We caught up with Zabetta Camilleri, co-founder of SalesGossip and winner of the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Category at last year's O2 Smarta 100. We talked to her about how entering the awards helped her improve the focus on her business and how good an evening the event was.
Zabetta, how did it feel to be named in the O2 Smarta 100?
Zabetta: We were besides ourselves - we were so happy. There are so many amazing startups out there doing cool stuff and to be recognized as one of the top 100 meant a lot to the team, it meant their hard work had been recognized.
When you applied for the awards did you think you would win?
Zabetta: No, no we didn’t. We really, really didn’t. It was a good discipline when we applied to have a good think about the business. We didn’t realize the support out there from the people who voted for us. So many of the retainers were voting for us because they loved what we were doing.
Did you receive any publicity in the period after it that helped your business? Were you recognized by your peers or trade magazines?
Zabetta: We got quite a lot of PR out of it – it’s interesting in that we got new retainers wanting to work with us; we had retainers that were not as close with us becoming closer to us. In all it was good B2B PR - more so than anything - and our investors were happy with us.
Did winning the award help you gain new business or funding? Did you gain new connections thanks to being named in the awards?
Zabetta: People started getting in touch with us to find out what we did and how we could work with them, which helped immensely. Also, we were close to closing our second round of investment so it helped that too. Every bit of good news helps what you are doing – it increased awareness of the value of SalesGossip.
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?
Zabetta: One of the biggest achievements is that we have 97% repeat business from our retainers – we love to be one of their digital channels of choice when they are doing their business. We hit the 500k registered users mark – which is important as it’s four times the rate we were growing before. The more users, the more we can personalize the service; we have now got a critical mass to be able to accurately represent shopping behaviours.
What plans do you have for the future?
Zabetta: The next 12 months will be about ramping up monetisation of the business – making it a real commercial proposition. We’ll also be looking to launch the native app to drive footfall into stores.
What advice would you give to companies who are unsure if they should enter the awards?
I wouldn’t even think twice – it’s a great opportunity if you win. It’s a great process to think about your business from someone else’s position – and the recognition is worth the time spent. The awards party was fantastic – one of the best parties in London. We met so many other startups at the awards event, and we’re doing business with so many of them now.
Finally – if you were judging the awards, what would you specifically look for in a company?
Scaleability; what are the things making a company really substantial; how does it add value. It’s very interesting to come up with great ideas, but does it add value to customers? There is one thing having great technology, it’s another getting people to use it as it – especially if it’s a way of doing things we didn’t think about before.