Britain’s biggest business contest shortlists top 100 entrepreneurs

Triana Jarman

One of the UK’s longest running entrepreneurial competitions has  selected 100 of Britain’s best small companies  to attend intensive business boot camps and compete for the chance to win support worth thousands of pounds.

  • Shortlisted companies collectively turn over more than £4.3m
  • 42% of the 100 businesses are run by female entrepreneurs
  • At 27%, London is home to most businesses, followed closely by the North West with 24%
  • Companies include digital detox weekends, all-female removal firm, mother and son run-healthy eating service and a beer delivery service with 500% year-on-year growth

The companies have been chosen by a panel of expert judges in The Pitch 2014, presented by and UK Business Forums in association with AVG.

Founded in 2008, the competition rewards and celebrates the nation’s entrepreneurs.

This year, 100 companies have been picked to attend one of two business boot camps in London and Manchester in September. From those, 30 will be selected to compete at the final in Bristol in October where the overall champion will win the massive package of business support prizes including mentoring, technology, global business lounge access and PR consultancy.

The shortlisted businesses, all trading for less than three years with some not yet trading, are from across the UK and come from as far north as Aberdeen, all the way down to Newquay. The industries they represent range from retail and technology, to consumer goods and manufacturing.

The businesses collectively turn over £4.3m and employ more than 110 people. 58% of the founders are male and 42% are female.

The top region for contestants is London, home to 27% of the entrepreneurs.

That’s followed by the North West at 22%, Scotland at 12%, West Midlands at 7%, South East at 7%, South West at 6%, Yorkshire at 6%, Wales at 4%, East Midlands at 3%, North East at 2%, East at 2%, Northern Ireland at 1% and South at 1%.

Among the innovative small businesses shortlisted are:

  • Sian’s Plan, an online healthy eating service run by a mother and son that recently raised £100,000 through crowdfunding
  • All-female removal firm Van Girls staffed by ex-service women, adventure instructors and firefighters
  • Enclothed, a personalised shopping service based in London for time strapped, fashion conscious men
  • Colchester-based audio blogging service Waffler which aims to help people connect and share using the power of human speech
  • Unplugged Weekend which organises holidays for young professionals to switch off and take a break from digital devices
  • Night Zookeeper, a magical and inspirational brand where children discover and create imaginative animals
  • BeerHawk, a Yorkshire-based online beer delivery service with year-on-year growth of 500%
  • Changing Rooms, Changing Lives which helps young unemployed people by loaning affordable clothes to wear at job interviews
  • Bibee Dresses, a range of fun and functional, mix and match maternity clothes for pregnant women


The full list of 100 small businesses is at

All the companies are also competing for votes in The Pitch 2014 Digital Marketing Award supported by Constant Contact.

Dan Martin, founder of The Pitch and editor of, says: “I’m overwhelmed by the quality of the entrepreneurial talent in our top 100 shortlist. They really are a great representation of the fantastic business ingenuity that the UK has to offer!

“We created the boot camps as a direct result of contestant feedback last year, and they offer a money-can’t-buy opportunity for our contestants to get amazing business training from some of the best experts available. I wish all 100 business owners the very best of luck.”

At The Pitch 2014 Boot Camps, in London on 4 September and Manchester on 18 September, the 100 contestants will be given the chance to hone their pitching, marketing, sales, finance and branding skills.

Among the trainers are pitching coach Annette Kramer, who has helped entrepreneurs secure investment on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, and AVG’s Mike Byrne, who will teach the contestants how to give traditional sales techniques a 21st century makeover.

Other training sessions include finessing your finances with Clive Lewis from ICAEW, and a guide to engagement marketing led by Constant Contact’s Tamsin Fox-Davies. Becky Bradburn, from the UK Domain Portfolio at Nominet, will also be on hand for a drop-in online brand clinic, and experts from accounting software company Xero will offer advice.

At the end of each boot camp the entrepreneurs will pitch for 90 seconds. From those pitches and follow-up tasks, a team of judges will select 30 businesses to go through to the final in October.

The judges, who will also judge the final, include Judith Bitterli, serial entrepreneur and chief marketing officer at AVG; Karen Darby, serial social entrepreneur and founder of and Lara Morgan, founder of Pacific Direct and Company Shortcuts.

The prizes include a year’s free mentoring from Karen Darby, online business security services from AVG, 12 months free access to business lounges around the world, free taxi travel, a Nokia Lumia tablet, web design advice, and PR consultancy. All attendees will also have access to investors.

The Pitch 2014 is also supported by ICAEW, Constant Contact, .uk, Microsoft Devices and Xero.



Notes to editors

For more information, contact Dan Martin on 0117 915 8638 or

Follow The Pitch 2014 on Twitter at @The_Pitch and #thepitch14

The Pitch 2014 is a Sift Media event presented by and UK Business Forums in association with AVG and supported by  ICAEW, Constant Contact, .uk, Microsoft Devices and Xero.

About Sift Media

Bristol-based Sift Media is a leading business-to-business publisher specialising in online communities and face-to-face events. Founded in 1996, Sift Media delivers content to more than one million members every month, across small business, accounting, HR and training, marketing and customer management.

About is Sift Media’s online publication for entrepreneurs providing free, practical and no-nonsense advice on how to start and grow a successful business.

About UK Business Forums

UK Business Forums is the UK’s most active online forums for small business owners attracting more than 400,000 unique users every month.