Celebrating our VOOMiversary
Cleaning up oil spills and removing plastic from our oceans. Fighting food waste through “ugly” juice drinks. Supporting children with communication disabilities, and inspiring the next generation of scientists.
A year since VOOM 2018 – where 1000’s of start-ups competed for a share of a £1 million prize fund in the UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition – we caught up with the some of our winners to check in on their progress since pitching to Sir Richard Branson.
Junior Einsteins’ Tracey-Jane Cassidy, who won in our Spark and Start-up category, has inspired children to pursue science with engaging and experimental learning. Tracey-Jane is closing in on franchising deals in Ireland, India and the United States, and has even received a royal invitation to speak at the United Nations next year.
Through Action Petz, Shelley Redding has provided a safe space for dogs to play, train and socialise off-lead in her pet day care centres—the first of their kind in the UK. Shelley has turned Action Petz into a national brand, establishing a presence in Cornwall and Cardiff, with further centres planned in Glasgow, Nottingham and Birmingham.
Both founders say their success wouldn’t have been possible without VOOM. Shelley told us “the best thing was seeing our brand on billboards”, sparking new business leads, while Tracey-Jane praised our role in giving Junior Einsteins “a huge boost, global recognition and continuous support”.
Gobbler Boats, a land and water pollution innovator, spent its £20k prize money on progressing its cutting-edge technology. Upgrades to its oil recovery boat model, the Gobbler 290, have been finalised – thanks in part to the VOOM prize money. Collaborating with its environmental partner, CBS, it’s established viable, economical ways of clearing vegetation from Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi in Africa. Everything recovered can be recycled into bio-gas, bio-mass and fertiliser,
creating jobs for the indigenous population. Absolutely nothing goes to waste or landfill. Gobbler Boats has also met with international delegations on tackling vegetation and plastic pollution in Nigeria, and discussions have been promising. Tom Fletcher, founder of Rejuce, is leading the fight against food waste with his sustainable juice company. Tom has invested his £20k prize money in a state-of-the-art kitchen and has since expanded to four wholesalers. He’s now developing canned versions of his products, aiming to establish Rejuce as a market-leading sustainable brand.
Success through purpose
Our Scaleup and Grow winner, Therapy Box, uses technology to enhance education for people with communication difficulties. Since VOOM, Rebecca Bright MBE has won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation, recognising how she’s built a profitable business underpinned by a powerful purpose. Her team is continuing to invest in R&D and is working closely with the finest academics and clinicians across the country.
In March, the team at Castify, the user-friendly actor casting platform, re-launched their brand with a fresh new website and – thanks to their VOOM prize money – a Facebook marketing campaign to boost brand awareness and recruit new talent. They’ve had 20,000 visits to their new site already.
Whether tackling pollution through innovation, bringing educational opportunities to the disadvantaged, or enhancing community life, our VOOM winners and finalists are achieving extraordinary things—and we’ll continue to support them as they realise their potential.