June 16 Brand Journalism In the Press PR Northern Ireland

Ricky Martin, left, and his brother Chris Martin, right - JJ-5416

North Coast surfers secure 5,000 votes to win a pitch to billionaire Richard Branson

By Eleanor McGillie

TWO brothers from the North Coast will pitch to billionaire Richard Branson after securing almost 5,000 public votes in the semi-finals round of #VOOM Pitch To Rich.

Ricky, 35, and Chris, 31, of The Skunkworks Surfboard Company, embarked on a mammoth campaign to get through each stage of the competition beating off 900 businesses from across the UK.

The final will see the brothers do a live pitch to Richard Branson in London on June 26 in the ‘New Things’ category – a category for ‘big new ideas with the capacity to disrupt’ and if they win, they could secure £50,000 for their business.

Winners in each of the three categories will then be chosen by Richard Branson along with a prestigious team of judges in a live final including Jon Oringer: founder and CEO of Shutterstock; Jo Malone MBE – the creator of the globally renowned ‘Jo Malone London’; David Gandy, a model and investor and Justine Roberts – founder of Mumsnet.

The brothers will pitch The Skunkworks Surfboard Company – a company in Coleraine which is manufacturing the ‘next generation’ surfboards.

Speaking about the news, Chris said: “We found out at lunchtime today and the feeling has been immense. We are both totally shattered because the campaign we have been running over the last number of weeks has been fun and pretty time consuming.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of people in Northern Ireland. The general public and other business owners have shown us an overwhelming support. It was amazing to get support too from our very own golfing legend Graeme McDowell, from surfing schools across the globe and from the media in Northern Ireland and much further afield. Without everyone highlighting what we are doing – we would not have secured these votes so thank you.”

The concept was developed because Ricky, who owns Alive Surf School in Portrush, believes surfboards could be made in a way which doesn’t require the time, money and maintenance after every season as foam boards notoriously get damaged.

The two brothers had received support from Invest NI and have been to California on a fact finding trip to speak to industry experts. In the last 18 months they secured £100,000 worth of grants, have set up a factory, created jobs for surfboard shapers, Thomas Taylor and Steve Murray and have requests for 200 boards in their order book already.

Ricky said: “We are delighted with today’s news. We want to develop what we have already achieved so our manufacturing plant becomes a centre for innovation and a hub for job creation.

“We have come up with a product which is 100 per cent recyclable for an industry which is expected to be worth $13.2billion by 2017 and we are more than ready to pitch it to Richard Branson.”

On the Virgin Media Business website, Richard Branson, wrote: “Pitching is a skill every entrepreneur needs to master. Some of the most pivotal moments in business history have come down to one big pitch. I can’t wait to see which of the nine finalists of Pitch to Rich 2015 will provide the next pitch to transform the business landscape.

“It is the fourth year Virgin has run the Pitch to Rich competition and this time it is bigger and better than ever, with Virgin Media Business committed to supporting SMEs with more than £1million in prizes, mentoring and tools to make great ideas come to life.”


Notes To Editor:

  • The Skunkworks Surfboard Company was established in October 2013 by two brothers – Ricky and Chris Martin to design and manufacture the ‘next generation’ surfboards. The Skunkworks Surfboard company is based in Coleraine. The company strives to make the most robust, high performance surfboards and stand up paddle boards in the world.
  • For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of PR Agency in Northern Ireland – MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | Brand Journalism UK | Sport PR | Brand Journalism Experts | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations UK

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