Belfast Telegraph

Making a Pitch for big prize

Five entrepreneurs take to stage for place in national final

By Heather McGarrigle

In exactly one week's time, five Northern Ireland entrepreneurs will be preparing to pitch for £50,000 of business support.

The finalists of small business pitching contest The Pitch 2011 are Anthony Kieran of online file management firm Media Lightbox; Conor James Moran of web application Mobile Report; Barbara Hughes from Boozeberries; Maria McGee from Marble Hill skincare and Jason Paul of water device maker Floe.

Taking place at Belfast's Grand Opera House on September 21, it is the last regional heat of this year's contest.

It is also the first time The Pitch has come to Northern Ireland. First held three years ago, 2011 is the first year The Pitch is holding regional heats in each of the four UK countries.

Next Wednesday the five business owners will pitch to judges Carl Hopkins, one of Channel 4's Secret Millionaires, successful UK entrepreneur Karen Darby and Will McKee, one of Ireland's most experienced board directors.

The winner will go through to the London final at Pacha nightclub on November 18.

The winner will receive £50,000 of business support and year's free mentoring from Karen Darby.

Dan Martin, founder of The Pitch and editor of BusinessZone., said: "We've selected our winners in England, Wales and Scotland; so now it's time for Northern Irish entrepreneurs to shine.

Those attending the free event at the Grand Opera House will be able to watch the pitches live on stage and hear from speakers, including successful entrepreneur Lara Morgan, who sold her hotel toiletries business, Pacific Direct, for £20m.

Attendees can also take part in an interactive question and answer session with a panel, which will include David Malone, divisional telesales manager at Yell, Ron Immink, co-founder of Small Business Can and Adam Ewart, founder of Karacha and