Interviews

B2B company uprising: Impossible to ignore, and here to stay

5 min read

21 July 2015

Former editor

As one of two new categories in this year’s Growing Business Awards, we look at what B2B Business of the Year will be looking to uncover – analysing how attractive the business-to-business space has become for new and existing company builders.

The Growing Business Awards have now been a staple in the UK business calendar for 17 years, celebrating the very best of small and medium-sized British business space.

The accolades on offer range from digital to retail, and from entrepreneur to brand builders – showcasing the diverse nature of the British economy and the personalities that populate it.

However, knowing that we constantly need to evolve to reflect the market, Real Business has added two new categories for 2015: B2B Business of the Year and Micro Business of the Year. We’ll be having a look at Micro Business of the Year, but for now let’s focus on how B2B firms will be championed.

As we’ve readily identified in our annual Everline Future 50 analysis, the period since the financial crisis has seen vast swathes of innovative and ingenious companies crop up – all looking to disrupt and shake up a particular space.

Whereas business services were once the proviso of big banks, professional services firms and blue chip technology providers, we now have a healthy community of SMEs which are butting heads with the larger players .

The rise of the internet has been a big driver of the B2B space, democratising the customer acquisition process and allowing smaller brands to grab a share of the market. These innovative small and medium businesses often also leverage technology to enable them to increase customer retention, scale quickly and deliver products and services at competitive prices whilst retaining strong margins.

Investors are well aware of the potential returns a disruptive B2B company could bring, with enterprise-focused firms having produced some of the most lucrative exits and IPOs of recent years.

Read about last year’s Growing Business Awards winners:

So, alongside our category sponsor, ECI Partners, what are we looking for from our maiden B2B Business of the Year winner? Quite simply, we’ll be recognising exceptional, market-leading, high-growth, and innovative B2B firms that have significant potential to continue to scale.

Like we’ve done with consumer brands such as Zoopla, Fever-Tree and Ella’s Kitchen in awards gone by, we’ll be able to look back in five or so years at some truly incredible B2B businesses holding dominant market positions.

If you have a B2B business you think deserves recognition, we’d like to hear from you.

Visit the full nomination page

Visit the quick nomination page

Richard Chapman, head of business services at ECI Partners, said: “As a growth-focused investor, it is an exciting time to be investing in the B2B sector. The increase in use of technology to drive better services and value for customers is helping to create successful, high-growth and highly-profitable B2B companies with strong customer retention rates. 

“These B2B companies deserve the same respect and recognition as high profile consumer businesses and that is why we created this new award. Having provided finance to more than 250 companies over nearly four decades, the ECI team has a wealth of experience in supporting the management teams of B2B businesses and we are, therefore, very proud to be sponsoring this category. 

“Current ECI B2B investments include: Citation, a tech-enabled provider of health and safety and employment law compliance services to SMEs; Investis, a provider of digital services for managing corporate communications; Tusker, an employee benefits car provider; Clarke Energy, the world’s largest independent provider of efficient, clean energy solutions using GE’s Jenbacher gas engines; and Reed & Mackay, a leading provider of technology underpinned business travel and event management services to the corporate sector.”