A few days after the region’s success at the Pitch@Palace 7.0 finals, we catch up with those involved and some key regional experts, to get their reactions.
Paul Irwin, who founded TryLife, said: “Pitch@Palace is an amazing initiative and has opened doors with people we would never otherwise have met, from CEOs, influencers, angels and mentors to business partners.
“We are thrilled to have represented the North East in this way and be placed in both the people's choice and overall awards. We really can’t thank everyone enough for their support.
“TryLife is designed to educate young people about real life situations and issues they will face such as sex, drugs and violence. By allowing young people to experiment in a safe environment it allows them to understand the impact of their life choices.
“We’re thrilled that the hard work of thousands of young people has been recognized in this way.”
RealRider co-founder Zoe Farrington said: “Winning the People’s Choice award at Pitch@Palace absolutely validates why we do what we do. We have an active and thriving community that took the time to vote because they believe in what we’re doing. If this helps put us on the agenda of businesses, mentors and investors who can help us achieve our ambitions for the company, it was well worth getting involved.”
Her co-founder Andrew Richardson added: “Bootcamp was intense and even daunting at times. We had ‘Elevators’ appointed to offer the benefit of their experience who were hugely supportive. And although we weren’t selected as one of the companies to pitch on the night, we now have laser focus on our technique which will undoubtedly prove useful in the future. We’re also in the process of finalising a deal with Close Brothers Motor Finance who saw us pitch in Sunderland.”
Zoe continued: “We’re hopeful we’ll continue to make connections through the event that will prove useful on the next phase of our journey which includes international expansion. Having just launched in Canada, and with plans underway for 9-1-1 integration across the whole of North America, we’ll be tapping into this unique network to help us to realise our plans.”
Billy Webber, chief operating officer at Sunderland Software City said: "The success of TryLife and RealRider at Pitch@Palace demonstrates the strength and creativity of the tech sector in the North East.
“The Region is a global force to be reckoned with that is beginning to be rightfully acknowledged on the national stage. We should be proudly shouting about our achievements and I look forward to welcoming Pitch@Palace and similar opportunities to the region.”
Colin Bell, Business Growth Director for the North East LEP, said: “The North East has a thriving tech sector and to see some of our strongest and most innovative companies represented in this way on a national level is cause for celebration, and testament to the strength of their business models.
“The fact that TryLife and RealRider now have access to key players from the world of entrepreneurship, tech, media and investment gives them significant commercial advantage.
“Sunderland Software City is to be commended for bringing the first rounds of Pitch@Palace to the North East.”
Paul Lancaster of Plan Digital UK said: "I was delighted to see that TryLife, RealRider and My Little Explorer did so well in the Duke of York's Pitch@Palace competition - not only because they show that the North East is a real hotbed for digital innovation and 'Tech For Good' but because all three of them had already been chosen to speak onstage at Day 1 of our Newcastle Startup Week festival on 15th May!"