Richard Branson unveils Pitch to Rich competition

£1m business accelerator prize fund up for grabs as startups prepare to pitch ideas to Virgin Media Business

Richard Branson has invited startups and innovators to pitch their ideas to him for a £1m business accelerator prize fund.

The nationwide “#VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015” competition has been launched in association with LinkedIn and aims to uncover the UK’s most innovative businesses.

Throughout the hunt, stories, videos and news from Branson, the judging panel and participating businesses will be published on LinkedIn to encourage other startups to get their ideas off the ground.

The competition has three categories, in which winners will be chosen by Branson and a judging panel during a live final on 26 June.

The categories and prizes are as follows:

Startup – for exciting new businesses with huge potential. The winner gets £150,000 marketing support plus mentoring and help from Virgin StartUp’s professional business advisers for a year. Two runners-up receive £50,000 marketing support.

New Things – for big new ideas with the capacity to disrupt. The winner gets £50,000 cash towards development, plus mentoring from Virgin’s Investment Team. Two runners-up receive £10,000 each towards development.

Grow – for existing businesses that are ready to go big-time. The winner gets £250,000 marketing support, and two runners-up receive £100,000 marketing support.

All category winners also receive an internet and fixed mobile voice package for 12 months, unlimited travel on Virgin Trains for 12 months, a place on the Accelerator Network programme, a free package of pro bono advice from the ICAEW Business Advice Service and a membership to the not-for-profit private members club at The House of St Barnabas.

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There is also a category called People’s Choice, where £50,000 marketing support will be awarded to the semi-finalist with the most votes.

Richard Branson, Virgin group founder, said: “Launching a business can be challenging and, at times, overwhelming. But entrepreneurs shouldn’t let this hold them back from achieving their full potential. Pitch to Rich is a brilliant opportunity for UK businesses to make their mark on a global stage.

“If you think your business has great potential, then enter Pitch to Rich today, as you never know where it may lead you.”

Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, said: “Digital connectivity is playing a huge part in helping entrepreneurs build successful businesses, propelling the economy forward. Right now, great British businesses, like the thousands we work with, are seizing the opportunity that digital can have and shaking up their respective markets.

“Every strong economy needs game-changers and through Pitch to Rich we hope to inspire even more.”

Peter Maxmin, marketing director of LinkedIn Europe, said: “There is an incredible level of entrepreneurship and innovation on LinkedIn and this amazing competition gives our 17 million UK members a wonderful opportunity to display this entrepreneurial spirit on a global scale.

“LinkedIn offers great tools to showcase your experience and ideas, and provides a unique network through which to grow your business and drive support for your entry. We’re thrilled to be part of the journey.”

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