UCL and Unioversity of Bath alumus Simon Hill has been voted Guardian Small Business Leader of the Year, in a glittering awards ceremony that took place in Central London last night (13 May).
The award had more than 1,000 entries initially, which were whittled down to a shortlist that saw Simon included alongside the founder of online gift store Prezzybox and Cornish organic beauty brand, Spiezia Organics. The shortlisted three were put to a public vote that saw Simon emerge as the winner, with his award presented by retail expert and presenter of BBC’s Mary Queen of Shops, Mary Portas.
Simon graduated from UCL in 2002 and completed his MBA at the University of Bath business school in 2003 and went on to found Wazoku, an idea management software firm that helps organisations capture and develop good ideas, crowdsourcing ideas from internal or external communities.
Having launched Wazoku in 2011, Simon has since raised £1.25M in funding and won some of the world’s biggest brands as customers. These include the BBC, Aviva and Capita, as well as a host of public sector organisations including the National Health Service (NHS), Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Department for Education (DfE) and many local councils across the UK.
“This award is as much for everyone that has worked at Wazoku as it is for me, and to say that I am proud would be a massive understatement,” said Simon Hill, founder, Wazoku. “Wazoku is having an incredible year, as more and more organisations are realising the importance of good ideas and innovation and also the need for the best tools to unlock those ideas. I was up against some really strong competition and congratulations must also go to Amanda at Spiezia Organics and Zak at Prezzybox.”
The Guardian Small Business Leader of the Year sought to recognise the business leaders that had made a genuine and lasting difference to the business and those that work there. Simon was commended for his commitment to a flat hierarchical structure, where every staff member is a shareholder and everyone is tied to the same overall goals.
Additionally, Wazoku has a true open door policy, where Simon will take anyone for lunch to talk through anything they want. On the last Friday of every month he takes the whole company out to celebrate the successes of the month just passed.
The next phase for Wazoku will be expansion into other territories and the company has already signed a partnership with innovation consultancy Innocentrix that will see Wazoku’s software sold in South Africa.
“A good idea is a good idea no matter which country it originates from and there is no reason why we can’t be as successful globally as we have been in the UK”, said Simon Hill. “Organisations all over the world can benefit from crowdsourcing ideas and innovation, so international expansion is going to be the next major objective for Wazoku.”