PRESS RELEASE

PITCH TO RICH 2015 COMPETITION JUDGING PANEL ANNOUNCED

Judges to join Sir Richard Branson to choose the winners of entrepreneur competition, ‘#VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015’

Virgin Media Business has announced four high-profile judges to join Sir Richard Branson and Managing Director Peter Kelly, in their search for the UK’s most innovative and exciting new start-ups and small businesses.

Sir Richard will be joined at the live finale on 26 June by Jon Oringer, Jo Malone, David Gandy and Justine Roberts as part of the Virgin Media Business  ‘#VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015’ competition.   

The six-strong panel will choose three winners – one for each category – who have fended off stiff competition from over 2,500 entrants to win a slice of the record £1 million prize to help them grow their businesses. The three categories are Start-up, New things and Grow.

Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business, said: “At the start of Pitch to Rich, we tasked ourselves with finding the UK’s most interesting and innovative businesses.  We’re delighted to have secured an expert panel of judges with outstanding credentials when it comes to starting and investing in new business.  Looking at the high number and quality of the pitches we’ve received, our judging panel will really have to draw on their collective experience to identify the very best at the live finale.”

Each of the judges will draw on their personal expertise during the highly anticipated final. Alongside their role in determining the winners for each category, they will also offer advice and tips to the entrepreneurs as they pitch their business ideas. With a panel who have been responsible for founding and investing in businesses across technology, social communities,  food and drink and perfume, their insights will be invaluable. 

Jon Oringer brings a wealth of tech entrepreneurial experience to the panel. As the founder and CEO of Shutterstock, the largest commercial imagery and music marketplace with a market cap of over $2 billion, he knows how to spot a product with global potential.

Jo Malone MBE, the creator of the globally renowned ‘Jo Malone London’ and her new brand ‘Jo Loves’, will be looking to share her inspiration, passion and advice for building a global brand.

David Gandy will be passing on advice gained from his ever-growing business portfolio, including investments such as health-focused ice cream company Wheyhey and luxury footwear brand David Preston.

As the founder of Mumsnet, the experience Justine Roberts has of creating an online community during the dotcom crash and underpinning it with a strong commercial business framework to ensure its success today, means that she will be able to offer a wealth of knowledge to candidates.

“I am thrilled to be joined by such an experienced panel of judges. Setting up a business is a huge challenge, the Virgin Media Business Pitch to Rich competition is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and make their mark, whether they are a start-up or a well-established business. I can’t wait to meet the finalists next month.”

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder

Notes to editors

The three competition categories are:

Start-up: 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 three category winners will also receive a full internet and fixed and mobile voice package from Virgin Media Business for 12 months, unlimited travel on Virgin Trains for 12 months, a place on the Accelerator Network programme (www.theacceleratornetwork.com/​), a free package of pro bono advice from the ICAEW Business Advice Service (www.businessadviceserviceblog.com) and a membership to the not-for-profit private members club at The House of St Barnabas (www.hosb.org.uk).

#VOOM: Pitch to Rich 2015 is the latest initiative from Virgin Media Business to support the growth of UK businesses. It builds on the work of Virgin Media Pioneers, the online community for entrepreneurs, and follows the success of last year’s Three New Things, a competition held by Virgin Media Business to unearth three new technologies with the power to change the way we live and work for good.

About the judges:

David Gandy

David Gandy is recognised the world over for his international modelling career, but will be passing on advice gained from his ever-growing business portfolio. Following on from his investment in health-focused ice cream company Wheyhey, he recently purchased a majority stake in luxury footwear brand David Preston. His desire to promote British businesses and great British brands is the driving force behind his entrepreneurial flair. 

Jo Malone MBE

Jo Malone MBE is the inspirational businesswoman and entrepreneur responsible for creating the globally renowned beauty business 'Jo Malone London', and more recently her new brand 'Jo Loves'. In addition to her role as Creative Director, she also tours the world inspiring other potential entrepreneurs with her unique story and passion for business.

Justine Roberts

Justine Roberts is the founder and CEO of British website Mumsnet. Roberts was named in the Media Guardian’s 2010 ‘100’ as well as being voted number 7 in BBC Woman's Hour's ‘Power List 2013’ of the most powerful women in the UK.

Jon Oringer

Jon Oringer is an American entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of popular microstock photography site Shutterstock. He is widely recognised as a global entrepreneurial success story, having been awarded the title of New York's Technology Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in 2012 and positioned as one of Crain's class of 2013 40 Under 40.

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