‘We want to be the Goliath of tech sector’

The Duke of York at the Pitch@Palace event, at St James's Palace, London. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The Duke of York at the Pitch@Palace event, at St James's Palace, London. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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A YORKSHIRE company that helps to catch burglars hopes to become a “Goliath” of the technology sector after pitching to a team of top level investors at St James’s Palace.

Leeds-based Cocoon has created a smart device that tells home owners if they’ve got intruders so they can call for help immediately.

The team behind Cocoon attended an event in London which aimed to provide start-up firms with the contacts and cash they need to grow.

The event – which was called Pitch@Palace 3.0 – was hosted by the Duke of York at St James’s Palace.

Pitch@Palace has been set up by the Duke to encourage enterprise by connecting start-ups with potential investors and mentors.

The event focused on the technology and creative industries. During the event, 14 start-ups were given three minutes to pitch their business ideas to an invited audience.

Members of the public also had the opportunity to select a ‘People’s Vote’ winner from 42 start-ups, who took part in a Pitch@Palace Bootcamp earlier this month.

Speaking before the event, Colin Richardson, one of the team of entrepreneurs behind Cocoon, said he was looking forward to meeting the brightest and best minds in the technology industry.

He added: “It’s the ‘money-can’t buy’ networking opportunity that comes with Pitch@Palace.”

He said Cocoon had created a “really intelligent” device that understands what’s happening in a user’s home. According to the team behind Cocoon, their device can protect the whole home because it identifies suspicious activity.

“Innovation has to come from people who are willing to take risks and change quickly,’’ Mr Richardson said. “It would be fantastic to see the business become an absolute ‘Goliath’ in 10 years’ time.

“We’re really hoping for big things, and we would love it to become a big UK tech brand.”

Leeds-based Cocoon has been established by a team of five experienced technology entrepreneurs. One of the team, Dan Conlon, has two successful start-ups under his belt: Donhost and Humyo, while another team member, Sanjay Parekh co-founded Webexpenses, which was sold in 2013.

Cocoon was launched in November 2014, and it plans to ship its products to more than 50 countries later this year. 

Cocoon recently raised $1.6m seed funding and it has grown from an initial team of five to 20, with offices in Leeds and London.

The Duke of York said yesterday: “I decided that I was best placed to be an ‘accelerant’ to entrepreneurial activity. This makes best use of my convening power and networks.

“Championing entrepreneurs and high growth companies is vital, if we want to grow and encourage enterprising ideas to be realised, and given the best opportunity to take root and grow.”

“It has been inspiring to work with the entrepreneurs on their journeys.

“I have seen them grow and develop through the introductions.”

The Duke said he could not have predicted “the myriad activity and relationships” which had come about because of Pitch@Palace. He added: “I have also been impressed by the willingness of so many to respond to my request to each audience member to follow up with at least one of the entrepreneurs at each event.”

First prize in last night’s Pitch@Palace event went to Jukedeck, which provides soundtracks for videos.

Versions of Pitch@Palace have also been held in Saudi Arabia and Davos in Switzerland.

Last year, the Duke of York encouraged hundreds of small firms to hire more apprentices in order to help Yorkshire’s economy grow.

He made the comments as he launched the Leeds City Region Apprenticeship Challenge, which aimed to increase the number of small and medium-sized businesses offering apprenticeships.