Literacy initiative Pobble set for major business award

Yorkshire literacy organisation Pobble is the only education business to make it to semi-finals of VOOM 2016

Pobble has made it to the final 20 in a major national business award run by Richard Branson’s Virgin – out of 5,000 companies that started.

Ed-tech start-up Pobble is also the only education organisation to make it into the semi-finals of Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 after successfully participating in the 29-hour ‘pitch-a-thon’ against 160 other businesses.

Pobble, which was founded by a group of teachers from Harrogate, makes writing exciting for children while raising standards by giving children a worldwide audience for their work via a global classroom wall. Well over 60,000 pieces of work are now hosted on the platform at, with users in more than 100 countries.

Pobble has been widely praised for its impact by teachers, including former Eton headmaster Tony Little, best-selling authors including Michael Morpurgo and Anthony Horowitz, and by former Manchester United stars Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville, whose Hotel Football operation Pobble has worked with.

Schools can find out more information about Pobble at, which offers teachers free daily lesson plans and an innovative ‘Literacy Through Sport’ programme which seeks to combine physical activity with the improvement of educational outcomes, especially helping reluctant writers. Pobble’s ‘Literacy Through Sport’ partners include Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Premier League football clubs Middlesbrough and Burnley, Championship football club Derby FC and rugby league giants Hull KR and the Bradford Bulls.

Pobble’s latest accolade is to make it into the top 20 in the ‘grow category’, one of only two categories, following a successful pitch by Chief Executive Jon Smith. Jon presented to a panel of esteemed judges on why they should win the top prize which includes £50,000 to help grow their business, mentoring from Virgin StartUp experts, and a £250,000 marketing campaign and billboard advertising at Waterloo Station (the biggest indoor screen in Europe). The ‘grow category’ judges entrepreneurs on their revenue, customer base and growth plans.

Jon says: “We are delighted to have made it through to the semi-finals following last week’s pitch to judges. It is fantastic for Pobble to be recognised as one of the country’s most exciting businesses and we look forward to the next stage of the competition where we hope to further demonstrate Pobble’s unique offer and future plans.

“Last week’s pitch gave us a great opportunity to demonstrate to the judges how Pobble makes writing exciting for children.We see this when we bring Pobble to the classroom. From the first pieces of work that were shared by a class, to the new stories being added every few minutes from around the world, the positive impact on children and teachers is the same.

“For children, they are getting that awesome piece of work they’ve just carefully written published and shared with the world, which could not be more exciting. And for teachers, we’re building a global library of ideas, content and resource.”

To get to the semi-final, Pobble have already made it through the public vote stage and a 29 hour Guinness World Record breaking pitch-a-thon. The next stage in the competition will be the Semi-Finalists Workshop in Birmingham on the 14th of June. The day-long event will involve six one-to-one assessment sessions with LinkedIn Professionals on Finance, Sales, Marketing, Legal and Operations as well as Entrepreneurism. Businesses will be scored on each session. Those with the highest total scores for the day will go through to compete in the final with Richard Branson.

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