The Pitch 2011: SnoozeShade wins the English heat

Sayer won over judges Karen Darby, a serial social entrepreneur, marketing expert and star of Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire Carl Hopkins and MyVoucherCodes.co.uk founder Mark Pearson who also appeared on the Channel 4 show.

The judges were impressed by Sayer's business nous and determination: the entrepreneur has already sealed distribution deals in 13 countries and persuaded the buyers from a number of major UK retailers to stock the SnoozeShade.

Judge Karen Darby says: "SnoozeShade was a very worthy winner. I love the fact that when faced with a problem new mother Cara Sayer came up with a simple but effective solution. She has invented a brilliant product and it's now selling really well both here and overseas; it's inspiring stuff!"

Winning entrepreneur Sayer now goes on to compete in the final of The Pitch 2011 on 18 November in London against representatives from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The overall champion will win £50,000 of business support including 12 months free mentoring from Karen Darby.

Sayer, who lives in Walton-on-Thames, says: "I never expected to win so when my name was called out it was a shock especially as the quality of my fellow pitchers was so high.

"I entered The Pitch last year but the SnoozeShade business has grown at such a rapid rate that I took a chance to enter again and I am so glad I did. Now I'm faced with the opportunity to go through to the final and I feel more confident already having won the England final."

The other finalists in The Pitch 2011 England heat were:

  • Christer Holloman, ATTYR.com, a visual search, discovery and comparison tool for online clothes & accessory shoppers.
  • Jon Rathbone, Waterly Bottom Products which designs and sells the Pourty, an innovative child's potty that is easier to empty and clean than a normal potty.
  • Crispin Busk, Kabuto Noodles, a delicious combination of authentic Asian flavours and quality ingredients
  • Bruce Balmer, ULTRaMo, developers of a new green engine that has the potential to halve carbon emissions by achieving 60% thermal efficiency.

The other finalists will be selected through heats taking place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast over the summer.  Entries are still open for the remaining events at www.thepitch2011.com/.

As well the mentoring, the prize package includes advertising solutions from Yell and free membership of employers' organisation the Forum of Private Business.

The Pitch 2011 helps other entrepreneurs and start-ups build success by running free conferences alongside the heats with top expert speakers.

Speaking at The Pitch England, business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk MP said: "The government is trying our best to create an environment that will help more people start and grow a business. The Pitch is a really encouraging part of that culture."

Entrepreneurs interested in attending the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish heats can register for a free audience ticket at www.thepitch2011.com/national-heats.

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