After two months, hundreds of entries and weeks of deliberation, last night was the moment we were waiting for.
IMAGE and Samsung wanted to find Ireland’s leading female self-starter. A woman who hits targets, reaches milestones and pushes to new goals. A driven individual who is a role model for the team she leads, inspiring those on their journey, working with integrity, empathy and above all, business brilliance.
Last night we found a female entrepreneur and business owner on the ascent.
Last night we found the winner of The Pitch.
The Pitch finals took place in Dublin's Sugar Club on Leeson Street. Presented by Melanie Morris, our five all-star judges - Jo Malone CBE, entrepreneur and founder of Jo Loves; Bobby Kerr, broadcaster and founder of the Insomnia Coffee Company; Suzanne Homewood, Enterprise Sales Director, SEUK; Linda Nolan, Head of Marketing Samsung Ireland and Clodagh Edwards, CEO Image Publications - took to the stage as our seven finalists made their case for why their business deserved the career-changing prize package worth up to €100,000.
The prize up for grabs included a full business suite of Samsung products, as well as a digital marketing masterclass with Teneo PSG Digital, and a multi-platform media package from IMAGE.ie. A prize that would change the path of a new business.
Each finalist waited their turn backstage, where nerves reached fever pitch. As Siopaella's CEO Ella De Guzman said: "On a nerve scale of one to ten, I'm at a hundred". The contestants were able to get pick up some pearls of wisdom from our judges backstage. When asked how she defines a 'leader', Jo Malone CBE said: "A leader is someone who sees the potential in others, and wants to fulfil their own dreams, while also helping others to achieve theirs". Giving her best advice to the finalists, host of the evening Melanie Morris said: "Tell the truth and tell your story. We all know the latest buzzword is 'authenticity', but it is for a reason - the judges want to hear your story. It's cool to have failed along the way to your success".
The seven finalists made a five-minute pitch on their businesses followed by a five-minute Q+A session with our judges. The audience and the judges were blown away by the drive, dedication and tenacity shown by each entrepreneur. It was clear from each of the women how passionate they were about their business, and the diversity of ideas and plans were captivating to listen to. Each of the seven finalists' pitches gave us a real insight into how their business works:
“Our vision for the next 12 months is to get our children’s range off the ground and not just in Ireland. We want to create a legacy”
- Anita Murray, Pink Beauty Group
“It takes a month to create one of our chocolate bars”
- Kasia Connolly, Hazel Mountain Chocolate
“We are a creative studio who want to ignite imaginations and tell our stories with the world’s best technologies”
- Aoife Doyle, Pink Kong Studio
“The food we make looks like art. People want to take pictures of it. Customers are a very successful marketing tool”
- Rachel Keane, Póg
“We want to be the premier consignment shopping destination in Ireland and Europe”
- Ella De Guzman, Siopaella
“We are disruptors of the traditional model”
- Annelie McCaffrey, Your Smile Direct
AND THE WINNER IS . . .
The judges took time to deliberate after all finalists had pitched. But, in the end, it was Jennifer Rock, CEO and founder of The Skin Nerd, who convinced the judges she was deserving of the title, through a unanimous vote.
The Skin Nerd, an online skincare consultancy, was founded by Jennifer to show skin the respect and care it needs. Jennifer herself has lectured and spoken about skincare everywhere from Ireland AM to the Sunday Business Post to us here at IMAGE.
“We are disruptors in our industry. People told us it was only a skew and wouldn’t work. We showed them.”
- Jennifer Rock, The Skin Nerd
When asked just before her pitch what it would mean to her to win, Jennifer said: "We're looking for new premises at the moment and struggling to find the technology we need - winning The Pitch would mean the world, and would be a massive opportunity for us."
Congratulations Jennifer. And a massive thank you to all our finalists and judges.