Pitching for Management is probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before. We’re all familiar with business leaders getting up on stage and trying to convince investors to give them cash. At Pitching for Management events, everything is turned on its head. The businesses are fishing for talent, not funding. However, this is nothing like a job fair. It’s far more like headhunting, with firms making a real effort to attract the right people.

This is an awesome idea. Over the years, I’ve seen more pitches than I could care to count, and there’s a common theme. All too often the businesses are fundamentally broken. They’re just not good enough to justify actually raising money. Pitching for Management addresses this right from the start, by getting businesses to declare their need for additional help and guidance – without putting the begging bowl out. This helps firms address the need for additional management talent. But crucially, it also demonstrates a positive attitude to problem-solving, which should give any cash investors a great deal of confidence. All too often, firms simply blunder on, without ever looking to improve leadership. All in all, the Pitching for Management approach represents a refreshing change.

Each event is much like any normal pitching event in its format. Each firm gets a few minutes to explain their business model, and the perceived management needs. There’s plenty of time before and after for networking. In my personal experience, the firms are generally very open-minded. This is useful, as often those in the audience will have a novel and unexpected approach, and it’s perfectly OK to offer something other than that which has been sought.

Angel News is the firm behind Pitching for Management. Because there’s no money changing hands, there are fees involved for both the audience members and the pitching firms. These are both publicly displayed, as both pitching and audience tickets are available on Eventbrite. This is refreshing transparency, and I don’t know any other organisations which offer this. For the Cambridge event, the fees were £125 for Pitching and £20 for the audience (which I happen to think is very reasonable). Prices vary from city to city according to demand – so do check before clearing your diary. In addition, there’s also a range of event sponsors. Typically, the venue is provided by a legal or accountancy firm (Taylor Wessing, in this case). In addition, there are usually one or two trade sponsors. Frequent supporters include Russam business network, who place interim managers, and Market Invoice, who provide specialist invoice finance for niche factoring customers.

The Pitching for Management strategy is to take the events to a wide range of UK destinations, and I’ve been to a fair few of these. The firm travels to Scotland and the far South West, and everywhere in between. So, wherever you’re based, they’ll be a PfM event accessible to you. My personal view is that they should expect the audience to travel to major business destinations, such as Manchester. For now, though, Angel News is taking a regional approach, so on the 23rd May the team was hosting its Cambridge event.

If you’re thinking of pitching, you might be wondering what the audience is like. Typically, the crowd is biased towards the stereotypical business demographic – white, male, suit-wearing, well educated and middle aged. Nevertheless, there’s a wide variety around this norm, which allows firms to pitch for a range of different roles. A typical match might be a part-time C-level exec. In all likelihood, the person filling the role will be an individual who is an early retiree, or who is looking to pursue a portfolio career after an earlier success in entrepreneurship, professional services or a corporate.

One thing that’s striking about PfM events is the diversity of the firms speaking. By virtue of the regional approach, the pitches vary from town to town. I’ve seen everything from solar panel firms, to bomb-detection technology. At the Cambridge event on 23rd May, the firms pitching included DIY doctor, a website aimed at the home improvement community. DIY doctor has a large consumer following, with a great deal of search-engine traffic. Unusually for an internet firm, they’re located in the West Country. Also on the bill was Dusky Moon, which makes inflatable bed restraints to prevent falls in children and the elderly – so the bill is nothing if not diverse!

In summary, if you’re looking for everything from sweat equity projects to consultancy, you’ll find a huge range of suitable SMEs to work with at Pitching for Management events. Likewise, if you’re looking to find new team members with a fresh perspectives and a ton of experience, you’ll have a good chance to find a suitable match – without breaking the bank on a recruitment agency.