Sara Takes on London as a #VOOM Judge

Ready. Set. PITCH

I just got back from London, where I had the honor of being a guest judge at Richard Branson’s Voom competition.  I had some time to explore, too: Big Ben, teatime at Harrod’s, and of course, a pint of Guinness from a local pub.  But back to the main event, #Voom…

Richard has been a friend and mentor ever since I was accepted to be on his reality T.V. show: The Rebel Billionaire, when I had just started Spanx. We had to complete these insane challenges – like having to climb to the top of a hot air balloon (I’m TERRIFIED of heights!) then have tea with Richard on top!  Somehow, I made it to the end of the show, and in an unexpected twist, Richard presented me a special runner-up prize (funds to kick off my foundation)!

We’ve stayed in touch ever since, and I was honored to be invited to participate in another broadcast –this time, thankfully, as a judge rather than a contestant. I had an amazing time catching up with him, hanging out with fellow judges Tyra Banks and Marcus Butler, and learning about some awesome new businesses. It was really difficult to narrow down the results – but the following winners really stood out for their world-changing ventures and inspiring stories.

Voom Winners:

START-UP – for fresh and exciting businesses in their early stages, with stacks of potential: MacRebur Limited Plastic Roads

  • Mixes plastic waste with bitumen to create stronger, greener, and cheaper roads throughout the UK, Europe, and the world.
  • Uses local wasted plastic to build local roads – increases lifespan of roads while reducing waste levels and disposal costs, as well as reducing road maintenance costs

GROW – for businesses already making money, and looking to make more: Bio-Bean

  • Recycles waste coffee grounds from factories, coffee shops, and more by using them in local, sustainable biofuels to power our cities
  • Also creates coffee logs, which are bricks made from waste coffee that burn cleanly, hotter, and longer to fuel different wood-burning appliances

SPECIAL AWARD WINNERS:

CROWDFUNDER AWARD – if you chose to run a crowdfunding campaign with your pitch, exceed your target, and reach the shortlist phase of the competition, you are entered into this award category: What A Melon Watermelon Water

  •  All natural watermelon water (with a bit of lemon), no added sugar or artificial ingredients
  • Full of rehydrating electrolytes and even more antioxidants and amino acids than coconut water that
  • Does not have to be store chilled which reduces its overall carbon footprint

GREAT AWARD WINNER – for businesses started in Great Britain that are growing abroad: TrustedHouseSitters

  • Online community of home and pet owners that help each other out by pet and house sitting for each other for free (in exchange for a nice play to stay)
  • Subscription to website requires annual fees and gives the member unlimited access to all available house sits and sitters, as well as a 24/7 vet advice line
  • Sitters can travel the world to house sit and build bonds with both the animals and the homeowners
  • Animals do not have to leave their home/homeowners don’t have to spend hundreds on kennels or pet boarding

IMPACT AWARD WINNER – for businesses that put social and environmental impact, as well as profit, at the heart of their business: Paint 360

  • Re-engineers wasted paint into a range of emulsion paints

PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD WINNER – business that mobilized a fan base and activated the people: Findoc

  • Find verified specialists and gives availabilities for easy booking wherever you are
  • Helps filter by specialty and proximity
  • “Our platform finds the doctor – you schedule the appointment”

How the Voom Competition Works:

  • 14 weeks with public voting
  • 29-hour pitch-a-thon to industry professionals
  • Series of competitive face-to-face workshops
  • Split into 2 categories, “start-up” and “grow”
  • Winners receive a 250,000 pound ad campaign and 50,000 pounds in cash as well as social media and PR support, mentoring, financial advice, and more
  • 4 Runners-up also receive prize packages
  • The People’s Choice Award winner receives 10,000 pounds in cash if they can win over the crowd