Virgin Media Business and Richard Branson launch search for the best businesses across Ireland and the UK


Virgin Media Business launches ‘VOOM 2016’ competition for businesses to pitch their ideas to Richard Branson
Over €1.2million in prizes, including mentoring and marketing support


Virgin Media Business today launches its search for the most innovative and exciting businesses with Ireland and the UK’s biggest and most valuable pitch competition – ‘VOOM 2016’.

The competition, run by the ultrafast business broadband company, gives entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to pitch their ideas to Richard Branson to win a slice of a prize fund worth over €1.2million (£1million).

Richard Branson, Virgin Group Founder, said: “Welcome to the biggest, most valuable and influential business competition in the country. Virgin Media Business’s ‘VOOM 2016’ provides the golden ticket to propel your business onto a global stage and fast-track your way to success. Last year’s winners are testament to this. Launching a new business or going it alone takes dedication and determination, if you’ve got that in spades then grab this life-changing opportunity and enter today. With all of the support and advice available throughout the competition – and the chance to raise some funds if you campaign hard enough - what have you got to lose?”

How to enter ‘VOOM 2016’

‘VOOM 2016’ is open to applications from Ireland and the UK. They can register their pitch at:

Cash prize, mentoring and marketing support

VOOM 2016 entrants will have a platform to highlight their success, boost their businesses and shout about the contribution they make to the economy. Throughout the competition - and new for this year - entrants will receive news, tips and mentoring from top professionals sourced through LinkedIn.

Richard Branson, Peter Kelly at Virgin Media Business UK, and a distinguished team of judges will pick a winner in each of the two categories - ‘Start-up’ and ‘Grow’ - at a live finale on 28th June 2016.

The two winners will receive:

• A cash prize of €63,000 (£50,000) to help grow their business
• Mentoring from Virgin StartUp and from our VOOM Professionals recruited via LinkedIn
• A £250,000 marketing campaign, with advertising on JCDecaux’s Waterloo Motion (the biggest indoor screen in Europe)
• A Virgin Media Business broadband package, with speeds of up to 500Mbps in Ireland
• Financial advice from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)

In addition, two runners-up from each category will each receive a cash prize of €25,000 (£20,000), a Virgin Media Business broadband package, mentoring, financial advice and brand support.


This year, the entry and online voting platform is powered by Crowdfunder, and entrants also have the opportunity to raise funds for their business by crowdfunding their VOOM entry. The top crowdfunding business will be named Champion Crowdfunder 2016 - and will win €63,000 (£50,000) cash and other great prizes including a bespoke media campaign from JCDecaux.

Previous winner success

Previous winners and finalists have gone on to grow and achieve resounding success.

Nine months on, ‘VOOM 2015’ winner Jeff Paterson, the founder of Fourex – an automated kiosk which turns unsorted foreign currency into British notes and coins, has seen his machines used across the London Underground network. Further opportunities on the horizon.

‘VOOM 2015’ finalist Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice, has seen her brand of gluten-free, low GI cauliflower rice stocked in over 1,000 UK supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Waitrose and Whole Foods Market, in less than a year since entering the competition.

Gavan Smyth, Vice President of Virgin Media Business Ireland added: “VOOM is now open to promising Irish businesses to enter and compete for the funds and support which the winners will receive. This is an entirely merit based programme so the most innovative, disruptive and original business concepts are the ones that could make it to the top and ultimately present their case to Richard Branson in person. It’s now time to enter and see how far you can bring your ideas. It’s a great way of trialling your business plan and your market entry strategy. We’re really looking forward to seeing the brightest and the best Irish companies taking part in VOOM 2016.”

Joan Mulvihill, CEO of The Irish Internet Association remarked: “Ireland has a strong culture of digital innovation and entrepreneurship with many new start-ups emerging from our universities, institutes of technology and acceleration centres. The VOOM 2016 programme is a very competitive environment to project yourself into for validation, appraisal, feedback and potentially funding or other business supports. I’m delighted that it has been opened to Irish businesses and I’m looking forward to seeing them taking part in the programme.”

Sarita Johnston, Manager of Female Entrepreneurship for Enterprise Ireland commented: “I am delighted to report that the number of women entrepreneurs is growing in Ireland. In the years since 2011, the number of women in Enterprise Irelands High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) class grew from 7pc to 22pc in 2015. VOOM 2016 is a terrific opportunity for all entrepreneurs to showcase their talent, creativity and ingenuity. It may go so far as to help others to get a jumpstart and move from concept into a business model. I would encourage anyone who is interested to simply enter the competition.”



Notes to editors:

Competition timings
• 22nd March – Competition launches and open to entries
• 5th April – Public voting opens
• 10th May – Entries close
• 23rd May – Public voting closes
• June – Shortlisting process
• 28th June – Finale with Richard Branson and the judging panel, to choose the winners


LinkedIn Professionals
As part of the competition we will offer 12 roles to LinkedIn UK members where they can apply to be "Professionals" to help choose which VOOM 2016 entries make it through to the finale as well as providing professional mentoring and support for those Finalists.


About Virgin Media Business Ireland

Virgin Media Business is the leading national provider of integrated business communications ranging from Metro Ethernet services up to 100Gbps, Internet connectivity up to 10Gbps and broadband services for the small office and home office market.

Virgin Media Business offers the complete spectrum of business communications products through its high capacity fibre network. Services include Carrier Ethernet, Metro Ethernet connectivity, co-location, SIP and TDM voice services, leased lines, managed bandwidth and direct internet access.

Virgin Media’s BitBuzz is a Wi-Fi network operator providing a range of managed services to hotels, airports, cafe bars, pubs and other public locations throughout Ireland and the UK.

Virgin Media Business is one of the largest business-to-business communications providers in Ireland with a strong presence in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and 14 regional towns.

Virgin Media is a part of Liberty Global plc, the world’s largest international cable company. Together Virgin Media and Liberty Global serve 27 million customers across 14 countries, helping connect people to the digital world and enabling them to discover and experience its endless possibilities.