The greatest innovators in Canary Wharf, Docklands, the East End and south-east London packed out the Radisson Blu Edwardian New Providence Wharf for the The Wharf Innovation In Business Awards 2016.
Dragon slayer and Reggae Reggae sauce creator Levi Roots took to the stage to hand out the prizes to the worthy recipients during the glittering ceremony.
We spoke to the winners about their victories and the importance of Innovation in business.
Business Partnership - Parkour Generations
Founder and director Dan Edwardes said: “It’s fantastic to get this award and it is our passion, what we do, so it’s great to see it acknowledged in that way. It’s awesome.”
“We do partner up with very interesting industries and different types of organisations around the world who we would have never expected to work with so I think that might be what caught their eye because it’s very different.”
Co-founder Elias Dayub said: “It’s incredible – this is probably the most important award that we have got since we started the business.
“Innovation for us means either taking a product that already exists to the next level or creating something from scratch and that’s what we’ve tried to do since we started this business.”
Co-founder Daniel Garcia added: “It has been a roller coaster of emotion, of business. We started from scratch. I was pushing bags in a hotel and he was a chef – that’s how we met. Then we started this six years ago.”
Business Person - Ricky Kothari from T-Sticks
Ricky said: “I’m absolutely stunned and amazed. We’re a year and a bit into the whole brand and to go to China and now to India with the product has been amazing.
“This means a great deal because of our position in east London. We’ve grown our community by hiring people in the local area but I really want to get into Canary Wharf and present the product.”
Customer Service Excellence - Carrot Cars
Adam Wiltsher said: “I’m very, very happy, proud and privileged. When we saw the other people in for this award we felt lucky to just be named in the same breath as them.
“But we are very surprised and very happy and it’s thank you to our fantastic team who do it day in, day out and do the things that have helped us to win this award.
“This award means a great deal, you can see how happy we are. Like I said, none of us thought we would win it but here we are now.”
Business Growth - East London Liquor Company
Alex Wolpert said: “It feels amazing, it’s fantastic. It’s really great to have won and to be in such great company with such amazing local businesses. To win is a real honour.
“For us business growth is about making something that really works locally first. So, can we give gin back to Londoners as something really good, something really affordable, accessible and transparent? To be able to follow that idea really faithfully has been an amazing journey.”
Corporate Social Responsibility - London City Airport
Andrew Scott said: “This is fantastic news. It’s testament to the great work of the corporate social responsibilty team at the airport who work closely with so many different parts of the community particularly around Newham but also the wider boroughs.
“A lot of the schools have been part of our education programme, our work experience programme and we’re really taking a lead on different initiatives and most recently the Take Off Into Work scheme, which has created around 500 jobs at the airport for people directly in the local area.
“It’s great to be recognised for that.”
Employer - Metro Village
Director Ching Tang said: “I’m very, very proud and very surprised but that just goes to show how much it means to look after staff and what that means for the success of the business.
“Being an employer means getting the best out of people and creating an environment where they enjoy it to further their needs and their goals in life.”
New Business - Sports Bar And Grill
Sports Bar And Grill general manager Mike Reed and operations director Jane White collected the award for New Business.
Jane White, operations director, said: “It feels absolutely amazing, I’m knocked out,” said Jane. “It was a very strong category and there were some great businesses short listed but I think we’re very passionate about what we do and we’ve worked really hard and the team at Canary Wharf really deserve this.
“All the waiters, the waitresses, the bartenders and the management team – they’ve worked with the community, they’ve worked with Canary Wharf Group and we owe it to them too.
“Canary Wharf is a city within a city and we’re proud to be part of how that’s evolving.”
General Manager Mike Reed added: “With the regeneration that’s happening in this part of London, it just goes to show the faith our owners have got that they can put Sports Bar And Grill in a station that doesn’t yet have trains running. If the product is right it will work.”
Small Business - Greenwich Theatre
James Haddrell, artistic director, said: “We’re really delighted because quite often arts companies aren’t considered in a business context, aren’t considered alongside other businesses.
“We’ve worked really hard to prove that Greenwich Theatre is an important community organisation, an important artistic entity and also a business.
“It can turn around huge historic debt, it can stabilise itself and ensure its future so we’re delighted.”
Simon Francis, commercial director, said: “I think it’s unexpected but it’s great because a lot of what we do is day-to-day survival and planning.
“The people we interact with validate that and it shows. To see it acknowledged beyond that is unexpected and wonderful because we do tend to see ourselves as struggling along by ourselves but to see it measured against other companies that are doing really well and to come out as a winner is fantastic.”
Medium-To-Large Business - Creative Virtual
Founder and CEO Chris Ezekiel said: “Forget technology, business is about the people and I’m growing a global company here at the heart of the place I grew up and employing people here. To be recognised for that is just amazing. Good on The Wharf for promoting local talent with these awards.
“I’m a local boy from the Isle Of Dogs and I created this company 12 and a half years ago. This is where I live, and I founded a company here that’s ruling the world with our technology. What could be better than that?
“Virtual assistance – being able to get answers to questions without calling the contact centre – is revolutionising the customer experience for companies and saving them a fortune.
“The last thing millennials want to do is call up the company or enter into an email exchange. They just want instant answers on their mobile phones and they want answers to questions. And that’s what we give them.”
Lifetime Achievement - Reg Beer
Reg said: “I am very surprised. There are people there who I have known for many years and I thought there was no way that I was going to win this because I haven’t made any money.
“I’ve done lots of things but I never made any money out of what I’ve done. It’s good that somebody somewhere has recognised that I’ve achieved something, I’m not quite sure what it is but it’s good to be recognised and I love everybody that’s in that room.
“This place represents the future of Britain. Our strength is in our people, our industry, our commerce,our drive and our enthusiasm. Canary Wharf can represent the future for Britain.
“This means a lot. I’m still surprised that I’ve got it. It’s very nice to get it and it’s nice to be recognised. There are a lot of people out there with jobs that no-one recognises and I hope I might represent them.
“I’ve always believed in east London. I love the East End, I love its people, its history, its culture and that’s been my driving force.
“I’ve loved to represent it. I’ve done lots of jobs but selling prints and maps of the East End.
“On the face of it, they’re just bits of paper but every time I sell one I talk to people about what that piece of paper represents.
“It’s about the history and the culture of our area and what it represents.
“My father was born in 1899 and went through poverty and was injured in the Great War. He came back to unemployment but through it all we always had this belief in Britain and its people.
“I’m 72 next birthday and I think the future of the East End is good. We’re going places and Canary Wharf is the hub around which Britain can take on the world.”
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