Those used to pitching events will find the structure of Pitching for Management sessions pretty familiar. Introductions, brief pitches, Q&A, networking. What’s very different, however, is that the firms aren’t seeking money – they’re seeking talent.

This model is very interesting, because at similar events I’m often left with the feeling that the firms involved aren’t properly equipped to spend any money they’re given. At Pitching for Management, the teams’ skills gap is explicitly stated. This pitching style works well in my view, because people are given a clear reason to start a conversation about building the team. This saves the potential awkwardness of, ‘Well, your idea’s great, but you’re not really in a position to move forward yet…’

The clientele at PFM events tends to lean very much towards the grey-haired crowd, and it’s also very ‘suity’. As such, it’s very different from pitching events on the London tech scene. You won’t see many t-shirts and trainers here, and the hospitality isn’t beer and pizza, either. The audience seems to be largely independent men seeking another plank in a portfolio career. Women are generally rather under-represented, for reasons I don’t fully understand. This older audience makes it a great place for firms to find experienced talent with good contacts – but not the kind of setting where you’ll be likely to find a young upstart with boundless energy and 18hrs a day to devote to a project.

PFM pride themselves on having a broad range of companies pitching. There are frequent appearances from the kind of technology upstarts you’d expect – but the range of presentations extends far beyond the straight ‘web tech’ offerings you’re typically likely to see at many other pitching events. Clean tech, manufacturing, consumer brands, and even non-profits all present at PFM events, and there’s a distinct regional flavour, with sectors represented differently in the different locations. Most people should find something of interest at each event, but anyone with a narrow focus would be advised to check the order of battle before attending.

At the Oxford PFM event, there were the usual diverse range of firms pitching. Here’s a couple which stood out for me:

Medopad are taking the convenience of the tablet into the healthcare market. By distributing patient notes on tablets, they give portability and convenience to medics who frequently waste hours of time either looking for notes, or coping without them. The result is all too frequently sub-standard care, and treatment programmes which are longer and costlier than needed. Their product works, and they are ready for roll-out, with the assistance of someone with the right connections. This is a great opportunity to be part of a disruptive product, albeit one which relies on the joys of selling to the public sector in all its indecisive, bureaucratic, irrational glory. Doubtless a wonderful niche, but one for those with the patience of a saint when it comes to coping with painfully difficult customers.

AVA offer a remarkable video processing solution. They can take raw video data from CCTV, and process it to identify events of interest. This means that software, not operators, can do the heavy lifting when it comes to observing CCTV footage. Want to look for intruders climbing over a fence? AVA can process the data from your cameras, so you don’t have to watch it. The first you need to know about it is when there’s a problem – so you’re not paying someone to stare at pictures of an empty car park all day. This is genuinely disruptive technology, which has real power to change the market. University spin outs are often academically brilliant, but don’t necessarily have the skills to rapidly commercialise products. AVA are looking for someone to help take their brand forward.

On top of the company pitches were talks with general business advice, and also details of other management-selection schemes with positions on offer. Proxicap and Russam Business Network both presented opportunities to get involved. Hosts Grant thornton also held a talk on tax reduction. Now that the great and the good in Britain have to give over half their income to be wasted by the government, it’s becoming more and more important on a personal and social level to stop this 70’s-style state greed. If you believe that work should pay, then Grant Thornton are able to help you keep your money in your pocket, and stop the Government frittering it away.

PFM events are held throughout the UK. Audience tickets are typically £40, and speaking slots are typically £125. So if you’re looking for new projects or talent, do check them out.