The Pitch 2011: The search is on for Britain's best small business

Tomorrow, five lone entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to a judging panel in front of a live audience at the NESTA headquarters in central London.

These business owners have been whittled down from hundreds of applicants through four heats for The Pitch 2011, organised by BusinessZone.co.uk in association with marketing solutions business Yell.

The five finalists are:

  • Christer Holloman, CEO and Co-founder of ATTYR.com, a visual search, discovery and comparison tool for online clothes & accessory shoppers.
  • Jon Rathbone, owner of Waterly Bottom Products Limited who design and sell the Pourty, an innovative child's potty that is easier to empty and clean than a normal potty.
  • Crispin Busk, founder of Kabuto Noodles, a delicious combination of authentic Asian flavours and quality ingredients
  • Bruce Balmer, Business Development Director at ULTRaMo Ltd, developers of a new green engine that has the potential to halve carbon emissions by achieving 60% thermal efficiency.
  • Cara Sayer, Managing Director of Really Simple Ideas Ltd, designers of baby products including the SnoozeShade with the aim of making life easier for parents.

Judging the contestants tomorrow will be serial social entrepreneur Karen Darby, 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.

Mark Pearson says: "Having kept a close eye on The Pitch since it launched in 2008, I've been very impressed with the high quality of the business owners putting themselves forward and look forward to getting involved in a judging capacity.

"I'm hoping to see originality from the applicants, but most of all, profitability. A good idea isn't always a good business idea, and I'll be drawn to businesses that demonstrate the opportunity to grab market share and scale up."

This isn't just a spectacle. As part of The Pitch 2011, the audience and pitchers will receive valuable business advice from an impressive line-up of speakers.

The keynote address will be given by business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk before successful entrepreneurs and other experts share their tips for success. They include Anthony Lau, founder of Cyclehoop and winner of The Pitch 2009; Simon Duffy, owner of Bulldog Skincare; Fil Adams-Mercer, co-founder of Parcels2Go, and David Hathiramani, co-founder of A Suit That Fits.

Those wishing to attend the event can book a free place at www.thepitch2011.com/national-heats

But it's not over yet. The Welsh heats take place next week in Cardiff. There's still time to apply. The deadline for entries is June 12. Head over to www.thepitch2011.com/enter to put your company in the running for the £50,000 business support prize.

***UPDATE***

Deadline for Welsh entries has been extended to June 19.

***UPDATE***

Heats will take place in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast before a grand final in London in November where the champion will walk away with the top prize which includes 12 months free mentoring from competition judge Karen Darby, £6,000 of advertising solutions from Yell and membership of employers' organisation the Forum of Private Business.

Smarta will be at NESTA tomorrow tweeting advice and gossip from the event. Tune in to the #ThePitch11 hastag to keep up with all the news!

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