Branson begins search for Britain’s best start-up

Virgin Media Pioneers has launched a nationwide search to find the best budding business leaders, offering them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win start-up investment from a panel including Sir Richard Branson.

Eight young entrepreneurs will be short-listed before a public vote to determine which four should meet Richard at a secret location in London.

Once there, the final four will compete in front of an audience of chief executives and managing directors for the winning prize package worth £5,000, which includes £3,000 of investment and mentoring, including legal, branding and marketing advice for their business. The runners up will also receive £1,000 worth of investment, as well as an opportunity to build their network and raise their profile in order to further their business prospects.

In 2012 the Pitch to Rich initiative attracted 800 entries with Branson accompanied on the panel by Innocent Founder Richard Reid and SBTV Founder and Virgin Media Pioneer success story Jamal Edwards.

Last year’s finalists included Dan Watson of SafetyNet, who has since secured trials with UK authorities for his sustainable fishing net prototypes. The other finalists were Heidi Lindvall and Guy Gunaratne of CODOC, a production company now working with Virgin Media on their multi-layered video platform, Maria Albertsen of Rag Heroes who is working to set a doll-making world record and Jacob Hill, whose company The Lazy Camper now supplies V Festival.

Neil Berkett, chief executive of Virgin Media, said:

Virgin Media Pioneers provides budding entrepreneurs with a forum to share advice and tackle problems as they navigate the journey of starting up a business. In a challenging economic climate, this competition will not only award the winners with an injection of investment to help develop their business ideas, but it will also offer support through money-can’t-buy mentoring opportunities.

Sir Richard Branson, Pioneer-At-Large of Virgin Media Pioneers and founder of the Virgin Group, said:

Starting a business from 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 some of Britain’s best young entrepreneurs to hear their ideas and help make some of them a reality.

Virgin Media Pioneers was founded by Virgin Media in 2010. Today, the free peer-to-peer network supports 5,000 young entrepreneurs, providing mentoring, advice and unique business opportunities.

The first stage of the competition entries closes at midnight on Tuesday, April 2, 2013. Entrants must be:

    • A UK resident with a UK based business
    • Founders of a business in pre-launch or within its first 2 years of trading
    • Over 16 years of age
    • A registered Virgin Media Pioneer (free to register)
    • Available May 3rd, 2013
    • Agree to the Terms and Conditions of the competition

To find out more about the Virgin Media Pioneers or to enter, visit: or @VMPioneers #VMPitch2Rich

Winner Dan Watson with judges Richard Branson, Nigel Gilbert, our EX-CMO, Jamal Edwards of SBTV and Richard Reid of Innocent Drinks


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