Hill Street Hatch hospitality incubator crowned LEVELUP 2021 winner

  • New Northern Ireland hospitality incubatorHill Street Hatch has been selected the overall winner of the LEVELUP 2021 Startup pitch competition.

    Co-founders Ema O'Kane and Ryan Crown received a £2,000 cash prize and said, "We’ve loved creating Hill Street Hatch and are so excited for the future and the ways in which we will be able to support and work alongside hospitality entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland!

    "We’re really grateful to LEVELUP for seeing the potential in our startup and for choosing us for the award."

    Ema and Ryan have been working with global hospitality brands in the US over the last five years.

    They said they recognised that the process of launching hospitality ventures is outdated and the risks are now higher than ever, and accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

    Hill Street Hatch thus aims to remove those traditional barriers to entrepreneurship like exorbitant rent, overheads, and pressure - and replace them with resources and creative solutions, including a physical pop-up space currently in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

    RELATED: Meet the 12 NI start-ups selected for LEVELUP 2021's pitch competition

    The LEVELUP pitch competition was part of a two-day hybrid event from 21 - 22 April, delivered by Startacus and Derry City and Strabane District Council. 

    As part of Derry and Strabane's Enterprise Week, the event explored how people (both locally and internationally), have created opportunity, economic growth and initiated real change. 

    12 NI start-ups had to pitch virtually to a panel of tech industry pros and investors as part of the pitch contest.

    LEVELUP judge Naomi Timperley is a growth and innovation consultant. She said that Hill Street Hatch was "a great concept to 'try before you buy' for the hospitality industry."

    "So many restaurant concept ideas crash and burn and this is a way of trialling the concepts first and building an audience," she added.

    Find out more about Hill Street Hatch here. 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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