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HRH The Duke Of York Attends Pitch@Palace Event At Exeter College

HRH The Duke Of York Attends Pitch@Palace Event At Exeter College

All content by Sofy Robertson

Today was no ordinary Monday at Exeter College as business representatives from across the South West began to arrive ready to pitch to HRH The Duke of York as part of the Pitch@Palace 11.0 On Tour Devon.

Pitch@Palace is an initiative founded by The Duke of York to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs. Drew Ellis, founder of Like Minds and a mentor with Pitch@Palace explained:

“This initiative helps entrepreneurs and start-ups get traction through introductions and investment. One of the toughest things about starting a business is getting into the industry and making connections. This could make the difference between six months of searching and six hours.”

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Drew Ellis, founder of Like Minds and a Pitch@Palace mentor

At this event, local entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to learn more about the programme and make their initial pitch. In just three minutes, each entrepreneur must convey the aims of their business and why it is worthy of Pitch@Palace’s support. Those who are successful will progress to the Pitch@Palace  11.0 Boot Camp in London.

Since it launched, Pitch@Palace has helped 785 Entrepreneurs to create 3,669 new jobs and generate over £890 million of new economic activity. The buzz of excitement within the welcome room was therefore palpable as local entrepreneurs mingled with guests.

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine

Keith Barfoot of AlphaFox Systems based in Honiton was preparing to pitch his company’s anti-counterfeiting technology; a special label that can’t be forged that provides authentication to a range of products. He revealed a shocking statistic: “Fake medicines kill more people each year than the ebola outbreak” and explained what his business hoped to gain from pitching to HRH The Duke of York:

“We are hoping to get connections and ideally find brand owners interested in integrating our technology into their packaging.”

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Keith Barfoot from AlphaFox Systems

Sophie Cooper, a former primary school teacher and founder of Read with Phonics, wanted to prove that teachers can be the experts in implementing programmes and technology in schools. She developed the Read with Phonics app; a series of games that increase in difficulty as the child becomes more accomplished with reading. Teachers are able to use the app as a learning tool and track children’s progress. Sophie was advised to take Read with Phonics to the Pitch@Palace event and explained:

“I want to take my product forward and make connections.”

I asked Sophie if she had found it difficult to condense everything she wanted to say into just three minutes. She laughed and said no, in fact it was almost the opposite; “three minutes seems like a really long time!”

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Sophie Cooper from Read with Phonics

Along with entrepreneurs gearing up to pitch their businesses, local producers had been invited to take up stands to showcase their products.

Mel Mackie, Venus Award finalist and founder of Plymouth-based Olly Lolly, had brought along some tasty samples as well as copies of the Devon Cook Book in which her business is featured.

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Mel Mackie from Plymouth-based Olly Lolly

Sandford Orchard’s Barney Butterfield had set up a table laden with Devon Reds, Generals and Collaborators; a tasty spread I must say. He spoke about the challenges that start-ups must face, saying:

“Challenge number one is getting noticed and being relevant. Challenge number two is keeping that while finding a profitable place in marketing.”

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Barney Butterfield from Crediton-based Sandford Orchards

The entrepreneurs and guests took their seats in the seminar room for the introductory speeches and key notes address, given by local chef Michael Caines. Exeter City Council’s Karime Hassan and the Met Office’s Sally Basker were present as esteemed guests.

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Exeter City Council’s Karime Hassan

Outside, HRH The Duke Of York arrived and was greeted by Exeter College’s CEO and Principal, John Laramy.

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine
Exeter College’s Principal, John Laramy, awaits the arrival of HRH The Duke of York

Back in the seminar room, Francesca Hodgson, co-founder of The Good Box Co, spoke about her experience with Pitch@Palace.

“I took part in a three-minute pitch at Buckingham Palace last year and I am proud to be part of Pitch@Palace. Our company has UK ambitions but also world-wide ambitions. Pitch@Palace is an amazing network where you can feel that you have a place and find support.”

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine

William Britton, founder of AutonoMe, a virtual learning and disability provider, offered his advice to the entrepreneurs on making their three minutes of pitching count:

“Make it like reading a headline in a newspaper.”

With a wealth of innovative businesses in the room, it seemed HRH The Duke of York would have a challenging afternoon ahead in deciding which pitches, and therefore which businesses, to take forward to the next stage.

Pitch@Palace Grow Magazine

I asked mentor Drew Ellis what advice he had for anyone who was considering applying for Pitch@Palace. His advice was simple:

“Apply. Read the criteria, of course, and make sure your business fits, and then apply. If you didn’t get in this time, try again and keep pushing.”

To find out more about Pitch@Palace and how your business can apply to pitch to HRH The Duke of York, click here.

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