The O2 Smarta 100 Awards seeks to find the best businesses in the UK.
We are not just looking for those who make the most money, but the businesses that have the most original ideas and make a true difference.
The driving force behind Smarta and best-selling author with her debut book, Stop Talking Start Doing, Shaa Wasmund is an entrepreneurial marvel. At 21, she became the first female - and youngest - promoter on the boxing circuit for Chris Eubank, later she helped James Dyson launch his iconic vacuum cleaner and founded businesses with Bob Geldof and Ben Way to boot. Wasmund knows all about thriving in a challenging economic climate having launched Smarta in the middle of one of the worst recessions this country has experienced. Smarta has grown to become one of the leading small business resources in the UK.
Business director Ben Dowd is one of O2's longest standing directors and has overseen major changes in the business during his 16 years there. He has been absolutely instrumental in moving the business from a narrow focus on mobile to the wider ICT space. Dowd is passionate about helping businesses to succeed and has championed new technologies and ideas, helping businesses of all sizes to capitalise on new trends that can help them succeed.
Paul Lindley founded the leading baby and children's food brand, Ella's Kitchen, after nine years getting to know what makes children love a brand at Nickelodeon. Recognising that the children's food market was ready for an injection of passion and creatviity, Paul took inspiration from his daughter, Ella, and started a business that would become on of Britiain's fastest growing companies.
We're delighted to welcome legendary PR guru Lynne Franks to the Smarta 100 together with O2 judging panel. Franks knows exactly what it takes to grow a business from the bottom up. She launched Lynne Franks PR and grew it into one of the most recognisable PR agencies in the world. Franks is also the founder of London Fashion Week and is co-founder of B.HIVE the business club that aims to empower and inspire women in business. "I'm excited to be a part of the search for the UK's 100 most innovative businesses. Small businesses are the thriving heart of the UK economy and I am particularly delighted that Smarta are launching their 'female entrepreneur of the year award' sponsored by B.Hive as women are increasingly important in this sector."
Eamon Fitzgerald joined Naked Wines, the UK’s fastest-growing wine company, in 2012 as ‘the Naked Wine Guy’, hired to find up-and-coming winemakers. Naked Wines finds small independent winemakers for its customers to fund directly, and FitzGerald said that his vision is to make the company ‘the most exciting wine shop on the planet’. Naked Wines was a O2 Smarta 100 winner in 2011, showing the fantastic potential of the businesses that appear in each year's O2 Smarta 100.
Matt Thomas was the creator of the Smarta 100 back in 2010. COO at Smarta, he oversees all business activity and strategy alongside founder Shaa Wasmund. A business journo by trade, Matt was part of the founding team at Smarta having previously edited Startups.co.uk and a number of B2B trade titles. He’s a mentor, coach and small business obsessive and stopped counting the number of entrepreneurs he¹d interviewed when he got to 1,000. Matt’s authored two books, Starting your own shops and The Smarta way to do business. In 2011, he was named in the Courvoisier Future 500, CEO collection of the most talented, inspirational and forward thinking people in the UK
Polly set up Give As You Live from her garden shed in 2005, and has gone on to generate more than £2.5m for UK charities since, winning the O2 Smarta100 awards in 2013. Give As You Live allows thousands of people in the UK to become philanthropists without spending a penny more, just by shopping and searching online. With brilliant marketing, a raving fan base and an incredible impact on society, Give As You Live was judged the best business of 2013, and now Polly is back to help us find the 2014's champion.
Charlie decided at the age of nine that he wanted to be a plumber, after noticing that his local plumber was well respected, had a great lifestyle and money. So, he took to ‘bunking off’ school to earn ‘two bob a day’ working with the local plumber. After leaving school at 15 with no qualifications (he always says that was a big mistake, he should have left at 14!) and completing a four year apprenticeship in plumbing Charlie started out with a second hand van and a bag of tools. In 1979 he started Pimlico Plumbers from a basement of an estate agent in Pimlico. Pimlico is now London's largest independent plumbing & service company, providing all trades and serving all of London, with a workforce of over 200, 160 vehicles and £20 million turnover. It is the UK's first branded plumbing company with a clientèle including, Simon Cowell, Dame Helen Mirren, Joanna Lumley, Joan Collins, Keira Knightly, Daniel Craig, Richard Branson and Various others.
Al began his entrepreneurial career whilst still studying for his exams at school - managing bands and selling surf wear. It was at the age of 24, after a two-year spell working for a marine research company in the Bahamas, that his entreprenurial journey exploded when he launched Extreme in 1995. Extreme began as a TV channel but has since spread out into drinks, fashion, electronics, hotels and video games.
Martin McCourt has spent over 35 years working at the heart of British-based manufacturing, design and marketing for quality brands such as Dyson, Mars, Duracell, Toshiba and Pelikan. Martin was the CEO of Dyson for 15 years, the ideas to market-leading consumer products maker. As CEO, he devised and implemented a strategy that transformed the company from a single product, single market producer into one where 80% of the business comes from 52 markets around the world. In 2010 Martin was named Orange Business Leader of the Year. Martin joined the private equity firm Montagu as a Director, in March 2012. He is currently Chairman of CAP, CliniSys Group (CliniSys) and D.O.R.C Dutch Ophthalmic Research Center. In addition to his Chairmanships Martin advises Montagu’s investment teams on its acquisitions.
Gary Turner is a 25-year veteran of the UK’s software industry and managing director at Xero, joining the online accounting start-up shortly after its UK launch in 2009. Prior to heading up Xero's UK operations, Gary’s career spanned executive positions at Microsoft where he was product group director for Microsoft Dynamics, and before that with accounting software vendor Pegasus Software where as managing director he led a turnaround, doubling revenue over a four-year period. He has had a seat on the IT Faculty Technical Committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales since 2005 where he advises on cloud developments and has mentored a number of cloud publications for members. As one of the UK’s pioneering technology bloggers having launched his own blog in 2001, Gary has since built a reputation as a considered and thoughtful thinker on software industry change dynamics.