Small business owners from the London are being encouraged to enter one of the UK’s longest running business contests and repeat the success of last year’s champion.
Founded by BusinessZone.co.uk and UK Business Forums in 2008, The Pitch, presented in association with lead supporter AVG, has helped thousands of entrepreneurs secure make connections, top class business support and gain access to investors.
Launched as a small event in Bristol, it has since developed into a nationwide initiative and provided support to business owners across the UK.
Business support worth thousands of pounds is up for grabs this year, and entrepreneurs who want to grab a slice of the action can apply at www.thepitchuk.com. Entries close on 13 July.
During The Pitch’s history, several London-based entrepreneurs have taken part. Last year, Camberwell-based Arthur Kay was crowned the overall champion with Bio Bean, a company that turns waste coffee grounds into energy.
Kay comments: “The support I have received from The Pitch has been invaluable and Karen Darby, the mentor we won access to, has provided me with great advice that has really helped my business grow.
“The endorsement of the competition has also been very useful when approaching potential investors, as well as generating publicity to help us reach a wider audience. If you’re running a small company, I urge you to enter The Pitch 2014!”
Fellow Londoner Ry Morgan, founder of Please Cycle, also made it to the final.
He says: “The most valuable element of The Pitch for me was the opportunity to network and liaise with likeminded start-ups who are doing awesome things in a myriad of sectors and industries. I’ve kept in contact with some of the other business owners involved and there has been huge reciprocal value in that newfound network of peers.”
In 2014, applicants to the competition will be whittled down to 100 entrepreneurs who will attend one of two intensive training boot camps in Manchester and London.
Attendees will receive advice from a range of experts on all aspects of pitching and growing their business.
At the end of the boot camps, they will present live on stage after which 30 finalists will be selected.
The finalists will compete at The Pitch 2014 Final in Bristol in October in front of judges including serial social entrepreneur and founder of CrowdMission.com Karen Darby, Company Shortcuts boss Lara Morgan, who built luxury toiletries provider Pacific Direct into a £20m business, and Judith Bitterli, serial entrepreneur and chief marketing officer at AVG Technologies.
One participant will be crowned the champion and receive a huge package of business support including 12 months free access to business lounges around the world, online business security services from AVG, free taxi travel, a Nokia Lumia tablet, web design advice and PR consultancy. All attendees will also have access to investors.
To qualify, companies must be UK-based and trading for less than three years. Individuals with a business idea and not yet trading can apply for the One to Watch category. The winner of that will receive £1,000 worth of business advice from an ICAEW Chartered Accountant.
Dan Martin, editor of BusinessZone.co.uk and founder of The Pitch, says: “The Pitch has come a long way since our humble beginnings in 2008, and we are delighted to be back for a seventh year. There aren’t many business competitions that have lasted that long!
“From day one, our aim has been to support Britain’s innovative entrepreneurs who are so crucial to the success of the UK economy. We’ve helped thousands since we launched, but The Pitch 2014 is set to be the best competition yet. We can’t wait to meet this year’s crop of entrepreneurial talent.”
Judith Bitterli, chief marketing officer at AVG Technologies, adds: “AVG’s philosophy is all about empowering small businesses to manage their technology simply and reliably so they can stop worrying about their data and concentrate on growth in today’s fast changing, increasingly mobile workplace.
“As Britain’s top competition for emerging entrepreneurs, The Pitch is an ideal forum to share our passionate belief that a well‐connected business is an essential ingredient for success today.”