(For the original article, please refer to http://foundersgrid.com/london-startups)
Brain power, funding options, and the favourable business environment made London one of the top European cities for startups – some might even say it is the place to go.
Here are 50 startups you must absolutely know about; up-and-coming or perfectly established, they all come with that distinct London flavour. Do you see any missing? Leave us a comment!
Seedrs is the mix of a crowdfunding platform and an angel network, without getting too much involved in the legal side of the investment process. It lets you discover and invest in up-and-coming startups; you are buying equity (ordinary shares), which you can sell later. Seedrs used the platform to raise funds for itself in last January, and successfully secured £2.58M by offering 33.3% of equity. Not a bad reference!
A prepaid debit card might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but this company is solving a problem every parent has to face. Osper offers debit cards for young people (from the age of 8), and let them make their own decisions with money. Accidents, like spending a full month’s allowance in the candy store might happen, so Ospen comes with a mobile banking app for kids and adults; allowing parents to gradually transfer responsibility for money to their children.
Credit history is a tricky subject. When you start your own adult life, you basically don’t have any – and this “thin file” keeps a lot of doors shut. Aire, a Techstars alumni, built a deeper data-driven predictive analysis engine that looks at your educational background, professional history and financial risk attitudes. Its founders are seasoned banking veterans, and we see a bright future for the company.
Funding Circle is not an up-and-coming startup – having raised $123M over the last few years actually makes it the world’s leading marketplace focusing exclusively on small business lending. It has been founded in 2010 as the first ever online marketplace sidestepping banks, and lending directly to SMBs. Since then it became a huge juggernaut, and an ambassador of London’s fintech scene.
Business is about trust, and this is especially true for the UK. This does not mean you shouldn’t assess the financial risks of your suppliers, customers and, of course, competitors. Duedil is addressing this by collecting private company data, and making it discoverable in a comprehensive and actionable format. They are in the business of telling you when a business is safe, and when you better flee. Not sexy? Maybe you’re right. But it’s the difference between make and brake.
Some companies pay you right away, and some have to be chased to the end of the world before they finally make that bank transfer. Freelancers and SMBs know this only too well. Satago is crowdsourcing a part of this – not the chasing, sadly, but all the data you need to make informed cash-flow decisions. Users share data about when their customers pay them, creating an ultimate payment behaviour database. The company recently entered Seedcamp, so watch out debtors. Your life won’t be easy from now.
The name says it all; a company developing artificial intelligence for financial institutions is genius indeed. A member of the Canary Wharf-based tech accelerator Level39, FinGenius is a young company only established last March. Their AI and natural language processing solutions are designed to help employees and customers get their questions answered and requests processed immediately regardless of their complexity. FinGenius is not going for the easy wins, and this might be their biggest strength.
Direct debit is sooo 20th century? It is, because of its operational complexity. It requires administration and paperwork. Yikes! GoCardless takes the pain out of the process by providing a simple way for anyone to collect direct debit online, instantly and affordably. It’s working well for more than 30,000 clients every day, so direct debit is not dead. It just got better.
It’s hard to get your head around the financial instruments of our age. Derivatives of derivatives, packaged as derivatives – not even the pros are getting it. Derivitec, founded by Goldman Sachs alumni, is focusing on cloud-based analytics for the financial industry. Analysing a portfolio of derivatives is a niche service, but a crucial one. It all came to a bitter end in 2008-2009, remember? Derivitec is a Level39 startup, so they are on the radar of all the Big Boys.
While NYC might look flashier, the City of London is still a world centre for banking. There are not one but two startups offering market risk evaluation for financial institutions, and OpenGamma is the more established player. As its name suggests it started as an open source platform. It still is – their GitHub page is a fantastic window to the engine room of a fintech startup. Having raised a total of $23.35M in total OpenGamma is here to stay.
GeckoBoard is not just about money; it’s more about any sort of data you can think of. Sales, operations, marketing, customer support, name your own – GeckoBoard probably has a way to present it as a beautiful, easy-to-understand business intelligence dashboard. By translating raw data into simple and intuitive visualisations you can get a better understanding of what’s going on, and make better business decisions. GeckoBoard is backed by Index Ventures and 500 Startups.
Yoyo, established in 2013 and backed by $5M of funding, is one of the most promising players on the field of mobile payments and loyalty cards. It’s a smartphone app that lets you forget about cash, cards and vouchers. While this sounds like a risky proposition in the age of Passbook and Apple Pay, after overcoming the initial lack of brand awareness Yoyo is doing pretty well.
