Unlock the potential of your startup and take it to the next level. 4 cohorts a year.

Empowering founders to grow and thrive

Empower100 is a new programme of support from Virgin StartUp designed to level the playing field for founders growing the businesses they're passionate about. 

Apply now for our next programme running April 18th – May 30th Applications close 21st March.

This programme is run every quarter. You can find the future dates in our FAQs below.

Empower100 has been designed to help Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders, women founders and founders with a disability, based in Greater London, unlock the potential for growth and investment in their startups. 

Delivered online and in-person over 8 weeks, Empower100 is a free accelerator for founders on the move, who're ready to take on the next stage of growth, raise investment and boost their skillsets. 

Delivered by start and scale-up experts, Empower100 will help you: 

  • Prepare yourself and your startup for growth 
  • Attract brilliant talent and create a thriving culture through leadership
  • Understand the investment landscape an what investors are looking for
  • Refine your brand proposition and sales strategy
  • Develop a knockout investment deck and brilliant pitch
  • Learn how to unlock grant, equity and and crowdfunding to grow
  • Get you and your co-founders investment-ready

By taking part, you'll also join the Virgin StartUp community of thousands of founders building the businesses they're passionate about.

Empower100 is for founders based in Greater London only. 

We've helped thousands of startups raise investment, grow, build a winning team and do something great. What's stopping you?

The Angel Accelerator was instrumental in helping us fine-tune our pitch and also widened our networks of mentors, investors and advisors.
Jaron Soh
Jaron Soh, founder, Voda
Virgin StartUp’s support enabled us to raise capital via crowdfunding in an efficient and streamlined way that made the whole process a lot more pleasant than it might have been
Anna Brightman from UpCircle
Anna Brightman, raised £218k
If you’re a founder who's raising money for the first time, this programme definitely helps prepare you. It sharpens your deck and your thinking and connects you with people who can help.
Karen, founder of Stroiboard
Karen Harris, raised £1.4m
Virgin Startup programmes combine a good mix of experts with actual experience, strong sessions, and a good and diverse cohort all packed in 7 weeks. Highly recommended.
Rahul Chakkara
Rahul Chakkara, Founder, Manas.AI

Programme details

You'll find an outline of the programme below. You'll experience a mix of online and in-person events as well as dedicated 1-on-1 sessions with our experts. You'll also have plenty of opportunity for meeting the other founders on the programme, as well as our investor and founder-in-residence.

Module 1: Getting ready for growth

Module 2: Building your brand

Module 3: Sales and marketing strategies

Module 4: Leadership, building a team, and culture

Module 5: Financial planning for growth

Module 6: Funding landscape and journey

Module 7: Pitch practice and presentation skills 

Module 8: Mentoring day and networking event in person

Module 9: Demo Day in person (selected founders only) 

MeetUp London Virgin StartUp

Unlock the next stage of your impact journey

By joining the programme, you’ll get:

  • Expert insight – Virgin StartUp brings industry experts in growth strategy, sales, leadership, funding, angel investment, pitching, marketing, PR, and more to deliver in-depth interactive workshops
  • Community – you’ll join a cohort of founders on the same journey for support and accountability 
  • Networks – practice your pitch with impact investors looking for ambitious founders to back
  • Founder inspiration – unrivalled access to other founders who've been there, and done that, so you can too.
  • Investment-ready - get the necessary materials together for fundraising including a pitch deck 
  • Sales strategy - unlock the potential of your growth with a sales strategy and tips
  • Post-programme support - 6 months of facilitated peer mastermind sessions and a dedicated mentor for 6 months
  • Keep your control - we don't take any equity as part of the programme and it's free to join

Apply Now

Begin your application here. Next cohort runs April 18th to May 30th.

I've got a few more questions..

You should find everything you need below, but if not, just email scaleup@virginstartup.org and we'll get back to you pronto.

What is Empower100?


Empower100 is an 8-week accelerator to help founders unlock the next stage of growth for their startup through a series of workshops, networking, training, peer-to-peer support and pitch events. It is designed specifically for Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders, women founders and founders with a disability.

This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus

Sounds great. What're the benefits?


Virgin StartUp have worked with thousands of founders to help them develop the skills, confidence, contacts and networks to grow their businesses and thrive.

Empower100 has been designed by experts to help you:

  • Get the necessary materials together for fundraising

  • Understand the funding landscape and investor expectations

  • Develop a strong pitch by practicing with actual investors

  • Learn how to find and approach potential investors

You’ll also get follow-on support after the programme not only by being added to our alumni community group, but also getting a dedicated mentor for 6 months and 6 additional months of facilitated peer mastermind sessions with your cohort to go on the fundraising journey together.

What are the eligibility criteria? 


We’ve designed our accelerator specifically for women founders, Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders; and founders with a disability.

To apply, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a UK business based in Greater London
  • Been trading for a minimum of 18 months
  • Have at least 2 employees
  • Have a minimum turnover of £50k per annum
  • Be raising investment for the first time
  • Have a strong underlying business proposition

We're industry-agnostic, so are looking for ambitious founders from different industries. 

We review each application carefully and select a group of businesses that, we feel, are at a similar stage in their development. This allows us to ensure that the content delivered throughout the programme is relevant and targeted. It also ensures that participants get the most out of the interaction with their peers.

I've got a brilliant co-founder - can they join?


Places on the programme are strictly limited. Therefore we are unable to offer a place for business partners or friends at the workshops.

However, you are welcome to bring a business partner to attend with you to some of the 1-2-1 sessions with advisors.

What is the format?


The programme will be delivered in a hybrid format with two days in person in London and the rest delivered via Zoom.

How much time do I need to give to the programme?


The programme will last eight weeks with one full day of workshops per workshop and an additional 1 to 2hrs of 1-2-1 meetings with advisors and mentors. The programme will last 5 to 7 hours per day with scheduled breaks.

How much does the programme cost to participate?


Nothing! The Empower 100 programme is free to attend for all founders selected to join.

I'm in. What's the application process?


You start your application by clicking Apply on this page, where you'll be redirected to the initial application form. 

Applications are open for our April 18th – May 30th cohort. Applications close 21st March.

If I take part does this guarantee investment in my business?


We can't guarantee investment after taking part, but you can be sure we'll give you the tools, skills, networks and support to give you the best possible chance. You got this. 

How often does Empower100 take place?


The Empower 100 programme will take place every quarter throughout 2023/24. You can send us your application any time and you can also sign up to receive the Virgin StartUp email newsletter to find out when application windows open. 

Below are the cohort dates for 2023/24:

  • 24th January 2024 – 14th March 2024
  • 18th April 2024 – 30th May 2024
  • 18th July 2024 – 5th September 2024
  • 3rd October 2024 – 21st November 2024

Doing business the Virgin way

Virgin have spent 50 years building business after business with our irresistible brand. We know what it takes to go from start, to sale and beyond, and nothing is off limits.

Now, we're committed to helping the next generation of founders change the world and scale the businesses they're passionate about. 

Virgin StartUp by the numbers:

5,000 funded founders

£68m in Start Up Loan funding

Committed to 50/50 gender equality on all our programmes

Kyle from Frank's Remedies

We learnt about marketing, branding, PR, and manufacturing, and we heard from some amazing entrepreneurs who have already been through it all. It was amazing to see how they had got to where they are now.

Kyle Frank, founder of Frank's Remedies


This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, click here.

Steven Betts

Book your call to find out more

If you want to discuss your application, you can book in a free 20 minute call with programme lead Steven Betts with slots available during the application window.