The Pitch 2012 launches the search for the 80 best companies in the UK

Presented by BusinessZone.co.uk and in association with Yell, the digital services provider for small businesses and consumers, The Pitch has championed UK small businesses since 2008 and has helped hundreds of business owners drive their company forward.

"We started The Pitch five years ago to give entrepreneurs a platform to gain expert advice and create interest in their businesses," says Dan Martin, editor of BusinessZone.co.uk.

"We are building upon the success of The Pitch last year to make 2012 the biggest year ever by introducing The Pitch 80, a new social profile presence for the short listed businesses, and The Pitch Live. Yell has been a key partner supporting the growth of the competition since The Pitch's inception in 2008, and I'm delighted that Yell is continuing its support this year."

The Pitch 2012 will host judging days in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  After each judging session, local business owners will be invited to attend free drinks receptions to meet the judges in person and gain valuable advice on how to pitch and build a successful business.  

A panel of experts will shortlist 20 from each country to create The Pitch 80, a list of the UK's most exciting new businesses that will compete at the new two-day conference, The Pitch Live, in Liverpool in October.

Four winners will go through to The Pitch 2012 Grand Final on 16 November at London's legendary Ministry of Sound nightclub. They will be joined by a wildcard selected by the public.

The five finalists will pitch to win business support worth £50,000 including 12 months free mentoring from serial entrepreneur Karen Darby who sold price comparison site Simply Switch for £22m just four years after setting it up.

"The Pitch is a fantastic opportunity for any start-up to receive invaluable support and advice from business experts to help them succeed. At Yell we champion small businesses and help them grow and we are especially excited about the launch of The Pitch 80 this year to celebrate budding entrepreneurs and help them generate greater online exposure," says Richard Hanscott, chief executive officer for Yell in the UK.

Last year's winner Ross Dickinson, scooped the prize with his Kibosh creation, a device which provides a temporary fix for burst pipes.

"Being involved in The Pitch 2011 allowed me to make valuable connections with like-minded business people and being crowned the champion was amazing," says Dickinson. 

"The prizes have already made a big impact on my company. Yell has given me a fantastic digital marketing package to raise our profile;  Studio Diva, has put together some fantastic packaging for my product, and Karen Darby, the entrepreneur who is mentoring me as a result of my victory, has offered me brilliant business advice. I would highly recommend entering The Pitch 2012 to other small business owners."

You can find out more about the competition and enter at www.ThePitchUK.com. Applications must be in by 31 May with judging and drinks receptions taking place in June. The Pitch grand final takes place in London on 16 November during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Good Luck!

Follow The Pitch and BusinessZone on Twitter:
@the_pitch #thepitch12
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