You cannot talk about the London fintech scene without mentioning TransferWise. Co-founded by previous employee #1 of Skype TransferWise is helping people save money and time on foreign payments. That’s it – a simple value proposition potentially changing cross-border banking. TransferWise raised a round of $25 million last summer, and it’s growing at breakneck speed.
Health is the space to watch in 2015, and MIRA is one of the new most exciting startups out there. It’s a product designed to make physical therapy fun for patients recovering from surgery or injury – with video gaming and gamification. MIRA tracks the patient’s performance, and helps doctors to create custom treatment plans. You need a Kinect for MIRA, but that’s a low price to pay for your health. The company is backed by Healthbox.
Babylon markets itself as “your own virtual health service in your pocket”. Its subscription-based service lets you secure appointments, and gives you access to leading clinicians and state-of-the-art personal health monitoring. This is crucial in the UK, where up to two weeks of waiting to see a GP is not uncommon. Some say babylon is the Uber for health – Uber for anything starts to sound a bit cheesy, but you get the picture. The company is young (the product came out of beta last April-May), but it’s solving a real – and enourmous – problem.
Sleepio is the first product of Big Health, a company aiming to bring highly personalized behavioural medicine programs to the masses. Based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy the Sleepio app (available for iOS and as a web app) is clinically proven to help overcome even long term poor sleep without pills or potions. There’s no price an insomniac wouldn’t pay for a good sleep, so watch Sleepio – it’s potentially huge.
HealthBerry, still in beta, helps NHS organisations engage with patients, measure feedback and promote self-care. Channelling all the patient feedback from social media and established feedback platforms like Patient Opinion and NHS Choices into HealthBerry makes managing patient relations easy and fun.
“In the old world doctors had to go and find patient data. But in the new world patient data should go to the doctor.” – this is the credo of Medopad, and the company is in the frontline to make this happen. With Medopad healthcare professionals can view patients’ medical records, lab results or images through a mobile handheld device. Integration with Apple HealthKit and Google Glass is just the cherry on the top. Medopad is backed by Healthbox.
Zesty allows patients to find a healthcare provider in Greater London, compare them by reading real user reviews, and make a confirmed appointment in under 60 seconds. The company has been nominated to a dozen of awards, and its founder got an invite to speak at a Houses of Parliament event. They are clearly on the right track to be one of the UK’s defining health tech startup.
It’s impossible not to get excited about the first smart teddy bear. Teddy is both adorable and smart: its built-in medical sensors are tracking child’s vitals through smart paws (awwww), and sending the recorded data to a mobile or web application where it is visualized and managed. Teddy The Guardian is a baby monitor done right.
There are a couple of companies offering telediagnostic and medical advisory services for doctors, but Medefer is special. Having developed its own software, it’s easily integrated within the NHS General Practitioner’s system. The GPs do not have to write or copy the patient’s medical history; it’s all automatic. Consultants provide a written response within 48 hours, so you can get appropriate treatment as soon as possible.
As life expectancy is rising, more and more people live with long-term health conditions: Parkinson’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and so on. uMotif is targeting this market with smartphone and web apps tracking and monitoring patients’ health, and letting them to share their data with friends, family, carers and doctors. uMotif believes this “health self-management” approach leads to a better life quality, and decreases pressure on the healthcare infrastructure.
Isolation of the elderly is a huge problem in developed societies. HomeTouch is addressing this by creating a carer marketplace and a tablet-based application for carers. The company helps the elderly become less isolated, and empowers care providers with a set of productivity, monitoring and communication tools. HomeTouch is an excellent, award-winning service that’s exactly in the right time and at the right place.
Health tech is not just for humans. VetCloud is creating a platform for the veterinary health ecosystem, bringing together data from the vet, pet owner, animal wearables and suppliers. It also includes financial data, so it’s really a fully-fledged CRM for vets. The company, which is a member of Techstars, is tapping a potentially huge market.
25. Rise Art
Rise Art, a relatively young startup securing 500k of funding last February, is designed to showcase, rent and sell contemporary art from both established artists and new talents. Rise Art employs a professional panel of art insiders to select the very best original works and limited-edition prints. Free delivery and the try-before-you-buy rental options make it ideal for art aficionados who are just starting to build a collection.
