Business development · 3 November 2015

Virgin Media Business and Techstars begin hunt for the world’s most disruptive startups

Virgin founder Richard Branson has long been a champion of new businesses with ideas that have a social impact
Virgin founder Richard Branson has long been a champion of new businesses with ideas that have a social impact

Virgin Media Business has teamed up with mentorship-driven startup accelerator Techstars for the launch of a new London-based programme, looking for “the most disruptive startups from around the world”.

The ten successful businesses will be able to take around £78,000 in funding, in return for a six per cent equity stake. They also have the option of taking about £65,000 in a convertible loan note, on the condition they offer up an extra four per cent stake.

As with most other similar accelerators, Virgin’s will offer mentoring, funding and useful contacts, but it will also give back the equity in the participating companies if they aren’t totally satisfied with the value of the programme.

The Virgin Media Accelerator will also provide executive assistants, personal trainers and nutritionists during the 13-weeks of the programme, starting in early 2016.

Firms from various sectors will be considered, with Peter Kelly, managing director of Virgin Media Business, saying “diversity will be the rocket fuel in our programme”, including everything from the Internet of Things, connected homes telecom infrastructures and customer data and experience.

Kelly said the company wasn’t searching for ideas, but “everyday simple ideas”, that are “rooted in connectivity and networks – but with the ability to reach into the everyday lives of millions to make good things happen”.

Virgin mentioned the likes of Facebook, Uber, Google and the iPhone as examples of what the new firms should be aiming for – with the “potential social impact” these all share.

The conclusion of the programme will see startups pitch to prominent investors during a Demo Day in the capital. To distinguish itself from the raft of other existing accelerator programmes, the ten participants will also be gifted with flights to the US with a week’s stay in a a luxury hotel.

Bruce Dines, the vice president of Virgin Media’s parent company, Liberty Global, said: “There are endless possibilities for the kind of companies who should apply to this programme – we are interested in driving innovation, convenience and social well-being across our consumer and business connected world.

He said they looked forward to “working with the best startups in the world to help them bring their brilliant ideas to life”.

Potential candidates can apply now, up until January 9 2016. The programme will begin on March 27 and run until June 23.

To make the grade, ideas need to be:

(1)    Everyday simple

People-shaped and life-sized, solving a complex problem created from a real need and delivered in a human way.

(2)    Make good things happen

Your innovation must improve quality of life, workplaces or have a deeper social impact.

(3)    Have networked connectivity at heart

Virgin wants to see “seismic disruption”.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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