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The 2020 Thames Valley SME 100 Growth Index focuses on the small and medium-sized enterprises that are significantly growing their turnover

These pre-eminent SMEs in the Thames Valley have been recognised at the second annual Thames Valley SME 100 Growth Index awards in an online ceremony, hosted by The Business Magazine and supported by sponsors Wilson Partners, Hicks Baker and Herrington Carmichael. The sponsors met with finalists and collectively decided on the winners.

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Before the winners were unveiled, guest speaker Rory Mudie, founder of one of last year’s award winners Redbox Mobile, shared his thoughts on how to maximise the business value of receiving the accolade.

Redbox offers App Store Optimisation (ASO) services that boost the position of apps in Apple Store and Google Play Store rankings. Founded in 2013, it was last year’s Tech Company of the Year. Mudie recalled how he “shouted the achievement from the rooftops”.

He started by describing how Covid-19 had impact the company: “We were planning to set up an office in the US. Then the reality of coronavirus put us where we are now. We didn’t go live in the US but are servicing US clients from here.”

He added: “We reacted quickly to the lockdown, bringing all of our software development in-house, which meant in employees’ houses. I credit the team for being awesome. We’ve seen a massive reduction in travel, office costs and expenses – sales are up, complaints are down and our margins have never been better.”

Mudie went on to describe the lessons he’d learned from not maximising the leverage of winning the award. “I was proud and excited to win but didn’t utilise the full benefit for the business,” he admitted.

His advice to this year’s winners:

  • Identify who needs to know that you are the best
  • Get Board approval to allocate time and money to reach that audience
  • Co-ordinate your social media and award visuals, so everyone in the business gives the same clear message about winning
  • Grow your award-winning message locally, so it spreads out into your marketplace
  • Make sure you monitor and measure the value to your business of winning, such as customers buying more from you
  • Have a roadmap for charting your journey to entering further awards you want to win.

The awards…

SME 100 Growth Award (under £10m)

Winner: HeleCloud

Judges’ comments:

A fantastic growth story for a very young business that, on current performance, will likely have 200-plus employees over the coming year. It has expanded operations to The Hague and Sofia, taken on investment and experienced 50% year-on-year growth. It’s a great achievement, requiring continued innovation. It was recently awarded the coveted status of a Premier Partner for Amazon Web Services.

Winner’s comments:

“I am extremely proud with our award. It is very rewarding to see the continued commitment of our team to deliver exceptional customer value matched with such an important recognition. We are committed to helping our customers adapt and innovate through the pandemic, based on the leading-edge technology provided by AWS and complemented with our professional services, infrastructure engineering, cloud-native software development and managed services offerings.” Dob Todorov, CEO and CCO, HeleCloud

Other finalists:

  • Bridewell Consulting
  • CIPHR
  • Performance 54
SME 100 Growth Award (over £10m)

Winner: Childs Farm

Judges’ comments:

This was an interesting category for the judges, but the one business that impressed us the most, with its current growth and demonstration of future growth was a small British brand that has revolutionised the baby and child toiletries market. It uses naturally derived ingredients and essential oils to produce a range of toiletries for new-borns, babies and children. Launched in 2010, it only began selling in national retailers six years ago. Now, it lists 4,500 key retailers across the UK, as well as Europe, Asia and the Middle East. It has further worldwide expansion plans as it looks to break into the adult toiletry market­­.

Winner’s comments:

“We are delighted to have won. It is wonderful to be recognised for all the hours of hard work that everyone has put into getting the business to where it is today, and we’d like to thank everyone who has supported us on this journey.” Joanna Jensen, founder, Childs Farm

Other finalists:

  • Anthesis
  • E3D Online
  • Ticketer
Tech Company of the Year

Winner: Ticketer

Judges’ comments:

All the nominees were incredibly forward thinking and innovative. We felt this company stood out in terms of its innovation and relevance in an increasingly cashless economy (post Covid-19) and its dominance in the sector, underpinned by a strong ethos of providing affordable solutions for every bus operator, regardless of their size.

Winner’s comments:

“We are delighted, and honoured, to have won. We would not have been able to achieve this without the support we receive from the bus industry and we are very proud of what we have accomplished together.

