Our second year of #ThePitch is complete, and what a night it's been. 2019's winner, and all of our highlights of the night, are here...
"There are three things that you need to succeed in business," Pitch judge Jo Malone CBE said to a finalist. "Passion, resilience and creativity — and I think you've got them all". She could have been talking to any of the nine finalists of this year's Pitch competition, where SME's from around Ireland competed to tell their business story and win a career-changing prize from IMAGE and Samsung.
The stunning surroundings of Dublin's City Hall round room provided the perfect backdrop to the night's event, and must have been an inspiring view to our finalists.
While all distinctly nervous, they were ready to tell their story and show their drive to our panel of judges — Jo Malone CBE (entrepreneur and founder of Jo Loves), Bobby Kerr (broadcaster and founder of the Insomnia Coffee Company), Linda Nolan (Head of Marketing Samsung Ireland), Clodagh Edwards (CEO IMAGE Publications) and last year's winner Jennifer Rock (CEO and founder of The Skin Nerd).
The prize on the line was truly career-transformative — a €100,000 suite of Samsung technology, bespoke to the business's key needs; a digital masterclass with Teneo to train the business in marketing strategy for the future; and a customised multi-platform media package from IMAGE Media, including exposure across our social channels and sister titles. It was all to play for, and our finalists came ready.
The standard was high
The calibre this year, as IMAGE CEO Clodagh Edwards remarked at the beginning of the evening, was outstanding. "We have an incredible group of innovative entrepreneurs that really embody the spirit of what the Pitch is looking for".
From brewing to chocolate to interior design, finalists came from a range of backgrounds and industries but each had one important thing in common — their pitches were absolutely brilliant.
Each finalist showed different priorities for their business, but many of 2019's biggest issues made an appearance. Many businesses showed a big concern for the environment in their materials and packaging, with Ambr eyewear pledging that they are on track to be 100% sustainable by 2020. Ethical practice was shown by Spotlight, whose products are 100% cruelty-free and vegan-friendly.
Liam Tutty of Dead Centre Brewing explained how Brexit had lead to the business taking a hit over the past few months, but was planning to turn the negative to positive, and branch out across Europe to counteract the turbulent upcoming months.
Many of our businesses were family affairs, and tales of how parents, aunties, uncles and siblings had inspired their story delighted our judges. Orlaith and Padraig Sweeney of Sweeneys D3 were a highlight of the night, with their funny and heartfelt brother-and-sister dynamic leaving our judges smiling.
Both Nobó and Ambr Eyewear were a labour of love for our coupled-up co-founders, and Jo Malone CBE commented on how connected she felt to the former — "you guys brought tears to my eyes because you remind me so much of my journey".
But it was the idea of community and connection that sealed the deal for this year's winner — Gym+Coffee, an Irish athleisure clothing brand with a focus on getting outside and living life to the full, beat the competition with a fun, focused pitch to our judges. Diarmuid McSweeney, representing the company, spoke about the importance of transparency and connection with their customers, and how they never want to lose that link between business and visitor.
Judge and last year's winner of the Pitch Jennifer Rock said she "adored the community aspect of [your] business" and our other judges were impressed too — Diarmuid was crowned the winner, to complete surprise. "I'm absolutely gobsmacked – I wasn't expecting it. It's such an honour to just to be nominated so to win is incredible".
Congratulations to our winner Diarmuid and all the team at Gym+Coffee — we can't wait to see what you get up to this year!
Images: Kieran Harnett and Laoise Moggin
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