5 top tips to boost your Startups 100 entry

The Startups 100 Index 2024 is about to commence – here's how to increase your chances of a winning entry.

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Having your business make the Startups 100 list is an excellent opportunity to gain recognition, exposure, and even funding for your firm. If chosen by our judges, the exceptional startups will receive a place in the longest-running index of its kind, cementing their place in small business history.

Alongside this, they’ll also be showcased to Startups’ huge entrepreneur community – including our hundreds of thousands of online followers – and a specialised publishing package to feature on our website. Best of all, they’ll get all of this completely free!

So, how to submit a killer application? In today’s competitive business landscape, it’s important not to blend in. We receive hundreds of applicants each year, and we don’t want to risk missing out on your incredible business idea.

Below, we’ll go through our top 5 tips to boost your Startup’s 100 entry and ensure you stand out from the crowd. By the end, you’ll have all the key ingredients for a winning application, joining the likes of Deliveroo and Monzo to be named the most exciting new business in the UK.

1. Understand the competition’s criteria

This is the first thing to consider when sending your entry, and arguably the most important. 

Before you begin, you need to understand the Startups 100 criteria, and ensure you meet the requirements. Luckily, we only have three, easy-to-follow conditions to apply.

To be eligible for the Startups 100 Index, your business must be:

  • UK-based
  • Privately owned
  • Have launched on or after 1st January 2018

Our judges will want to see that your business has ambition. During your entry, we’ll ask you to outline your short-term and long-term goals, and how you plan to achieve them. Highlight any potential obstacles and how you’ll overcome them.

You’ll need:

  • Key info about the founder(s): We want to hear all about you and your entrepreneurial journey (the highs, and the lows).
  • A description of your business, and what makes it special: Your business can be based in any industry, at a kitchen table, office, virtually anywhere or just virtually, with founders of any age or background.
  • Financial information: include last year’s figures and this year’s projections. Don’t feel intimidated if you haven’t got big funding figures to advertise, it won’t necessarily take you out of the running. We are looking for impressive business ideas with lots of growth potential.
  • Data: Feel free to show off any impressive stats such as employee growth or subscriber numbers.

2. Tell your story

The best way to capture our expert judges’ attention is by telling us a compelling story about your business. 

  • How did you begin and why? 
  • What gap in the market did you spot? What problem did you know you had the solution to?
  • Do you have a personal connection to the business you decided to start? 

Share your vision, mission, and how your business addresses a need in the market with as must passion as you can muster – the more the better, as it brings life to your founding story and may put you in the running for additional accolades if your business makes it onto the list, such as “exceptional founder”. 

Real-life examples and customer testimonials to demonstrate the impact of your business are always a bonus.

What good looks like: Bold Bean Co.

“Picture this: an Erasmus student with very little to do. Hungover from another night filled with terrible broken Spanish, Amelia found herself hungry + lazy. Next thing you know, she’s eating creamy heirloom butter beans straight out of a jar. Amelia remembers closing her eyes to properly immerse herself in that moment, it was the taste of natural, creamy sumptuousness. It was the taste of a BOLDLY BRILLIANT bean.

 After three years of working in the food sustainability space with top London chefs, a little legume appreciation turned into a full-on obsession. Amelia wasn’t just inspired by restaurants using high-quality beans creatively, but also learned from those around her in food sustainability, Amelia realised that BEANS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD, someone just needs to start spreading the gospel.

 How to convert a bunch of Brits to a bunch of #Beanchamps? Give them the BEST beans on the planet. 

In just one year – we have won listings in Planet Organic, Selfridges, Gorillas and Waitrose. We have secured investment from legends of the Food & Drink industry, who also understand what beans can do for the world!”

We want to recognise the startups that prioritise people, planet, or purpose as much as profit. As you can probably tell from the engaging story Amelia shared here, we were instantly captivated, as her passion for her work completely shone through.

3. Showcase your expertise

Every year, we look for businesses with industry expertise and a deep understanding of their market – including any challenges.

Using your entry to showcase your knowledge and expertise in your field is super beneficial because this is where you can show your credibility – and why you specifically are the one to make your business world-changing, transformational, and the next big thing! 

