Raising Finance

Pitch to Rich axed: Richard Branson’s £1m business challenge reborn as VOOM 2016

4 min read

22 March 2016

Former deputy editor

While Pitch to Rich may roll off of the tongue quite easily, Richard Branson has rebranded the £1m entrepreneurial challenge named after him VOOM 2016 as the competition returns for its fifth year.

Branson, Virgin Media Business MD Peter Kelly and “a distinguished team of judges” will pick a winner in each of the two categories – “Startup” and “Grow” – at the grand finale on 28 June 2016.

Real Business attended the 2015 final, at which time the panel included Branson and Kelly alongside Jo Malone, Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts, Shutterstock founder Jon Oringer and male model David Gandy.

VOOM 2016 calls up the best British firms to submit ideas to Branson, with more than £1m in prizes, mentoring and marketing all up for grabs, all in keeping with it being “the UK and Ireland’s biggest and most valuable pitch competition”.

Participating could provide powerful opportunities, as proven by Cauli Rice founder Gem Misa, a 2015 finalist who has had her gluten-free health food stocked in more than 1,000 supermarkets including Tesco and Asda.

Elsewhere, Fourex, which delivers “currency exchange on steroids” has secured contracts with the London Underground as well as a place in our Everline Future 50 2016 since winning the New Things category last year.

“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,” said Branson.

“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?”

Read more on working with Richard Branson:

Pitches can be made at www.vmbvoom.com and a new feature this year will have entrants updated with news, tips and mentoring from business professionals that will be sourced by LinkedIn.

The two VOOM 2016 winners will receive:

  • Cash prize of £50,000 to help business growth
  • Mentoring from Virgin StartUp and VOOM professionals
  • £250,000 marketing campaign, with advertising on JCDecaux’s Waterloo Motion (the biggest indoor screen in Europe)
  • Virgin Media Business broadband package
  • Financial advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales

There will also be two runners-up named from each category. They will each secure a £20,000 cash prize, broadband, mentoring, financial guidance and brand support.

Another change will see Crowdfunder power the entry and online voting service, providing firms the chance to raise capital through crowdfunding during the process. The company most successful will be crowed Champion Crowdfunder and secure £50,000 in cash, as well as a unique media campaign from JCDecaux.

And in case you’re wondering, VOOM doesn’t actually stand for anything. But, in the words of Virgin Media Business: “VOOM symbolises the moment when a business or entrepreneur takes that leap to make their dreams come true and put them on the path to success.”

Don’t miss the list of Britain’s ten wealthiest business moguls to see just how much Branson and his peers are worth.