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Hill Street Hatch impress LEVELUP judges to claim £2k cash prize

26 April 2021

Hill Street Hatch, the exciting NI hospitality pop-up incubator, have been selected from 12 early stage startups to claim a £2k cash prize as the overall winners of LEVELUP 2021.

Delivered by Starticus in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, LEVELUP 2021 was a two-day hybrid event which took place on 21st and 22nd April, looking at innovation, ideas and inspiration from around the world.

The event was part of the programme for Enterprise Week Derry Strabane and explored how people, both locally and internationally, have created opportunity, economic growth and initiated real change.

The LEVELUP pitch competition, with sponsorship from RealTime Recruitment, saw 12 NI startups pitch virtually to a panel of startup industry pros and investors including Beth Glenfield, Scout for Ada Ventures, Audrey Osbourne, Investor at Techstart Ventures LLP, Nico Albanese, Senior Associate at Ascension Ventures and local star Angel Investor Mary McKenna.

Hill Street Hatch are a pop-up space in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter who offer a creative partnership for entrepreneurs in the Belfast hospitality scene to test and launch new concepts and ideas.

LEVELUP judge Judge Naomi Timperley praised the winning pitch: "Love love love this concept - great pitch and passion.

"A great idea to 'try before you buy' for the hospitality industry. So many restaurant concept ideas crash and burn and this is a way of trialling the concepts first and building an audience."

Ema O'Kane and Ryan Crown, co-founders of Hill Street Hatch added:

"We are so delighted to be named the winners of the pitch competition. We've loved creating Hill Street Hatch and are so excited for the future and the ways in which we will be able to support and work alongside hospitality entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland!

"We're really grateful to LEVELUP for seeing the potential in our startup and for choosing us for the award."

Having worked alongside some of the of the world's best hospitality brands and groups in New York and the US over the last 5 years, Hill Street Hatch recognised that the process of launching hospitality ventures is outdated and the risks (such as exorbitant rent, long term leases, set up costs, design, marketing etc) are now higher than ever and accelerated even more due to the global pandemic.

Hill Street Hatch aims to remove those traditional barriers to entrepreneurship like exorbitant rent, overheads, and pressure and replace them with resources and creative solutions including a physical pop up space currently in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

Claire Nixon, Director at RealTime Recruitment said: "RealTime were delighted to sponsor this event for the 2nd year running.

"We are very keen to support the early-stage NI tech companies in as many ways as possible and this event is such a brilliant vehicle for them to gain valuable recognition, experience and contacts that can really help all the entrants in their journeys."

All of the start-ups were very impressive and pitched brilliantly – but a special congratulations goes to the deserving winner Hill Street Hatch – whose entrepreneurial pop-up business is set to shake up the NI hospitality scene."

You can catchup on LEVELUP and all the events from last week's Enterprise Week Derry Strabane at derrystrabane.com/ewcatchup.