It’s been a great year for startups! Here at Virgin StartUp we celebrated our third birthday, and in the process reached the milestone of 1,000 businesses funded (and then 1,500!), giving away over £16 million to help entrepreneurs start up a business. Here’s some of the other stuff we got up to this year as well…

One of the big and most exciting changes was expanding our services to Scotland, where we can now help support entrepreneurs north of the border. We continued our popular meetups, where startups and experts get together for an evening of learning and networking,  but recognised that lots of our startups can’t make it to London – so we expanded them to Bournemouth, Brighton and Edinburgh, with more in the pipeline for 2017. And we continued our hugely popular Doing Business with Big Business events, which give new businesses a chance to learn from major retailers about the best way to pitch them.

We’ve helped businesses start up – and now, three years in, we also want to help businesses scale up. To do this we launched Virgin StartUp Masterclasses, an opportunity to learn in more depth about topics such as branding.

We were thrilled to take our Virgin StartUp ambassadors 2016 to Oxford for an exclusive branding workshop with a special guest – Richard Branson himself. Other opportunities for startups include inviting businesses to trade at our 2016 Virgin StartUp Christmas Fair (for the third year running), and sending Cemal Ezel of Change Please to Necker Island for a Virgin Unite Disrupting for Good conference.

Other highlights for us include joining Richard Branson’s call for the government to do more to help startups post-Brexit, inviting entrepreneurs to give 30-second pitches at Virgin Disruptors, seeing Head of Investment Andy Fishburn help to set a Guinness World Record for the longest ever pitch at VOOM (28 hours!), and setting up an Entrepreneur Zone full of healthy businesses showcasing their wares to runners at the Hackney Half Marathon. We’ve also managed to get advice for startups from successful entrepreneurs such as Levi Roots, Gary Vaynerchuck, and more.

Enough of blowing our own horn – the truly amazing achievements have come from our startups themselves. 2016 has seen Mous smash the crowdfunding target for their indestructible phone cases by a whopping 1000% (yup, that’s a THOUSAND percent), beauty app Ruuby enjoy a pop-up at Harvey Nichols, women’s activewear brand Zaazee take Gold at the Women’s Running Awards, artisan coffee shop De Melo expand into speciality gelato, Saint Aymes make a name for themselves at London Fashion Week, Illuminated Apparel appearing on the Gadget Show…the list continues!

What a year! Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, and a recharging break before we go into 2017 with new entrepreneurial energy. LET’S DO THIS.

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