Elizabeth Pittaway: Accelerate The Pitch 2017

Guest blog post from Elizabeth Pittaway, second-year Events Management student who has recently undertaken an internship with Careers and Employability at the University of Chester. 

I am currently a second year events management student on an 8 week internship with the university. My role is an Entrepreneurship Events Assistant. A mouthful I know. To put it more bluntly I am simply an events assistant. I am currently working in the Careers and Employability department helping Kirsty Badrock organise and carry out the last  event of the Venture programme which took place on the 19th and 20th June. After days and days of meetings, emailing and coordinating all of our hard work finally came to an end. Accelerate: The Pitch 2017 started off on Monday with a day filled with helpful advice from guest speakers to students hoping to pitch for start-up funding and bespoke business support packages. Sessions included a look inside what the first year of running your own business can be like, presented by Lynne Robertson from Santander. Lisa King presented a session on managing nerves and relaxation techniques to offer tips and advice on how you can keep calm under pressure. Hope Skinner of Seed Social spoke about her journey form working in a hotel to owing her own successful business. The day was concluded by a presentation from Katy Carlisle from The Wheel Exists on building a personal and professional brand in business. My role during this event was to act as support for Kirsty this included meeting with the guest speakers and escorting them to the correct room, answering emails, and sorting out last minute bits and bobs for the next day. As to plan all of the students left with a goody bag and a brain filled with ideas for their pitches the next day.

PitchThe Big Day! Tuesday 20th June was the day that the students, Kirsty and I had been waiting for all year, the final Pitch. This was the day where seven students, with their presentations in hand, had the chance to win a multitude of business prizes after accessing 12 hours of business support through Venture. These prizes included up to £5,000 start-up grant from Santander Universities, a number of £250 Careers and Employability grants, iPads, start-up website, a professional photography package, a full day 1-1 social media diagnostic and 1-1 intensive business coaching sessions. The first pitch commenced at 11:00am with frequent breaks and a free lunch in-between, followed by the last pitch finishing at 3:00pm. During the pitching sessions the students had five minutes to present their ideas to a panel of four judges from Santander, Ellis & Co., The Language Guys and the University of Chester followed by a range of questions from the panel. A number of mentors from the previous day were also stationed in the student development room on Queens Park campus to provide support for the students attending. My role, along with a colleague during the day was probably the best role we could have asked for! Decorating the room for the drinks reception later that day. This included setting up zap stands, tables, catering and big foil balloons that spelt out “Pitch”. You can find photos of our ‘artwork’ over on the Venture Instagram or Facebook and Twitter (get those followers).After the pitches had finished, judges had one hour to deliberate before the awards ceremony during the drinks reception .

The drinks reception provided a calming and very warm atmosphere for the highly anticipating students, waiting to hear how they had done. This reception was opened by Acting Director of Careers and Employability, Helen Mitchell who started off the reception by thanking all of those involved and praising the students for their hard work. The reception was then hosted by Adam Crane who started off thanking the contributors to the event over the past year and then went on to present the awards to the candidates. The £5,000 Santander grant was split between four students with £2,500 awarded to Jordan Tew, a first year Global Enterprise and Business Management student, and Jessica Saunders, a first year Health and Social Care student, for their business Stu’s Deals. Ryan Holland, who is a final year Fine Art and Graphic Design student was awarded £1,000 for his business Hoz Designs. Andrew Davey, who has just completed his master’s degree in Design this year was awarded £1,000 for his business Gro Space. Michelle Parkinson who is a second year English literature, student was awarded £500 for her business the Speak Easy. All students won a free logo design and a business hacks book along with merchandise from the University. Congratulations to all of the students involved! The day then ended in celebration for both students and staff as the Venture programme came to a close for the sixth year running! I am really proud of how well this event ran and all of the experience I have had whilst helping to organise it. Looking forward to the programme next year!

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