Sponsored by Gibtelecom
The GFSB would like to take this opportunity to thank all the applicants of this year’s GFSB Business Innovation Award sponsored by Gibtelecom. The judges have been very impressed with the quality of the entries this year as always. Innovation amongst Gibraltar’s entrepreneurial community is still certainly very much alive.
Commenting on the winners, Eran Shay- GFSB Board Member and one of the judges, said: “This year we have had to conduct the interviews online via video-conferencing. I was impressed to see how all contesters have managed to think outside the box and innovate their business model even further to be able to operate one way or another, despite the current Corona crisis. E-Bike Gibraltar not only expands the Gibraltar tourism offering but also provides a viable, affordable and most importantly – environmentally friendly means of transport, in line with Gibraltar’s Go Green strategy. With the absence of tourism due to COVID19, it was impressive to hear how E-Bikes Gibraltar were able to swiftly adapt their business model to the needs of the local community, be it through rental of E-bikes to those wishing to exercise or renting them out to perform deliveries around town, including a trial with the Royal Gibraltar Post Office. We wish them every success for the future”.
GFSB Business Innovation Award 2020 by Jackie Anderson
Innovation, the ultimate differentiator “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” (Steve Jobs) Innovation is key to business success, and it will be key to broaching the challenging conditions emerging in the post Covid-19 pandemic global economy. This year, the Gibraltar Federation of Small Business, through the sponsorship of Gibtelecom, once again sought out the best of business innovation in Gibraltar through its Business Innovation Awards which ran from November through to March, with the winner announced at the start of May, in the midst of an unprecedented lockdown.
The process of judging the entrants usually involves the evaluation of application forms from which a shortlist of businesses is selected, and these are invited to make a presentation to a panel of judges. This year, inevitably, the process was carried out entirely online, with the forms distributed to the panel via email and the presentations carried out via video-conferencing. In some ways, this presented particular challenges; regardless of the impressive functionality of video-conferencing apps, face-to-face interactions are still an important part of being able to both demonstrate and evaluate a product or service. However, as GFSB Board member and one of the judges, Eran Shay, explained, all the applicants adapted well to the new format. Fellow judges were Stephen Reyes, and also David Taylor from Gibtelecom.
Indeed, as Eran went on to elaborate, the lockdown period during which the judgement took place presented an interesting picture of how innovative businesses are so well-placed to adapt to a rapidly-changing environment, with businesses that were already innovative being able to demonstrate further innovations in order to meet the new challenges. For example, one of the runners up, Queue Wisely, altered its business model to be able to provide clients with information on waiting times at Morrison’s supermarket instead of at the border, where the flow of traffic had drastically reduced. “Necessity,” Eran reminds us, “is the mother of invention.” Where a business needs and wants to change, it will find a way to do so and the degree of adaptation to new circumstances from the entrants demonstrated impressive entrepreneurial spirit.
This was particularly the case with this year’s applicants and superbly exemplified by winners, EBike – Gibraltar, which provides a variety of ebikes for sale or for rental. “EBike-Gibraltar brought a new product to Gibraltar,” says Eran, “tailored the business very much for Gibraltar’s market. Initially a tourism product, the ebike business gained traction with the local community and the concept has been adapted to apply to a variety of client requirements: leisure, sport, business transportation, and home delivery services to name a few.”
EBike-Gibraltar adapted swiftly to the lockdown: the business lost the bulk of its market, which was tourism, almost overnight, but has grown customer interest among the general population. In addition to this, the business has the potential to have a much wider impact on Gibraltar through its contribution as an environmentally sound form of transport. The judges also felt that the business exhibited great potential for growth including international growth.
