Richard Branson launches search for Britain’s “best” new business

Start-ups and tech entrepreneurs given chance to ‘Pitch to Rich’ for £25,000 Virgin Media Pioneers competition

Virgin Media Pioneers, an entrepreneur network backed by Sir Richard Branson, has announced the launch of its annual, nationwide competition to find the country’s “best up-and-coming” start-ups, offering the opportunity to pitch for investment from Branson.

Now in its fourth year, the ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition looks to support entrepreneurs with exciting and “disruptive” business ideas and saw last year’s prize awarded to Joshua and John Okungbaiye for their theft-proof rucksack business High Spirit.

This year there are two prize packages on offer; ‘The Start Up Award’ and ‘The Innovation Award’, which includes £5,000 investment, mentoring, business advice, and marketing support.

‘The Start Up Award’, created in partnership with not-for-profit organisation Virgin StartUp, is open to businesses in their first year of trading who meet the government’s Start Up Loans scheme criteria. Every entrant for this award will be supported through an application to source funding and a business mentor.

‘The Innovation Award’ is focused at tech start-ups looking to “make the next leap forward” and will provide the winning entrant with enrolment to leading 12-week accelerator programme the Accelerator Academy where they will receive training, mentoring, workspace and access to finance.

Finalists with the most votes by April 22 will pitch their proposition to Virgin Group founder Branson and a panel of leading judges at the Branson family home in Oxfordshire on May 13.

Branson discussed the aims of the Virgin Media Pioneers competition: “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.

“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.”

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media CEO, continued: “The online world is powering Britain’s economic growth and transforming the prospects of young entrepreneurs.

“With Virgin Media Pioneers we provide opportunities for them to accelerate their ambitions as we champion the next generation of digital innovators.”

To enter or find out more about the Virgin Media Pioneers ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition, click here.


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