North East entrepreneurs to pitch to London after passing dramatic test

22 June 2016

Ten North East entrepreneurs have secured a once-in-a-career opportunity to meet a panel of heavyweight London investors after passing a dramatic pitching test at FinanceCamp North East.

The successful ten were rewarded with the opportunity after managing to impress a live audience and panel of experts with their pitching skills and steady nerves in a race against the clock. 

finance camp richard 3Pitch Black challenged entrepreneurs to win over the crowd with their business pitches in just three minutes to avoid being plunged into darkness.   

The test came at the end of the first ever meeting of FinanceCamp, a programme dedicated to giving businesses all of the tools and knowledge they need to get hold of money to grow.   

Now the successful entrepreneurs are preparing 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.  

One of the ten entrepreneurs, Richard McCormack of E3D, was given special commendations for his performance on stage. Not only was he voted The People’s Choice but his pitch was also chosen as the strongest 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 

finance camp judgesIn 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.  

Judge Bill Hartshorne from TEDCO, which partnered with FinanceCamp to develop Pitch Black, said:

The entrepreneurs taking part have well and truly earned their places in the London pitch, having impressed the crowd and experts with their newly-polished pitching skills and promising business propositions.  

“What we’ve seen here today is a group of driven and talented entrepreneurs who now have the skills and opportunities to take their business plans to the next level. We look forward to following their success at the London pitch and beyond.” 

financecamp2More than 100 North East businesses and 40 investors were brought together at Ramside Hall, Durham, for FinanceCamp where they had a chance to talk money. Businesses looking for everything from a £1,000 start-up loan to a multi-million pound equity funding round had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a whole spectrum of funders including venture fund managers, angel investors, banks and crowd funding platforms.  

FinanceCamp was organised by the team behind Venturefest North East as a way of building on the success of investor meetings brokered annually at the region’s innovation conference. It was developed with input from businesses and a wide range of enterprise organisations, both local and national.   

This initiative is part of a wider programme being developed with around 50 partner organisations to support innovation in the North East. Led by the Venturefest North East team, the programme is supported by Innovate UK and the North East LEP and North East BIC, with part-funding from the European Regional Development Fund. 

The ideas going forward to London included those from:

Richard McCormack of E3D, which aims to improve the affordability and usability of 3D scanning 

Gemma Jay of Wedding Handbook, which aims to be the ultimate wedding planner and supplier directory  

Xiaoyu He of AccuEast, which aims to disrupt the translation market with innovative technology 

Phil McGrath of Cedarwood Trust, which aims to create educational play facilities for children 

Oliver Woods of Feritt, which seeks to link up employers and jobseekers in the hospitality industry 

Ayodeji O. Fowode of FIYOM Group, a web service provider for the educational sector 

Michael Beaton of Spica Technologies, a cloud-based solution for companies holding clients’ money  

Katharine Paterson of Kare Kot, an innovative cot-bed for babies and children


The European Regional Development Fund

The project is receiving up to £522,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information click here.

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