Virgin Media launches Voom 2016 for start-ups with €1.2m in prizes

1 Apr 2016

Virgin Media Business has relaunched its Voom start-up accelerator competition for 2016, offering start-ups the chance to pitch their idea to Richard Branson himself for the chance to win €1.2m (£1m) in prizes.

Now in its fifth year, the Voom accelerator created by Virgin Media marks the first year that it has incorporated entries from Ireland since it formally took over the reins of UPC towards the end of last year.

Once called Pitch to Rich, entrants to the competition will be given a platform to highlight their success, boost their businesses and say what contribution they actually make to the wider economy.

Marking another change for this year, entrants will also receive news, tips and mentoring from experienced professionals sourced through the business social network LinkedIn.

Two winners will be chosen from the finalists who make it to the event to be held on 28 June, each of whom will receive $63,000 to help grow their business in addition to access to a €312,000 marketing campaign on JCDecaux’s Waterloo Motion – a digital screen located in Waterloo Station in London.

The screen is famous among marketers as it holds the record of being the biggest indoor screen in Europe.

Additionally, the winners will receive mentoring from the company’s Virgin StartUp team and other independent mentors.

‘Chance to raise some funds’

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.

Last year’s winner was Jeff Paterson, founder of Fourex – an automated kiosk that turns unsorted foreign currency into British notes and coins who has seen his machines used across the London Underground network.

Speaking at its launch, Richard Branson said: “Launching a new business or going it alone takes dedication and determination, if you’ve got that in spades then grab this life-changing opportunity and enter today.

“With all of the support and advice available throughout the competition – and the chance to raise some funds if you campaign hard enough – what have you got to lose?”

Entries for the competition are now open until 10 May with the public able to vote for who should make the shortlist from 5 April until 23 May.

Richard Branson image via Prometheus72/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic