Virgin Media Business & Sir Richard Branson launch search for UK & Ireland best business

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

Sir 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?”

Now in its fifth year, ‘VOOM 2016’ (formerly known as ‘Pitch to Rich’) will see Sir Richard Branson, Peter Kelly at Virgin Media Business, and a distinguished team of judges 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 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.