Richard Branson starts search for Britain's best new businesses
Ever wondered what you'd say to Sir Richard Branson if you had an opportunity to tell him your business idea? Well, now's the time to get it off your chest. Virgin Media Pioneers has launched its annual competition #Pitch2Rich to give six entrepreneurs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch their business to Richard Branson.
The six entrepreneurs will be pitching for two awards that come with an incredible prize package including £5,000 of investment plus mentoring, legal, branding and marketing advice, as well as an opportunity for the winners to build their network and raise their profile through coverage across Virgin.
The two awards are:
- The Start Up Award, in partnership with Virgin StartUp - this is exclusively for new businesses. It is open for those who are currently at the business idea stage, right up to businesses that have been trading for 12 months or less. Every entrant in England will also be supported in an application to seek funding and a business mentor with the newly formed Virgin StartUp not-for-profit organisation.
- The Innovation Award - this is specifically for small technology businesses looking to make the next leap forward. The winner will be offered free enrolment to the Accelerator Academy – an established 12-week, high-growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs with training, mentoring free workspace and access to capital. It's open for any business based in the UK.
Oh, one last prize. All six entrepreneurs will laptops worth £500 each!
“Starting a business with very little capital is something I can relate to but with a little backing early on and the right idea, anything is possible. I’m looking forward to meeting more of Britain’s best young entrepreneurs through the Start Up Award,” said Branson. "The Innovation Award is about propelling the next great British tech business forward so we’re looking for disruptive businesses who could one day give Silicon Valley a run for their money.
Last year’s Pitch to Rich competition was won by Joshua and John Okungbaiye, founders of High Spirit, for their theft-proof rucksacks which captured the interest of Sir Richard and judges Thea Green, the founder of Nails Inc.; Hummingbird Bakery’s Tarek Malouf; Richard Reed who started Innocent Drinks; and SBTV founder Jamal Edwards. The previous year’s Pitch to Rich winner, Dan Watson, who created the SafetyNet sustainable fishing project, also joined the prestigious panel.
You can enter from now until April 7th. After this five entrepreneurs will be short-listed for each award and asked to prepare pitch videos to face a public vote. The entrepreneurs with the most votes by April 22 will then pitch for money-can’t buy advice and support on May 13 at the Branson family home in Oxfordshire.
If you're interested in funding for your business, head to www.virginstartup.org/register-now/ and see how we can help you.