Often, the best way to find the greatest business ideas is to get out there and meet people. That’s why I’ve been in London this morning, launching the first ever VOOM Tour. Yes, we’re taking the UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition out on the road.
Our national competition to find the best new business ideas has been a roaring success for the past few years, helping many businesses to thrive and even setting a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest pitchathon last year. Now our VOOM Tour Bus will visit cities across the UK over the next six months, in search of the UK’s next great business ideas and inspiring budding entrepreneurs along the way.
One thing all small businesses need is great connectivity. Today I switched on Virgin Media Business’ most disruptive product yet – VOOM Fibre. This makes new and existing business customers eligible to receive ultrafast download speeds of up to 350Mbps as standard. Our £3 billion Project Lightning programme will result in 17 million premises connected to our network.
I was joined onstage by 2016 VOOM winner Toby McCartney, the founder of Macrebur, which makes roads out of recycled plastic, and Pitch to Rich Mexico winner, Rodolfo Corcuera, the founder of microfinance business Aliada. These businesses, along with many previous VOOM finalists in the audience, are already benefiting from their experiences. Today was a little taste of what’s to come. The VOOM Bus was open to view outside, while we got chance to browse a marketplace containing stands from our partners, existing community members and Virgin Media Business. And of course there was time for networking, a crucial element for any growing business.
Potential entrepreneurs need a helping hand more than ever. New research from Virgin Media Business shows that almost two in five people think they’ve had a great idea for a new business. But more than seven in 10 of this group – the equivalent of over 13.8 million people - suffer from ‘business diffidence’ and haven’t done anything with their idea due to a fear of failure.
As I’ve found out many times, failure is a pivotal stop on the road to success. I’m eager to see the VOOM Tour help ordinary people with extraordinary business models to break down the barriers preventing their ideas from becoming a reality. We’re looking forward to challenging local people to pitch their business ideas to our regional VOOM competition judging panels in Dublin, Belfast, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Winchester, Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh.
They’ll have the chance to win a regional prize of £5,000, a two-week radio campaign promoting their business. As well opportunities to pitch business ideas, you will be able to get exposure for your company and get business advice from Virgin StartUp – plus 10 chances to meet and receive advice from yours truly. If you’ve got a great business idea and find out more, head over to virginmediabusiness.co.uk/voom.