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The Pitch 2014- Britain's biggest small business competition

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by Startacus Admin

the pitch 2014As we’re sure you know by this stage, June was our Startup Bristol month…and those of you with a razor sharp intellect will no doubt have spotted that it is now July and are probably wondering why we are still chatting about it. The truth is that we’ve made a special concession here at Startacus and are declaring that it is still in fact June, just so that we can squeeze in news of one of Bristol's most successful entrepreneurial exports ‘The Pitch’.

Now in its seventh year, The Pitch has grown into the country's longest running (and quite possibly most anticipated) competitions for small business owners.  From humble beginnings as a local event in Bristol, over the past seven years The Pitch has developed into a UK wide initiative and has provided support to a huge range of small businesses the length and breadth of the country.  Whether your business is already on its feet, or is just an idea waiting to hatch, if its an innovative and exciting venture that you are passionate about,  The Pitch want to hear from you!   

The closing date for applications is July 13th after which the top 100 entrepreneurs will be invited to attend an intensive training boot camp in either London or Manchester which will include extensive advice from a range of experts on all aspects of pitching and growing their business.

The boot camps will culminate in a live pitching event in which each of the shortlisted businesses will present for the chance to make it onto the shortlist of 30 finalists to take part in The Pitch 2014 Grand Final on 23 October at Paintworks in Bristol.

The winner of the final will be the envy of all as they will receive an extensive package of business support including 12 months free access to business lounges around the world, free taxi travel, a Nokia Lumia tablet, web design advice and online business security services from AVG and PR consultancy.

Since we’re both intrigued by and looking forward to The Pitch 2014, we decided to have a quick chat with Dan Martin, one of the organisers about the competition, its growth and of course the wonderful city of Bristol:

So Dan, what in particular are the judges of The Pitch hoping to see from the entries this year?

Since 2008, when The Pitch launched, our judges have been looking for the same thing; a great idea and a passionate and committed entrepreneur behind it. They need to see that the business is solving a particular need and that there is a big enough market for it to succeed.

The Pitch has obviously seen a huge level of growth and expansion that so many other similar projects do not see.  Can you pinpoint anything about The Pitch that might explain why it has been so popular?

Like the best entrepreneurs, we have had to innovate and adapt to ensure the competition has grown and the audience has stayed engaged. Traditional award schemes can be quite boring in that you enter, turn up for a posh dinner and collect a plastic trophy. What we’ve done is make the whole process so much more enjoyable and valuable to each and every business owner that takes part, whether in the audience or on stage. We’ve taken The Pitch around Britain and held it in venues including a nightclub in Liverpool, an opera house in Belfast and on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2014, we moved our final back home to Bristol and used it to show just how innovative and entrepreneurial the city is. We’ll be doing the same on October 23 this year.

We’ve also continually listened to feedback and adapted the competition accordingly. Last year, many of our contestants said they would have benefited from pitch training before taking to the stage. So this year, we’ve introduced two intensive boot camps which 100 shortlisted entrepreneurs will attend and get some fantastic advice and training from a range of experts. In addition, we’ve also been careful to pick judges and supporters that genuinely care about helping small business owners succeed.

As you know Dan, it’s our Bristol startup month and so far we seem to be getting that vibe that Bristol's entrepreneurial scene is quite unique amongst UK regional cities. Would you say that is a fair statement?

Definitely! Bristol has always been a bit of a rebel and that plays out in the massive entrepreneurial vibes that’s everywhere. The city is home to Gloucester Road, the longest street of independent shops in the UK and it’s no coincidence that Banksy is from Bristol or that in 2012, the residents elected an independent mayor who can be much more flexible and innovative than politicians governed by their party.

Bristol is also a very collaborative city which is not true of many places in Britain. Organisations come together all the time to innovate and promote enterprise.

But if there’s one thing that sums up the spirit of Bristol, it has to be the gigantic water slide that was constructed down a major street in the city earlier this year. 100,000 people applied for just 360 places and the artist who created it shunned corporate sponsorship in favour of a crowdfunding campaign among local residents. Now that’s Bristolian!

Cheers for the chat Dan and best of luck with this years competition!

If you fancy putting yourself and your business forward for The Pitch 2014 then pop yourself over to the The Pitch Website before the 13th July, when the competition closes forever! (or next year at least).

In celebration of the upcoming events Dan Izzard takes a from Simple Lampoon takes a lighter look at pitching in his article Pitching: Do You Have a Biscuit Strategy?

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Published on: 30th June 2014

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