Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2018 Winners

semifinal judgesThis week saw the culmination of months of work for 80 companies and start-ups who entered the Virgin Media Business #VOOM 2018 pitching competition. Eager entrepreneurs uploaded their pitch to the #VOOM website, where their supporters could vote for them and support them financially through crowdfunding.

Suw spent Monday 21st May up in Manchester judging the semi-finals, alongside Rosanne Gray from Virgin Unite, Phil Geraghty from Crowdfunder, and Luke Pharaoh from Virgin Start Up. Together, we were the the pitch judges for the Spark & StartUp category, for entrepreneurs and companies with 0 to 19 employees. We listened to nearly 40 two minute pitches and had a four minute Q&A with each entrant before they went on to be grilled by specialist judges on finance, marketing, and business planning & leadership.

If you want to watch the pitches, which alternate between the two categories, Spark & StartUp then Scale & Grow, and you can find them on Facebook:

The quality of the semi-finalists was incredibly high with some fantastic pitches for great businesses, some of them just ideas at this stage, some of them already established. Far too many of them deserved a place in the finals, so it was difficult to choose just three. In the end, we whittled it down to:

And in the Scale & Grow category, the judges chose:

  • Rejuce – beautiful juices from ugly fruit & veg!
  • Action Petz – where dogs’ dreams come true
  • Therapy Box – detecting and supporting communication disability

Junior EinsteinsThen on Wednesday morning at Tobacco Dock, the finalists gathered to make their pitch for one last time to five judges: Richard Reed, founder of Innocent Drinks, Sophie Morgan, serial entrepreneur and TV presenter, Susie Ma, The Apprentice finalist and founder of Tropic Skincare, Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, and, of course, Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson.

Just as in the semis, the finalists had a two minute pitch and a short Q&A afterwards (you can watch the whole final on the Virgin Media Business #VOOM Facebook page – it starts at about 25 minutes in). The judges had the unenviable task of having to decide on the two winners, who were:

Category winnersSpark & StartUp: Tracey-Jane Cassidy – Junior Einsteins
Inspiring a love of science and learning in naturally curious children through hands-on interactive experiments at amazing science events. (left)

Scale & Grow: Rebecca Bright – Therapy Box
Therapy Box uses machine learning to diagnose, treat and support people with hidden communication disabilities. (right)

Partner awards also went to:

Paypal International Award: Lauren Hampshire – Milky Tees
Milky Tees are unique breastfeeding T-shirts with hidden zips at each side to help mums breastfeed easily, discreetly and stylishly!

Virgin Unite Impact Award: Joanna Wright – Organic Blooms
Picture 9 acres of organic cut flowers, add a handful of chickens and a team of amazing people, and you have the inspirational Organic Blooms.

The G Award: Gauthier Van Malderen – Perlego
Perlego is a textbook subscription service that is trying to make academic content more affordable.

Crowdfunder Award: Becky Ingham – Hookpod
Working to make longline fishing safe for marine wildlife, saving seabirds and potentially turtles from becoming bycatch in tuna fisheries.

Sir Mo Farah Going The Extra Mile Award: Nigel Blanchard – Heroes4Hire
A veterans only handymen service that recruits, trains and fully employs only ex-servicemen and women throughout the country.

Congratulations to all the winners and runners up!

Ada Lovelace Day became a #VOOM Partner because we believe that women make amazing entrepreneurs and we wanted to encourage more women to take part in a competition that would not only give them a chance to win financial support and access to amazing advisors, but that would help anyone who took part by raising their profile and helping them raise money through crowdfunding. We could not be more delighted that the list of winners ended up included five women out of seven awards.

Winners and judges


ALD becomes Virgin Media Business Voom 2018 partner

Voom 2018 - Could it be you?Ada Lovelace Day are delighted to announce that our founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, will be one of the judges at the semi-final of the Virgin Media Business Voom Pitch 2018.

Voom Pitch 2018 is an opportunity for entrepreneurs in the UK and Ireland to pitch their business idea and win a share of £1 million in prizes.

There are two categories:

  • Spark & Startup is for small businesses (0-19 employees) who want to get out there in the public eye.
  • Scale & Grow is for larger businesses (20-250 employees) looking to scale up.

The competition isn’t just about winning a share of the prize pot. Entrants will also gain valuable publicity, as well as the tools to crowdfund their pitch. In 2016, competitors raised more than £720,000 to fund their businesses, which is an opportunity not to be missed!

Here at ALD, we know that women make fantastic entrepreneurs, but we also know how challenging it is for women to start their own businesses when only 9 percent of start-up funding in the UK goes to women-run businesses, and when men are 86 percent more likely to be funded by venture-capitalists and 56 percent more likely to successfully attract angel investors.

Women’s businesses often tap into markets and needs that men miss, especially retail and services, which means that male-dominated investors don’t always recognise the opportunity because they look so different to the typical high-growth, high-risk strategies that male-led start-ups often pursue.

Difficulties in raising capital persist, despite the fact that companies led by women produce a 35 percent higher return on investment and grow on average at a rate of 28 percent per year.

This is why ALD has become a Voom 2018 Partner. We believe that Voom 2018 is an amazing opportunity for women to get their businesses in front of a large and important audience and to win significant funding and support.

Entering is simple: You just need to produce a pitch video and upload it to the Voom 2018 site before 8 May, then encourage your community to vote on it, from 4 Apr until 15 May. At the semi-final on 21 May, 80 entrants will go before a panel of judges, including ALD’s founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, and six businesses will be chosen to go through to the final two days later on 23 May.

Virgin Media Business have all the advice you need to get you started, and you can follow all the news on Twitter using the #VOOM hashtag or by following @vmbusiness. On Facebook, follow the Voom 2018 page.

So get cracking! You have nothing to lose, and so much to win!