On Tuesday 8th September 2015, HRH the Duke of York headed due North to Manchester to hear 17 entrepreneurs pitch for a spot at a bootcamp in London before being shortlisted to pitch at St James Palace in London on 2 November 2015.
I was lucky enough to be one of the 17 entrepreneurs to pitch at Stage One at the Sharp Project to investors, judges from the tech industry, the press and the guest of honour, HRH The Duke of York.
The program on the day included many short presentations including what makes the perfect pitch, what VC’s look for from your business plan, the media and why they love tech entrepreneurs, a Q&A panel from experienced entrepreneurs and our very own from Manchester, Piers Ridyard from Nifty and Jamil Khalil from Wakelet to provide advice when they were previous winners of Pitch at the Palace.
HRH The Duke of York explained that he founded the Pitch @Palace program in the Spring of 2014. It is a program to support Entrepreneurs to accelerate their business ideas by connecting them with potential supporters including CEOs, Angels, Mentors, and key Business Partners. What started as a very small event based in London, it has grown with this year extending it to regional events in Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh to seek more talented tech entrepreneurs outside of London.
HRH The Duke of York welcomed us into his Pitch@Palace family irrespective of the outcome of the pitching event. His commitment to ensuring that the core value of the program is entrepreneur – focused was further cemented by asking every person in the room who attends the Pitch@Palace final to make at least one phone call to connect and help entrepreneurs to their network.
The staging light was on in Stage One and at one point, it got quite hot and people started to peel off their jackets. I was dreading the moment when I had to pitch about heated gloves!
We all lined up and had 3 minutes to pitch with only one slide per pitch. The calibre of the pitches were all extremely impressive and I could not help but be inspired by my fellow entrepreneurs.
As I stepped onto the podium thinking please don’t trip in my 3 inch heels (don’t worry, I didn’t!) I started my pitch a little nervous. However I quickly felt very comfortable during my pitch and it ended all too quickly after getting the 3 minute nod.
While we broke for lunch for the judges to deliberate, Stage One quickly turned into a media frenzy. After a brief phone interview with BBC Radio in the morning (at 1 hour 45 in), I was happy to speak to Manchester Evening News and BBC North West as well as recording a podcast for the Sharp Futures students about my experience with Pitch@ Palace. It was a fantastic promotional opportunity for us to talk about our business ideas to the media.
While I didn’t make the bootcamp I was extremely grateful for the opportunity to pitch to HRH The Duke of York and be welcomed into his family. I’ve never had anyone come up from London to Manchester to hear me pitch, let alone royalty! The digital, creative and technology sector is a thriving community up North and HRH Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace On Tour to Manchester only confirmed that. I made some fantastic connections with investors so I was able to have some great conversations. I also made connections with my entrepreneurial community which is why I love going to these events.
I would like to thank Claire Braithwaite, Head of TechNorth who encouraged me to apply to Pitch@Palace. HRH The Duke of York for bringing Pitch@Palace to Manchester. The organisers Stuart Marks @LMarks, the Sharp Project and Sharp Futures, a digital creative agency who supports young people into employment. The young apprentices did such a great job in welcoming us and making us all feel very relaxed during what should have been a very nerve racking time for us. Shu-Ling, one of the lovely apprentice’s on the day also wrote a blog about the event.
For now, the life of a start up entrepreneur will definitely make use of the opportunities and connections made. I’m also hoping that HRH The Duke of York will casually mention MadeWithGlove at the next family dinner to HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Kate Middleton!
For more information about Pitch@Palace click here.
This blog was written by Michelle Hua, writer and public speaker on wearable tech and fashion. Michelle is also the Founder & Director of MadeWithGlove, a UK wearable tech company designing fashionable heated gloves for women. Follow Michelle on Twitter @MadeWithGlove.