In front of a packed room StokedNZ and Little Love Foundation were the best pitches in the eyes of judges and the audience at the Rotorua X 2018 BoP Pitch Night this week.

Debs Brockelsby from StokedNZ delighted the crowd with her dry sense of humour as she showed off her functional outdoor kit that lets you get changed or dry anywhere, anytime.

People's Choice winner and runner-up: Cara Farrelly and Tammy-Lee Holmes from Little Love Foundation, mayor Steve Chadwick and Rachael McGarvie, Rotorua X trustee. Photo / Supplied
People's Choice winner and runner-up: Cara Farrelly and Tammy-Lee Holmes from Little Love Foundation, mayor Steve Chadwick and Rachael McGarvie, Rotorua X trustee. Photo / Supplied

Tammy-Lee Holmes and Cara Farrelly from Little Love Foundation won People's Choice as well as the Judges' Runners-up Pitch Award. Their pitch moved the audience to tears with their passion and empathy to help with the financial side of losing a baby or young child.

Both organisations took a share of the $11,000 prize pool of business support services, mentoring and training.

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This was the event's fifth year and provides an opportunity for the region's commercial and not-for-profit organisations to practise their pitch and showcase what they are doing to the business community. Awareness of the event continues to grow year on year with people travelling from Taupo, Tokoroa and Palmerston North to attend.

The judging panel included mayor Steve Chadwick, chief executive of Rotorua Economic Development Limited Michelle Templer, principal of commercial lawyer firm Mark Copeland Lawyers Mark Copeland, Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology chief executive Dr Leon Fourie, Taupo Business Chamber president Catie Noble, and Ka Pai Kai Rotorua chairwoman Jasmin Jackson, winner of the 2017 Pitch Night.

Head judge Steve Chadwick said it was lovely to be at the event and judge for five years in a row.

"Thank you to everybody who pitched tonight. We were very inspired, it was a real mix. There was a lot more philanthropy than we've seen in the past, instead of pure product delivery and that's a lovely reflection of what's going on.

"It was also quite interesting to see birth and death as a feature [in the pitches]. And that's very real in life. But to see the compassion with which you were matching the product was also very moving for us all."

"I loved seeing the sustainability products coming through. We haven't seen a lot in that in the past [at Pitch Night] about the green products, the green economy and that was exciting to see."

Announcing the overall winner, she spoke on behalf of all the judges and said they didn't need to confer, after the judges scores were tallied there was a clear winner.

Debs Brocklesby said winning was so unexpected because they were up against some stiff competition.

"The biggest win for me was the opportunity to have StokedNZ in front of so many epic humans and the amazing connections we have made since.

"We are truly stoked for the opportunity."

The Little Love Foundation had set their goal on the People's Choice Award and were surprised and delighted to also get the Judges' Runner-up Award.

"When we set out on our journey to pitch Little Love Foundation, it was a bold move when dealing with such a sensitive topic. Our overall aim was to win People's Choice and raise awareness of the need Little Love aims to fill.

"We are ecstatic to have won given the calibre of competition and are looking forward to making a difference for families who need us, now knowing we have our community behind us all the way.

"The scale of what we have achieved in just a few short months is hard to believe, but now we have two amazing trophies to look at to remind us to keep pushing on.

"We so passionate about what we are doing. We are so humbled by the support we have gained from our community, judges and local businesses. This is just the beginning for Little Love Foundation. We look forward to our future, particularly with the assistance of the local experts putting their hands up to give us a hand.

"Thanks Rotorua, for sharing a little love," Tammy-Lee Holmes said.