The Thames Valley’s pre-eminent SMEs have been recognised as part of The Business Magazine’s campaign to promote leading high-growth companies.
The winners of the second annual Thames Valley SME 100 Growth Index awards were announced 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.
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.
SME 100 Growth Award (under £10m)
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.
- Bridewell Consulting
- Performance 54
SME 100 Growth Award (over £10m)
Winner: Childs Farm
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.
- E3D Online
Tech Company of the Year
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.
- Blue Array
Winner: TC Communications
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.
- Active Workplace Solutions
- Curve Workplaces
- E3D Online
Growing the Workforce
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.
- Select Car Leasing
One to Watch
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.
- Blue Array
- Fidelity Energy
- Snaffling Pig