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Boosting business

Boosting business

Our 2020 goal: Create the opportunities for 100,000 small businesses to grow through digital.

Why this is important to us

We know that harnessing the power of digital technology can help unlock growth and generate wealth. Small businesses already contribute over half of all private sector turnover in the UK [1]. With the right support, small businesses can continue to create jobs, contribute to local communities and help drive digital competitive advantage for the UK.

We have been enabling small businesses to unleash their digital potential and drive business growth through inspiration, education and peer-to-peer support.


How we’re making it happen

VOOM is our way of boosting the UK economy by creating opportunities for 100,000 small businesses to grow through digital.

Since 2010, VOOM has grown to become a unique and powerful community of entrepreneurs and small business owners who come together with Virgin Media to make connections, share their expertise, find peer-to-peer support and compete for their chance to pitch to Sir Richard Branson. The community has been packed with great advice from successful startups, business leaders and leading brand partners like Virgin StartUp, Crowdfunder.co.uk, Paypal and LinkedIn.

Virgin Media Business has driven this initiative forward until it’s completion in 2019 and Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business is the executive sponsor for this goal.

The three areas we focus on:

  • Boosting the speed of business: In 2017, Virgin Media Business launched VOOM Fibre, to become the only provider in the market to offer its top speed of 350Mbps as standard.
  • After learning that the average employee loses 15 minutes a day to slow internet speeds [1], we went a step further introducing a new speed of up to 500Mpbs, the fastest widely available speed in the market [2]
  • Building connections that really matter: The VOOM Pioneers digital platform provided a place for small business owners to meet like-minded entrepreneurs and potential business partners
  • Getting ahead: From humble beginnings in 2011, VOOM Pitch competition has grown to become the UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition giving entrepreneurs the chance to pitch to Sir Richard Branson and giving away over millions of pounds worth of prizes over the last five years


2019 performance

  • Supported 14,089 small businesses to grow through digital
  • We proudly hit out 2020 target a year early, so in 2019 we focussed on continued support for the VOOM community and started planning future activity

These are our performance highlights for 2019, the final year of our 2020 Boosting Business goal. If you are looking for information on our 2019 activity, take a look at the full report.


2020 reflections

  • Over the last five years we’ve supported 127,036 small businesses to grow through digital
  • From 2010, VOOM grew into a unique and powerful community of small business owners sharing their expertise, finding peer-to-peer support and completing for their final chance to pitch to sir Richard Branson. Since launch, 15,162 members have used the VOOM Pioneers digital platform to start conversations, offer advice and meet at face-to-face events we’ve hosted.
  • In the last five years the community has been packed with opportunities to network and get great advice from successful start-ups, business leaders and leading brand partners like Virgin Start-Up, Crowdfunder.co.uk, Paypal and LinkedIn.
  • We launched a revamped digital platform in 2016 to allow crowd funding alongside voting with support from Crowdfunder. This raised over £1.1m for VOOM entrants. During Global Entrepreneurship Week. During Global Entrepreneurship Week event in 2016, we set a new Guinness World Record with 160 businesses pitching non-stop for 29 hours.
  • In 2017 and 2018 we completed a VOOM bus tour of the UK. We visited over 40 different cities (some year on year) and offered over 4,000 one-to-one consultancy sessions.
  • In 2018, we held the last annual VOOM Pitch to Rich competition with more than 3,500 businesses vying for a chance to pitch to Sir Richard Branson and win a share of a £1 million prize fund.
  • Over the years, Virgin Media has invested millions of pounds in prize funds to support innovative small businesses across the country.
  • In 2017, Virgin Media launched Voom Fibre – a new superfast broadband service designed to help small businesses thrive.
  • While we surpassed our nominal target with more than a year to go - and are proud to have supported so many small businesses to grow - we haven’t been able to effectively capture the specific impacts we’ve had on the businesses we supported through VOOM or tell a bigger socio-economic impact story as we’d originally intended to do.
  • As we revisit the basics of the Theory of Change methodology for our next strategy, we’ve realised that going forward we must ensure a structure for capturing data on the impact of our interventions, not just the reach, is established from the outset.


What’s next

  • We’ll continue to deliver social and economic impact through the services and opportunities we’re creating for small businesses with ways to better understand our impact in place.

[1] Combined annual turnover of SMEs was £2 trillion. Business population estimate for the UK and regions: 2018 statistical report, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBIS)
[2] A small business with eight employees used for illustrative purposes only. Eight people losing 15 minutes for five days equals 600 minutes, or ten hours of time, lost. According to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, businesses with 0-9 employees account for 96% of all UK businesses. Virgin Media Business Digital Opportunities report, 2016[3] Speed claim: The UK’s fastest major business broadband provider based on VOOM Fibre 350Mbps vs major UK B2B ISPs max: 314Mbps BT; 80Mbps O2; 76Mbps Plusnet; 76Mbps TalkTalk; and 76Mbps Vodafone. Virgin Fibre areas only