Expertise could include any relevant industry certifications or qualifications, for example, or highlight any partnerships or collaborations with other businesses.

What good looks like: Caura

“Roads are getting more digital and the number of apps/websites that a driver needs to manage just one car is 25+, and that’s excluding electric charging! Getting any of these payments wrong (e.g. city charges, tax, MOT) means drivers are automatically hit with fines and PCNs (Penalty Charge Notices). 

This is because the back-end infrastructure has been automated to serve these fines but consumer-facing tech hasn’t caught up. We therefore made it our mission to make sure our drivers never get fined again. Enough is enough!

 We have grown 800% CAGR over the last couple of years with extremely strong usage metrics. Almost $4M of transactions have been run through the platform so far and we have lots of avenues for growth. 

One of our investors is Jaguar Land Rover and we’ve just signed two FTSE 100 companies. We’re pretty pumped on the back of that!”

As the winner of the Startups 100 2023, the Caura entry included multiple relevant stats about their audience base, the pain points of today’s drivers, and information on the upcoming ULEZ legislation. 

Crucially, everything they said came back to the impact on customers, which made it super clear to the judges why there was an opportunity for them to do exceptionally well in their space.

4. Skip the jargon!

We know it’s hard. You are super passionate about your purpose and totally immersed in your industry. But using overly technical or business speak makes it harder for the judges to surface your strengths and really hear your message. 

Instead, focus on using clear, concise language that is easy to understand by a layperson.

What good looks like: Ambl

“Ambl is the only app in which users can personalise and tailor their search based on party size, price point and whether they’d like a restaurant, cocktail bar, pub or coffee shop – and all of this is on-demand tapping into the spontaneous market at the same time as shining a light on available tables. 

Research has highlighted that one in seven consumers have admitted to not fulfilling their bookings. 

Loss of revenue, early closures, and rota nightmares will be a thing of the past thanks to Ambl, which has been designed to give venues the power and the platform to combat the detrimental impact of the last-minute cancellation culture. 

It’s been created to give consumers the freedom to view and book venues with availability – right here, right now reducing the headache of roaming around struggling to find availability, whilst providing visibility to an untapped market for venues. 

We’re bringing back spontaneous living at the same time.”

Here’s a great example of how to sell your business to judges without giving an in-depth explanation of all the specific ins and outs of the business that aren’t necessary to include.

5. Don’t hide your achievements

If your business has reached a milestone that you are bursting with pride about, or received any awards or recognition that have made your mantelpiece, let us know!

Highlighting your achievements will demonstrate your business’s credibility and success to the judges. A few examples of good credibility indicators include:

What good looks like: WILD

Wild was the world’s first refillable deodorant to launch 100% biodegradable refills. 

We are on a mission to remove single-use plastic and create high-performing natural formulations for everyday personal care routines, allowing consumers to switch to more sustainable solutions without compromise.

From our iconic aluminium cases to our crazy scent launches which have included Toffee Apple, Candy Floss and Pine Tree, we have looked to create a sustainably focused brand that appeals to a wider and more diverse audience than traditional eco brands. With over 11,000 5* Trustpilot reviews and a combined social following of 300K, we have a formidable and loyal community who love our Wild nature and the fact Wild allows them to switch without compromise. Wild is also available both online via our store and in multiple stores including Waitrose, Sainsburys and Boots.

Wild vision is to be a £150 million + profitable business at the forefront of the refill revolution. We want to be a multi-product, multi-channel and multi-territory brand delivering regular Wild products to over 2 million households and radically reducing the amount of plastic used in bathrooms across the world.”

Here, WILD communicated its social value in a few different ways that were clear, accredited, and easy to understand. Using metrics to demonstrate the worth of your growing business is always a fast indicator of future potential and success.


Since 2008, we have highlighted startup trailblazers including Deliveroo and Monzo – giving them the springboard they needed to make atomic waves in the business world. 

Every entrepreneur who made it onto our list began with a simple idea – they just needed a platform to launch their rocket ship. We can give you that platform. 

Bottom line – we want your submissions to shine. And we’re hoping these suggestions make the entry process simpler and more effective. 

So what are you waiting for? Apply now to the Startups 100 Index and tell us why you will be the most exciting new UK business in 2024.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 14 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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