There is still time to enter the VOOM 2016 Awards. Launched by Virgin Media Business and Sir Richard Branson in March the competition aims to find the best businesses in the UK.
Now in its fifth year, #VOOM 2016 invites entrepreneurs and business leaders to pitch to Richard Branson for the chance to win a share of £1 million (€1.2million) in prizes.
The competition is open to those who are running their own businesses, looking to launch a business or are at a large company that is looking to grow. There are two categories to enter: Startup and Grow.
The winner of each category receives a £250,000 ad campaign and £50,000 in cash. Plus there’s social media and PR support, a broadband and telecoms package, a carriage wrap from Virgin Trains, mentoring, financial advice and much more. There are also prize packages for four runners-up too.
The public vote is open until 23 May and a shortlist of 160 businesses with the most votes from both categories will go through to a ‘Pitchathon’ before six finalists put their ideas to Richard Branson, Peter Kelly and a panel of judges on 28 June.
You just need to be 18+ and operate in the UK or Ireland.
Female entrepreneur Gem Misa’s Cauli Rice
One of last year’s finalists was Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice (pictured).
She pitched to launch her business which is a low calorie rice replacement made from 100% cauliflower.
A couple of months after entering VOOM 2015 Cauli Rice was stocked in over 1,500 UK supermarkets including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Whole Foods Market.
Misa said: “I always used to find it fun to think of little business ideas, ever since I was a kid. But then growing up had to be about joining the real world, getting a real job.”
“I felt I was pretty much stuck in the corporate world. It wasn’t what I was meant to be doing. I got to a point where I felt like I couldn’t take it any more.”
Misa’s husband kept her his full time job whilst she launched her business. She also strived to keep a normal routine for their daughter.
“A lot of people in their right minds would go: ‘It’s just not worth it, let’s go the safe route’. But somehow you find you still push on,” she added.
“And the competition did so much for us. At the start, we had a social media following of 100 people. By the end, we had 10,000 followers. It was the perfect way to build awareness for our product, just a few months before we launched.”
You can learn more about Gem Misa’s story in this video.
Bumps and the Boardroom
A female business leader who has already entered VOOM 2016 is Lisa Barnwell, Founder and CEO of Bumps and the Boardroom.
Bumps and the Boardroom focuses on exploring the correlation between pregnancy and the transition to motherhood for high potential women and the affects that it has on their ability to reach senior positions. With sufficient funding the company aims to reduce maternity discrimination.
Bumps and the Boardroom are currently fundraising to start the development of an online hub and training academy which provides clear information, support and guidance to men, women and business to manage maternity differently and value its potential.
You can vote for Bumps and the Boardroom to go through to the VOOM 2016 Pitchathon here.