On Saturday 18th September I attended the Club Hub Awards in Birmingham.
Club Hub is the UK's top service for parents looking for activities for their children and their annual awards are the most coveted for children's activity providers in the UK.
With close to 300 entrants from across the country and only 16 awards, I was delighted that Inventors & Makers was shortlisted as one of only six finalists in an unbelievable four different categories.
The awards are independently judged by a panel of 7 expert judges, who are specialists in their fields. Winners were selected based on their commitment to excellence, innovation and growth of their business through business performance, achievements, brand values and passion for what they do.
The day started with winners from 2020 collecting their awards, announced at the online Club Hub Award ceremony last year. That meant that I was first up on stage collecting my Start Up of the Year award.
It felt quite emotional to think back on when the award was announced in May 2020 as I sat in my kitchen wondering what would happen to my business in a lockdown world.
Growth of the Year - Runner Up
As a finalist in this category, I had told the judges of how Little STEAMers had progressed from 20 children in a church hall in January 2020 to 350 paying families across the world only 10 months later. This was in addition to nearly 40,000 views of free videos via my Facebook page.
Unfortunately I was pipped to the post in this category by Mama Codes, funnily enough a business co-founded by someone at the same college as me at university! A very well deserved winner.
Digital Business of the Year - Winner
It's been funny to think of myself as a digital business, something I'd never have considered prior to March 2020. However, as I've adapted my classes and workshops to an online format it's become apparent how well this works for parents and schools to have flexible access to specialist STEM whenever and wherever they are, and also at a much more affordable price.
Having previously worked at an education technology startup with a team of engineers and product specialists, I do struggle to think of myself as a digital business sometimes, which made it even more exciting to be chosen as the winner of this category.
When I collected the award, I spoke about how it can often feel lonely running a business by yourself from home and how special it was to celebrate with all the other incredible activity providers there on the day.
Independent Business of the Year - Runner Up
I felt it would be a long shot to move from Start Up of the Year in 2020 to this award just one year later against far more established businesses. I was happy to even be shortlisted alongside other businesses from across a range of activities. In fact I was the only STEM business shortlisted in this category.
The winner on the day was Big Bold Youth CIC, a social enterprise running affordable drama classes for children. Another well deserved winner doing something amazing for children.
Lockdown Achievement Award - Winner
The final award of the day was a one-off for 2021 to celebrate businesses who had survived and even thrived during the lockdown period.
Like most business owners, in March 2020 I shed tears and wondered how I would go on as a company that ran in-person toddler and preschool classes and workshops in schools.
However, at such an early stage in Inventors & Makers, I was able to pivot to an online alternative which has become something I'll continue indefinitely.
As well as reaching children in my local area, I now teach children across the world from Texas, Singapore, Ireland, the Philippines and Dubai. I've seen the reach of my classes grow by 17 times from the numbers pre lockdown.
It's not just about the numbers though, but also the amazing feedback I've had from parents and children. So many parents have told me how much Little STEAMers has inspired a love of science in their child and many have also said that Little STEAMers was the highlight of their lockdown.
If you'd like to try a Little STEAMers class for free you can join me here.
Teachers can find out more and try a free STEM challenge here.