Six entrepreneurs have been selected as finalists in Virgin Media's "Pitch to Rich" competition. The contest aims to "find the best and most innovative entrepreneurs in the UK." The finalists will now pitch to Sir Richard Branson for the chance to win £5,000 (US$8,420) of investment, plus mentoring.

In total, 400 pitches were submitted across two competition categories. The Start Up Award is run in partnership with Virgin StartUp and is for businesses that are in their first year of trading. The Innovation Award is for successfully trading small technology businesses looking to grow. In addition to the investment and mentoring, the winner of the Innovation Award will receive free admission to the London-based Accelerator Academy for digital entrepreneurs.

The finalists for the Start Up Award are Igor Rubets whose Boxhug firm provides storage by the box for its users, including home pick-up and delivery; Lettija Lee's plantable, disposable rain ponchos firm PecoPoncho; and Carl Thomas who founded Audiowings, a provider of headphones that connect wirelessly and directly to music platforms like Spotify.

In the running for the Innovation Award are Jamie Grant and his smartphone app Lines that looks to track snowsports metrics to improve the users experience; Chris Thorpe who has founded I Can Make, which sells 3D-printable fun educational content; and Carl Thomas, whose miPic platform allows mobile "artographers" to share and sell their work to a global audience.

The finalists were chosen by a public vote and will now go on to pitch to a panel of judges at the Branson family home in Oxfordshire, UK. The panel includes Nick Jenkins, founder greeting card website Moonpig, Holly Tucker, co-founder of Not on the High Street, Peter Williams, co-founder of clothing firms Jack Wills and Dina Toki-O, and Sir Richard Branson himself.

"I always look forward to judging the Pitch to Rich final and this year we have been impressed by the quality and ingenuity of the pitches we have received," says Branson in a press release.

The winners of last year’s contest were brothers Joshua and John Okungbaiye, whose company, High Spirit, makes theft-proof rucksacks.

Source: Virgin Media