The business was five years old, so it had outgrown the handle of 'start-up' but we still like to think we were pretty agile and disruptive! I suppose we were in our second phase of growth.
We entered because winning awards is always nice! Smarta is a well respected name, particularly with our target audience, and being recognised by them reinforces our credibility.
Being named one of the Smarta100 was a great experience.
However, as well as being quite humbling, it makes you think about all the people that didn't make it - by nature, the businesses that win will already be further along their business journey (as we were) than the very small businesses who don't. That's why we wanted to win the grand prize, so we could distribute the money amongst REALLY small scale start-ups.
We benefitted from our victory in a couple of ways - it resulted in a lot of positive feedback and tons of nice comments about us that we've since been able to use as testimonials, and we also received lots of recognition (and kudos) from entrepreneurs and business owners when we announced our plan to give away the grand prize if we won it!
Since winning last year, we've been focused pretty heavily on growth - we've added several new members to the team and we have some very ambitious plans for 2013 that we're currently working on!
Our big tip for companies entering this year would be to come up with two things:
1) A compelling reason why you deserve to win; what are you changing or disrupting that no-one else is?
2) A plan for any prize money you have - just being absorbing it into the day to day running of the business isn't particularly exciting. People will be much more interested if you plan to do something really interesting with the money, and that will (hopefully) make them vote for you!