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Virgin Money's ‘Be the Start’ shortlist announced


  • First ever sustainable ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch on Google+ Hangouts on Air
  • 80 sustainable business ideas were submitted, five finalists will pitch live for £10k
  • Watch the live Hangout On Air Friday 9 August, 2pm at

The five short-listed businesses in the Virgin Money ‘Be the Start’ sustainable business competition, are looking forward to pitching their ideas via Google+ Hangouts on Air, in the first ever ‘Dragons Den’ style live hangout with a chance to win £10,000.

The five finalists taking part are Misfits, a company that produces tasty, dried fruit from produce that would usually be rejected. DoNation aim to make the world a better place by asking people to commit to action rather than cash donations. The third finalist is the Edible Bus Stop. They want to transform forgotten bus stops into valuable community growing spaces. GiveMe Tap has created a reusable bottle which would enable to people to fill up their bottle with water at a network of cafes up and down the UK. The fifth finalist is Project Bees Wax, who aim to improve pollination outcomes for fruit and crop growers globally by locating scarce beehives at locations across the UK.

The successful budding entrepreneurs will have to prove why their business should be awarded the prize of £10,000 when they pitch their business idea in a live 'Dragons Den' style Google+ Hangout Live on Air to a panel of judges. The judging panel consists of Jo Barnett from Virgin Money Giving, Richard Gillies from Marks and Spencer, Dr Alan Knight from BITC, Matthew Sexton of B7Q and Caroline Taylor from IBM.

This will be the first time that Google+ Hangouts have been used as a platform to support sustainable enterprise and it will open up the excitement of the judging process as the finalists pitch not only in front of the five judges – but potentially a worldwide live audience.

The ‘Be the Start’ campaign is inspired by Virgin Money’s support of the Government’s Start Up Loans scheme and Sir Richard Branson’s personal interest in helping people start and grow sustainable businesses. It is hoped that it will give people the impetus to take their idea out of the garden shed and make them real.

Andrew Nicholson, Head of Sponsorship at Virgin Money said: “Virgin Money is proud to support the ‘Be the Start’ campaign. The Google+ Hangout Live on Air is a first for Virgin Money and Start UK and I am pleased Virgin Money can support sustainable start-ups in new and innovative ways.”

‘Be the Start’ is part of Start, the UK initiative inspired by HRH the Prince of Wales and was launched in May 2013 with a month long campaign celebrating and demonstrating how living sustainably can be rewarding and meaningful. For 31 days, 31 businesses and organisations, many of which are household names, joined the campaign to support and inspire people in their journey towards a sustainable lifestyle.

For more information about ‘Be the Start’ campaign visit, or to join in the conversations about sustainable living use #BeTheStart, follow @Start_UK and on

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Virgin Money Press Office
Tel: 0191 279 4676

About Start:

Start is part of the Responsible Business charity Business in the Community. It is an initiative inspired by HRH the Prince of Wales to promote and celebrate sustainable lifestyles. Start’s mission is to inspire, encourage and inform the UK public so that sustainable living is relevant, appealing and has a positive impact for everyone. The ‘Be the Start’ campaign was created with help from The Marketing Society, MRM Meterorite, Business in the Community, UMV and Weber Shandwick.

Organisations taking part in ‘Be the Start’:

Action for Happiness, Anywhere Working, ASDA, B&Q, Business in the Community, BlaBla Car, Calor Gas, Carbon Heroes, CTC, CyclesScheme, Ecomodo, The Eden Project, Eurostar, Freegle, GiveMeTap, goCarShare, Greentraveller, Greener Journeys, Guerrilla Gardeners, Healthy Planet, IBM, Innocent Drinks, Liftshare, Love your local market, Marks & Spencer, Ohyo, please cycle, Project Dirt, Smooth Radio, Solar Schools (10:10), Streetclub, Sustrans,, The Big Lunch, The DoNation, Thames Water, The People Who Share (Global Sharing Day), Visit England, Virgin Money, Waitrose.

With support from Smooth Radio, CBS Outdoor, Choose Green and Sustainable Brands.

About the finalists:


Misfits make tasty dried fruit snacks from produce that would usually be rejected for not conforming to the ideals of fruit beauty. They provide a healthy alternative to traditional snacking whilst reducing the tonnes of food that get wasted in the UK.

The DoNation

DoNation believe that making the world a better place is about actions, not money so they help people to make small changes and inspire others to do the same. DoNation does this in two ways:

  1. Donate by Doing- turning sponsorship on its head, asking people for actions, not cash.
  2. Do Good for Business

The Edible Bus Stop

The Edible Bus Stop wants to transform the forgotten sites across transport networks into valuable community growing spaces. Starting with bus stops, they believe the project can be scaled up to tubes, trams, rail stations & bigger transport hubs. The Edible Bus Stop wants to use growing vegetables as a tool to get people interacting, learning & growing together.

GiveMe Tap

GiveMe Tap has created a reusable bottle that they believe can change the world. The GiveMeTap bottle enables people to get free tap water from a network of cafes in the UK, to reduce plastic bottle waste and save people money. Furthermore, every GiveMeTap bottle sold helps to provide one person in Africa with clean water.

Project Bees Wax

Project Bees Wax aim to improve pollination outcomes for fruit and crop growers globally by locating scarce beehives in the mathematically optimum location to ensure best fruit set. They also intend to help ornamental gardens and commons with locating Bumblebee refuges and Wild bee patches.