From mobile apps to satchels, recruitment to citizen journalism, the 2011 Startups Awards recognised all manner of business concepts. One man bands, franchisees, product businesses and social entrepreneurs were among those honoured at this year's ceremony, which took place at Kensington Roof Gardens on 2 December.
But although the winners sprang from a diverse range of sectors and backgrounds, they shared a number of key unifying traits: creativity, innovation, resilience and determination. And, of course, all started their businesses within the last three years.
Over its eight-year history, the Startups Awards has earned a reputation for recognising some of the UK's finest new businesses in their formative years – many of which have gone on to become major global companies. Children’s food brand Ella’s Kitchen is a prime example: the fledgling company was named Micro Business of the Year at the 2006 Startups Awards; five years later, it is forecasting a £31.6m turnover, having more or less doubled its revenue year-on-year. The business is now trading in more than nine countries, and was crowned International Business of the Year at the 2011 Fast Growth Business Awards, organised by our sister publication Growing Business.
Meanwhile, other previous winners have included Naked Wines, Wonga, The Book Depository, Glasses Direct and BeatThatQuote.com.
So who are this year’s ones to watch? Here, we take a closer look at this year's winners, and reveal what impressed the judges most about each one...