The Business Innovation Awards have now been offered by the GFSB for a number of years and never fail to highlight an impressive degree of creative thinking, innovation and business acumen that thrives in Gibraltar. The range of businesses entering the competition was broad as can be seen from the shortlist: a distillery, an electric bicycle retailer, a hairdressing salon, a business administration service, a rent guarantor scheme, and a time-saving app, all impressing the judges with the various ways they found to bring innovation to Gibraltar. “The judges look for innovation in different forms and apply a range of criteria to all the applicants,” Eran explained. The criteria used included items such as whether the business is based on a new concept or is bringing a new product or service to Gibraltar, and the use, development and application of technology, among other attributes. “The quality of the applicants, as has been the case in previous years, has been very good,” says Eran, “and that is testament to the good business environment we have in Gibraltar, as well as indicating that there is great scope for growing and developing Gibraltar’s businesses well beyond the pandemic. In Gibraltar, we have all the right ingredients to foster businesses, to incubate and accelerate them, to join global business innovators and be part of the cutting edge of the business world. Our flexibility, our supportive environment, our compact size makes Gibraltar an ideal place to test-drive new ideas.”
Eran, along with the panel of judges, offers congratulations to all the winner and the runners up, and thanks all the business that took part, saying, “I hope that entrepreneurship and innovation continues to flourish on the Rock,”
Business Innovation Awards 2020 finalists:
Winner of the Business Innovation Award, EBike-Gibraltar provides a practical solution to a genuine problem experienced daily in Gibraltar: the volume of vehicular traffic on our limited road network. EBike-Gibraltar provides its electric bikes for sale or for rent, which gives customers a chance to either enjoy them for a day for leisure or test them out before committing to purchase. In recent weeks, the customer base has expanded to other businesses, in particular local delivery businesses, and to government departments. Stuart Hedley, founder of the business, said of the Business Innovation Awards: “The award process has given us the opportunity to reflect on the direction of the business and how important innovation is to our success. “
Joint runner up, Ezylet, aimed to use the Awards to highlight the innovative product that they offer the Gibraltar market. An online letting agency aimed mainly at the UK market, Ezylet also provides a rent guarantor service to Gibraltar’s many students who rent property in the UK. Until Ezylet set up the service, there were no other companies offering this, putting them at the forefront of innovation by offering a seamless, fully online solution to landlords and tenants who require a guarantor. Company Director, Emma Foy, says: “These awards highlight the importance of innovation within a business.”
Mayfair on Main
Shortlisted for this year’s Award, Mayfair on Main’s owner, Sarah Carreras, says they wanted to “change the perception of hair dressing from being a mundane role to being an artistic and inspirational one and a route which many would want to pursue as a career.” The business has been innovative from the start, bringing to Gibraltar a luxury salon experience with first class customer service, session styling, hair art collections and Gibraltar’s first Hair Academy which is working with Government and offering internationally recognised City and Guilds qualifications in Gibraltar’s schools and will soon be offering technical courses through the college and privately. Sarah adds: “Persistence is the key to seeing innovations through in business and therefore ensuring success.”
Costa Admin Solutions
Costa Admin Solutions (CAS) is a solution-driven business with customer focus at its core. Aimed at providing bespoke admin support to other small businesses, Costa Admin Solutions provides a suite of services that are fundamental to the smooth functioning of all businesses, large or small, start-up or ongoing. Able to provide a broad range of activities to all business sectors such as payroll, social media marketing, general administration and bookkeeping among many, CAS has innovation as the foundation block of everything they do. “We know that for many businesses, great ideas often fail through lack of time, money, and people-power,” Lizette Costa, CAS founder, explains, “we share our expertise and our people – employees that we train and empower with the right skills – with local businesses to help them succeed. After all, we are all part of the same community: if they thrive, we all thrive.”
Spirit of the Rock
Based at George’s Lane in the heart of Gibraltar’s Old Town, Spirit of the Rock is Gibraltar’s only gin distillery. Not only does Spirit of the Rock distil an award winning craft gin, but they also engage fully with customers through their increasingly popular distillery tours and historically-linked gin tasting events. The business also has an eco-friendly approach and offers refunds on bottles and caps, recycles waste and avoids single-use plastics as much as possible. The gin is the only premium product made in Gibraltar and is sold to the public through shops, restaurants, hotels and online, which has resulted in the business steadily gaining an overseas market.