Entries for the Cisco BIG Awards are drawing to a close this week, so Computer Weekly spoke to last year’s winner Snap Fashion to find out how the prize package has helped get her enterprise off the ground.
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The Cisco BIG Awards are designed to find the best emerging technology startup the UK has to offer.
At the 2012 awards final, Snap Fashion was presented with a cheque for $100,000, in addition to winning a prize package which included $30,000 of marketing support, $30,000 of PR and $15,000 in legal support.
The 2012 competition originally saw 300 entries of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which was cut down to 13 semi-finalists and six finalists. During a live Dragon’s Den-style pitch, the six finalists presented to a judging panel.
Snap Fashion is an application designed for users looking for items across UK retailers. The app allows the user to take a picture on their phone of an item of clothing they like before scanning more than 110 UK retailers online to find similar items. Based in Clerkenwell, Snap Fashion is a team of four.
Jenny Griffiths, founder and chief executive of Snap Fashion entered the BIG Awards with her idea of changing the way in which we search the internet, by using images instead of words.
Griffiths said she has found her mentoring sessions with Cisco very helpful in helping her plan ahead with Snap Fashion.
“We have just secured a contract in Asia and will be expanding the business in America too, so we’re working towards being on a global scale, which is very exciting” she said.
Additional promotion was a huge boon
According to Griffiths the best part about winning the prize package was the PR support: “The PR part of the prize package has been really good as it got us a lot of coverage in the fashion world.
“The exposure has been incredible as I would normally be viewed as a crazy inventor, but for Cisco to stand up and say we like what she’s doing has been invaluable.”
Griffiths graduated from the University of Bristol with a first class MEng in Computer Science in 2005. After graduation, she became a programme manager for a major defence engineering company, while trying to launch Snap Fashion during evening and weekends.
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“I thought I could launch Snap Fashion just by doing it evenings and weekends, but I couldn’t and now I wish I had gone for it sooner.
"It’s having the confidence and taking a risk. In an SME, you actually learn more things than you would in a larger company straight after university and you learn everything at once so you can decide which areas you prefer very quickly,” she said.
Good mentor is key
She went on to advise students to try and find a good advisor: “When you leave university you have lots of ideas, but no experience. I was lucky to find a good advisor that had a lot of experience in the mobile sector.”
Back in 2011, Griffiths also won the Tech City Launchpad Competition run by the Technology Strategy Board, where she won funding for Snap Fashion.
She has also made it on to Computer Weekly’s top 25 Influential Women in UK IT this year.
The Cisco BIG Awards competition is part of Cisco’s British Innovation Gateway (BIG) initiative.
BIG is a five-year initiative to spark sustainable and scalable growth of innovative high-tech small and medium-sized enterprises.