A Buncrana man is hoping the people of Inishowen will support him in his bid to pitch his innovative business idea to Richard Branson
Peter Kelly, from Hilltown, now living in Leicestershire, England, set up ‘PICAL’ - short for Pick Local - after “sending out thousands of CVs when he was involved in the plastering trade.
He told the Journal how, after sending out “what felt like thousands of CVs,” he thought: “What a waste of time, why not just come up with something yourself?’
He said: “As I was finishing up a plastering job early one day I thought: ‘How can I get my message out that I am here in the area and available?’ As I looked down into the city from where I was standing I thought: ‘There has got to be someone out of the hundreds of thousands of people that needs some work done right now. So, I guess it started as a way to make my own business more efficient and profitable.”
Pete said he has always been “interested in technology.”
“My first time around in University didn’t quite pan out as I developed Epilepsy in my first year of a Computer Science and Electronics Degree. So, my next option was to emigrate to Boston, USA in 2001 to work in Construction. I returned to Ireland in 2008 to do a BA Business and Marketing (HONS) Degree in Sligo Institute of Technology and in 2012 I emigrated once again to Leicestershire. I took up a post at a Point of Sale company for just under two years, but unfortunately it went out of business due to manufacturing costs. As I had a trade to fall back on I started a plastering business to keep me busy while i sent out CVs.”
As Pete began to develop PICAL co-founder David McEleney, from Buncrana via Fahan, came on board.
“David and I grew up together so I know that he has a wealth of knowledge in computer sciences which he studied in Ulster University,” said Peter.
He added: “We are now progressing fast to produce a viable product.”
The app is not available yet, but with the help of the people of Inishowen, PICAL can be put on the shortlist for Pitch to Rich and it can be developed further.
Pitch to Rich, gives business owners the chance to pitch their idea to Richard Branson, with the ten best winning a share of more than one million pounds in prizes.
PICAL is currently 22nd out of almost 500 entries in the New things Category, which is already a huge achievement in such a hard-fought competition.
Pete heard about Pitch to Rich through LinkedIn, “because they are partnered with Virgin Media Business for the competition and then i began to see the ads on TV.”
“It all fell into place kind of at the same time. Especially, when i was researching Virgin Media Business i came across the Managing Director, whose name coincidentally is also Peter Kelly. I took it as a sign and just went for it. There was application forms that i had to fill out explaining everything about myself, my background and the idea. So i took my time and entered the New Things Category and waited for the reply and after three days I got accepted.I’m just really excited to be involved in it.”
Peter said he believes PICAL should be chosen “because in my own experience as a small business starting out, PICAL has the ability to provide a service that is transparent to both the service provider and the customer, who is trying to locate the service.”
“For instance, if you have moved to a new area and dont know any trades or services, it is difficult to find a service that you can trust and get one that can start right away! As PICAL progresses we will add features that not only improves the skilled workforce, It will also provide people with other services such as tourism and recreation.
He added: “In the coming Months we will launch and develop PICAL on the Apple app store and Android. If we are successful on the Pitch to Rich it would fast track this process exponentially. The big challenge to any app is to get attention for it. That is the main reason we have chosen this route, especially having the guidance of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world, doesn’t hurt.”
Peter said they “have had so much support from home already, it really makes me proud that so many has backed us and really at this stage of the competition that is what it is all about. Without the votes we cannot make it and so far we have had a great response. I just want to convey that it is so important to us that everyone votes to get us over the line. Every vote counts.”
So 150 people will be shortlisted, 50 from each category New Things, Start up and Grow. To get on the shortlist PICAL needs to get as many votes as possible by May 5th.The competition then moves forward to another round of phone interviews and face to face workshops between 6th and 15th May. The semi finalists will be announced on the 19th May and ten from each category will go through. The voting will then re-open to get the number down to the final nine to Pitch to Rich on the 29h June.
So far there are 44 in Peter’s group, but there is expected to be more as the competition goes on. People can vote by going on the Virgin Media Business Webpage and looking in the New Things Category for PICAL or type http://www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/pitch-to-rich/new-things/pical/ into your search engine.
Peter said they wish to thank everyone who has voted so far and those who have yet to vote.