The Pitch@Palace event is an initiative by the Duke of York to encourage entrepreneurship in the United Kingdom. In the past, the initiative has been described as a cross between the television shows Shark’s Tank, Dragon’s Den, and the X Factor. This week it can be compared to a new television program-American Idol-the try-outs.
The Pitch@Palace awards event coincided with the celebration of the Duke’s 25-year-old daughter, Princess Eugenie, in New York. The Duke didn’t let the distance stop him from the festivities. He used the camera on his tablet to give the Princess a call and then proceeded to lead the Pitch@Palace attendees on a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long. The 400-strong crowd of business leaders and entrepreneurs were just as surprised as Eugenie. Andrew planned this event down to the smallest detail, even soliciting the help of a lance corporal trumpeter from the Scots Guards to provide the music.
True to the American Idol format, the Duke’s ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, played the part of Simon Cowell. She declared (jokingly) that his rendition scored “zero points”, adding “We think you all need to go for choir practice.”
Princess Eugenie, however, was thrilled at her father’s gesture and commented that she was “very proud, Pops” of his efforts with Pitch@Palace.
Certainly not the first time the Duke used Pitch@Palace to surprise the crowd. Last year he used the event to send the first Royal Selfie. After his singing this year he commented, “Having been told this was a bad idea, it worked,” clearly pleased with his surprise.
At the awards event, 14 start-up companies were given three minutes to pitch their business idea to the leaders in the audience. Winners of the night were Jukedeck, a software company that autonomously composes original music, and Team Turquoise, who created a technology aimed at changing how a user feels, perceives, and behaves.
Team Turquoise was the People’s Vote Winner and selected from 42 other companies who participated in the Pitch@Palace boot camp.
Photo Credit: The Duke of York 2015