April 22, 2014

3D printing entrepreneur, Chris Thorpe, from Oxford, has been selected as a semi-finalist in Virgin Media Pioneers Pitch to Rich competition – a nationwide search to find the UK's best start up – and needs your help to achieve opportunity of pitching his business to Sir Richard Branson and winning a unique prize package.

Chris, 45, is one of just 10 innovative and aspiring entrepreneurs shortlisted from hundreds of entries from across the UK. Chris, currently runs I Can Make, a company that sells 3D printable model kits made from iconic museum objects around the world and associated education resources: videos, tutorials and lesson plans. Its first products are launching at Maker Faire in San Francisco in a few weeks.

A 3D model to be displayed at Maker Faire UK

Below is Chris' pitch video. The online vote closes at midday on 23rd April, to decide which businesses will win the chance to pitch to Sir Richard and a prestigious judging panel comprising the founders of Moonpig, Jack Wills, Not on The High Street as well as fashion Youtuber Dina Toki-O at the Branson family home in Oxfordshire on 13 May.

The two awards this year are the Start-up Award in partnership with Virgin StartUp for businesses in their first 12 months of trading, and the Innovation Award for successfully trading small technology businesses. The top three video pitches for each award will earn a place in the final.

Chris said: "This is an unbelievable opportunity to pitch to one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs. One of our aims this year is to find retail opportunities for our 3D printable content and our upcoming book with Wiley and it would be great to get the help and support of Sir Richard Branson to achieve this."

Sir Richard Branson, Pioneer-at-Large for Virgin Media Pioneers and founder of the Virgin Group said: "It is thrilling to see so many creative British entrepreneurs making the most of the technology at their fingertips to launch exciting startups. Each one of these semi-finalists has captured our imagination and we hope will inspire others to act on their own big ideas."

The winning prize package for each award includes £5,000 of investment plus mentoring, including legal, branding and marketing advice, as well as a significant networking and profile raising opportunities.

The Innovation Award winner will also be offered free enrolment to the Accelerator Academy – an established 12-week, high-growth training and mentoring programme for ambitious digital entrepreneurs. All semi-finalists will receive an HP laptop worth £500 to help them manage their businesses.

Last year's Pitch to Rich competition was won by brothers Joshua and John Okungbaiye, founders of High Spirit, which makes theft-proof rucksacks.

Voting is now open and will close at midday on 23rd April. To vote for Chris Thorpe and help him get through to the next stage of the competition visit here.

Posted in 3D Printing Companies

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