Scottish Company Little Riot One of UK's Smartest 100 Small Businesses and O2 have named Little Riot as a winner of the 2011 Smarta 100 Awards: a collection of the UK’s savviest, enterprising, most disruptive small businesses.    

Voting is now under way to find the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year, winning £10,000 courtesy of O2.    

This year’s Smarta 100 provides a fascinating snapshot of UK small business today: a cross-section of ingenious new ideas, individuals seeking self-employment after redundancy, the innovators of the cloud and crowd and the fast-growth big businesses of tomorrow.

One of the lucky 100 is Little Riot, a new interaction design company based in Edinburgh. The company was founded less than a year ago by recent Dundee University graduate Joanna Montgomery (23), after she secured £25,000 of funding in October 2010 to develop her university project into a commercial product.

Pillow Talk is a product which aims to connect couples in long distance relationships. Each person has a sensor they wear to bed and a fabric panel which slots inside their pillowcases. The sensors pick up the wearer’s heartbeat and wirelessly transmit them to their partner’s pillow. The result is a unique and engaging interaction between two people, regardless of the distance between them.

Joanna, a graduate in Digital Interaction Design, experienced her “eureka” moment when she posted a video of her concept online. Within days it had been watched by 250,000 people and her inbox was flooded with emails asking where it could be purchased. It was at this point Joanna decided to decline a graduate job and instead form her own company to develop the product.

Over the last year she has successfully acquired £50,000 of development funding and received support from several Scottish organisations, including a place on Cultural Enterprise Office’s business development programme “Starter for 6”. The young entrepreneur has now received six awards for both her creative product and her disruptive business acumen, her latest achievement being a place in the prestigious Smarta 100.

However, there are 99 other businesses, all battling it out for the title of O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year. From the weird and wonderful world of non-spill potties to non-tooth pulling toffee, Little Riot is sitting among an elite list of small companies proving that innovation and entrepreneurship are alive and well in Britain.

As well as being one of the youngest winners in the Smarta 100 (the average age being 33), Joanna’s inclusion in the exclusive selection is remarkable, as Little Riot is the only company to receive an award when the product has yet to even hit the market.

Commenting on her inclusion in the Smarta 100, Little Riot Founder and Director Joanna Montgomery said:

“I’m very proud and honoured to be part of the Smarta 100, it’s such an achievement for Little Riot considering the company is less than a year old! However I now face public vote to be in with a chance of winning Smarta Business of the Year. Can a young female running a start-up take on the big boys in London? I hope so, but I need your vote!”

Commenting on this year’s Smarta 100 winners, Dragons’ Den star and Smarta board member Deborah Meaden – who wasn’t part of the judging process – said:

“This year’s Smarta 100 has uncovered some superb small businesses, many of which I’ll admit I’d never heard of but have enjoyed discovering and am very much looking forward to meeting.

“What pleases me is that these awards are championing passionate and ambitious people with brilliant ideas who’ve acted on those ideas and turned them into flourishing businesses. These small businesses and individuals are hugely important and deserve our recognition and support.”

Voting for the overall O2 Smarta 100 Business of the Year is now live! Voting closes September 20th at 6pm.

The winner will be presented with their £10,000 prize – courtesy of O2 – at The Smarta 100 Awards final on Wednesday 21st September at London’s IndigO2.

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Notes to editors:


Headshot of Joanna Montgomery –
Pillow Talk –
National Varsity Pitch Competition Win –
Little Riot Logo –

About Little Riot

Little Riot is an interaction design company which aims to develop products which push boundaries, excite people and challenge the way they use technology. The company additionally offers a consultancy service to help other designers and companies understand how to engage with users. Joanna also commits time to speaking at enterprise events and schools, to share her journey so far with others. (features viral video of Pillow Talk)

Little Riot press office contact:

Joanna Montgomery

About Smarta

Smarta is the UK’s largest leading news, tools and advice resource for small business owners. Smarta recently launched Smarta Business Builder, an online toolkit offering accounts, website, email, legal docs and business planning software from a single web page from £20 a month.

Smarta was founded by Shaa Wasmund and is backed by some of the UK's top entrepreneurs, including Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis, Michael Birch and Sir Richard Needham. At the heart of everything we do is a commitment to encourage more people to start and grow successful businesses. Smarta is supported by RBS, Intuit, NatWest, Viking and Mishcon de Reya.

Smarta press office contact:

James Nixon
020 3142 6733 / 07825640350

Contact: Joanna Montgomery