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New Talent Unearthed at Digital Awards

Article date: Fri, 03 Dec 2010 11:23 GMT

Digital Entrepreneur Awards

London restaurant group Pied a Terre and Masabi - the software developer that closed a deal with trainline.com in May - were among the winners at the Digital Entrepreneur Awards, hailed as the only national stage in the UK dedicated to recognising online business excellence.

Nineteen digital businesses in the UK had their entrepreneurial talents rewarded at a glittering awards ceremony held in Manchester last night.

The Masabi mobile application allows users to buy and display UK rail tickets direct from their mobile phones for any route on the National Rail network without having to visit ticket offices or ticket machines. The system began its rollout with Trainline.com earlier this year.

On picking up the award, Ben Whitaker, Masabi's founder said: "In the next year we hope to do something for the everyman with mobile which means they can get on their trains without queuing. It's an everyday bit of life and it's really fun to be able to change an everyday bit of life with the stuff you work on and good ideas.

"We need other people to innovate and to back us because small businesses have to work very hard to change big industry."

Errol Damelin, founder and CEO of wonga.com, an online "micro lender" offering short-term cash advances to UK consumers, walked away with one of the biggest accolades of the evening, the Digital Entrepreneur of the Year award.

He said: "I'm proud to receive this award, although I couldn't have achieved Wonga's success without my co-founder and a team of very talented and passionate people. We are using the internet and web technology to disrupt a very large and traditional market and it's very encouraging to receive such expert endorsement for our progress so far."

The second major gong - Digital Business of the Year - went to Global Personals, a Windsor-based dating technology business and the most successful privately-owned online dating company in Europe, ranked eighth place in the 2010 Deloitte Technology Fast 50.

Ross Williams, CEO and co-founder, said: "We are very proud. This is a fantastic achievement for the company, a real testament to every single employee who works so hard to make Global Personals what it is today. It's taken a lot of hard work - seven years' worth, in fact - from all of us and it means a lot."

The winners of all nineteen awards were announced at a glittering awards bash at the Palace Hotel in Manchester where after-dinner speaker James Timpson, managing director of key cutting and shoe repair empire, Timpson, offered advice to budding digital entrepreneurs in the audience on how to take a company from good to great with an "upside down" management structure.

Now in their second year, the Digital Entrepreneur of the Year awards are aimed at discovering and rewarding the best businesses on the web and were expanded this year to accommodate a phenomenal number of applications from high-calibre companies. The winners - in categories including Design & Technology, Sustaining Society, Digital Business and E-services, beat off stiff competition from hundreds of web-based businesses who made up an outstanding shortlist of firms that battled it out for the British internet's biggest awards.

Lawrence Jones, managing director of UKFast, the headline sponsor of this year's awards and one of Europe's fastest-growing technical companies, said: "It's been a privilege to be involved in an event that recognises the innovators and entrepreneurs that are changing the face of the net as we know it. We've received a record number of entries this year from some pioneering businesses and have been truly inspired by many of them."


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