Entrepreneur Kameese Davis was celebrating today after walking away with £3,000 in prize money and a package of bespoke business support to help her award-winning hair care products grow to new lengths. An audience of more than 500 entrepreneurs, innovators and investors at the Venturefest WM 2023 festival of innovation in Birmingham on Wednesday March 1 voted Kameese the winner of this year’s Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up competition, which traditionally closes the annual festival.
Venturefest, which was held at the city centre’s Eastside Rooms offers West Midlands entrepreneurs and innovators, especially those in the fields of science and emerging technologies, a unique opportunity to develop and grow their businesses by meeting with potential investors and other cutting-edge companies. Kameese’s business, Sandwell-based Nylah Hair, Heritage and Science, specialises in providing quality products for afro and curly hair care.
She pitched her proposition for investment in the head-to-head Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up contest, sponsored by the British Business Bank, in front of the Venturefest audience who then voted her the winner. Kameese is no stranger to impressing potential investors. Last year she landed £50,000 investment for her range of vegan plant-based hair care products after winning over judge Sara Davies during an appearance on the smash television show Dragon’s Den.
Kameese said: “Winning the Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up means so much to me. It’s given me a massive confidence boost in terms of the product and brand being an attractive proposition for investors.
“It also gave me the opportunity to speak and engage directly with people who are interested in helping the brand to scale up and maximize its full potential. The Venturefest festival is fantastic for giving you the chance to network with fellow entrepreneurs and share good ways of working because the experience of an entrepreneur can sometimes be quite lonely.”
Over the last eight years, Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up - which is run by the Centre for Growth at Aston University, BizzInn at the University of Birmingham and Minerva at the University of Warwick Science Park - has put scores of entrepreneurs directly in front of investors and helped bring over £40m of investments to the region's small businesses.
Earlier in the day the audience had seen Venturefest open with a keynote speech from Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands who spoke about the region’s Plan for Growth and looked towards the region’s forthcoming Trailblazing Devolution Deal with Government. Appearing on stage with him was the region’s newly appointed Tech Commissioner Martin Ward.
Another keynote speaker was Megan Goodwin, who spearheaded the digital development of worldwide TV blockbuster ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’. Her speech explored future market opportunities for ambitious and innovative companies while seeking to inspire and challenge entrepreneurs and business leaders to build new collaborations.
Venturefest is organised and led by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Innovation Alliance WM, working with its stakeholders, including local enterprise partnerships, universities and Bruntwood SciTech, a leading property and support provider to the science and tech sector.
This year’s event was also backed by several key sponsors including VWV, ICURe Midlands, Birmingham Tech, the British Business Bank and Tin Ventures.