The Pitch

Introducing The Pitch 2021 judges

Every year, we invite an experienced team of entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders to help judge The Pitch. They give feedback to the finalists and ultimately choose The Pitch 2021 champion.

Our judging panel this year includes business leaders who’ve grown startups into global businesses, active investors and sector specialists.

FinnCap founder Samantha Smith

Sam Smith started her career in 1998 when she joined the private client broker JM Finn, after qualifying as a chartered accountant with KPMG. In 2007, she founded finnCap in 2007.

In April 2010, Sam completed the purchase of the remaining shareholding from JM Finn. Under her leadership, as the youngest and only female chief executive of a City broker, finnCap is now one of the leading and fastest-growing independent brokers in the City.

Outside her duties as the CEO, Sam is actively involved in various mentoring projects and organizations such as Pinky Lilani’s “Women of the Future” awards, of which Sam is a former winner. Sam is also a patron for the Modern Muse project, aimed at millions of young girls throughout the UK to encourage and inspire them to look at business careers and entrepreneurship as a way to achieve their dreams.

With an ethos like that, we knew we needed her on The Pitch 2021 judging team.

Impact X Capital Partners founder Ezechi Britton

Ezechi has gone from developer to co-founder and CTO to serial entrepreneur and VC. It’s quite a journey!

Right now, he is the CTO in residence of Impact X. They are a venture capital company, founded to support underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Impact X provides its entrepreneurs with access to industry experts and strategic resources, to ensure that portfolio companies receive critical input to realise their visions and generate long-term investor value via its Investment Team and Founding Members.

He also runs Code Untapped, a digital skills accelerator who works with companies to help them find innovation through diversity. You can hear more about his fantastic work there in this podcast:

The projects Ezechi works on make sure underrepresented entrepreneurs get chances they wouldn’t typically get in the startup world. For that reason, we can’t wait to have his input on our 2021 Pitch finalists!

Investor and The Purposeful Project founder Simon Squibb

Simon is the Chief Purpose Officer at The Purposeful Project. Created in October 2020, it’s an online platform and podcast to help and inspire everyone to create their own job, by starting their own business.

His goal in life, after nailing his own success, is to help entrepreneurs for free – and after completing several multi-million-pound exits and investing in over 60 companies, we think he’s the man for the job. His mission is to help 10m people start and grow a business of their own and never feel alone doing it.

Simon has been a huge supporter of The Pitch, is an all-round great guy and savvy businessman.

Recently, Simon recorded a video for us, with questions he wants to know the answers to from startups that pitch to him. You can test your pitch by answering questions from Simon and other investors here.

GoProposal founder James Ashford

James helps accountants and bookkeepers to price consistently, sell more confidently and minimise risk across their firms.

He first achieved this in his own firm – MAP – where alongside co-founder Paul Barnes, they first developed GoProposal and implemented a sales culture to ensure they were maximising the value of their clients.

In October 2021, GoProposal was acquired by Sage, becoming GoProposal by Sage.

Now vice president, James helps thousands of accountants and bookkeepers around the world to achieve the same through the software, alongside his philosophies, strategies, videos, books and keynote talks.

Terrible founder and The Pitch 2021 winner Tersha Willis

Tersha Willis and Jack McGruer founded Terrible Merch in 2016 after running a fashion brand together. The pair realised that there was a lot wrong with music merchandise and, if they applied their knowledge from the fashion industry, they could build a viable business.

Winning The Pitch has been a confidence boost and helped open up doors for Tersha.

“Winning has broken down barriers in that people who wouldn’t speak to us before are now speaking to us. It’s a phenomenal thing – it gives you confidence going into these meetings because they know you’re going to deliver something that’s award-winning,” she said.

Terrible Merch turned over £1millon last year and works with huge music acts. Having been through the process, we knew Tersha had to be part of the judging panel this year.

Check out this video from Tersha on how The Pitch changed her business and why you need to enter today.

You can also hear more about her journey from her recent appearance on The Millennial Entrepreneur Podcast here:

And last, but not least, this is the pitch that won Terrible Merch the competition in 2020…

Crowdcube founder Darren Westlake

Darren co-founded the popular funding site Crowdcube. Crowdfunding platform Crowdcube believes in “Funding the Wonderful”, supporting entrepreneurs who dream big, push at the edges and want to challenge the status quo.

Crowdcube has helped over 1,300 high growth businesses successfully fundraise, including The Pitch alumni like Small Robot Company and Rockit, and more than £1bn has been invested on the platform to date!

Watch the judges in action at The Pitch Final

If you want to see the judges in action and find out what kind of questions they have for startups, then you’re in luck – we’re streaming The Pitch Final online.

The event will be happening on Thursday 4th November and is completely free to watch. Find out more and book your spot below.