The pieces come together for dementia-battling jigsaw inventor

Taking part in The Pitch 2010, organised by in association
with Yell, Ben Atkinson-Willes presented his company, Active Minds, to a panel
of judges that included ex-TV Dragon Doug Richard and investment guru
Julie Meyer, star of the online version of Dragons’ Den.
Delivering his pitch,
Atkinson-Willes said that during his grandfather’s illness, he was dismayed to
find that there was nothing on the market specifically designed for care patients,
meaning they often end up struggling to complete children’s puzzles or
colouring books.
“These are often
too difficult and incorporate inappropriate images that are very
patronising,” he explained. “As a result many residents are left in
armchairs around the room with nothing to do.”
Piecing together his winning pitch: Ben Atkinson-Willes
The 23-year-old
entrepreneur, whose products include specially designed jigsaw puzzles and
reusable water-painting kits, now goes through to The Pitch grand final in
November to compete for a £50,000 business support prize package. He scored
highly with the judges for his professionalism and for the simplicity of his
Commenting on his win
at the British Library in central London, Atkinson-Willes said: “I’m
speechless. It was such a strong field and I didn’t think I stood a
chance. I did a lot of practice in front of my housemates and it obviously paid
off. Now I’m just looking forward to the final in November. I’ll keep trying to
push the business between now and then so I’ve got lots of new things to talk about.”

Competition judge
Doug Richard, who was also involved in The Pitch
2009, said: “It’s very admirable what Ben is doing.
There’s a business there. It’s very clear to me that he’s hit on something. The
standard of businesses in this year’s competition has been a huge improvement
on last year.”

Helen Stevenson,
fellow judge and chief marketing officer for Yell, added: “I was
really touched by the genesis of the idea and I think Ben has really
thoughtfully and cleverly designed something that is simple and could be extremely
profitable. He’s got a really simple product with a very high margin and a
great design.”
The other
finalists in the South East heat were:

Anorak – a lifestyle brand specialising in design,
wholesale and retails of a range of products for the great outdoors

Decibel Music Systems – Decibel aims to be the new industry standard for
music metadata

Snoozeshade  – innovative baby products designed by a mother,
to make life easier for parents

Metronaps – helps companies assess levels of fatigue within
staff groups and provide training and interventions to help eradicate tiredness
and fatigue.
Business Matters in
an official partner of The Pitch 2010.