Virgin Media Business has begun its latest search for the most exciting and innovative growing companies in the UK and Ireland, as Voom Pitch 2018 opens for entries. With a total prize pot of ?1m up for grabs, this year?s competition will be open to more established SMEs, as well as startups. Voom Pitch 2018 will have two entry categories. Spark & Startup will be open to businesses with less than 20 staff, while Scale & Grow is for firms employing between 20 and 250 staff. In addition to a cash prize, entrants could win a campaign from out-of-home advertising giant JCDecaux, as well as a funding programme from new campaign partner G by Grant Thornton, the management consultancy?s small business initiative. This year?s competition promises to be bigger than ever. Global brands, including the likes of PwC, PayPal and Crowdcube, have teamed up with Virgin Media Business for the first time to bring their expertise to the Voom Pitch winners. ?It is so inspiring to see big business coming together for Voom Pitch 2018 to find and support small businesses, both fledgling and more established, in order to help them really take off,? said Peter Kelly, managing director at Virgin Media Business. Voom Pitch has awarded more than ?2m in prizes and supported hundreds of businesses since the competition first launched in 2012. Brands including CauliRice, Approved Foods, What a Melon, Fourex and Biobean have all used the competition as a springboard to success. Over coffee at Voom Pitch?s 2018 launch event in central London, Dan Cluderay, the founder at Approved Foods and winner of a ?100,000 marketing campaign from 2015, told Real Business that his firm?s success in the competition had resulted in a step-change in terms of sales and awareness of his brand. ?In terms of the boost to sales and overall media coverage, the competition was the biggest thing my business has been involved in,? added Cluderay, who’s a former Dragons’ Den contestant. ?Prior to the competition, we used to receive around one call a month from an exciting supplier. This swiftly went up to one a day after taking part, and the business hasn?t looked back since.? Business owners can enter Voom Pitch 2018 by submitting their venture at?www.virginmediabusiness.co.uk/voom,?between 7 March and 8 May. Pitches will be open to public voting during this period, with the top 40 pitches from both categories going through to semi-final ?heats? in Manchester. Six finalists will then be invited to pitch live to a panel of celebrity judges, including the godfather of UK entrepreneurialism Richard Branson, at the Voom Pitch Grand Final in London on 23 May. Welcoming the launch of this year?s competition, Branson said: ?In 2017, we took Voom on tour across the UK and Ireland and shone a spotlight on many local business heroes. This year, the national competition is back, bigger and better than ever. ?I can?t wait to help find this year?s Voom Pitch 2018 winners and help them reach their full potential.?
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