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Smart win

We've never been described as "smart"

Imagine our surprise and delight when we got an email saying that we'd been voted as one of the winners of the Smarta 100 awards. Great, great news...

Smarta 100 winner Neon Play

But apparently we're "smart, savvy, enterprising and disruptive"

Here is the official press release...

----------------------------------------------------------------- and O2 have today named {company name} as a winner of the 2011 Smarta 100 awards: its collection of the UK’s savviest, enterprising, most disruptive small businesses.

Voting is now under way to find the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year, winning £10,000 courtesy of O2.

This year’s Smarta 100 provides a fascinating snapshot of UK small business today: a cross-section of ingenious new ideas, individuals seeking self-employment after redundancy, the innovators of the cloud and crowd and the fast-growth big businesses of tomorrow.

Neon Play makes casual mobile games for iPhone, Android and Nokia devices and have had over 22 million downloads to date, plus 7 UK no. 1 games. 

Neon Play team

Beyond this, there are 99 other businesses, all battling it out for the title of O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year. From the weird and wonderful world of non-spill potties, pillows for long-distance lovers and non-tooth pulling toffee, to market changers like crowd-powered wine dealer Naked Wines, parcel innovator and fast-growing retailer WedgeWelly, innovation and entrepreneurship are alive and well in Britain.

Many of this year’s winners have triumphed through adversity. Take Camille Johnson, who set up Pink Ribbon Lingerie after her mother’s experiences struggling to find attractive mastectomy lingerie. Or Mark Buschhaus and Stephen Barnes, who used their £20,000 redundancy pay-off from Woolworths to set up toy retailer Toy Barnhaus, now turning over £1.4million from three stores.

Proving the crucial role small businesses have to play in the future recovery of the UK economy, Smarta 100 revenues total over £65,000,000 with an average turnover of £692,000. They’re contributing more to the nation’s coffers than they’re borrowing too, with over half (51%) entirely self-funded.

On average, they are three years and two months old. They employ a total of 740 people, with 9% employing a staff of more than 20. Smarta 100 businesses tend to be running lean operations however, with a growing shift to virtual teams and networks of freelancers – 79% employ fewer than 10 people and 68% fewer than five.

The Smarta 100 also tells us about the people behind Britain’s brightest small businesses. This year’s winners are 55% male, 45% female, aged between 18 and 52 with an average of 33.

Quotes galore...

Commenting on their inclusion in the Smarta 100, Oli Christie, CEO of Neon Play said, "It's a great accolade for the whole Neon Play team to be voted as a Smarta 100 winner. We're chuffed that the judges saw the innovation and clever stuff we're working on here. We're looking forward to meeting Deborah Meaden at the O2 party. I hope she's not as scary as she is on TV."

Commenting on this year’s Smarta 100 winners, Dragons’ Den star and Smarta board member Deborah Meaden – who wasn’t part of the judging process - said: “This year’s Smarta 100 has uncovered some superb small businesses, many of which I’ll admit I’d never heard of but have enjoyed discovering and am very much looking forward to meeting.

Deborah Meaden has never heard of Neon Play

“What pleases me is that these awards are championing passionate and ambitious people with brilliant ideas who’ve acted on those ideas and turned them into flourishing businesses. These small businesses and individuals are hugely important and deserve our recognition and support.”

Simon Devonshire, General Manager, SMB for O2, said: “The SMBs that have made the final shortlist are testimony to the dynamism and variety of businesses that are operating and flourishing in the UK. O2 supports young companies such as this that are looking to make a name for themselves by offering them flexible communications packages. It will be fascinating to find out which companies win the categories and the O2 Award, which will act as a springboard for future growth.”

Smarta founder Shaa Wasmund added: “The quality of entries for this year’s Smarta 100 was ridiculously high. If anyone ever tries to tell you the UK lacks an enterprise or entrepreneurial mindset, point them to this list. We’re hugely proud of this year’s award winners. I’ve every confidence a significant percentage will double in size by the time we announce the 2012 winners!”

Voting for the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year is now live.

The winner will be presented with their £10,000 prize - courtesy of O2 – at The Smarta 100 Awards final on Wednesday 21st September at London’s IndigO2.

The evening will also see six special awards presented for the Smarta 100 companies deemed the best in the categories of Innovation; Technology; Social Impact; Use of Resources and Marketing. The shortlisted companies are now available to view online.

These awards will be decided by the Smarta 100 judging panel consisting of King of Shaves founder Will King, Bebo founder Michael Birch, PR guru Lynne Franks, TV’s Sarah Beeny, creator of and, Smarta’s Shaa Wasmund and O2’s Simon Devonshire.

The special awards winners will receive prizes including mentoring sessions with former Dragon Doug Richard, MOBOs founder Kanya King, an iPad2 provided by Viking and a £1,000 worth of consultancy and training courtesy of RBS Mentor.

To view the full 2011 Smarta 100 (including the special awards shortlist) and to vote for the O2 Smarta 100 business of the year, visit:

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