Sandpit sessions

Online interactive sessions for students, graduates and staff to present their business ideas and receive immediate, constructive feedback in a friendly environment.

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About Sandpit sessions

Do you want to validate your idea in a friendly space?

Sign up to our Sandpit

For presenters, this is a welcoming virtual environment that will support your growth as an enterprising individual.

It opens new opportunities to identify steps you might want to take to further your ideas and projects by sharing them with our team, guest panel members and a network of other enterprising people.

Are you interested in learning more about how to develop your ideas but don't have a project yet? Maybe you have the expertise to offer emerging projects? You can also join the session as an observer or express your interest to join as a guest panel member.

Sign up to join as an observer or guest


Session details

Sessions are held online on Google Meet every two weeks on Fridays, usually between 11am–12pm, UK time.

Express your interest to join

After you fill out the above form, a member of our team will be in touch to confirm dates.

Consider presenting if you

  • do not feel confident about your idea or project, or some aspects of it
  • want one-off feedback on your idea or project, or repeated feedback throughout its development
  • intend to apply for other entrepreneurship programmes in the future

As an observer, you would

  • be able to attend the session without being expected to provide feedback
  • have a chance to see how to present an idea or project and what it means to challenge yourself
  • connect with enterprising individuals and the Entrepreneurship team

As a panel member, you would

  • provide constructive feedback, together with members of the Entrepreneurship team
  • have a chance to apply your expertise to help develop an entrepreneurial idea or project
  • express your creativity and learn about the vibrant ideas in the University of Sheffield cohort

Session outline

If you're a presenter, you will

  • present your idea or project for five minutes
  • receive feedback and questions from the panel (about 20 minutes)
  • be encouraged to stay in the room or call as an observer, as other people might be presenting in the same session, so you can listen to their ideas!
  • receive a follow up via email with the highlights of the discussion, so that you can keep working on your project or idea with new eyes

If you're an observer or guest panel member, you will

  • listen to participants as they present their idea or project for five minutes
  • provide feedback and questions to the participant as a panel member (about 20 minutes), while observers stay in the room. At the beginning, the leader of the session will explain ways in which you can share your opinions should you wish to do so
  • be encouraged to stay for the full duration of the session

If you have any other questions, get in touch by emailing enterprise@sheffield.ac.uk.


I really appreciate such good opportunities and help to improve our business ideas. All the members of the Entrepreneurship team are excellent coaches, thank you. 

Daniela Rodriguez

Presenter


The opportunity to present and receive immediate feedback on the business idea worked for me. 

Cyraic Kodath

Presenter


Questions

Who can participate in the Sandpit?

All students, staff, and other University members, including alumni of the University of Sheffield, can participate in the Sandpit.

Can I participate as a team?

Yes, teams can participate together, but we suggest no more than two people present the idea.

What should I cover in the presentation?

There are no requirements on how to present your idea. However, the following points might help you structure your presentation – try to be concise!

  • Why do you want to develop your idea, project or product?
  • How did you get this idea? Was it born out of a problem (eg a gap in the market, an unexplored business opportunity or a social issue), and what is this problem?
  • How do you know this is a problem, and who does it affect?
  • What is the solution you are proposing?
  • What differentiates your solution from other existing ones?
  • Do you have any evidence suggesting that your solution would be well received?
Who is on the panel?

Members of the Entrepreneurship team will be present to listen to your idea and give you feedback. They are the fixed panel members.

Occasionally, we might invite guest members from the University of Sheffield with relevant business expertise to join us. They will also be providing feedback.

All the members of the panel are committed to keeping your best interest in mind and will formulate comments with the unique aim of pushing you to gain new insights and perspectives on your project and idea.

Who can join as an observer?

Other graduates, students and staff that do not wish to provide feedback but want to learn more about how to present an idea can join as observers. They are not required or expected to provide feedback.

If you do not feel comfortable with having observers during your session, let us know on the booking form.

How many people can participate in a session?

A maximum of two presenters and three observers can participate in each Sandpit session. The panel would comprise about six people, including the Entrepreneurship team and guest panel members.

What is expected from panel members?

Members are expected to provide constructive feedback that enhances the idea or project of the aspiring entrepreneur or their personal skills.

This might take the form of

  • questioning assumptions of the idea or project
  • providing new lines of thinking about problems
  • directing participants towards useful resources
  • highlighting the strengths of the participant or their ideas
What is expected from observers?

Observers are not expected to contribute during the session.

What constitutes constructive feedback?
  • It is the idea or the project which is the subject of feedback.
  • Feedback must not be offensive and must respect the diversity of opinions available in our community. Visit the University's equality, diversity and inclusion page for more information.
  • You must not dismiss ideas or projects, and you should always direct your comments to enable the presenter to gain new insights.
  • You must show respect, care and empathy when phrasing your comments. This includes explaining any difficult jargon that the participant might not be familiar with, recognising that we are part of an international community where communication problems might occasionally arise.
  • You must not disclose any information concerning the participants' project outside of the session. Confidentiality and privacy must be respected.
  • Remember: the presenter is free to take on board whichever suggestions they believe to be best suited for their development.
Will my business idea be kept confidential?

Developing a business involves asking others for feedback. The Entrepreneurship team asks that all those participating in a Sandpit session keep the ideas and feedback confidential, but our service cannot guarantee this.

Sessions will be recorded in most cases, but will only be used for the purposes of the Entrepreneurship team to share any further feedback to presenters where this is deemed necessary.

If you have any queries, contact us at enterprise@sheffield.ac.uk.

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