Smarta100 Awards: New Dragon Begins Search for the UK's 100 Best Small Businesses

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A stellar line-up of entrepreneur judges are poised to begin the search for the Smarta 100, an awards scheme recognising the UK's 100 most original, innovative and disruptive small businesses.

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If you’re running a small business that excites its customers, then we want to hear from you. Apply now and let us tell the world how great you are.

New Dragons’ Den star Piers Linney joins other successful entrepreneurs Holly Tucker, founder of NotOnTheHighStreet.com, PR guru Lynne Franks, King of Shaves boss Will King and Tom Cohn, the founder of last year’s winners, onesie pioneers Kigu, in the hunt for the next big businesses of tomorrow.

The Smarta 100 together with O2, is the brainchild of Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund, whose book ‘Stop Talking, Start Doing’ was the UK’s bestselling business book of 2012, topping even Sir Richard Branson in the charts.

Now in its fourth year, the Smarta 100 Awards is unashamedly unscientific: it seeks to unearth and recognise not just those small businesses driving the fattest profits, but also those businesses and the individuals behind them who are delighting customers, have strong social purposes, are innovating staid industries and embracing technology and social media to grow quickly on limited resources.

With an alumni that includes Naked Wines, Huddle, Funding Circle, Graze, Zoopla, Crowdcube and SuperJam to name but a few of Britain's hottest up and coming brands, the challenge is now on to find this year’s emerging businesses.

The 2013 100 winning companies will be divided into 10 categories (listed below) to ensure the awards represent a true cross-section of UK small business. The public will vote for the winner of each category, before the esteemed judging panel selects the overall winning Smarta 100 together with O2 Business of the Year.”

Ahead of the launch of this years awards, new Dragon Piers Linney said:

"Small businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them underpin the entire economy and they account for almost 50% of UK employment. I look forward to working with the Smarta 100 and O2 to identify small businesses that are shining brightly."

Smarta’s Wasmund added:

“Small businesses are driving the UK’s economic revival. The Smarta 100 of 2012 had a combined turnover of almost £200m and, while we cap entries to businesses employing fewer than 50 people, they were responsible for generating 1,104 jobs.”

“Every week I meet amazing people running brilliant small businesses with genuine growth potential and it’s time they got the recognition they deserve: that’s what the Smarta 100 together with O2 is all about.

If you’re running a small business that excites its customers, then we want to hear from you. Apply now and let us tell the world how great you are.”

Ben Dowd, Business Director O2 UK, said:

"O2 are really looking forward to sponsoring the Smarta 100 awards this year. Personally I’m looking for the digital disruption that is out there in the start-up market world. We can learn from these businesses that are taking risks to upset the status quo and challenge the way things are done."

“Kigu were a fantastic winner last year. Their reach to market was unusual in many ways, they were going to parties they were going to festivals to promote their product and they managed to engage with some celebrities through social media. There were so many people talking about their product and their brand. Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength and that’s a good example to other smaller organisations of how they can achieve a huge reach without spending lots of money on marketing.”

The Smarta 100 together for O2 opens for entries on Monday 10th June. Businesses have until September 1st to apply at: http://www.smarta.com/smarta100 This year's winning Smarta 100 together with O2 businesses will be announced October 1st.

The voting and judging stages will then commence to determine the category winners and overall Smarta 100 Business of the Year, to be announced at an awards ceremony in mid-November.

Full list of judges:

Piers Linney, Dragons’ Den and Outsourcery
Holly Tucker, NotOnTheHighStreet.com
Lynne Franks, B.Hive
Sir Richard Needham, Dyson
Helen Loveless, Mail on Sunday
Ben Dowd, Business Director O2 UK
Al Gosling, Extreme Group
Will King, King of Shaves

Smarta 100 together with O2 Awards categories:

Most Innovate Business
Best Use of Technology
Best Use of Marketing
People Business of the Year
Female-run Business of the Year
Micro Business of the Year (fewer than five employees)
Biggest Social Impact Award
Mobile Business of the Year
Startup of the Year (one year old or younger)
Made In Britain
Manufacturing Business of the Year

Notes to editors:

Smarta is the UK’s trusted destination for startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs, providing advice, support, events, software and savings to help start and grow your business. Founded by Shaa Wasmund, Smarta is backed by some of the UK's top entrepreneurs, including Michael Birch, Sir Richard Needham and other prominent British entrepreneurs.

At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to encourage more people to start and grow successful businesses. http://www.smarta.com/smarta100

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Matt Thomas
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