Future entrepreneurs triumph in pitching competition at Elevator’s Making It Happen conference

Professor Norman Hutchison of University of Aberdeen, Daryll Morrow of Udrafter & Andrew Burnett of Elevator
Professor Norman Hutchison of University of Aberdeen, Daryll Morrow of Udrafter & Andrew Burnett of Elevator

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Daryll Morrow, founder of UDrafter, secured £1,000 after winning the Make Your Pitch Happen competition at Elevator’s ninth annual Making It Happen conference on last week.

The event welcomed around 400 school pupils for its morning session and a further 450 delegates for its afternoon session. Each group heard from a variety of motivational speakers, including keynote speaker Hannah Miley and host Gavin Oattes.

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UDrafter is an on-demand student work experience platform to help students find work which matches their skills, such as digital marketing or languages. Daryll impressed judges, including Andrew Burnett, operations director at Elevator, Sandy McKinnon from Foodstory and Norman Hutchison from the University of Aberdeen’s Business School, as he went head to head pitching against four others. He will use his prize money to help with marketing costs.

The morning session also saw local schools pitch their business ideas, in partnership with Developing the Young Workforce North East and the University of Aberdeen’s Business School. The winner was Albyn School for its Sustainable Smoothies project. The school will use the cash prize to help pupils develop essential skills to take into the workplace and build a business within the school.

Hannah Miley, double Commonwealth Games champion and triple Olympic swimming finalist, shared her experience of success and lessons learned, including losing out on a bronze medal by just 15/100ths of a second.

Commenting, she said: “I missed out on a medal at Rio and finished in fourth place, but that was my best time and I had worked so hard – although I was made to feel disappointed.  Success means more than just a medal. I swim because I love being in the water. Experiences try and test us, and we always move forward.”

Delegates also heard from Jeanette Forbes, chief executive of PCL Group and owner of Grape and Grain in Aberdeen, who was announced as Entrepreneur of the Year at this year’s Elevator Awards. She shared her story of starting a business in her dining room and making the difficult decision to move into the oil and gas industry with little experience.

Sandy McKinnon, who founded vegan and vegetarian eatery Foodstory in Aberdeen, talked about his experience of crowdfunding, while Ros Marshall and Kirsty Lunn, who set up breastfeeding friendly underwear company Molke, shared their story of launching a new business in rural Perthshire.

Andrew Burnett, Elevator’s operations director, said: “The underlying theme of the conference was Making It Happen; delegates heard from enterprising individuals who have taken a dream or an idea and, through grit and determination, have done just that.

“The standard of pitches in our pitching competition also underlines our belief that Aberdeen is the leading city in the UK for growing entrepreneurial talent. We offer our congratulations to Daryll and Albyn School, who both were extremely worthy winners. Hopefully those who attended the conference have been inspired by the stories and lessons our speakers have shared.”

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