Following on from The Pitch - Part 1, where I told you about my start up business Love Me Sew; applying and being chosen as a finalist in the Start Up Britain's Pitch Up Scheme, we traveled to London for the day of the pitch...
The pitch itself took place on Tuesday 23rd October at the John Lewis head office in Victoria. After working hard in the couple of week's run-up to the day; preparing for the pitch itself as well as having prototypes of our packs ready to present (in addition to the arrival of Sam's new baby boy!), we arrived at 8:15am along with the other 11 finalists.
We were welcomed and introduced to the buying team and the Start Up Britain representatives, photographed for press and promotional materials, and offered refreshments and an opportunity to chat to the other finalists. Then, second up, it was our turn to present!
Our pitch was to last just 10 minutes with time at the end for questions from the panel. Delivering the pitch itself went OK, despite the nerves, and we provided items and materials (including the packs themselves, mood boards, and an information hand-out) for interest and additional information to back up our pitch. However, we thought we could have answered the questions better, reflecting afterwards on all the things we should have said (isn't this always the case!).
We returned to Leeds feeling relieved that it was over, but also proud of ourselves for becoming a finalists (showing that our business is heading in the right direction) and, if nothing else comes of it, we have gained great experience from the who pitching process (jumping into the deep end first!) and have really focused, and sped up, the development of our business so much faster than we ever would have without it.
However, follow up from the Start Up press representative suggested we may have underestimated ourselves and how we thought our pitch went was a little different to what the buyers thought...
' I've mentioned you in the release because JL thought your pitch was really professional - I'll let them tell you what they think and what happens next, but Anna [Rigby, Head of Buying, Home Accessories and Gifts] was totally gobsmacked when I told her you did the pitch with a tiny baby downstairs! She'd already said you were the best prepared and had done the most work around it! So really well done.'
Here is the press released that was published on Wednesday 24td October: http://www.startupbritain.co/new/2012/10/24/startup-britain-and-john-lewis-announce-plans-for-regular-start-up-pitches/
All the Pitch Up finalists are getting an hours mentoring with the relevant head buyer - we are going back to London on Friday 23rd November to meet with the Buyer for haberdashery where we will get our feedback from the pitch and the opportunity to ask questions (of which our list is growing by the day!), so we'll see what happens next...
I know this was just the beginning for the Pitch Up scheme and, following it's success, Start Up Britain are planning to offer this opportunity on a regular basis. I would encourage other start up businesses to get involved; this is a really great opportunity and shows, regardless of your business background or experience (...our business being a prime example: one partner a part-time administrator who likes crafts, the other a full time mum of two young children!), if your business idea is good enough and you have a passion to develop it, then go for it.