Search for a '˜souperstar' to boost prize pot at Sheffield pitch event

A Sheffield pitching contest is set to increase the prize 30-fold - to £15,000 - under ambitious plans to create a '˜life-changing' business event.

Sheffield Soup organiser Pennie Raven has ambitious plans to offer a mega prize.
Sheffield Soup organiser Pennie Raven has ambitious plans to offer a mega prize.

Pennie Raven, organiser of Sheffield Soup, wants to massively raise the stakes after 11 rounds of the popular grass roots contest.

Set up in 2015, it combines the Dragon’s Den, crowd-funding - and soup.

On the night, four contestants get four minutes to talk about an idea to improve life in the city.

The audience decides the winner, who goes home with the money taken on the door - after a bowl of soup.

So far, the prize money has averaged £500 but Pennie wants to stage a Super Soup and create a ‘souperstar’ with a whopping £15,000 prize.

She said: “I just thought, ‘be bold’ - it can do no harm. Someone with a brilliant idea could have so much more impact if they didn’t have to worry about paying rent or putting food on the table. It would give them time to develop something exceptional.”

Previous winners include Vanda Kewley’s ‘The Suit Works’ scheme which takes office wear donations and gives them to needy job-seekers, with interview skills training.

Karen Sherwood set up Hillsfest, a weekend music and arts festival in Hillsborough, after winning in 2016. And recent winner Shamila Aktar runs ‘Our Disability’ workshops to boost disabled children’s confidence.

Now, Pennie is appealing to individuals and corporate backers to contribute to a vastly increased prize pot.

A Super Soup winner would have to do a business plan and agree a schedule of monthly payments with the four-strong Soup board, Pennie added.

The Soup concept started in Detroit after the city went bust.

It was brought to Sheffield by freelance HR expert Pennie.

The idea took off and today there are 60 in the UK.

But Sheffield has the largest, Pennie said, with some 5,000 people on the database.

They are asked to cut a long list of up to 26 applicants down to four who appear on stage at the event. After the last four sold out, Sheffield Soup has moved to bigger premises at St Mary’s conference centre on Bramall Lane, which can accommodate 350.

The next ‘standard’ one is on Wednesday July 26. site.