During a grueling 29-hour pitching marathon, which achieved a Guinness World Record for longest business pitch, Virgin Media Business judges listened to 158 pitches to determine the 40 most impressive applicants – 20 in the Startup category and 20 in Grow. The next stage saw the competition move from London to the Midlands, as the 40 semi-finalists took part in workshops in Birmingham over a period of two days, which saw them under the magnifying lens of judges once more. Now, from an overall total of 3,000 entries and 500,000 online votes, just six SMEs have now been chosen to go through to the final on 28 June, which is when they will pitch to Richard Branson, Tyra Banks, Spanx founder Sara Blakely, YouTuber Marcus Butler and Virgin Media Business MD Peter Kelly. “Congratulations to all the finalists for making it through to the last and most crucial stage of the Virgin Media Business ‘VOOM 2016’ competition,” Branson said. “We set out to find ambitious businesses who will shake up the market, step up on a global stage and who will have a positive impact on the UK economy – this year’s finalists all demonstrate these attributes. I can’t wait to meet them at what’s set to be an energetic and highly competitive finale.”
The six finalists are:Startup (1) MacRebuer – Produces road asphalt from waste plastic. (2) eFOLDi – An electric folding scooter that can convert into a chair or suitcase. (3) Vibe Tickets – Secondary ticket marketplace that sells at face value. Grow (1) bio-bean – Coffee-based cleantech that recycles coffee grounds into biofuels. (2) Sibberi Tree Water – Provider of beverages from birch, maple and bamboo tree sap. (3) FoodCloud – Social enterprise providing charities access to companies’ unused food. The six will be given a workshop in the capital the week commencing 20 June, which will provide access to mentoring and training ahead of the final. “The calibre of businesses we’ve seen this year has been outstanding and they should all be proud of what they’ve achieved,” added Kelly. “The competition was fierce but the final six are extremely worthy of their place and we look forward to working with them to develop their business in the lead up to the finale and beyond.” By Zen Terrelonge
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