Female founders reign supreme as Richard Branson unveils Voom 2018 winners
Richard Reed, Susie Ma, Sophie Morgan, and Peter Kelly joined Branson to judge the Voom final, awarding two businesses £1m worth of prizes
Female entrepreneurs Tracey-Jane Cassidy and Rebecca Bright MBE today walked away with a share of £1m in prizes and the seal of approval from Sir Richard Branson, after their businesses were chosen as the winners of Voom 2018.
Ran by Virgin Media Business (VMB) for the past six years, Voom is the UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition. The prize for this year’s winners included a five-figure cash prize, an out of home advertising campaign and an extensive package of mentoring and services to help them grow.
Hosted by The One Show’s Alex Jones, the final saw six start-up finalists pitch to Branson and fellow judges Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed, Tropic Skincare founder Susie Ma, TV presenter Sophie Morgan, and VMB managing director Peter Kelly, with just two minutes to present followed by quickfire questions from the panel.
After deliberation between the judges, the winners were announced as Junior Einsteins, led by Tracey-Jane Cassidy, and Therapy Box, founded by Rebecca Bright MBE.
Dublin-based Junior Einsteins arranges after-school science clubs, summer camps, birthday parties and events to promote creative thinking, teamwork, imagination and problem-solving abilities. Winner of the Spark & Start category, it was set up by Cassidy after being frustrated that her three children weren’t getting enough of an opportunity to do hands-on science.
London-based Therapy Box uses machine learning to diagnose, treat and support people with hidden communication disabilities. Winner of the Scale & Grow category, it has already saved the NHS £6m by identifying children who may have hidden disabilities which are holding them back.
The businesses beat finalists Castify, Rejuice, Gobbler Boats, and Action Petz to take the Voom crown.
Sir Mo Farah also gave Heroes4Hire a special award – identifying the business as having shown the same levels of dedication that took him to the top of world sport. Heroes4Hire helps find employment for former British service personnel.
Sir Richard Branson said he was “blown away by the quality of the pitches and the incredible passion today’s finalists have demonstrated”:
“Congratulations to the fantastic winners and to our runners up who worked extremely hard to get here. I hope they’ll go on to inspire others – I’m excited to watch them all continue their journey business.”
VMB’s Kelly continued: “These dynamic businesses symbolise the vitality and potential of start-ups and small businesses that VOOM is helping to unleash. We wish all of our finalists the best of luck for the future.”
Learn more about VOOM here.