Even for experienced pitchers, Pitch@Palace is tough. Entrepreneurs pitch in front of Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, at the very imposing St. James’s Palace and anyone who strays even a word over the three-minute limit is interrupted by two trumpet-playing members of the Queen’s Guard (wearing their trademark bearskin hats). It’s not for the faint-hearted.
Fifteen finalists took on the challenge Monday night in the palace’s lavish red-and-gold picture gallery in front of Prince Andrew’s 300 guests – including a number of potential investors. All of the startups in the final were selected by a panel of judges from 200 UK applicants.
It’s the fourth time the competition has taken place and in exchange for a few nerve-wracking minutes the finalists got to ask the well-connected audience to help them with networking introductions that might further their business’ ambitions.
Very much a family affair, Prince Andrew was joined by his ex-wife Sarah, the Duchess of York, and their daughter Princess Beatrice of York, who spent time talking to the entrepreneurs throughout the evening.
Prince Andrew told Mashable why startups take part.
Once all the companies made their brief pitches, the 300 guests voted for the winners.
In third place … Baby Lifebox.
Baby Lifebox is a battery operated, cardboard baby incubator that was inspired by the baby boxes Finland gives out to newborns. The company’s CEO Malav Sanghavi told Mashable they created the incubators for use in developing and underdeveloped countries.
In second place … Appear Here.
Appear Here wants to be the Airbnb for retail — helping entrepreneurs as well as large companies to find spaces to short-term use. CEO and founder Ross Bailey told Mashable that they want to make booking retail space as easy as booking a hotel room and to date have worked with Apple and Marc Jacobs.
And the winners … Unmade.
Unmade, previously called Knyttan, allows people to custom-design knitwear, which can then be manufactured in 90 minutes at their London factory. Hal Watts told Mashable the company wants to change the fashion industry so that everyone can have access to unique clothing.
Other notable companies included Polysolar, which has developed window glass that generates electricity (it should be noted their CTO was the only woman who pitched to the room out of the 15 finalists), BioCarbon Engineering, which aims to plant 1 billion trees a year using drones, and Cambridge Bio-Augmentation Systems, which has developed an early-stage, low-cost prosthetic interface.