Best of British business joins Pitch to Rich 2014 judging panel

2nd April 2014

  • Virgin Media Pioneers competition open for entries with prizes worth over £25,000
  • Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch your business to Sir Richard Branson

The founders of innovative British businesses and Jack Wills, as well as up and coming fashion Youtuber Dina Toki-O, will be joining Sir Richard Branson to judge the winner of Virgin Media Pioneers’ Pitch to Rich competition.

Entries are open until midday on 7 April for the online network’s annual search to find Britain’s best up-and-coming business leaders, offering them unique opportunities to pitch for investment from Sir Richard Branson himself.

This year there are two chances for innovators to ‘Pitch to Rich’ and the prestigious judging panel. The Start Up Award, in partnership with Virgin StartUp, is for businesses in their first 12 months of trading, and the Innovation Award is for successfully trading small technology businesses looking to make the next leap forward.

The judging line-up:

Nick Jenkins, founder of the personalised greeting card website Moonpig, said: “I'm really excited about backing innovative internet businesses. The Virgin Media Pioneers scheme is a great way to help new entrepreneurs achieve their real potential. Any business that can transact on the web has the potential to grow across all borders at an exponential rate with the right idea and good management. There is no reason that the next Twitter or Instagram shouldn’t start here.”

Holly Tucker, co-founder of online market place, said: “I'm delighted to be supporting the next generation of British business and look forward to sitting alongside Richard Branson as a Pitch to Rich judge. The rules have changed now thanks to the speed of wifi and the sheer number of devices people are playing with. That’s given a whole new opportunity to young people to shake up the natural order and create really exciting new online businesses from their kitchen tables or wherever they choose.”

Peter Williams, co-founder of ‘fabulously British’ clothing outfitters Jack Wills said: “Helping the next generation get started and drive forward their new ideas is a great privilege. I've already met lots of interesting and aspiring entrepreneurs as a speaker on the Virgin Hot House event series and joining the judging panel for Virgin Media's Pitch to Rich initiative seemed like a natural step in helping champion more new young startups. You can't put a price on this sort of networking opportunity for a new company. I wish I'd had the chance to pitch to Sir Richard!”

Dina Toki-O, up and coming digital influencer and fashion Youtuber  named at number three in the Guardian’s recent ‘Top 30 young people in digital media’, said: "It's great to be a judge on Pitch to Rich alongside established business leaders. Digital platforms have opened up a whole world of opportunity to me and been critical to building my profile and business in the UK and internationally at the click of a button. I'm very excited about helping my peers realise the potential and backing people doing the same as me - making the most of the social networks to amplify their passions and turn them into successful businesses."

Sir Richard Branson, Pioneer-At-Large of Virgin Media Pioneers and founder of the Virgin Group, said: “I’m delighted to announce this year’s judging panel is again full of Great British innovation. The judges’ experience, and knowhow in disrupting their respective markets with breakthrough businesses, will be invaluable to this year’s finalists who will benefit from their feedback and insight. It’s going to be a very exciting day.”

The winning prize package for each award includes £5,000 of investment plus mentoring, including legal, branding and marketing advice, as well as a significant networking and profile raising opportunities.

The Innovation Award winner will also be offered free enrolment to the Accelerator Academy – an established 12-week, high-growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs. All semi-finalists will receive an HP laptop worth £500 to help them manage their businesses.

Five entrepreneurs will be short-listed for each award and asked to prepare pitch videos to face a public vote. The entrepreneurs with the most votes by 22nd April will then pitch for money-can’t buy advice and support on 13th May at the Branson family home in Oxfordshire.

Last year’s Pitch to Rich competition was won by brothers Joshua and John Okungbaiye, founders of High Spirit, which makes theft-proof rucksacks.

To enter, or to find out more about Virgin Media Pioneers, go to or on Twitter @VMPioneers #Pitch2Rich or Facebook @VirginMediaPioneers.

Notes to editors

Entries will close at midday on 7th April 2014.

Competition criteria:

  • · A UK resident with a UK-based business
  • · Aged 18 or over
  • · A registered Virgin Media Pioneer (free to register)
  • · Available 13th May 2014 for a live pitching event in Oxfordshire
  • · Agree to the Terms and Conditions of the competition

About Virgin Media Pioneers

Virgin Media Pioneers was formed by Virgin Media in 2010 as an online community for young entrepreneurs. 6,000 members now interact, using videos and blogging to create a peer-to-peer support and mentoring service.

Virgin Media Pioneers also offers original content including the Pioneers TV series targeted at early-stage entrepreneurs as well as connecting people from all walks of life who are passionate about business across a range of industries – from fashion to digital to catering.

Regular free events and unique opportunities are also held, such as the annual Trade Mission, which in 2013 took 5 early-stage tech businesses to New York to explore expanding their British businesses abroad and secure partners and support.

For more information, go to

About Virgin StartUp

Virgin StartUp is a not-for-profit organisation launched by Virgin Group in October 2013. The organisation helps entrepreneurs with the funding, resources and advice they’ll need to make their business idea a reality.

Our main focus is to help you get the support you need to turn your great idea in to a successful and sustainable business.

If you are aged 18 or over and a British citizen or legal UK resident who wants to start or expand a new business that’s less than a year old in England, then you may be eligible for a start-up loan and mentor support.

For more information, go to

About the Accelerator Academy

The Accelerator Academy is a successful and established 12-week high growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, through Training, Mentoring and Access to Capital.

Focussed on start-up and early stage, high-growth potential Tech, Media, Telecoms (TMT) businesses and ambitious entrepreneurs, applicants are initially assessed for suitability by an online assessment, and around 10-12 successful companies are selected (25 entrepreneurial founders and co-founders) as Accelerator Academy participants to take part in the part time (evenings / weekends) course, with successful exited TMT entrepreneurs mentoring them personally (2-3 businesses per mentor, to ensure sufficient ‘facetime’).

About Virgin Media

Virgin Media offers four multi award-winning services across the UK and Ireland: broadband, TV, mobile phone and landline.

The company’s dedicated, ultrafast network delivers the fastest widely available broadband speeds to homes and businesses. And we’re expanding this through our £3bn Project Lightning programme, which will reach 17 million premises.

Our interactive TV service brings live programmes, thousands of hours of on-demand programming and the best apps and games in a set-top box, as well as on-the-go for tablets and smartphones.

We launched the world’s first virtual mobile network, offering fantastic value and services to customers. We are also one of the largest fixed-line home phone providers in the UK and Ireland.

Through Virgin Media Business we support entrepreneurs, businesses and the public sector, delivering the fastest widely available broadband speeds and tailor-made services.

Virgin Media is part of Liberty Global, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries.

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