The winners of Virgin Media Business VOOM 2018 have been announced with Junior Einsteins taking home the Spark and Startup award and Therapy Box crowned the Scaleup and Grow winner.
It was a tough competition, with three brilliant businesses pitching for each category the judges had a difficult task deciding on their eventual winners – with Richard Branson even admitting that he and fellow judge Richard Reed wanted to award a joint winner for the Scaleup and Grow category.
The three finalists for Spark and Startup were Castify, Junior Einsteins and Gobbler Boats, with Therapy Box up against Rejuce and Active Petz in the Scaleup and Grow category.
“Congratulations to today’s worthy winners,” Virgin Media Business MD Peter Kelly said. “These dynamic businesses symbolise the vitality and potential of start-ups and small business that Voom is helping to unleash. We wish all our finalists the best of luck for the future.”
Junior Einsteins, winner of the Spark & Startup category, was set up by Tracey-Jayne Cassidy after being frustrated that her own children weren’t getting enough of an opportunity to do hands-on science. Junior Einsteins arrange after-school clubs, summer camps, birthday parties and events to promote creative thinking, teamwork, imagination and problem-solving abilities to ultimately encourage more diversity and interest in STEM subjects.
Scale & Grow winner Rebecca Bright MBE started Therapy Box after working as a speech and language therapist herself. The app uses machine learning to diagnose, treat and support people with hidden communication disabilities, listening to children speak and identifying those who may have a developmental language disorder.
“I’m blown away by the quality of the pitches and the incredible passion today’s finalists have demonstrated,” Richard Branson said. “Congratulations to the fantastic winners and to our runners up who worked extremely hard to get here. I hope they’ll go on to inspire others – I’m excited to watch them all continue their business journeys.”
Mo Farah, the UK’s most successful distance runner ever and Virgin Media’s Director of Going the Extra Mile, also joined Richard Branson on stage to hand out a special award to the business that had shown extraordinary levels of dedication, determination and tenacity. Heroes4Hire was named the winner of this award for the work that they do in recruiting, training and employing former service personnel to help them find work after leaving the armed forces.
Four partner awards were also handed out at the final in London with Hookpod receiving the Crowdfunder Award after raising nearly £60,000 for its sustainable fishing hookes that reduce the number of turtles and bird accidentally caught by tuna fishing boats. Organic Blooms, the social enterprise that grows and sells organic flowers to train and support people with learning difficulties, won the Virgin Unite Impact Award. The International Voom Award, sponsored by PayPal, was awarded to Milky Tees, a company producing unique breastfeeding t-shirts to help mums breastfeed easily, discreetly and stylishly. Textbook subscription service Perlego was announced as the winner of the Leaders with Voom award sponsored by Grant Thornton.
Find out more about the finalists, the winners and Voom on the Virgin Media Business website.