraneous stuff that was starting to take our time and attention away from the value that we bring to customers.  We were starting to get too comfortable, modelling ourselves on the big companies in our market instead of remembering what customers needed us to do, which is to stay laser focused on delivering the results they need in their own particular circumstance.

Second, the programme focuses on sales.  This is an area that often doesn’t get much of a look in on “startup” programmes, where the belief is that the magical venture capital fairy will continue to shower cash from her magic wand indefinitely.  With the Jisc programme, we’ve spent a lot of time focusing on sales, on the techniques, the collateral, the processes and most importantly the people that we’re selling to.  For me this is the most valuable material of all, because when you cut away all the trendy Shoreditch jargon about product market fit and minimum viable products you are left with only one question to answer: will people buy our stuff.  Answering that always involves answering “that depends: how are you selling it to them?” and that’s the question that we’ve been focusing on answering in this accelerator.


Martin Campbell is an award-winning serial entrepreneur who has founded, grown and sold technology companies throughout his 20-year career.  From his original training in engineering –  the proper kind with grease and gears – he quickly saw that technology was going to change business and society.  Founding his first start-up while still studying for his degree, he developed a leading digital agency which was behind some of the most significant innovations in its field.  He then went on to deliver growth and transformative change in national and international businesses across digital, non-profit and financial technology.  Now a speaker, author and consulting entrepreneur, his work takes him around the world from his base in London, where he also mentors and supports the leaders in other high growth companies when he’s not acting as a taxi service for his three daughters.  Blog at www.startuptoolsforlife.com