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Top tips on pitching from Tyra Banks, Richard Branson and Sara Blakely

Virgin Media hosted what it called its "judges reveal" on Google Hangouts last week for the 2016 Virgin Media Business VOOM awards.

And what a reveal it was. Joining Richard Branson and Virgin Media Business managing director Peter Kelly are top-model-turned-businesswoman Tyra Banks, Spanx founder Sara Blakely and vlogger Marcus Butler.



The Hangout provided a chance for the judges to offer their top tips for pitching success and to reveal what they are looking for in potential winners. Here's what they said:



Richard Branson


"The worst thing about pitching is when people repeat themselves. Keep it really short, really to the point. In two or three minutes you should be able to get your idea across. The concept of the elevator pitch is a very sensible one. You get the person’s personality and idea all in the time it takes to get from ground to level 10. My best piece of advice would be my favourite phrase: Screw it, just do it!"


Tyra Banks


"A lot of investors say they don’t invest in businesses, they invest in people. You have to see that the founder is passionate and aware of the sector that they are going into. They have that vision and won’t stop until they get a yes. There is no such thing as 'this is not possible'.
"When pitching, mention things that people know and how you have a new version or combination of that. When I pitched America’s Next Top Model, I described it as a combination of American Idol, a stage show, with Real World, where people live together, but set in the modelling industry. That immediately made people go, 'oh, I get it'."

Marcus Butler


"Don’t be nervous. If you are passionate about something you can generally talk about it no matter the circumstances. When I am talking about YouTube or healthy eating I find the answers are naturally there. At the same time I want to see entrants come in prepared and knowing what they are talking about. Don’t be scared to receive criticism. You want your idea to grow so put it out there."

Peter Kelly

"I’ll be looking for someone who has a vision for scale for their particular product or solution. We are looking for companies that want to VOOM and see theirs as a big product or solution with huge potential. I stick with the B’s - have lots of belief, be brave and be bold."

Sara Blakely

"When pitching make people laugh or smile. I cold-called selling fax machines for seven years before starting Spanx and quickly learned through a lot of rejection that if I could make someone laugh or smile in the first 15 seconds I got another 15 seconds. Trust your gut, start small, think big and scale fast."


Copyright © 2016 Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016

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