We caught up with Krisi Smith, co-founder of Bluebird Tea Co who were in last year’s O2 Smarta 100 list in the “Microbusiness of the Year” category. She told us about how being featured in the O2 Smarta 100 gave her business a badge of honour and future expansion plans for the company.
Krisi, how did it feel to be named in the O2 Smarta 100?
Krisi: You work so hard building and growing your own business and obviously you think it is great but it is a fantastic feeling to be noticed by something like the O2 Smarta 100 because it shows that everyone else thinks you are doing great things too!
It also felt like a badge of honor to be up there in the top 100 most innovative businesses of the moment because so many big brands and amazing companies were past Smarta 100 winners.
When you applied for the awards did you think you would win?
Krisi: No we didn't, although again you think what you're doing is fantastic but you have to actually be doing something innovative and different to be able to win. We also knew we were potentially up against some pretty amazing companies, many of which were larger than ours.
Did you receive any publicity in the period after it that helped your business? Were you recognized by your peers or trade magazines?
Krisi: Yes you do receive quite a bit of publicity and again winning means you can then use that badge of honour on your own PR and to help get your brand out there to more people, which is what it is all about during the early stages of any business hoping to grow.
Did winning the award help you gain new business or funding? Did you gain new connections thanks to being named in the awards?
Krisi: We still have lots of customers who regularly say they heard of us from the awards and we were able to then go on to apply for a Start Up Loan with Smarta too, so that really helped us with our next stage - opening our first high street store.
What success has your company achieved in the time following your being named in the O2 Smarta 100? Do you have any specific achievements you’d like us to share with readers online?
Krisi: This year we opened our first Tea Mixology Store in Brighton's iconic North Laines. Winning the O2 Smarta 100 was absolutely pivotal in our business journey and it has helped us achieve our growth plans quicker than we anticipated, due to both access to funding, mentoring and connections too.
What plans do you have for the future?
Krisi: We are hoping to continue growing our online store, www.bluebirdteaco.com and make sure it remains the market leading tea blending website in the UK as well as opening more high street stores!
What advice would you give to companies who are unsure if they should enter the awards?
Krisi: I would say that although a business founder / director or owners time is incredibly precious and you may have a never ending to do list and calender notifications coming out of your ears, it really is worth it to take 5 minutes to enter. Winning would add so much value to your brand and help you with the next stages of your business, its more than worth the investment now
Finally – if you were judging the awards, what would you specifically look for in a company?
Krisi: I would look for a company that has great heart and passion behind it as well as a team that works hard and are achieving greatness - be that innovation or quality in their industry.