We decided to enter the ebay for Business Awards 2018 as ebay was where The Smokey Carter began just over 5 years ago. I started the business as a bit of a hobby and a love for BBQ. ebay soon helped me realise I had something which could eventually be my full time job. That happened just under 2 years ago when I left my job to concentrate on the business full time.
With up to £5,000 on the cards, a VIP trip to the Las Vegas and invaluable business support, I grasped the opportunity to get our name out there to the masses.
ebays aim was to “recognise and celebrate the best of the best. To highlight the inspiring entrepreneurs with businesses who have already made their mark, as well as the up and coming sellers on their way to success.”
Months later ebay got in touch to say we were 1 of 10 businesses out of over 1000 businesses who had made it to the final and won an award! We were over the moon. The Smokey Carter had won the ‘Expert Seller’ category.
The awards ceremony was being held in London at The Ham Yard Hotel, a swanky hotel in Soho on Friday 26th October. Prior to the awards we had a film crew round to film a 2-3 minute video to be shown on the night before our award acceptance speech. I thought I would lite up the BBQ for the video and it made for a great intro to The Smokey Carter.
ebay arranged for our travel to London and a night in The Piccadilly West End Hotel close to the Ham Yard. They also left us a nice bottle of fizz in the room to enjoy before the night ahead. We were certainly excited for the night ahead.
Speech at the ready and a few drinks in the room, it was time to head over to the venue. Thought it was time I got a new suit so I got one for the occasion too. We headed over with all the other category winners and had a few drinks from the bar before heading into the cinema auditorium to be seated.
Out of the other 9 winners our award category was up first! Everyone who knows me knows that I’m not one for public speeches, so it was kind of nice we were first so we could relax after getting it out of the way. We were introduced by Rob Hattrell, Vice President, eBay UK and given an awesome trophy who also announced that all category winners would receive £1000, an ebay Anchor store plus ebay concierge service for 1 year. Mrs Smokey accompanied me to the stage and kept me in check with my acceptance speech.
The Line Up
- The Expert Award – The Smokey Carter
- Family Award – Hopkinson Cycles
- Growth Engine Award – Schott Packaging Ltd.
- Career Change Award – Heavenly Homes and Gardens
- Charity Award – Families and Babies
- Inspiration Award – Agri Parts UK
- Click & Mortar Award – That’s Entertainment Theatrical
- Innovation Award – Bottle Buddi
- Young Genius Award – Zzap (presented by the Prince’s Trust)
- Grassroots Award – Velocity Outlet
And the winners are…. Families and Babies, and rightly so. We were just so happy to be there and win The Expert Seller Award. It was such a close call that ebay UK VP also picked Agri Parts UK as joint winner also winning £5,000 and a trip to the USA.
I have to say a massive thanks to Mrs Smokey. She has helped me with the business from the beginning and I think she thought I was a little bonkers at the beginning. She is always there to bounce ideas off and help me with various Smokey tasks when things get really busy.
Hearing about the other business category winners and their inspiring stories after ours was really amazing. So many inspiring businesses and made us feel truly humbled to be among them.
Around an hour later and everyone had received their awards. The audience of around 120-150 people including winners were asked to pick the overall grand prize winner on a keypad (Who Wants To Be A Millionaire ‘ask the audience’ style).
The night just went so quickly and there were so many lovely people to chat with. We spoke with last years winners who were brought back to help with the judging process. They were so nice and told us their vote was with us all the way. To have genuine people who believe in your business is a great feeling and we really appreciate every bit of support we get, whether it be speaking with people direct, on social media or via other channels.
What a great night to remember! We took advantage of being in London, stayed an extra night and saw the sights in ‘The Big Smoke’ and had a walk by the Thames. Plus we had to check out a BBQ joint whilst we were there. Bodeans BBQ in Soho didn’t disappoint!