The value of second chances

With less than two weeks to go until the finale of VOOM 2016, the top six contenders have been chosen. Thanks to the thousands of people who have entered, and congratulations to those that have made it to the final pitching round. I’m excited to hear your wonderful business ideas on June 28th in London.

It’s been an incredible few months of competition, with idea submissions, a pitchathon and workshops keeping entrants busy, engaged, and working hard to convince the VOOM committee and the public of the merits of their businesses and ideas. And while we’re rounding the corner to the finale, the competition is far from over. Alongside the Impact Award, GREAT Award and Crowdfunding Award, we’ve added a new prize into the mix: the People’s Choice Award.

While my fellow panellists and I have years of business experience between us, it doesn’t mean that we are necessarily experts on choosing whether or not a business will be a success. There have been so many times in my career where my ideas were overlooked. Friends, family members, people I looked up to, and the banks – not everyone always saw the potential I saw. But that didn’t deter me. Just because others don’t believe in your ideas from the get-go doesn’t mean that they are worthless. In my case, it drove me to want to succeed even more.

And I’m not alone. Imagine where J.K. Rowling would be if she didn’t keep persevering when others didn’t recognise the greatness of her books. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone was rejected 12 times and she was told not to quit her day job! Thomas Edison failed thousands of times to invent the lightbulb – if he’d given up, we’d all be in the dark.

Recognising that the story of every successful person is a story of second chances (not to mention third, fourth, fifth and sixth chances!), we’ve expanded the VOOM prize pool to include the People’s Choice Award. It is up to all of us who get opportunities to seize them and make the most of every moment we have. Nobody gets everything right first time, and it is how we learn from our mistakes that defines us. We all deserve a second chance.

Anyone who entered VOOM 2016 can enter the People’s Choice Award. As the name implies, the winner will be chosen by the people, by popular vote. The votes have been reset, a new leader board is in place, and £10,000 is up for grabs. I’m looking forward to awarding the winner their prize on stage at the live finale on June 28th.

The Crowdfunding Award is also still anyone’s game, with the competition open until August 12th. Even if they don’t take out the final prize, the start-ups entered will walk away with a cash injection, having raised valuable awareness for their businesses.

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