News release

Date: 26th April 2012

Graduates innovate their way into employment with business start-ups

An increasing number of young people leaving university are bypassing the career ladder altogether and setting up their own businesses.

April 26th 2012 -, 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 £50,000 prize package. Preliminary heats will be held across the UK in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Dan Martin, editor of 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 – we learned a lot.”

Helen and Naomi offer the following tips for young entrepreneurs preparing to pitch their ideas to investors:
• Organisation and strategic planning are crucial when putting together a pitch. You need to
demonstrate to investors that your business plan is realistic and that you’ve given your financial projections serious thought.

• Think long and hard about your branding and the key messages that best embody your product and values. Keep it simple and have fun with it.

• Ensure you understand your product’s unique selling point. Identify exactly what makes you different and why consumers will buy your products.

• Do your market research – show that you know who your target audience is and how best to reach them.

• Be sure to demonstrate the flexibility of your brand. This is important in consumer markets that are always changing.

• Finally, relax and enjoy yourself. You love and believe in your product; be resilient and stand by your core values.

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 www.The 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.


Notes to editors

Follow The Pitch and BusinessZone on Twitter:
@the_pitch #thepitch12

The Pitch is a Sift Media event, in association with Yell. The Pitch is sponsored by ICAEW and Crunch.

About Sift Media
Sift Media is a leading business-to-business publisher specialising in online professional communities and face-to-face business events.
With a range of services including websites, email publications, industry awards and exhibitions, Sift Media delivers original, branded content to over half a million professionals every month, across small business, finance, accounting, HR and training, IT, marketing, customer management and knowledge management.

About is Sift Media’s online publication for entrepreneurs providing free, practical and no-nonsense advice on how to start and grow a successful business.

About Yell
Yell Group is a leading provider of digital services within the emerging local eMarketplace for consumers and SMEs across its operations in the UK, US, Spain and some countries in Latin America.
Building on its strong presence in the local market through its current digital and print portfolio, Yell is developing a broad range of digital services tailored to the converging needs of SMEs and consumers.
These address both the SMEs’ need to grow, transact and be efficient in the digital world, and the consumers’ need to connect locally to the goods and services they want, in a way which saves them time and money, and moves their lives forward.
In the year ended 31 March 2011, Yell Group had 1.3 million SME customers.
Twitter: @YellPressOffice @YellBusiness

Media Contacts:
The Pitch
Meg Pope
0117 915 9614

Demelza Fryer-Saxby
0118 3582977

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