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Unique opportunity to pitch for investment at Aston business competition

Venturefest

4 April 2016

Fifteen of the region’s most scalable businesses are already through to the shortlisting panels, with the hope of reaching the competition final at Venturefest West Midlands on Thursday 23rd June 2016, but there is still an opportunity for more top quality businesses to join them.

Pitchfest is a unique pitching competition, conceived and jointly organised by Aston University, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick. It is an opportunity for business owners and entrepreneurs to raise their profile in front of a national audience of investors, and gives them the chance win one of several awards at Venturefest West Midlands 2016.

Businesses pitching for investment frequently overlook the need to tailor their pitch to an investor audience, focusing instead on what they would present to potential customers. This is a major pitfall when it comes to winning external finance, and a stumbling block for most small businesses wanting to grow. Business investment experts at the three universities developed Pitchfest to combat this very problem, and free pitching workshops are being run to help participants hone their delivery.

Tim Powell is Executive Director for Minerva Business Angels Network at the University of Warwick Science Park. He feels that for any small businesses seeking investment, it is important to know their funding requirements and to get their approach to investors right first time. "PitchFest is a perfect platform for early stage companies to understand the right sources of funding for their business, and how to prepare and pitch for funding to finance professionals - in particular to Business Angel investors". 

James Richmond is the founder of Roompik, and won the 2015 “Early Stage” award. James says thatRoompik achieved a staggering hike in interest by taking part in the competition, and were easily able to achieve the investment they needed as a result. “Pitchfest was the catalyst for getting the deal across the line with investors - the moment it all finally happened. Our pitch evolved dramatically throughout the process and repeatedly answering questions from the judges really helped.” 

Roompik wasn’t the only business to benefit from the process. Byron Dixon, owner of Micro-Fresh, won the “Growth Stage” and “Best Pitch” Awards in 2015, and saw the benefits long after the competition was over.“The publicity from the event is something you just can’t buy – taking part and winning the awards has given us exposure to some of the best investors in the region and nationally. The confidence I have gained in approaching investors has helped us secure international investment too.” 

Pitchfest is entirely free and open to any business sector. Applicants who own a growing business, or a business in its early stages are encouraged to apply. 

Applications are made online atwww.aston.ac.uk/pitchfest. The organisers are encouraging early applications so that entrepreneurs have the time they need to refine their presentation – key to delivering a winning pitch at the final.

Shortlisted applicants will present to a judging panel, and selected finalists will pitch to leading investors and industry experts at Venturefest WM on Thursday 23rd June 2016 at the NEC, Birmingham, watched by an audience of potential investors. This one-day event, supported by Innovate UK and part of a national network of Venturefests, brings together entrepreneurs, investors and innovators to meet, engage, and discuss ideas.

In 2015, the first Venturefest WM attracted 483 delegates and an independent evaluation by the ERC found that it led to £1.44m of financial returns, along with the development of 1,410 new connections between innovators, entrepreneurs, inventors and innovation support. 

Paula Whitehouse, Director of Aston Centre for Growth, said: “Access to finance for small businesses and entrepreneurs is vital for growth, which is why Pitchfest is once again a key element of Venturefest WM. A fully-developed finance pitch isn’t necessary, just a viable business idea or growth opportunity along with the ambition to succeed. We will help all successful applicants to develop a suitable finance pitch with workshops, practice pitches and feedback from expert panels of investors and industry leaders, all completely free of charge.”

Any business or entrepreneur interested in taking part in 2016 is invited to complete the Pitchfestapplication form or email centreforgrowth@aston.ac.ukfor further details.

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For further media information, please contact Katy Lewis, Aston Business School on 0121 204 3124 or k.a.lewis@aston.ac.uk

Venturefest West Midlands

Venturefest WM is part of a national network of Venturefests supported by InnovateUK and is being supported locally by business, universities, science parks and business support organisations from across the region. For more information and to register for a place, go to the Venturefest WM website.

For more information Pitchfest, see www.aston.ac.uk/pitchfest

To apply, businesses should fill in the application form at http://www.aston.ac.uk/aston-business-school/business/centre-for-growth/pitchfest-2016/apply-now/ 

Aston Centre for Growth at Aston University

Aston Centre for Growth offers leading growth programmes and other opportunities for SME owners looking to grow their business.  Aston is one of only three business schools nationally to hold Small Business Charter Gold status, and we have experience of working with hundreds of SMEs to support their business growth on high profile programmes such as Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.