Meet the bright sparks heading for ‘The Bigger Pitcher’

With just under a week to go until the inaugural The Bigger Pitcher event as part of Liverpool Loves Business, organisers have revealed five of the top entrepreneurs who will compete for a £1,000 prize.

The five entrepreneurs have been shortlisted in the Spark Up category – one of four overall categories within The Bigger Pitcher competition. They will join 12 other like-minded enterprises, all competing for a share of £5,000 worth of cash and business support.

Michael Corless, founder of Michael Corless Soccer School; Anna Slater of North West Linen Services; Muhammad Khan, PROTIME Fitness; Villo Lelkes, founder of Transylvanian artisanal cheese company Beyond the Forest and the team behind a bid to create Liverpool’s first board game café Sugar and Dice, are all in running to win the cash injection which has been donated by category sponsor, NatWest.

They have been selected after graduating from Spark Up, a free business accelerator programme ran by the Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce.

Each finalist will have two minutes to impress competition judges with their elevator pitch. Judges will be looking for businesses who can demonstrate solid business ideas and strong potential for future business growth.

Muhammad Khan, director of lifestyle brand PROTIME Fitness, will pitch his modern vending machine concept. The machines dispense powdered sports supplements directly into the cup of a consumer in a gym. The users get premium quality supplements at a cheaper price, straight after their workout, when it matters the most.

He said:

“Our brand has gone from strength to strength over the last two years. At a recent industry exhibition, lots of gym owners and consumers showed great interest in our new dispenser – making it one of the best exhibitions we’ve attended so far.

“I originally joined Spark Up to help take our brand and fitness clothing range to America, but I quickly realised it was a great platform to really develop of vending machine business model. We’ve received lots of good solid advice and direction from Spark Up’s mentors and the combine experience and network they offer really have been invaluable.

“The idea for the supplements dispenser was born in the gym. It’s a real pain to prepare you supplement and shaker before you train, especially with a busy lifestyle. We thought it would be more convenient if there was an option to prepare supplements right there in the gym.

“There was nothing on the market, so we set about making our own. We now have a prototype with a contactless payment terminal and a giant screen to really engage and connect with users. Our concept has excited almost all gym owners we have shown it to and we are working with a local gym partner to run our first trial. It’s a really exciting time for PROTIME.

“Winning The Bigger Pitcher prize would allow us to develop a second prototype, which will make massive progress on our development timeline.”

Anna Slater who will join Muhammad on the pitching stage, has started her own business North West Linen Services. She offers clients a dedicated linen service, sourcing linen which is bespoke to them and providing a full laundry service.

Her customer base includes pubs, restaurants and hotels across the North West including a chain of seven gastro pubs and a Holiday Inn Express. Anna said:

“To be given an opportunity to win £1,000 is great for a start-up business like mine. Should I win, the money will allow me to upgrade some aspects of my factory and help make the laundry process more efficient.”

The Bigger Pitcher, part of Liverpool Loves Business is presented in association with Orb CIC and Spark Up. It has joined forces with local businesses and networks to give entrepreneurs from across the City Region the chance to compete for up to £5,000 worth of prize money and business support.

The competition will take place on Thursday 4th August from 2pm till 5pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Pier Head, Liverpool.

In addition to The Bigger Pitcher competition, Liverpool Loves Business will feature a full programme throughout the day, including guest speakers, one-to-one business advice clinics, networking sessions and two stages offering seminars covering a diverse range of topics.

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