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From Norwich’s Sync the City to a fin-tech start-up: The story of SenLab

PUBLISHED: 10:33 14 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 14 November 2017

Sync the City 2015. 
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sync the City 2015. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2015

A year ago George Davis was an 18-year-old computer science student who was persuaded to go along to a start-up tech event.

George Davis, group chief executive of The Senlab Group and Propser BI. Picture: James Neale George Davis, group chief executive of The Senlab Group and Propser BI. Picture: James Neale

Now the chief executive of a financial technology group which is looking for £500,000 investment, he puts the sudden change in his life down to his experiences at Sync the City.

The 54-hour tech challenge is preparing for its fourth year and Mr Davis, co-founder of Norwich-based SenLab Group, said it could be a vital learning curve for ambitious entrepreneurs.

“It is such a great experience and it can lead you in different directions,” he said.

“I had been part of large projects before but had never led one and I ended up loving it.

The Sync the City event at the King's Centre. Organisers, Fiona Lettice, professor of innovation management at the Norwich Business School, UEA, and John Fagan, founder. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Sync the City event at the King's Centre. Organisers, Fiona Lettice, professor of innovation management at the Norwich Business School, UEA, and John Fagan, founder. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I don’t think I have ever enjoyed criticism as much as I did there and I don’t think I had ever taken it so seriously as I did then. Now I love to hear it.”

Mr Davis had not planned to pitch an idea but was persuaded to and ended up leading a team, which although not successful in the competition, went on to become the foundations of SenLab.

He said: “Sync the City was quite stressful and challenging but good fun and ended up with me setting up SenLab so it was definitely worth it.”

Sync the City, which will be held in Norwich Cathedral Hostry from Thursday, November 23, to Saturday, November 26, is run by the University of East Anglia and SyncNorwich and pits teams of developers and non-technical business people against each other to develop a start-up in 54 hours.

This year there is a £4,000 prize pool with judges including Ian Watson from Start-rite Shoes, Wayne Taylor from Thyngs, Chris Sargisson from Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Kirsty Jarvis from Luminous PR and Juliana Meyer from Supapass.

John Fagan, the founder of co-organisers Sync Norwich, said: “This year tickets sold out in just nine days, with a particularly strong uptake from local companies. This highlights the fantastic support for the growing Norwich tech sector from a range of businesses across different sectors, not just tech.

“As well as a fun start-up event, Sync the City is a great opportunity to collectively accelerate our learning and build new relationships for the benefit of all Norfolk businesses and organisations, including our universities and colleges.”

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