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Show us you can “Change Business for Good” - from idea to reality

We’re holding a national pitching competition for students. Five winners will get the chance to pitch Dragons' Den-style at Virgin StartUp HQ to win £1,000!

Deadline 20180611
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our rewards

our rewards

Red Ticket winners

By participating in LifeStart you can get a range of rewards from credits, endorsements and internships through to exclusive discounts and money can’t buy prizes.


£1,000 first prize at the pitch day.

Mentoring, support and advice from Virgin StartUp.

Everyone who wins a challenge gets a personal LinkedIn / CV endorsement from a senior manager at Virgin StartUp.

Virgin Experience Day voucher worth £100.

Plus a chance to win the Gold, Silver and Bronze Red Ticket prizes for overall LifeStart winners.

See all the rewards


Participate and get access to:
University extra-curricular accreditation (where applicable)
LifeStart Certificate for LinkedIn and your CV
Virgin Money lounge passes

What you need to know

The challenge

Virgin StartUp wants to see if you’ve got what it takes to launch your own business which will have a positive impact on society.

Virgin believes that great businesses can be successful and have a positive impact on society.
We want to hear your ideas for brilliant, socially conscious ideas! We’re holding a national pitching competition and want to hear from students.

Virgin StartUp is the not-for-profit founded by Sir Richard Branson to help you start, fund and grow your business! We support entrepreneurs in the UK by providing funding, training, and access to growth opportunities. We’re always on the hunt for inspiring and innovative ideas to help bring to reality. Virgin believes in “doing business for good, ” and we want to support bright ideas which have a positive impact.

Apply today, and five winners will get the chance to pitch at Virgin StartUp HQ for £1,000, Dragons’ Den style!



To apply for this challenge, you need to show that you’ve got what it takes to start a business for real.

You need to submit a three-minute video pitch, and the five strongest will then get invited to pitch in person to the Virgin Dragons in London.

The winner will get £1,000 prize and mentoring on how to secure more funding for their idea.

To apply, you need to submit a 3-minute video pitch and a supporting statement.

Your application must include the following:

(a) Proof of market research – show us you’ve met potential customers and interviewed them as part of market research
(b) Financial forecasts for three years – we need to see basic profit and loss forecasts for your idea
(c) Demonstration of how your business would disrupt its industry – what’s different about your idea?
(d) How does your idea fit Virgin’s mantra of “business for good?”. How does it have a positive impact on society? Is it environmentally friendly and sustainable?

The live Dragons’ Den style final in London will be judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and Virgin StartUp staff.

What skills do you need to enter a challenge

What skills do you need to enter a challenge

This challenge is for all the entrepreneurs out there. Do you fancy yourself a Sir Richard Branson, Beyonce or Elon Musk in the making? Do you have a positive business idea which you’ve done your homework on? Do you think you could get past the Virgin Dragons at pitch day?

This challenge is all about being a socially-minded entrepreneur and creating an effective pitch.

Your video submission will be judged on the following:
– How well you have researched your target market. (20%)
– How well you can demonstrate an understanding of basic financial forecasting (20%)
– How disruptive is your idea (20%)
– How well you presented your idea, in writing or in your video (20%)
– How well you have considered the positive impact of your idea (20%)

All challenges will be judged by a panel of judges and awards will be given to entries who have the most rounded approach to answering the challenges.

Ideas to get you thinking

Don’t be limited to what you think is the right answer – you’ll be surprised where a good idea might come from. To help you prepare for the Challenge, we’ve curated a few useful articles.


How to create realistic financial projections for your first year in business

How do you make sure you’re making the best guess when it comes to predicting your financial projections in your first year in business?
We asked Virgin StartUp mentor and someone who’s helped launch many businesses, Darren Craig, to write us a guest blog on how he does it.


Barbara Steadman: How I created my first financial forecast

“Writing a financial plan is fun!” says Barbara Steadman, founder of Love Our Shops UK. “Honestly. It’s like playing with the future.


How to create an amazing pitch deck

Matt Doyle is the co-founder of Launchcloud, creating innovative software that allows you to capture richer data online and offline for your business. They’ve pitched their businesses to investors, big brands and more – so they know a thing or two about crafting the perfect proposition. Here are Matt’s tips for putting together a brilliant pitch deck.


Annabel Karmel: How to perfect your business pitch

Developing an amazing pitch for your business is vital for success; it’s the image that you present to your audience, it’s the hook that makes customers and investors want to know more, and it’s the enticing blurb on the back of your business story. Best-selling author and children nutrition expert Annabel Karmel explains how to come up with a pitch that will blow everyone away.


How to pitch

This video, from Virgin StartUp, sees pitching expert Dave McQueen gives his top 3 tips on how to deliver a perfect elevator pitch.


How well have you researched your target market

Here’s how you can use Google Trends to validate your business.


How to research your market when starting up

John Auckland is the founder of TribeFirst, an innovative crowdfunding agency that helps businesses reach their crowdfunding goals. Here’s how John researched his new business venture.


How to prove your business idea can work

This is how to validate your business idea and will help persuade not only yourself but also investors, friends and future employees, that you’re onto a winner.


To get started, perhaps start by writing down your passions, hobbies, and interests.

Here are some examples you could use:
– You love to travel and identify money can be tight for students. Maybe you can look at how to save money on student travel.
– You love art and identify that a society in your university doesn’t have a platform to advertise. Could you explore creating a magazine or design posters?

As you compile your list, you may start to question if the areas you’re passionate about can be profitable and if the profitable areas are something you can be passionate about.

Check out Challenge winner Kristi Kuiken’s seven tips for creating a winning video pitch and more bitesize learning.

Start your LifeStart Challenge today!

Remember, you can be as creative and visionary as you like. We want to see great ideas and innovative applications of new technologies.

Join us