08 Aug 2022

Dragon's Den: Entrepreneurs to pitch to local ‘dragons’ in final of £10,000 Business Start-Up Challenge

Dragons Picture

Seven budding entrepreneurs from the Derry City and Strabane District Council area will be pitching their business ideas to five local ‘dragons’ on Thursday, March 7 after being announced as the finalists of the £10k Business Start-Up Challenge.

This year’s ‘pitchathon’ is part of Enterprise Week 2019 and will take place from 2-5pm in the Foyle Theatre of North West Regional College’s Strand Road Campus in front of an audience and panel of judges made up of Martin Gallen (Banba Designs & Strabane Chamber of Commerce), Liam Nelis (Gravity Architecture), Deborah Lamberton (So27 skincare), Christine Graham (Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland) and Louise Breslin (Business Development Manager at Derry City & Strabane District Council).

Now in its third year, the £10k Business Start-Up Challenge is a competition developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council to reward creativity and innovative business ideas that will benefit the local economy. The competition also aims to inspire, encourage and develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and enterprise throughout the council area – and provide assistance both financially and via specialised business support to entrepreneurs that have demonstrated the ability to create jobs and export their products into new markets.

The competition was open to companies who have been trading within the last year, have a unique business idea and completed the 'Go For It' programme. Seven businesses have now been shortlisted to pitch their ideas in front of the local ‘dragons’ and are in with a chance of winning: First prize - £2,500; Second prize - £2,000 and the Third prize of  £1,500. Three runners up will receive £1,000 each.

There is also a £1,000 runner up student prize.

The seven finalists are: Sara Harper – Hands of an Angel (Holistic Therapies); Emma Kirwan – Empire Clothing and Leotards (Fashion designer); Karen Murphy – Health Hub Professionals NI Ltf (Healthcare); Colin McClelland – Manag Beg Gourmet & Medicinal Mushrooms (Food Producer); Gerard McElwee  - McElwee Custom Motorcycles Ltd (Motorcycle Garage); Sharron McCormick  - With Love Recipes Ltd (Food) and Emily McCorkell – Lo and Slo (Food).

Speaking ahead of the ‘10k Pitchathon’, Business Development Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Louise Breslin said: “I am delighted that we have now whittled down this year’s entrants to seven fantastic finalists who will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to our local ‘dragons’.

“It’s also great that this year we are encouraging our younger entrepreneurs to get involved with a student prize of £1,000.

“I would encourage as many people as possible – including members of the public – to come along, hear the pitches and vote for their favourite!

“Audience places are limited for the ‘10k Pitchathon’ which is a free event – so please register as soon as possible.”

To register for the ‘10k Pitchathon’ on Thursday, March 7 and for further information on taking part in the final voting visit

And, for further updates on this year’s events and activities during Enterprise Week 2019 visit the Facebook page Business Support Derry Strabane.

CAPTION: The Dragon's judging panel are Martin Gallen (Banba Designs & Strabane Chamber of Commerce), Liam Nelis (Gravity Architecture), Deborah Lamberton (So27 skincare), Christine Graham (Senior Business Manager, Bank of Ireland) and Louise Breslin (Business Development Manager at Derry City & Strabane District Council).

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