#VOOM THE VOTE: Public voting begins for Virgin Media Business’ VOOM 2016

Applicants to the UK and Ireland’s biggest and most valuable pitch competition have been urged to now galvanise support and interest in their business as the 160 businesses who receive the most public votes over the next seven weeks will take part in a ‘pitchathon’ held in London on the 1st and 2nd of June. Public voting ends on the 23rd May.

Last year more than 2,600 applications were received in total with over 750,000 votes cast. Pitches included an eclectic mix of ideas from a five star dog hotel and stick-shaped teabags to a hologram developer and self-service currency exchange machines.

Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business said: “The response to Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 has been incredible. The businesses that have already applied can now start ramping up the noise and getting those public votes. But it’s not too late for those who haven’t yet joined us. Whether you’re an entrepreneur with a gem of an idea or an existing business that wants to get the boost you deserve VOOM 2016 is your chance to make the leap.

“If last year’s entrants are anything to go by I am looking forward to hearing countless innovative and inspiring ideas over the next six weeks.”

Richard Branson said: “Over 1,200 of the best and the brightest businesses from across the UK and Ireland have already registered for Virgin Media Business’ VOOM 2016. They are now waiting on everyone to get voting.

“Don’t let your city be left behind in the pitch stakes. Manchester is currently well ahead of Liverpool and Leeds, and Nottingham isn’t even in the running yet. My wife Joan, a proud Glaswegian, will also be pleased to hear that its streets seem to be paved with more business plans than Edinburgh’s.

“VOOM 2016 is about shouting, loud and proud about how entrepreneurial your city is. Get your pitches in today, start campaigning for those votes and crown your city ‘Britain’s most entrepreneurial’. Today’s the day to show your support and use your vote! You never know, we could be meeting on 28th June.”

As well as working hard to secure public support, businesses will be offered the chance to run a crowdfunding campaign through Crowdfunder on top of their competition entry. This means that businesses can potentially walk away with a crowdfunded cash injection and a bigger profile even if they don’t make it all of the way.

Last year’s success stories

The submissions so far suggest that this year will be no less diverse than last when 18 per cent of pitches were about technology, 17 per cent involved businesses for parents, 11.5 per cent were food or drink based and 13 per cent focused on sustainability and social good.

The competition has the potential to change lives – and not just for the winners. Even businesses that don’t make it through to the final of VOOM 2016 stand to benefit from the exposure gained during the competition.

Last year the Roccbox portable stone bake oven reached the semi-final and has had 1800 orders since launching in March. The firm has also gained investment of almost £600,000 through crowd funding.

What3Words, a unique mapping tool that uses words to pinpoint locations anywhere on earth, has also seen success. Since launching in 2013, and with the help of publicity during VOOM 2015, the company has raised a total of £3.5m in funding. Millions of people in developing countries without an address now stand to benefit from finally being “on grid”.

Already, 300 pitches have been completed, and members of the public can view the applicants and vote for their favourites here: https://www.vmbvoom.com/