Having gone up against a competitive shortlist including The Gym Group founder John Treharne and Gavin Johnstone of Hunter Healthcare, Jackson convinced the judges that his career and most recent work in starting and building Recycling Lives was enough to take home the accolade.
He started at 16 on his farthers scrap metal yards in Preston, and then went on to embrace the early years of the internet by setting up a commercial name broker becoming what he describes as the owner of the most prolific private collection of domains in the UK.
After a spell as CEO of football club Preston North End, Jackson most recently set up Recycling Lives. The company, now nearly a decade old, serves as the coming together of his existing recycling empire and a social welfare charity. It helps those facing homelessness through a six-stage process of work experience, training, skills development and personal support.
Also walking off with an award at the 17th annual Growing Business Awards, which were hosted by actor, comedian and writer Miles Jupp were household names such as Tangle Teezer and Charlie Bighams.
With 13 prizes up for grabs, the Growing Business Awards, supported by the CBI and in association with Lloyds Bank, cover a wide range of business size and demographic, as well as recognising the achievements of individuals.
Peer-to-peer finance platform Zopa, which has helped lend 1.18bn to more than 150,000 people since beginning operations in 2005, picked up Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover less than 25m). Taking a step up on the revenue bracket, Charlie Bighams scooped Growing Business of the Year: Mid-sized Company (Turnover 25-50m). The business, which produces pies currently being sold at retailers including Sainsburys and Waitrose, experienced incredible growth of 47 per cent year-on-year.
Picking up Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover 50m+) was salary sacrifice provider Tusker, which announced a major new shareholder in February 2015 when ECI Partners acquired an interest in the company.
Away from businesses turning over tens of millions on pounds, the Growing Business Awards also recognised those in the earlier days of company growth. One of three new categories, Micro Business of the Year went to exciting enterprise Mobile Vet which was set up by a husband and wife team and is set to hit 2000 clients by January 2016.
Taking up the mantle of Young Entrepreneur of the Year from last years popular winner Simon Mellin from Roaming Roosters was The VaioPak Group founder Joe Fogel. Rounding off the accolades for smaller businesses was Appear Here, a service which connects landlords with those looking for vacant spaces.
Hunter Ruthven, editor of Real Business, commented: We were blown away by the quality of submissions this year. From those in the early years of business growth to those turning over millions and employing hundreds, it is clear to see that SMEs continue to be the lifeblood of the British economy.
The 17th Growing Business Awards were judged by business leaders ranging from The King of Shaves founder Will King, Graze founder Anthony Fletcher and PCA Predicts Guy Mucklow.
Over the next week, Real Business will be interviewing the winners of this year’s Growing Business Awards so stay tuned to hear more.
Full list of winners:
Entrepreneur of the Year Steven Jackson, Recycling Lives
Young Entrepreneur of the Year Joe Fogel, The VaioPak Group
Young Company of the Year Appear Here
Growing Business of the Year: Smaller Company (Turnover less than 25 million) Zopa
Growing Business of the Year: Mid-Sized Company (Turnover 25 – 50 million) Charlie Bighams
Growing Business of the Year: Larger Company (Turnover 50 million +) Tusker
B2B Business of the Year NetPay Solutions Group
Micro Business of the Year Mobile Vet
Employer of the Year Brandwatch
Digital Champion Easel TV
Retail Hero Saltrock
Innovator of the Year ClearScore
Export Champion of the Year Tangle Teezer