Irish SMEs aim to win over Richard Branson at Voom 2016 (video)

28 Apr 2016

Gavan Smyth, vice-president, Virgin Media Business Ireland. Photo: Luke Maxwell

Ahead of this year’s Voom 2016 SME competition organised by Virgin Media, vice-president of Virgin Media Business Ireland, Gavan Smyth, has some ideas of what to pitch to Richard Branson.

Previously known as Pitch to Rich, the Voom 2016 competition is for SMEs looking to upscale their ideas with €1.2m (£1m) in prizes up for grabs, with additional tips and mentoring from experienced professionals sourced through the business social network LinkedIn.

With Virgin Media having taken over the reins of UPC here in Ireland late last year, the competition has increased, with the likely addition of a number of Irish entries, some of which could make up the final 10 that will pitch their ideas to the company’s founder and philanthropist, Richard Branson.

Before that can happen, though, 160 companies will place themselves in front of a judging panel as part of a ‘pitchathon’ over a non-stop 27-hour period, which apparently will usher in a new world record for pitching.

Additionally, two runners-up will be chosen from each category, receiving a cash prize of €25,000, as well as mentoring, financial advice and brand support.

‘Not restricted to any markets’

With the deadline for entries of 10 May fast approaching, spoke to the vice-president of Virgin Media Business Ireland, Gavan Smyth, who is encouraging Irish businesses to apply.

With hopes that a number of Irish companies can join British companies for the final pitching event on 28 June, Smyth has some tips for what types of companies might catch the attention of Branson.

“He did say recently that he’s very interested in clean tech-type companies,” he said.

“He’s put together a plan for clean tech in the Caribbean, but it’s not restricted to any markets or verticals or sectors. It’s very much open to companies that are looking to grow, or accelerate.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic