Last Friday, Felcana joined 41 other technology entrepreneurs at Pitch@Palace 6.0 Boot Camp. Pitch@Palace, established by HRH The Duke of York, invites the most exciting and innovative new technology businesses to pitch in front of leading industry influencers. This fantastic scheme is designed as platform for promising new businesses to showcase their industry changing ideas to entrepreneurs, influencers and their fellow innovators.
On Friday 18th October myself, James Andrews, Felcana CEO, and our Head of Product Tom Blower took part in the Pitch@Palace 6.0 competition.
With an early start, Tom and I caught the 07:36 train from Paddington. The day was held at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, home of the Diamond Light Source.
On arrival, HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York welcomed all 42 entrepreneurs, alongside many key industry influencers to the campus and the competition. The Duke of York eloquently expressed that the day was not really about competition, it was about showcasing the best and brightest technology entrepreneurs in the UK, and creating a collaborative community.
Following the introductions, and some very interesting and motivating talks from highly successful Pitch@Palace alumni Yoyo, illumr and Jukedeck it was time for this cycle's cohort of nervous but excited entrepreneurs to take the stage.
Luckily for us, our nerves didn’t have too long to grow as Felcana were called up pretty early in the proceedings. Donning a bright red tie, armed with a fantastic background slide I approached the stage, took up the microphone and started with a bold statement:
"By 2025 all pets will be connected to the internet."
Back in our office at Makerversity in Somerset House, London, the rest of the team were huddled around a computer screen managing to catch a live stream of the event (1:22:00 forwards), watching and hoping it would be 'pitch perfect'! The pitch, 3 minutes long, flew by and luckily went almost exactly word for word as planned. Following the pitch Gary Steward, Director of Wayra, had a few questions about the size of the connected pet market and how much it was set to grow. I was prepared for this though and armed with facts and figures to support my point.
"The connected pet market is pretty nascent, somewhere in the region of $200 million but set to grow to $5 billion in the next 7 years."
With the pitch over, Tom and I could sit back, relax and enjoy the pitches from the other tech entrepreneurs also at Boot Camp. We particularly enjoyed the pitches by fellow Makerversity team Eartex, and a company called Flock who are using Big Data and machine learning to analyse risk for drones in urban areas.
The atmosphere around the day was very much about supporting one another, collaboration, and driving the UK technology market forward. The Felcana team received many great compliments throughout the day about our product, our pitch and our presentation slide (featuring a very happy King Charles Cavalier Spaniel!)
Boot Camp was designed around the ethos of helping new businesses to grow and raise their profile. As part of this each team was matched with ‘Elevators’, industry and business experts who can help the start-ups to address any business problems, introduce them to new key contacts and support them in the Pitch@Palace journey. Felcana was teamed with Chris Bunney of Cambridge Judge Business School and William Goodlad, Principal of Oxford Sciences Innovation, with whom Tom and I enjoyed a great lunch.
Following lunch the judges went off to deliberate, whilst the entrepreneurs were invited to enjoy some very interesting talks covering all manner of topics including innovation and fund-raising.
We particularly enjoyed Alison Grey of Inmarsat's insights into the future of data, and how satellites are enabling better support of IoT devices. Mike Lawton of Oxford Space Systems also presented on his work developing a carbon-fibre composite beam for use in Spaceships. Hearing from other UK entrepreneurs in the technology space, albeit in areas very different from pet technology was extremely inspiring and a great highlight to the day.
Deliberations and Winners
Before The Duke of York announced the successful 12 teams, we were invited to enjoy a drinks reception to celebrate everyone’s efforts throughout the day and have a chance to network with all attendees and pitching teams (and build the suspense up even more before results!).
So there we sat in the auditorium, fingers crossed, waiting to hear Felcana’s name called to progress through to Pitch at St James’ Palace on November 2nd. The problem was, 42 teams pitched - 42 great, talented, innovative entrepreneurs shared their industry changing businesses … but only 12 could go through. Unfortunately, Felcana did not make it through at Boot Camp. We had a fantastic day though, made some invaluable contacts and were part of a great initiative set up by the Duke of York’s office.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD
It’s not the end of the road for Felcana and Pitch@Palace 6.0 yet thought. Although only 12 teams were chosen for the big pitch, every team is in the running for the prestigious People’s Choice Award.
This award would be a great accolade for Felcana to win. Everyone loves their pets, and we’re helping them to live happier, healthier and hopefully much longer lives. Pitch@Palace enabled us to demonstrate that digital technology is revolutionising the pet health care industry and driving the veterinary profession into the digital age.
Myself, Tom, and the rest of the team at Felcana would like to give a huge thanks to HRH The Duke of York and Amanda Thirsk Private Secretary to HRH The Duke of York for organising an exceptional day. This initiative is such an asset to small start-up businesses in the UK and in the global technology scene. We will be attending the Pitch@Palace finals on November 2nd at St. James Palace and wish all the successful teams the very best of luck.
In the meantime, we'd like to ask you to VOTE FELCANA!