Branson backs theft-proof backpack venture in ‘Pitch to Rich’ award

‘High Spirit’ triumphs in pitch to win Virgin Media Pioneers accolade after being chosen by Sir Richard Branson and high-profile judging panel

Two brothers from South London secured a £5,000 prize package for their theft-proof rucksack venture High Spirit, beating three other finalists at the Virgin ‘Pitch to Rich’ event held in London yesterday.

Brothers Joshua and John Okungbaiye theft-proof rucksacks were selected by a panel of judges including Sir Richard Branson as well as Nails Inc. founder Thea Green, Rob Hamilton, founder of office space intermediary Instant Offices, SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards, and founder of The Hummingbird Bakery Tarek Malouf.

Their win was confirmed following a pitch for their specially designed rucksacks, which prevent anyone but the user accessing the external zips when the bag is worn.

The venture triumphed over three other finalists at the event, drawn from a pool of selected entrants by public vote.

Runners-up included vegetarian and gluten free confectionery company The Jealous Life, fuel injection system TCK Engines and design, building and training company Straw Works, which specialises in using straw bales to build and insure structures.

The £5,000 award package includes mentoring and support to help the start-up business expand, with the runners up receiving a further £1,000 investment each.

The competition was run by Virgin Media Pioneers, an entrepreneur support network established by multinational conglomerate the Virgin Group.

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group and ‘pioneer-at-large’ of Virgin Media Pioneers, said: “My desire to do something different and take a few risks along the way has been at the heart of the Virgin story from the very beginning. I always look forward to judging the Pitch to Rich final as it gives me a wonderful opportunity to meet a host of interesting entrepreneurs.

“This year was no different, I was very impressed by High Spirit and their innovative take on the rucksack. I’ll be using my red bag and I’m very happy to be one of their first brand ambassadors.”

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