Birds of a feather flock to FinanceCamp

Birds of a feather flock to FinanceCamp

Businesses of all ages and sizes converged on the Ramside Hall Hotel for the chance to learn pitching, meet investors, and enter the inaugural Pitch Black competition, with the odd bird metaphor along the way.

From the team behind the region's Venturefest, FinanceCamp is a programme dedicated to giving businesses all of the tools and knowledge they need to get hold of money to grow, culminating in yesterday's all day event which opened with regional business sharing their varied investment experiences and closed with a unanimous Pitch Black victor.

Digital innovators Whispering Gibbon and Durham University spin-out Applied Graphene Materials took the attendees through their investment journeys, detailing everything from grants worth £500 to an IPO valued at £11.6m. 

A series of workshops educated those seeking investment on the range of options available to them, with advice from Blu Sky including 'make sure your ducks are lined up' helping firms to understand the importance of knowing as much as you can about every aspect of your business. 

The team behind Entrepreneurial Spark were on hand to talk pitching, encouraging eagle-like behaviour and making sure pitches wouldn't be repeated parrot-fashion...

Sessions also focussed around financing options for more established firms, with a special strand looking at social enterprise investment. Transmit Enterprise's Richard Myers told BQ just how tricky financing was in that industry.

"There's lots of misconceptions about social enterprises; getting finance is a completely different proposition," he told BQ. "They've been recepients of grants in the past, and are now being more commercially minded so they're not reliant on handouts.

"There is money out there for social enterprises with potential - we have access to grants to help them get started, but it's not as easy as it was."

The day culminated in a series of investor meetings and pitching challenge, which saw a number of North East entrepreneurs go up against the clocks - and the lights - to make an impact in just three minutes. 

Finance Camp Richard And SimonRichard McCormack (pictured here with Venturefest's Simon Green) of E3D, which aims to improve the affordability and usability of 3D scanning specifically for the real estate market, was chosen as the winners both by the audience, and by a panel of judges that featured:

  • James Robson MBE, who built multi-million pound business Exwold Technology and now sits on the investment committee of NEL Fund Managers
  • Andy Fishburn, Head of Investment at Virgin Start Up – a not-for-profit Virgin Company, established by Sir Richard Branson to provide funding, advice and mentoring to early stage entrepreneurs in the UK  
  • Bill Hartshorne, Business Advisor for TEDCO Business Support and a former business banker who has a particular focus on helping new business starts with growth ambition
    • In total, ten firms have won the opportunity to take their pitches to London, where they will meet a panel of up to 30 angel investors who have been primed by UK Business Angels Association and are actively seeking North East companies in which to invest. 

      In addition to attending the London pitch, Richard secured first class travel to Virgin Headquarters in London to meet key members of staff from Virgin Group who will spend time reviewing their plans and sharing knowledge on how to make them fly. 

      Other ideas going forward to pitch in London include:

      • Gemma Jay of Wedding Handbook, which aims to be the ultimate wedding planner and supplier directory, aiming to help promote reputable suppliers
      • Xiaoyu He of AccuEast, which aims to connect translators directly to their clients, disrupting the translation market with innovative technology
      • Phil McGrath of Cedarwood Trust, which aims to create educational play facilities for children, starting with kinetic flooring
      • Oliver Woods of Feritt, which will specialist in connecting employers and jobseekers in the hospitality industry
      • Ayodeji O. Fowode of FIYOM Group, a web service provider for the educational sector with links to Microsoft
      • Michael Beaton of Spica Technologies, a solution for companies holding clients' money who need to conform to Government regulations
      • Katharine Paterson of Kare Kot, an innovative cot-bed for babies and children