Bath-based SETsquared company DoodleMaths prevailed at this year’s prestigious Pitch@Palace event, being one of the three startups to win the entire competition. The pitching event gives startups the chance to showcase their businesses to a bespoke audience of highly influential investors and business people at St James’ Palace (including this year, the surprise addition of the Queen!) and Doodlemath’s education app was judged one of the best on the day.
“As soon as I reached the stage, it was an out of body experience”
DoodleMaths aspires to help children who are struggling with numeracy whilst raising the general standards of the subject. It does this by providing all children with an engaging yet affordable game-like learning tool that is tailored to their specific maths needs.
Nicola Chilman, the co-founder of EZ Education and DoodleMaths, explains, “In the next year we intend to reach 10% of UK primary schools and engage teachers and parents in the maths learning journey of every child.”
Perfecting the pitch
At Pitch@Palace businesses had the chance to give a short pitch explaining to the judges who they are and why they deserve to win.
As you can imagine, the pressure was high at such a high-profile event, and Nicola says she was extremely nervous: “I was pacing around the palace and Throne Room. All the pitchers are kept together, so you can imagine how anxious the atmosphere was!
“As soon as I reached the stage, it was an out of body experience. I delivered my pitch from memory, although I had my notes in front of me for security. It was an incredible experience, and I really enjoyed it.”
“I was impressed by how much [the Queen] knew about technology and she was interested in every single person”
It’s been a long journey for DoodleMaths and those at the business incubator University of Bath Innovation Centre (UBIC) of which Doodlemaths is a member are very proud. Ali Hadavizadeh tells us, “The subject matter and their product touches us all in our lives. It’s best to facilitate confidence building during early years and this is something which DoodleMaths does.”
Nicola adds, “I’ve been surprised every step of the way! On the night, to be part of the 12 was wonderful. I’m deeply competitive, and so really hoped we would stand a chance. I was utterly delighted to be put in the top 3 winners.”
A royal appearance
As we mentioned earlier, there was a much anticipated special guest at this year’s event – none other than Queen Elizabeth II herself!
“It really impressed me to see the level of engagement royalty has with startups and entrepreneurs”
Nicola says it was her personal highlight of the day, “She arrived, they opened the double doors, and there she was. I was the third person to meet her.
“The Duke of York introduced people and she was thoroughly engaged with every entrepreneur and asked relevant questions. I was impressed by how much she knew about technology and she was interested in every single person.”
Although the Queen was not able to stay for the duration of Pitch@Palace, she was a great addition to the event. Nicola adds, “It really impressed me to see the level of engagement royalty has with startups and entrepreneurs”
Past, present and future
DoodleMaths joined UBIC back in 2014 and since then the business has grown leaps and bounds. SETsquared is a supportive community that helps businesses like DoodleMaths to flourish, “Ali has been a crucial mentor along our journey, along with Rosie Bennett. Both have looked out for us. It was Ali who prompted me to make the application to Pitch@Palace one morning in early September. We love the Innovation Centre, and we love the network.”
Following from Pitch@Palace, DoodleMaths has a busy schedule ahead. Nicola tells us that winning the competition has opened up many doors, “I was bombarded with introductions since winning.
“I’m going to an event with Fran Cassidy in London where I’m going to pitch in front of 400 marketing directors from companies like Barclays and McDonalds. The objective for them is to look at start-up companies and offer their insight.”
“Without a doubt I would definitely recommend and encourage our companies to take part in future Pitch@Palace events”
Plans for expansion have also arisen following Pitch@Palace, “I’m visiting Huddersfield University to meet the Dean of Education, and it’s presented two new areas of interest: meeting PGCE students at uni who go into schools and get them engaged in our work, and secondly, talking to the Vice Chancellor of the university, Bob Cryan. Together, we are looking at how we can support maths for the 16+ young adult sector.
“We have already established a relationship and are embarking on a partnership with Bath College to look at how we engage these learners and raise standards in the 16-25 market.”
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Both Nicola and Ali urge others to take part in Pitch@Palace in the future. “Without a doubt I would definitely recommend and encourage our companies to take part in future Pitch@Palace events. This is once in a lifetime opportunity to take part in an event with huge global impact on participating startups”, says Ali.
Congratulations to DoodleMaths on winning Pitch@Palace 2016, you can find out more about the competition on the Pitch@Palace website. You can also check out DoodleMaths’ website and get the app. If you want to keep up with the latest news from DoodleMaths, follow them on Twitter: @.