Virgin Media Business and Richard Branson launch search for the best businesses across the UK and Ireland

22nd March 2016

  • Virgin Media Business launches ‘VOOM 2016’ competition for businesses to pitch their ideas to Richard Branson
  • Over £1million in prizes, including mentoring and marketing support

Virgin Media Business today launches its search for the most innovative and exciting businesses with the UK and Ireland’s biggest and most valuable pitch competition – ‘VOOM 2016’.

The competition, run by the ultrafast business broadband company, gives entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Richard Branson to win a slice of a prize fund worth over £1million.

Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, said: “Welcome to the biggest, most valuable and influential business competition in the country. Virgin Media Business’s ‘VOOM 2016’ provides the golden ticket to propel your business onto a global stage and fast-track your way to success. Last year’s winners are testament to this. Launching a new business or going it alone takes dedication and determination, if you’ve got that in spades then grab this life-changing opportunity and enter today. With all of the support and advice available throughout the competition – and the chance to raise some funds if you campaign hard enough - what have you got to lose?”

How to enter ‘VOOM 2016’

Now in its fifth year, ‘VOOM 2016’ (formerly known as ‘Pitch to Rich’) is open to applications from the UK and Ireland. They can register their pitch at:

Cash prize, mentoring and marketing support

VOOM 2016 entrants will have a platform to highlight their success, boost their businesses and shout about the contribution they make to the economy. Throughout the competition - and new for this year - entrants will receive news, tips and mentoring from top professionals sourced through LinkedIn.

Richard Branson, Peter Kelly at Virgin Media Business, and a distinguished team of judges will pick a winner in each of the two categories - ‘Start-up’ and ‘Grow’ - at a live finale on 28th June 2016.

The two winners will receive:

  • A cash prize of £50,000 to help grow their business
  • Mentoring from Virgin StartUp and from our VOOM Professionals recruited via LinkedIn
  • A £250,000 marketing campaign, with advertising on JCDecaux’s Waterloo Motion (the biggest indoor screen in Europe)
  • A Virgin Media Business broadband package, with speeds of up to 300Mbps
  • Financial advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

In addition, two runners-up from each category will each receive a cash prize of £20,000, a Virgin Media Business broadband package, mentoring, financial advice and brand support.

This year, the entry and online voting platform is powered by Crowdfunder, and entrants also have the opportunity to raise funds for their business by crowdfunding their VOOM entry. The top crowdfunding business will be named Champion Crowdfunder 2016 - and will win £50,000 cash and other great prizes including a bespoke media campaign from JCDecaux.

Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: “Supporting small businesses - the lifeblood of our economy - is at the heart of our purpose at Virgin Media Business. We already offer the fastest widely-available broadband to help them reach their digital potential. I’m excited we’re launching ‘VOOM 2016’, to find the most innovative startups and small businesses and help them thrive. We’re looking for those amazing businesses, led by hard-working, inspirational entrepreneurs who have sky-high ambitions to shake up their markets.”

Previous winner success

Previous winners and finalists have gone on to grow and achieve resounding success.

Nine months on, ‘VOOM 2015’ winner Jeff Paterson, the founder of Fourex – an automated kiosk which turns unsorted foreign currency into British notes and coins, has seen his machines used across the London Underground network. Further opportunities on the horizon.

‘VOOM 2015’ finalist Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice, has seen her brand of gluten-free, low GI cauliflower rice stocked in over 1,000 UK supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Whole Foods Market, in less than a year since entering the competition.

TV ad premieres tonight

In a striking new one-minute TV ad premiering on Channel 4 tonight (Tuesday 22nd March) during Channel 4 News (7-8pm), Sir Richard is joined by some of last year’s competition winners and finalists: Fourex, Approved Foods, Cauli Rice and Hegarty Maths. Each reveals the obstacles and scepticism they had to overcome in order to take their business to the next level, and how their involvement in the competition opened new doors and contributed to their success.

Note to editors

Competition timings

  • 22nd March – Competition launches and open to entries
  • 5th April – Public voting opens
  • 10th May – Entries close
  • 23rd May – Public voting closes
  • June – Shortlisting process
  • 28th June – Finale with Richard Branson and the judging panel, to choose the winners

LinkedIn Professionals

As part of the competition we will offer 12 roles to LinkedIn UK members where they can apply to be "Professionals" to help choose which VOOM 2016 entries make it through to the finale as well as providing professional mentoring and support for those Finalists.

About Virgin Media Business

About Virgin Media Business

Virgin Media Business is the arm of Virgin Media that provides products and services to UK businesses and the public sector. We have more than 36,000 business customers, most of them small and medium enterprises. We also partner with the public sector; with local councils and thousands of schools to improve connectivity in communities and support learning; and with the emergency services to enable them to efficiently perform their life-saving skills.

We’re part of the Virgin Media group, the UK’s first provider of all four broadband, TV, mobile phone and home phone services. Virgin Media is a part of Liberty Global plc, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries, helping connect people to the digital world and enabling them to discover and experience its endless possibilities.