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16 March 2018

Bailiwick Express Business Academy blog

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Last Monday, 5th March, saw the Jersey-based finals for the inaugural, Channel Island-wide Business Academy competition organised and sponsored by Bailiwick Express. It was a competition to find the best business on the day with 4 semi-finalists chosen from a broad range of applicants in autumn 2017.

The day started off well, with the Waves flight waiting to take myself, the 2 finalists from Guernsey (James Le Gallez from Haut Maison/Apéritif and Michelle Ayres & Carol Vivyan from The Decider), and 2 of the Angel investor judges over to Jersey. 

Bailiwick Express, had organised everything, including a private room at Ormer restaurant for the pitches.  While the team from Startup Guernsey had provided some advice and a practice session for the finalists, the hard work they had put in was evident from 2 very composed pitches from the 2 Guernsey finalists. 

Their pitches combined an action-packed STOPP practice session from Carol and Michelle from The Decider and cocktails mixed with Haut Maison raspberry liqueur while James Le Gallez spoke.  Each candidate had 10 minutes to pitch, including their slides and any demonstrations, followed by 5 minutes Q & A. 

Common questions from the judges were “How do you justify your valuation”, “How do you sell your product” and  “What are you going to use the money you raise for?” as they tried to understand what made each business tick, and how well the person understood the growth they were projecting.  Of tremendous value to the companies was the follow-on feedback from the judges, including suggestions for different ways to approach raising money or getting the product out to market, or offers to make introductions.

The two Jersey pitches were also very good, so the judges had their work cut out for them to decide on a winner.  Not only were forms completed by the judges to vote on who was the most deserving of the marketing prize from Orchid Communications and advertising spend from Bailiwick Express, but more importantly for each companies longer term goals, space to indicate if the judges were interested in mentoring the business as it moved forward.

After the pitches, each company had a chance to speak in depth with the judges over lunch.  All in all, it was a very useful day for each participant, as all the companies received valuable advice from experienced business people, and the judges learned more about 4 areas of business and met 6 fascinating entrepreneurs.  It was a pleasure to assist with the project, and we hope Bailiwick Express will continue to grow the Business Academy so we can put more Startup Guernsey clients and Guernsey-based entrepreneurs up for the competition next time around. 

On Wednesday, 7th of March came the announcement that James Le Gallez, from Haut Maison, had won the Business Academy prize, and will be using this award to help him launch into the Jersey market.  

James said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be the winner of the inaugural Bailiwick Business Academy, it's fantastic recognition for the hard work I've put in over the past four years and the funding prize will be so helpful for expanding my company beyond our fair shores. Startup Guernsey were great for helping me to fine-tune my pitch and I was so relieved that it all went well on the day! I think the whole concept is much needed for the islands, there are so very many talented entrepreneurs in both Guernsey and Jersey and something like this is the helping hand that many will need, I truly hope this continues to grow and helps other entrepreneurs in the future.”  

However, even being a runner up was valuable for Carol and Michelle. Michelle said:

“The whole experience was been very positive for us. Working with Startup Guernsey helped us to clarify our aims and goals and prepare for pitch day. It was a valuable experience and a fantastic opportunity to present to an audience of experienced investors. We were given some great advice on the day and we are now in the process of engaging with some of the contacts we made to move our business in to the next phase.”

Bailiwick Express is now looking to repeat the competition later this year, and Startup Guernsey will be assisting again, hoping for a Guernsey repeat winner!

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