Northern Irish entrepreneurs given chance to win £50,000 worth of business support

The Pitch, Britain’s biggest small business competition, is returning to Northern Ireland with another £50,000 worth of business support up for grabs.

Organised by in association with digital service provider Yell, The Pitch has showcased the very best of Britain’s small business talent since 2008.

The competition gives innovative entrepreneurs a chance to win £50,000 worth of prizes including 12 months’ free mentoring from serial entrepreneur Karen Darby who sold price comparison service Simply Switch for £22m only four years after setting it up.

To take part, Northern Irish entrepreneurs need to apply at by 31 May. A total of 20 finalists will be shortlisted and they will join another 60 entrepreneurs from England, Scotland and Wales at an entrepreneurial extravanganza in Liverpool in October.

Four winners will be chosen in Liverpool who will then compete for the £50,000 prize package at London’s legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub in November.

Last year’s competition demonstrated the calibre of Northern Irish entrepreneurs. The Northern Ireland heat was won by Barbara Hughes, who runs alcohol brand Boozeberries with her husband.

“It was a really positive experience which gave us a real boost”, Hughes says. “I would really encourage small business owners to take part in the competition. Boozeberries gained some very valuable exposure that was vital to building our brand. The process helped build my own confidence with pitching and public speaking. It’s something I’ve had to do lots of in the last year when pitching to potential investors.

“I found the first pitch nerve-wracking as I’d never pitched in front of a big live audience before. My advice to this year’s entrants would be to plan the key points you want to make, but don’t use notes. This allows you to talk naturally and with passion. Also, make sure you capture the audience in the first 15 seconds with something that makes them want to listen.”

Yell has supported the growth of the competition since 2009 and given marketing support and advice to finalists and winners.

Richard Hanscott, chief executive officer for Yell in the UK, comments: “Making a first strong impression is vital for those wanting to start a new business and The Pitch is an effective way for businesses to think about how they present themselves and explain their ideas. We’re delighted therefore to be supporting small businesses through such an inspiring and motivating competition.”

Small business owners can find out more about the competition and enter at Applications must be received by 31 May with initial judging taking place over the summer. The Pitch grand final takes place in London on 16 November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.