Today we have a guest blog from George Mackintosh (CEO, Testplant) who explains what winning has meant to him and TestPlant.
Back in 2011, an email arrived from The Queen's Award office encouraging an application. Why not? In fact our progress in overseas markets since 2008 had begun to cast a shadow on our less-than-sparkling achievements in the UK. Surely a Queen's Award would help!
The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of London, Roger Gifford presents the Queen's Award for Enterprise to George Mackintosh
So we prepared our application. Quite a few months later we had such a nice letter explaining we didn't quite make it. Oh well... but perseverance pays?
And it did. Our 2012 application for an International Trade award was granted. In hindsight, TestPlant was rather better positioned to deserve it this time round and we'd made financially tangible the (easily interpreted as intangible) sale of software. Having customers like BMW, Bloomberg and Boeing helped!
It was a very pleasant and quaint feeling to have to wait until The Queen's birthday to make public our award. And make it public we did! The first audience to share the thrill was all our staff. There's some 50 of us now and we're in Boston, Bangkok, Boulder, London and Congleton. They were delighted - and it has to be said, the international members just as much as the Brits.
In very real terms the Queen's Award for Enterprise has given us that much needed credibility boost in the UK market. There's a certain irony that recognised success overseas would now help us sell more at home! Although the award is indeed respected around the world, particularly by larger enterprises, often seen as impenetrable fortresses to the advances of SMEs.
On a personal level, the award has been a life-time business achievement. Easily worth 5 years hard graft at TestPlant. Easily worth all the flights, flight delays, late check-ins and early check-outs of drab business hotels in Bangalore, Boston, Barcelona and Birmingham (England). To have met HM The Queen was a tingling, surreal and wonderful experience.
Dare I talk about ROI? Well, our return is measured in pounds, shillings and pence...and the effort in applying for, waiting and then in proclaiming our win has had a very healthy and happy return for TestPlant and every single person employed here.