Britain's 80 best small businesses revealed

The Pitch 2012 has uncovered a blossoming UK small business sector, with innovative entrepreneurs looking to revolutionise everything from pizzas to the shampoo industry., in association with digital services provider Yell, has selected 80 of the UK’s most innovative small businesses to compete for business support worth £50,000 in The Pitch 2012. The full list is here. The Pitch 80 were chosen from the hundreds of entries from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They will all pitch to judges and a live audience at The Pitch Live, a two day entrepreneurial extravaganza in Liverpool on 18 and 19 October. One winner selected by the audience will receive a cash award raised from the proceeds of the event ticket sales. In addition, four regional winners will be chosen to compete for the £50,000 prize at The Pitch 2012 Grand Final at London’s Ministry of Sound nightclub in November, while 16 will be awarded wildcard status and compete for the most public votes and the fifth slot in the final. Among the 80 finalists is Adam Murphy and his company Shnuggle. Competing for Northern Ireland, he has come up with a modern take on the Moses basket for babies.   Pitching for England will be Alexander Epstein, a former contestant on BBC TV’s The Apprentice, who runs Concoction, an innovative start-up which allows customers to create their own blended shampoo. Flying the flag for Wales will be Alba McDonnell who is shaking up the spicey sauce industry with her Rio: A Taste of Brazil cooking sauces, while Scotland will be represented by Donnie Maclean, whose company, Eat Balanced, provides a must-eat for all foodies, a nutritionally balanced pizza.     All the 80 shortlisted entrepreneurs have an individual profile on The Pitch 2012 website. They have until October to attract the most number of votes and win a special Social Media Award. The Pitch was founded in 2008 and a record number of hopeful business owners entered this year, spanning a vast range of sectors. From the hundreds of companies applying, 78% are based in England, 11% in Scotland, 6% in Northern Ireland and 5% in Wales. Some 39% of the applications were

from companies in their first year of trading, while 24% are still to launch. Another 37% have been in business for between one and three years. The internet industry was the most popular sector for entrants making up 18% of the total. That was followed by manufacturing with 15% and the media industry was represented by 13% of the applications. When looking for inspiration, 19% said Sir Richard Branson is who they look to, compared to 7% who opted for the panellists on BBC Dragons’ Den and 5% who said a member of their own family is the person who has inspired them the most in their entrepreneurial journey. Louise Morgan, head of intelligence and strategic insight at Yell Group, who judged the Welsh entries, said: "The judging process was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how small businesses are positioning themselves in a diverse and competitive marketplace. "It was inspiring to see the great variety of entries that demonstrated innovation and the need for their product or service." Morgan was joined at the Welsh heat by Jon Blake, regional director, South West at ICAEW. He added: "It has been great to be able to put some really strong proposals through to the final." Judging the English entries was serial entrepreneur Karen Darby, who started energy price comparison service Simply Switch in 2002 and sold it for £22m four years later. Darby has supported The Pitch since 2009 and will mentor the overall winner of The Pitch 2012 as she did in 2011. She commented: "Once again the Pitch has surpassed itself in not only the sheer volume of entries but the quality. There were so many real corkers in the mix that judging them proved to be a positive delight."Darren Fell, founder of accounting software company Crunch, who joined Darby to judge the English entries, added: "I regularly see 'business awards' operate as a facade which make decisions purely from the application form. "The Pitch 2012 is the real deal with a fantastic array of judges vetting potential winners face to face. If you win The Pitch 2012, boy do you deserve to win!" 

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Category: Small business

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