Pictured: Sarah Beal, Growth Hub Programme Executive, OxLEP; alongside competition winner Sally Dear from Ducky Zebra
On 19 November, the ‘Pitch for the Future’ final took place at the Perch Eco Business Centre in Bicester.
The competition was part of Power of Purpose week (POP2021), a festival of events and activities that ran across Oxfordshire from Monday 15 to Friday 19 November, celebrating business as a force for good.
It was organised by OSEP CIC on behalf of OxLEP as part of eScalate, a European-funded enterprise programme supporting social enterprises, charities and purposeful businesses.
The final was the culmination of a competition launched in October to find Oxfordshire’s best new businesses committed to creating a positive social and/or environmental impact.
More than 50 businesses applied to take part and ten were taken through a pitching practise session in front of a panel of business experts and green investors. Five businesses were then selected for the final, which saw them present a 10-minute pitch in person in front of a live audience.
The five finalists were:
- Liz Morrison, The Happiness Horsebox - an innovative mobile horsebox to provide accessible equine therapy
- Sam Staincliffe, Uplift360 - developing processes to recycle and re-use complex materials used in the defence and security industries
- Michael Buick, Pegg Furniture - sustainably produced wooden furniture re-imagining traditional joinery techniques
- Sally Dear, Ducky Zebra - organic and sustainable baby and children’s clothes that are free from gender stereotypes
- Darren Evans, AfterCloud - a digital keep-safe, end-of-life app allowing those with dementia and terminal illness to capture treasured memories and important wishes
The winner was chosen by popular vote by an audience that included key-note speaker, Paul Cadman, a serial entrepreneur with experience in technology, manufacturing, retail, and media and who now dedicates more than half of his time to charities and impact businesses.
Sally Dear, founder of Ducky Zebra, was voted as having the best overall pitch, and received a cash prize of £1500, presented by Sarah Beal, European programme manager for OxLEP.
Founder of Ducky Zebra, Sally Dear, said: "Participating in Pitch for the Future has been a fantastic experience. Not only has it helped small, purpose-led businesses, such as Ducky Zebra, connect with potential investors but it has also allowed us to get 'pitch ready' in a relaxed, friendly environment. I am delighted to have won.
"As a new, small start-up my biggest hurdle is building brand awareness - and so I will be using the prize money to do just that. But being part of Pitch for the Future goes beyond the prize money. It has been brilliant for boosting my confidence and meeting other like-minded businesses."