The Duke of York with the RealRider team
The North East shone in the finals of the Duke of York’s Pitch@Palace 7.0 competition, which took place at St James’ Palace in London last night.
After securing a hard-fought place in the final twelve who got to pitch live on the night, Newcastle’s Trylife came second overall in the pitching competition voted for by the hundreds in attendance, as well as coming third in the People’s Choice award.
And an email sent to RealRider’s 30,000 enthusiastic and passionate supporters at the weekend helped the Newburn firm to swoop in and claim that People’s Choice award. Founders Zoe Farrington and Andrew Richardson were delighted with their victory.
The success brought particular joy to the team at Sunderland Software City, who had worked hard to bring the early stages of the competition to the North East for the first time this year.
The overall winner was Desolenator, a startup who are working to solve the global water crisis by using clean energy to desalinate water supplies. Their easy to understand offering was supported by a very slick pitch, which secured them victory on the night.
Third place went to London-based Safety Net Tech, who are using light technology to help the fishing industry cut down on discarded catches, which has environmental and sustainability benefits but also helps this hardworking trade to maximise financial viability.
Businesses who made it through the initial stages of the competition attended a bootcamp in Nottingham, supported by at least one Elevator – specialist mentors recruited by the Pitch@Palace team to help them maximise their opportunities.
All 43 firms from that bootcamp were at the Palace for the event, which was attended by mentors, financiers, venture capitalists and industry experts from across the country, and represented a real chance for them to make the connections they need to move their businesses on.
Discussing how the Pitch@Palace events have progressed through the years, The Duke of York told BQ: “It’s the same thing but bigger… but we try not to keep getting bigger, because the room isn’t big enough!
“The comments I’ve had from the people involved in this process is about the massive improvements that have been made by those pitching companies from where they were at boot camp, to where they are now. The work we’ve been able to do with them, in that training period, has allowed them to improve considerably.
“I’ve seen pitching companies pacing around in here in previous years, really worried. I didn’t see that this year. I saw them concerned and getting ready, but not nervous. They were confident, they knew what they were doing, and they gave it their all.”
And the Duke makes it clear that pitching on the night is not necessarily everyone’s aim when they join the programme: “There are some businesses in here that are incredibly grateful that they’re not pitching; they can network, they can make the time work more effectively. So we try and select the companies for which it will be the most benefit.
“Most of these companies are going to have significant impact. The likelihood of finding an Uber, and AirBnB, an Apple, is unlikely… but none of them should fail, they’re all solid businesses. The question is, can the people in this room, through their contacts, connections, distribution systems and supply chains, actually make the difference?
“Mentoring is very, very important. The Elevators have been key, much more key than I ever thought.”
He was joined at the event by his daughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie: “They’re involved, as is the Duchess; she has a number of different things that she’s helping with.
“It’s a family business – get on with it!”
Pitch@Palace 8.0 will begin in the Autumn, whilst all of the businesses who progressed from the North East will be speaking at next month’s Newcastle Startup Week.