Lyst is one of the biggest success stories of London. Launched in 2010, it has become the world’s largest fashion marketplace used by millions of shoppers each month to discover and shop for fashion online. It has secured over $22M in funding so far over the years. Its Shoreditch HQ, Lyst Studios, is one of the coolest places in London – and that’s saying something.
Nuji is a still a young startup, but it has everything to be the next Lyst. It’s a platform to discover the world’s most trending fashion and lifestyle goods, curated by the community. Female and men’s apparel, furniture, home décor, beauty products, you name it. Nuji has a great iOS app – some of the $2M seed capital (secured last March) has been used to cover the development costs.
SayDuck, headquartered in London and Helsinki, helps companies sell their stuff by turning their products in into photorealistic 3D models, and bringing them to life using augmented reality. AR was all the buzz a few years ago, but it never really became mainstream. SayDuck is here to challenge this assumption, and securing deals with iconic brands like Alessi, Artemide or Vitra shows that there is a market for AR, indeed.
The grass is green, the skies are blue, and guys hate shopping for clothes. Thread’s value proposition – “Dress well without trying” – sounds extremely compelling for half of the population. Thread is using a clever combination of algorithms and human stylists to give guys the perfect selection of things that they will love. The company secured $2.5M of capital in December 2013 from top investors, including Y Combinator.
Depop, the Italian-turned-Londoner startup is eBay for smartphones – and a very good one. Listing, bidding, chatting about the items is all made on the phone, and the follow, like, comment and share functions give it a social spin. Transactions are going through PayPal. Depop is funded by Balderton Capital and Holtzbrinck Ventures (among others). It’s solid backing and gaining popularity means it’s most probably here to stay.
If you ever wondered how Google Analytics for brick and mortar stores might look like, well, meet Viewsy. This startup is providing in-store customer behaviour analytics based on anonymous signals from mobile phones. Insights are tied to store performance like customer visit counts, dwell times, customer loyalty rates and more. Viewsy is a member of Startupbootcamp, and it secured $1.3M of funding last November from a group of angel investors. The future looks bright for Viewsy.
32. Edit Suits
Suits are the uniform of the City, and the Brits love to dress smart. While you might think made-to-measure shirts and suits are for the Notting Hill folks, the guys at Edit Suits have a different opinion. The London and Singapore-based startup combines the convenience of a webshop with the personalised service of a tailor. You can book an appointment for outfitting in your home or office, and 3 weeks later your new clothes arrive at your doorstep. Edit Suits is a young company backed by angel investors.
We all know the market of commercial space rental is ripe for disruption. There are too many middlemen with way too steep prices, and the whole experience is expensive and unpleasant. These are the perfect conditions for startups, so no wonder there are two comparable players in London. Appear Here is the more established and better funded; WeArePopUp is the up-and-coming contender. The market is probably big enough for both to thrive, and at the end of the day everyone benefits from healthy competition.
Today’s toddlers might choose to opt-out of Facebook when they come to age, but they almost certainly will have an email address; email has been declared dead so many times, it might as well live forever. So, why not start now? Maily is providing email for 3+ year olds, enabling them to send quirky, personalised messages to Mum, Dad, their grandparents and friends easily, rapidly and, perhaps above all, securely. Maily is backed by Seedcamp.
SuperAwesome is not for kids. It’s for brands that want to reach kids, and as you might imagine, there are many of them. SuperAwesome is on a roll: they are already the #1 youth marketing platform in the world reaching 100M+ kids each month, and they are just opening their US and South Asia offices. Youth marketing is an extremely lucrative space to be in, so SuperAwesome can easily become one of the biggest hits the London startup scene has ever seen.
MakieLab is addressing the need for modern, creativity-encouraging toys using 3D printing. Their award-winning dolls (“made with love and lasers”) are selling both online and in Selfridges and Hamleys in London, with further national and international rollout in active development. The company is past three successful rounds of funding, securing a total of $3.85M.
London is one of the world’s busiest job markets. This is not 100 percent good news: keeping pace with the job listings alone might take several hours a day, and this is not an option for everyone. The engine developed by jobandtalent automatically match professionals to relevant jobs – it’s very much like a personal assistant looking out for suitable vacancies. The company secured series A funding last summer.
We all know finding a job is hard. What most of us don’t know is how hard is to find the right talent. Seed.jobs is an inbound recruitment platform that brings automation and data science to recruitment, empowering internal and external recruiters to find the very best talent for a job. Seed.jobs is funded by AngelPad.
