The Smarta 100 together with O2 is a breeding ground for successful start-ups and can give a young business the recognition it needs to take it to the next level. Through the Smarta 100, we've seen innovative business grow from a small team into a tech giant hanging out with the industry heavyweights and a mother making brownies in Wales transform into a TV chef with a brilliant business to boot.
Wonga came onto the Smarta 100 radar in the 2010 awards. The business had launched a service that was transforming the UK's personal credit market by providing small, super-flexible cash loans that land in your account in 15 minutes. The totally automated system attracted investment from Balderton Capital, Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. Now Wonga has expanded, offering businesses the same service and the business was recently been named the number one company in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100, a list of the UK's fastest growing technology companies.
Another innovative business that was celebrated in our 2010 awards, A Suit That Fits brings a tailor-made suit service to customers at high-street prices. Through their website customers can also design suits based on measurements they have taken themselves. In 2010 the business had three London branches and 19 'TailorStops'; today they've a partnership with John Lewis, which sees A Suit That Fits services offered in John Lewis' flagship Oxford Street store as well as in 33 A Suit That Fits branches across the UK.
Bulldog is a truly innovative company and was the UK's first natural skincare brand for men when it launched. With a tiny budget compared to other men's grooming products it managed to secure major stockists including Sainsbury's, Tesco, Boots, Superdrug and Waitrose right from the start. Using clever marketing tactics, the start-up persuaded the Peep Show's David Mitchell to produce a series of Soap Box podcasts under the Bulldog banner. These received over two million views. Bulldog has since gone from strength to strength and founder, Simon Duffy appeared on this years' The Apprentice final as an advisor to Lord Sugar.
The natural salad dressings and healthy cooking oil company has continued to grow emphatically since winning a Smarta 100 award in 2011. When the business launched it had three products that were all free of preservatives. Since then, Righteous Living has doubled its range to six products, crowdfunded over £75,000 in investment, been namedropped on The Apprentice 2012 as an example of an innovative start-up and launched its first TV advert.
This tech company wowed our judges during the 2010 Smarta 100 and has gone on to achieve all the success we thought they would. Struq provides targeted adverts online instead of generic ads and delivers 20 times as many clicks as traditional adverts. Having launched in the recession with no funding, Struq has this year managed to secure $8.5M investment after gaining recognition in the Smarta 100 and other respected awards.
This Norwich based firm was the overall winner of the Smarta 100 awards in 2011 and has since experienced astronomical growth at a rate of 100% year on year. What started as an idea in founder Rowan Gormley's garden has grown into a business with a turnover in the millions. The successful business model means the company bypasses the wine buyers and source its wines straight from the grower. This year Naked Wines announced a £5.5m investment into the development of US and Australian vineyards to add to its growing collection of wines.
The mobile games maker was awarded Smarta 100 status in 2011 just one year after launching. The business had clocked up some mightily impressive statistics: 21.5m downloads, seven UK number ones and customers in 120 countries. Since then, founder Oli Christie, has steered the business to even more success. Such is the respect for Neon Play, the company was recently invited to Buckingham Palace to discuss business with Prince Andrew and Christie has also been appointed to the board of TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry.
This online platform, which allows groups of people to collaboratively edit and save documents is one of the most successful businesses to have come out of the UK's tech industry over the last few years. Since winning a Smarta 100 award in 2010 the team has opened an office in Silicon Valley and is going head to head with Microsoft in the hunt for business. Huddle's impressive client list now includes huge companies and organisations such as Boots, the NHS, The Post Office and the Belgian government.
The team behind Crowdcube introduced the crowdfunding concept in the UK, allowing ordinary people to invest in small businesses in exchange for shares and equity. A Smarta 100 winner in 2011, Crowdcube has gone on to shake up the world of investment. Since its launch, the team has facilitated £2.8m worth of investments for UK small businesses creating 489 jobs in the process.
The brownie company, based in Wales, won a Smarta 100 award in 2011 after founder Kate Jenkins built a £100,000 turnover on her own. Jenkins also secured endorsement from celebrities on Twitter after she sent them packages of her brownies. Since scooping the award she's continued to grow Gower Cottage Brownies, winning Wales Best Online Retailer in the prestigious Observer Food Monthly Awards and now appears as the baking guru for ITV1's Countrywise Kitchen.
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