“Like so many others, our industry has come under tremendous pressure this year, and we wanted to do our bit during this critical time. The Ticketer team has been continuously innovating and bringing fresh developments to try and help ease some of the pain points operators have been faced with. We are thrilled that this hard work has made a difference.” John Clarfelt, founder, Ticketer

Other finalists:

  • Blue Array
  • HeleCloud
Leadership Award

Winner: TC Communications

Judges’ comments:

This company stood out for the judges. By utilising a very democratic and collaborative leadership style, the management has brought the business through a changing dynamic with strong measurement of data, both in-house and for clients, as well as with a number of initiatives to develop a consistent culture. It uses a documented vision called ‘Our Credo’, which aligns its core values through its employees, with the same message through to customers. Also, like many businesses faced with challenges at the beginning of this year, it jumped straight into action with an initiative called ‘Let’s keep talking’ to maintain momentum with clients and staff alike.

Winner’s comments:

“The entire team at TCC is delighted and extremely proud to receive this award. Being featured in the Thames Valley 100 Growth Index was testament to our hard work and effort over the past few years, but to be singled out as the winner of the Leadership Award by such an esteemed panel of judges, from highly-successful businesses, is an honour that we will enjoy and cherish.

“At TCC we set out on a new journey five years ago to re-purpose a 30-year-old business to reinvigorate, and adapt to an ever-changing landscape, creating a methodology and service that our current and future clients will need and want, as opposed to something we have to sell. We did this by deeply exploring our core purpose and core values and creating a culture based around creating successes for our staff and our customers.

“Our journey has not been without its pitfalls and, at times, has been very difficult, but we’ve never wavered from our plan. This type of recognition only serves to endorse our belief that our hard work and endeavour constantly moves ours, and our customers’, businesses in the right direction.” Tim Leney, managing director, TC Communications

Other finalists:

  • Active Workplace Solutions
  • Curve Workplaces
  • E3D Online
Growing the Workforce

Winner: Gekko

Judges’ comments:

This was a unanimous decision by the judges. The winner provides results-driven field marketing solutions throughout the UK and Ireland for technology and leisure brands. As a business whose brand delivers across the UK, it has found excellent solutions to manage its workforce of 500+ people, providing individual development plans, key assessment days and motivational days, all helping to maintain a 93% employee retention rate. The business operates in a competitive field where staff retention is hard, but the lengths it goes to really stood out.

Winner’s comments:

“We’re delighted to have won as it’s a team effort at Gekko and a compliment to them that we were selected as unanimous winners. Our success is created through the team, with their clear direction and a can-do attitude that enables the business to grow, creating progression and job opportunities.

“Winning is recognition of the skill and talents of the entire team, who come together as one to achieve great things for our brands and each other.” Daniel Todaro, managing director, Gekko

Other finalists:

  • CIPHR
  • Exclaimer
  • Select Car Leasing
One to Watch

Winner: Pythagoras

Judges’ comments:

This was a difficult sector to judge this year, in that the shortlisted companies were so different from each other in terms of age and sector. We did, however, agree that the impact of Vin Murria as an investor and mentor on this mature and profitable business, could be a game changer.

Winner’s comments:

“We’re very pleased to win the award. To get external recognition for the focus our team has on the leadership and innovation we put behind the business is really great. The company has grown by 15% in the past year and with the support of Vin Murria as an investor and mentor, we are accelerating that growth rate. She shares our focus and is working with us on our vision to maximise growth.

“As soon as I heard we had won I made an announcement to all our staff. We don’t often get third-party recognition outside the Microsoft partner channel, so the award is very important for everyone. It validates everything I have been saying to staff over the past six months. Our clients can also see that this award recognises our innovation and where we are going, which is brilliant for us.” Julian Stone, CEO, Pythagoras

Other finalists:

  • Anthesis
  • Blue Array
  • Fidelity Energy
  • Snaffling Pig

 

Companies on the list that would like to be profiled online by The Business Magazine should contact Nathan Inns at: nathan@elcot.co.uk

See the 2020 listing here