An increasing number of young people leaving university are bypassing the career ladder altogether and setting up their own businesses.
April 26th 2012 - BusinessZone.co.uk, in association with digital services provider Yell, is encouraging these young entrepreneurs to take part in The Pitch, Britain's biggest business pitching contest. Entrants pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges in front of a live audience competing for a 50k prize package. Preliminary heats will be held across the UK in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Dan Martin, editor of BusinessZone.co.uk said: "In a market where graduate opportunities are harder to come by, an increasing number of young people are creating opportunities for themselves. The number of self-employed graduates has increased by 46 per cent in the last six years, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa). We are hoping to see lots of these young entrepreneurs in the competition."
Last year's The Pitch event demonstrated the calibre of young entrepreneurs. Finalists included Cardiff University Business School graduates Helen McAvoy and Naomi Kibble, who wowed judges with their unique product Rocktails, a range of frozen cocktails which they describe as 'powerfully fruity' and 'wildly convenient.'
The ambitious duo again used their pitching skills at the end of last year to secure a national contract with J Sainsbury. They are currently finalising plans to roll out their product at music festivals this summer.
Helen McAvoy said: "I would definitely recommend starting a business to any ambitious graduates. Taking part in The Pitch last year forced us to really articulate what our offering was. Taking the investors through our business plan and financial projections was nerve-wracking, but we knew we had a great product. It was an incredibly rewarding experience and we learned a lot."
Helen and Naomi offer the following tips for young entrepreneurs preparing to pitch their ideas to investors:
Dan Martin said: "Our young graduates are vital to the economic life of this country. We salute them for their ambition and courage in setting up their own businesses. We hope that The Pitch competition process will help them hone their skills and give them recognition and the oxygen of publicity." Digital services provider Yell has supported the growth of the small business competition since The Pitch's inception in 2008 and given marketing support and advice to finalists and winners.
Richard Hanscott, chief executive officer for Yell in the UK, said: "Making a first strong impression is vital for those wanting to start a new business and The Pitch is an effective way for businesses to think about how they present themselves and explain their ideas. We're delighted therefore to be supporting small businesses through such an inspiring and motivating competition."
You can find out more about the competition and submit entries by visiting ThePitchUK. Applications must be completed by the end of May with judging taking place over the summer. The Pitch grand final takes place in London on 16 November during Global Entrepreneurship Week.