Founded in 2020, the award scheme exists to showcase the creativity, innovation, and true entrepreneurship of the UK's tech ecosystem. Created to recognise, celebrate and share some of the most incredible people and their stories – from the fire starters who took a bet on themselves, to the avid supporters of the flourishing technology industry. Previous winners have included the likes of Little Riot, Halo Solutions, Goodfind, Tractable, Breathe Tech, Uptree, and Choco4Peace, across categories such as Startup Hero, Founder of the Year, and Best Technology.
This was my first time officially judging an awards scheme (I unofficially judge on a regular basis! lolz) so I was excited to dive in and see what the process would be like.
And boy, it was so much more fun than I expected!
Getting to hash out the pros and cons of different entries, thoughtfully debating the selection with incredible peers, and taking turns to defend our choices exercised the academic muscle we rarely get the chance to do in the day job. I loved the process, getting the chance to hash it out with other industry pros - but crucially grateful for the learning opportunity.
For anyone thinking of entering an award (The Hustle Awards or otherwise) or feeling jilted after not making the cut, here are my three key takeaways from the judging experience:
Enter the right category
A seemingly obvious one, but you'd be surprised how many fantastic entries we judged but couldn't defend because it didn't wholly fit the entered category.
Awards organisers share descriptions of the categories to help entrants make a more informed decision. If you're unsure, look at the previous year's winners and shortlisted entries for more clues. It never hurts getting in touch too if you'd like some extra clarification before entering.
The other thing to consider is whether there's a category with less competition, to give you a better chance of winning. for example, one of the Hustle Awards categories is 'Founder of the Year.' I know a truly phenomenal female founder who entered this category and - shockingly - did not make the cut. Had she instead entered the 'Inspirational Womxn of the Year' section, she may have encountered 50% less competition...
Taking a moment to properly assess the award category you're entering is well worth it in the long-run.
Focus on tangible results & achievements
As a marketer, I understand you need to sell to both the head and the heart. To some people it's more about the emotional storytelling, to others you need to dial up the facts & figures.
The same is true with award entries.
Back up your compelling case study with results already achieved, and - ideally - the ultimate impact these had. We read a few award entries that either talked about what they were setting out to do, or their goals/aims for the future. Honestly, until you've achieved that, you can have the best intentions in the world but you're not winning an award!
We want tangible outcomes - how can you measure the impact you've had to demonstrate success?
Keep it real
Again, seemingly obvious, but there were award entries that had their fun stretching the truth!
Whether it's about the results of your work, the testimonials shared, or general description - there are tell-tale signs that make the judges raise an eyebrow or two!
Also pay attention to the quality of the stats you're sharing. There was one entry claiming they had X members of female staff, indicating a gender diverse team. However, with just a teensy scratch beneath the surface, one could see the overall male to female ratio was abysmal. Oops.
The winners of the 2022 Hustle Awards will be announced on 21st July, ceremony held at The Steel Yard Nightclub. Find out more here: https://thehustleawards.co.uk/