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£10k Business Challenge finalists to take part in Dragon’s Den-style ‘Pitchathon’

28 February 2018

Seven budding entrepreneurs from the Derry & Strabane District Council area will be pitching their business ideas to five local ‘dragons’ on Thursday 8th March after being announced as the finalists of the £10k Business Start-up Challenge.

This year’s ‘pitchathon’ is part of Enterprise Week 2018 and will take place from 2pm to 5pm in the Foyle Theatre of North West Regional College’s Strand Road Campus in front of an audience and panel of judges made up of Airporter CEO & Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer McKeever, Martin Gallen from Banba Designs & Strabane Chamber of Commerce, Liam Nelis from Gradon Architecture, Fionnuala Deane from Dog Ears, and Kevin O’ Connor – Head of Business at Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Now in its second year, the £10k Business Start-up Challenge is a competition developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council to reward creativity and innovative business ideas that will benefit the local economy. The competition also aims to inspire, encourage and develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprise throughout the council area – and provide assistance both financially and via specialised business support to entrepreneurs that have demonstrated the ability to create jobs and export their products into new markets.

The competition was open to companies who have been trading within the last year, have a unique business idea and completed the 'Go For It' Programme. Seven businesses have now been shortlisted to pitch their ideas in front of the local ‘dragons’ and are in with a chance of winning:

First Prize - £2,500
Second Prize - £2,000
Third Prize - £1,500

Runner up prizes (x4) - £1,000 each

The seven finalists are Hempful, Café Scoop, So 27 Skincare, Wedding Crechers, The Suit Lounge, Pedraza and 2 North.

Hempful started trading in 2017 and the start-up company launched their latest product ‘Hempful CBD Tea’ last December. Their range of health food products are currently available in 10 stores throughout Northern Ireland and two in Donegal.

Café Scoop produce premium ice-creams sold in a Gelateria, Barista-style café in Abercorn Square, Strabane – where the premium quality ice-cream is supported by an attractive patisserie offering.

So 27 Skincare manufacture and sell high-quality, natural skincare products which contain the highest quality organic ingredients – carefully selected and based on scientific research and benefits.

Wedding Créchers offer a mobile childcare facility for children under 12 to help facilitate a stress-free and enjoyable ‘big day’ for adults and smaller guests alike. The facility includes activity tables with arts and crafts, house and dressing up corners, a soft play area with ball pool and a slide for smaller children.

The Suit Lounge provide suit sales and hire for special occasions such as weddings and formals. Their offering focuses on quality suits with bespoke accessories made in-house – including ties, dickie bows, handkerchiefs and waistcoats.

Pedraza is a luxury fashion and accessories brand, with accessible price points. The company focuses on high quality leather bags and handmade sunglasses. Launched in May 2017 the firm’s products are sold exclusively online and have customers from all over the world.

2 North is a locally owned gourmet street food outlet, which aims to provide a combination of excellent food, with fun packaging and atmosphere – producing top quality burgers, fresh soup and sandwiches, as well as fish and chicken dishes and quality fries.

Speaking ahead of the ‘10k Pitchathon’, Business Development Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Louise Breslin said: “I am delighted that we have now whittled down this year’s entrants to seven fantastic finalists who will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to our local ‘dragons’.

“I would also encourage as many people as possible – including members of the public – to come along, hear the pitches and vote for their favourite!”

Audience places are limited for the ‘10k Pitchathon’ which is a free event – so please register as soon as possible.

Register for the 10k Pitchathon Challenge (Thurs 8th March at 2pm) where you can take part in the final voting at www.derrystrabane.com/enterpriseweek

For further updates on this year’s events and activities in the run-up to Enterprise Week 2018 please also visit the Facebook page Business Support Derry Strabane.