Four big names announced as Voom 2018 judges alongside Sir Richard Branson

Richard Reed, Susie Ma, Sophie Morgan, and Virgin Media Business’ managing director Peter Kelly will decide who deserves to share £1m in prizes

innocent drinks co-founder Richard Reed, serial entrepreneur and TV presenter Sophie Morgan, and Tropic Skincare founder Susie Ma have been chosen to judge the Voom Pitch 2018 finals on 23 May.

They will join Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Media Business’ managing director Peter Kelly to decide who will take a share of the £1m prizes.

This year’s Voom competition has opened up to more established businesses as well as start-ups, with prizes including an out of home advertising campaign delivered by JC Decaux and a first-stage funding programme from Grant Thornton.

Reed was a 2003 Young Gun and has since launched JamJar Investments with fellow innocent founders Jon Wright and Adam Balon. The venture capital (VC) fund invests between £150,000 and £1m in European consumer brands.

Morgan was the lead presenter for Channel 4’s Paralympic coverage in 2016. She also manages Empire Investors – a residential property investment company dedicated to development opportunities in the North East.

Ma won Product Business of the Year at the Startups Awards 2015 for her natural, vegan skincare brand Tropic Skincare. She appeared in Series 7 of The Apprentice.

Branson said: “We have great team of judges who will help scrutinise business plans and pitches before deciding who will win Voom 2018.

“The judges know all about the challenges of starting a business – and have the insight needed to spot a great idea and turn it into a business.”

Speaking at the launch event, Ma added: “It wasn’t long ago that I was looking to grow my business by securing funding, so I know just how challenging it can be.

“Voom provides invaluable support, advice, connections and of course funding to budding entrepreneurs. I’d recommend that any ambitious business person should look to apply.”