Vote for umi in the O2 Smarta 100 2011 and O2 have named umi hotels as a winner in the 2011 Smarta 100 awards: a collection of the UK’s savviest, enterprising, most disruptive small businesses. We have also been listed within the top five businesses for the special “People” award for our work with young people.

Voting is now under way to find the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year, winning £10,000 courtesy of O2 and umi needs your votes at

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.

Umi hotels is a “luxury-budget” hotel brand that empowers its people to help keep the business innovative and offers a value product without even a tiny compromise on service.  There are 99 other businesses all battling it out for the title of O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year.

Commenting on umi’s inclusion in the Smarta 100, Steve Lowy, Founder of umi hotels said: “Being listed in the Smarta 100 really is an honour for us and particularly having a place in the Top 5 for People as I strongly believe in working with young people.  People are an integral part of any service industry and it is great to be acknowledged for our efforts in this area, as well as being an innovative and progressive business.”

Many of this year’s winners have triumphed through adversity such as Camille Johnson, who set up Pink Ribbon Lingerie after her mother’s experiences struggling to find attractive mastectomy lingerie.

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 and Smarta 100 businesses tend to be running lean operations with a growing shift towards virtual teams and networks of freelancers.

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.

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.

“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.”

Voting for the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year is now live and umi would like your votes!

The overall winner and special awards winners will be presented with their prizes at The Smarta 100 Awards final on Wednesday 21st September at London’s IndigO2.  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.

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: