We’re thrilled to announce the Virgin StartUp ambassadors 2016. Some are newly-funded, and some have been with us since the beginning. They’re based all over England, they cover a dizzying range of industries, and they’re at different stages. We’re proud to call them our Virgin StartUp ambassadors, and we know they’re proud to be ambassadors too.

Our ambassadors are incredibly important. They’re the face of Virgin StartUp, spreading the word about what we’ve done for them and what we can do for other startups too. They’ll be writing blogs, organising events in their areas, and generally shouting about what we do. In return we invited them to an exclusive workshop at the Branson family home where the king of branding himself, Sir Richard Branson, popped by to give some advice. Meet the ambassadors below:

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Introducing the Virgin StartUp Ambassadors 2016

Tom Birbeck, Arc-Marine

Tom is the founder of Arc-Marine, a south Devon-based company helping to regenerate coastal ecosystems through designing and constructing artificial reefs.

Darcy Ida, Ida Pod

Darcy is the founder of Ida Pod, one of our earliest loan recipients. Her business provides fun photobooths for events – they’ve even done a few for us.

Rob Manley, Illuminated Apparel

Rob is the founder of London-based Illuminated Apparel, a company creating amazing glow-in-the-dark tshirts that you can draw on with laser pens.

Imran and Nadia Ayoub, De Melo

Imran and Nadia are the founders of De Melo, an artisan coffee shop and patisserie based in Middlesborough.

John Auckland, Tribe First

John is the founder of TribeFirst, a Buckinghamshire-based crowdfunding support agency that works with startups nationally and internationally, helping businesses to meet their crowdfunding targets and gain funding.

William Adoasi, Vitae London

William is the founder of Vitae London, a business creating high-quality watches. Each watch purchased puts a child in a developing country through school for a year.

Caroline McQueen, Industry Avenue

Caroline McQueen is a stylist and brand consultant based in London who helps startups stand out in a crowded market, enabling them to make the best impression they can.

Ed Deacon, Shooting Reels

Ed is the founder of Shooting Reels, a video production agency that particularly enjoy using innovative technology such as drones to get the best shots. He’s based in Hereford.

Frances Lucraft, Grace and Green

Frances is the founder of Grace and Green, a London-based social enterprise dedicated to providing environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene products and investing in education around this topic in developing countries, helping to empower women.

Navina Bartlett, Coconut Chilli

Navina is the founder of Coconut Chilli, a Bristol-based startup selling delicious ready-meals inspired by India’s Green Hill Stations.

Michela Wilson and Lois Wilson, Empire Artisan Chocolates

Michela and Lois Wilson are the co-founders of Empire Artisan Chocolates, a London-based startup producing luxury chocolates that are inspired by the art world.

Frank Milani, Powergoat

Frank Milani is the founder of Powergoat, a hardware business creating innovative tech items, such as the Popcord – a tiny, beautifully-designed portable charger for your phone.

David Humpston, Viewpoint Videos

David Humpston is the founder of Viewpoint Videos, a Buckinghamshire-based company filming sports experiences such as go-karting, so the participant can watch it back afterwards.

Sam Jenkins, Mother and Nature

Sam Jenkins is the founder of Mother & Nature, a Lancashire-based business selling outerwear that can be adjusted to wear during pregnancy, and afterwards too.

Sebastian Francis, Titus Learning

Sebastian Francis is the founder of Titus Learning, one of our early loan recipients, and a business that has gone from strength to strength. Based in Shipley, they provide online learning solutions for English-speaking international schools.