Catching up with The Pitch class of 2013: Erika Brodnock, Karisma Kidz

BusinessZone
Dan Martin
Former editor
BusinessZone.co.uk
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As part of our Global Entrepreneurship Week coverage, we're catching up with the finalists in our massive small business competition The Pitch 2013. In September, they competed for business support and a share of a £275,000 investment.

Next up up is Erika Brodnock, founder of Karisma Kidz.

The Pitch will re-open for applications in early 2014. To make sure you find out when, enter your email address at the bottom of this page or click here.

1. What is your business?

Karisma Kidz empowers children through play by providing products and services that enhance their happiness, confidence and creativity. 

2. Why did you decide to enter The Pitch 2013?
I entered The Pitch 2013 because I saw it as a great opportunity to generate some interest around my new business venture and also in the hope of receiving investment for the second phase of our new Karisma Kidz online game and app.  
3. What have you been up to since The Pitch?
We’ve completed and tested the first phase of development and Karisma Kidz went live on the Kurio on 21 November so exciting times!  It has been developed by a group of leading psychologists, parenting coaches and trainers and centres around a ‘Karisma Kid’ avatar, and ‘BloomaBear’ pet who make their way around the various areas of Moodville. Through online and offline activities, children are encouraged to play their way to emotional literacy and develop tools and techniques that will nurture their mental health and promote resilience throughout their lives.
We’ve also been planning the pilot of a schools programme which will kick off in early 2014.
4. How has being a finalist in The Pitch helped to grow your business?
The kudos associated with being selected as one of the pitch finalists and one of the companies selected for an offer of investment is fantastic!  Having the opportunity to pitch in front of successful entrepreneurs and receive their feedback was invaluable. Their comments reinforced my belief in everything that Karisma Kidz is trying to achieve and we haven’t looked back since. The team behind The Pitch have also been very supportive in terms of press mentions and tweets.
5.  What key business lessons did you take away from the event?
 
The event provided a brilliant networking opportunity in terms of meeting other entrepreneurs, hearing about their stories and marveling at their business ideas!  I also attended one of the roundtable workshops presented by a Bristol based hi-tech and design-led company called The Set, entitled ‘Overcoming the challenges of being a media start-up’ which was very useful.  The overriding theme was the importance of financial management - cut your cloth according to your means, get a foothold, grow sales and then you can take on specialists. Cash is king!  I thoroughly enjoyed brainstorming with others to solve the problems we face as small business owners. 
6.  What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs thinking of entering The Pitch next year?
Think about your pitch as a story with a start, middle and end. Remember to include your team – if there are others who support you in achieving your dream, ensure you shout about them too! Use pictures to illustrate your point rather than words.  The stand out pitches on the day all had a great story, backed up with some awesome visuals to bring that story to life. Have a dry run in front of a few people you don’t know, give them the opportunity to ask questions then try to incorporate the answers to the questions in your pitch!
From then on, it’s practice, practice, practice.  Seek feedback from friends that you know will be honest with you, take it onboard and use it to continuously improve. Take a look at the other businesses attending before the big day as there may be opportunities to collaborate.  Overall, I would say go for it!  It was an awesome day of learning, connecting and collaboration. I can't recommend it highly enough. 
7.  What are your plans for the future?
Our vision is to become the leader in the field of social and emotional learning technology and toys for children. We estimate reaching four million global customers over the next five years, which is only a 10th of what games like Moshi Monsters has achieved.
We have built and will continue to build strong strategic partnerships over the coming three to five years as we provide a scalable opportunity with alignment into the mainstream tech and toy industries. We have already secured licensing deals, have Telefonica on our board with access to their 300 million customers and seek to move into publishing, music and television as the brand grows.

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