40. Car Throttle
In the country of Top Gear people are serious about cars. Car Throttle started as a blog, but over the years it evolved into a roaring content juggernaut. Targeting the 18-24 years old “super-sharers” it’s the go-to car portal for over 3.5M people a month. Car Throttle is backed by Passion Capital and a group of angel investors.
Sportlobster is a social network that launched in 2013, and is everything a sports fan needs all in one place. It secured $5.45M of funding over the last three years, and it has been financially backed by sports legends like English soccer player Michael Owen and Aussie Formula 1 driver Mark Webber. Sportlobster is available on the web, as well as on iOS and Android.
Squawka is “your best friend while watching a football match on TV”. It’s a second screen app for iOS and Android providing real-time statistics on the on-going match, and a chat panel to discuss the events with fellow soccer fans. The company even built its own scientific player performance-scoring algorithm. Brits are mad about football, and Squawka is beautifully executed. We smell a goal coming.
Fanatix is mobile-first, social-heavy sports network that makes it easy to discover, connect and share sports media. It is available as a website, but the mobile apps are where fanatix really shines. Launched in 2011, fanatix secured $3M of funding in the last years. It slowly became one of the (if not the) world’s leading social network built entirely for sports fans.
Spatch was born out of frustration. The team initially wanted to fix email (this seems to be the Holy Grail of enterprise productivity), when they finally realised the foundation is flawed. So they started developing Spatch, a communication platform built with the openness of email, the modernity of messaging, and the structure of productivity tools. Ah, and it’s backward compatible. The company is a Techstars alumni, and is backed by dozens of angel investors.
Huddle is solving one of the hardest problems in the enterprise world, yet very few ordinary people have heard about it. This does not mean they are not successful. Quite the opposite: just before Christmas they secured a monster round of funding, $51 million. Huddle is offering a cloud-based enterprise collaboration, document management and content management service, a SharePoint alternative for corporations and governments. 80 percent (!) of UK’s central government institutions are using Huddle, and they have the US Secretary of Defense and NASA on their client list.
London and You
A travel planner? Before you say meh you should know that Citymapper is a cultic app for people finding their ways in the Tube. It’s not just a map; it comes with traffic disruption alerts and fare calculation. Started in London, now it covers 13 cities all around the world from San Francisco to Tokyo. It’s one of the best-funded London startups, securing $10 million in last April. Now it’s expanding to more cities.
Cycling is huge in London, and Blaze Laserlight is the best thing that happened to cycling since the invention of the bicycle gearing (or fixies, if you fancy that). Laserlight projects a bike symbol six metres in front of you, giving you a larger footprint on the road. It alerts drivers to your approach and lets you be seen in situations where you are otherwise invisible. Blaze started as a Kickstarter project, where it raised a £30,000 extra on top of the initial £25,000 goal. Last year Index Ventures invested an additional £300k, so watch out for the next Blaze product.
YPlan is the go-to events app in London showing you a highly curated list of events the city has to offer. From movies and theatre to rickshaw racing and chess boxing, YPlan probably has something for everybody. The company recently raised a series B round of $24m, and announced a pivot. The partnership-based business model will see significant changes in 2015, with event organisers managing their own listings. YPlan’s adoption rate is growing fast, and its financial background looks healthy – so we should see a successful pivot.
Tinder is huge in London, but, well, Tinder isn’t for everybody’s taste. (Rendeevoo’s slogan is “flirt responsibly”, so you can see instantly it’s not exactly like Tinder.) The iPhone app intentionally lacks some of the features like browsing and chat, previously considered to be key for a dating service. Rendeevoo is facilitating real meetings instead. If there’s mutual interest, you can schedule a time and place right from the app, choosing from a curated list of venues. Their business model is pretty unique: members have to pre-order their first £7 cocktail through the app. This sounds a lot for a match, but hey, you would buy that cocktail anyway. Rendeevoo raised £33,830 on Seedrs offering 6 per cent of equity.
… the odd one out
Like it or not, startups like Lyst, Citymapper or TransferWise are setting the expectations. People looking for a commercial space in Hackney, finding their way on the Jubilee Line, or meeting the love of their lives through Rendeevoo want to see a similarly smooth experience when dealing with the government. And it seems bureucrats are getting it. GOV.UK won several awards for its clean interface and great user experience. The Chief Digital Officer of the Ministry of Justice thinksthe government is the the best digital startup in London. Time will tell, but things are definitely getting better. This startup is proudly funded by the taxpayers of the United Kingdom.