Richard Branson has a Midas touch. His name has been synonymous with all things entrepreneurial for decades, and this year’s Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 is no different.
The three-month-long search is finally over, and 750,000 votes later, headline judges, Branson, Tyra Banks, Sara Blakely, Marcus Butler and Virgin Media Business managing director, Peter Kelly chose two winners in the start-up and ‘grow’ categories today: MacRebur and bio-bean.
Paved with plastic
Scottish start-up MacRebur was one of the winning businesses. MacRebur uses a patented method and recipe to produce new road asphalt out of waste plastic – a process that creates a longer lasting, cheaper road surface that is 60 per cent stronger than standard asphalt. It was founded by Toby McCartney, Gordon Reid and Nick Burnett after Toby volunteered as a plastic picker in Mumbai and wanted to come up with a creative way to find a use for the millions of tonnes of waste plastic that is produced every year. In the UK, 56 per cent of waste plastics end up as landfill or are incinerated, and MacRebur sees this as a huge business opportunity.
A world powered by coffee
bio-bean is an award-winning, UK-based, clean technology company, the first in the world to industrialise recycling coffee grounds into advanced biofuels. The business is the brainchild of architecture student, Arthur Kay, while designing a cafe.
Realising that the UK produces 500,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds each year, Kay saw a business opportunity that could change the world. Now bio-bean owns and operates the world’s first coffee waste recycling factory with capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds a year, or one in ten cups of coffee drunk in the UK. The company recently launched a new, carbon neutral product – Coffee Logs – that replaces coal and wood.
The six finalists had just two minutes to pitch their business to the judges, with a portion of the £1 million prize fund, business mentoring, and marketing support at stake.
“I love seeing entrepreneurs pitch an idea to me which they are incredibly passionate about and it was both a difficult and inspiring task to choose just two winners,” Richard Branson, Virgin founder said in a statement today.
“All the finalists of the Virgin Media Business VOOM competition showed they have the dedication and intense desire to take their business to incredible heights and I believe they will all do so.”
Now in its fifth year, VOOM is reportedly the UK and Ireland’s biggest pitching competition.