A former Chronicle photographer turned entrepreneur hopes the people of Chester can help him secure the opportunity to pitch his business to Sir Richard Branson with a potential top prize of £150,000 in marketing support.
Lee Thompson, 32, from Vicars Cross, started travel firm The Flash Pack with girlfriend Radha Vyas in 2013. The Flash Pack takes young professionals on group adventure holidays around the globe but offers greater style and comfort than traditional backpacking.
Lee is one of just 10 start-up entrepreneurs shortlisted for Branson’s Pitch to Rich competition out of thousands of UK entries but now needs the public’s help to get over the finishing line.
To see his firm’s video pitch and then vote free-of-charge, visit Virgin Media Business, before 10am on Tuesday, June 16. The top three get the chance to pitch to Sir Richard and a judging panel comprising the founders of Shutterstock, Jo Malone, David Gandy and Mumsnet.
Lee said: “I am really excited to be chosen as one of the 10 amazing semi-finalists in the start-up category in the Pitch to Rich competition. This is an incredible opportunity to have once-in-a-lifetime chance to pitch my business to Sir Richard Branson and Britain’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs and I would be so grateful for the help and support of everyone in Chester to help take The Flash Pack to the next level, so please vote for us!”
The former Christleton High School pupil’s inspiration for travel came from his job as a photo-journalist which, during the Arab Spring, saw him flee former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s compound under a hail of bullets and holed up in Egypt’s Tahrir Square during the uprising. On a lighter note, he took the ‘ultimate selfie’ at the top of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro while covering last summer’s World Cup.
He added: “I currently live in Brixton, London, and am still a big Chester FC fan and follow the games wherever I travel around the globe!”
Anyone who votes will get the chance to win £10,000 from Virgin and anyone who votes for The Flashpack has the opportunity to win a holiday-for-two at a beautiful Riad in Marrakech, Morocco, if they email a screenshot of their vote to firstname.lastname@example.org
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 the Start-up category includes £150,000 of investment plus mentoring, including legal, branding and marketing advice, as well as a significant networking and profile raising opportunities.
Watch the video of the pitch which got them through to the semi final here: