London’s established successful tech companies include Shazam, Wonga, Mind Candy, Songkick and Alfresco. Informilo polled some of the most active venture capital and angel investors in London to come up with a list of the current hot crop of start-ups, including some that are below the radar. Nominations are vetted by the group and only those companies that get votes by non-investors make it on to the list.
What it does: Social and mobile migrant remittance.
Why it’s hot: The first player to enable individuals to make direct money transfers between international bank accounts via Facebook, Azimo calls its solution “a digital wallet within your Facebook profile.” It offers its low-cost social solution to more than 190 countries. In March it raised $10 million in a round led by Greycroft Partners. The funds will be used to expand globally. Azimo is committed to donating 10% of its annual profits to charity.
What it does: Free source of information on companies.
Why it’s hot: Duedil aggregates company information from Companies House, credit ratings agencies and other sources from 22 countries and provides it for free or through a subscription service or API. Received seed funding from Passion Capital and angels. In March it raised a further $17 million from Oak Investment Partners, Passion Capital and Notion Capital, bringing total funding to $22 million.
What it does: Online marketplace for independent boutiques around the world.
Why it’s hot: Farfetch offers shoppers access to more than 300 online designer boutiques. Sales in 2013 reached $160 million, with year-on-year growth of 100%. Founded in 2008, in April the company raised $66 million, led by Vitruvian Partners. It previously raised $42.5 million from Index Ventures, eVenture Capital Partners, Advent Venture Partners and Condé Nast.
What it does: Links licensed cab drivers with would-be passengers via smartphone apps.
Why it’s hot: An app that links licensed cab drivers in more than 10 cities around the world with passengers via the two main smartphone platforms, Hailo has carried 10 million passengers and grown to annualized sales of well over $100 million. It has raised a total of $55 million in funding; its last round valued Hailo at $140 million.
What it does: Enterprise cloud collaboration and content management.
Why it’s hot: Huddle is “building the most trusted network for secure cross-organization collaboration in the cloud.” More than 100,000 companies use its services, including 80% of Fortune 500 corporations and the UK government. Customers include SEGA, Unilever, P&G and KIA Motors, Huddle says revenues are doubling each year and the third quarter of 2013 was the company’s most lucrative to date.
What it does: Online own-design furniture shop.
Why it’s hot: Made.com connects customers directly with furniture designers, saving up to 70% off prices at leading retailers. Backed by Brent Hobermann and ProFounders, among others. Sales have grown 100% year on year since launch. The company now has roughly 200,000 customers and revenue in the low tens of millions of pounds. Currently operating in the UK, France and Italy, Made.com is rumored to be considering an IPO.
What it does: Retailer of veterinary products and animal supplies.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2007, MedicAnimal sells pet supplies that are typically only available at veterinaries. It has more than 1.5 million customers; 2012 revenue exceeded £47 million. It also offers news and advice on animal care and health issues, and live chat with vets in five languages. Funding in excess of £15 million has come from private investors, Iris Capital and Balderton Capital.
What it does: Language technology experts.
Why it’s hot: Builds apps that learn from users to make text entry easier and faster. SwiftKey is one of the best-selling Android apps in the world, in 2013 and 2012 it spent more days as Google Play’s No.1 paid download than any other app. In 2013 it had more than 100 million installs. SwiftKey raised $17.5 million in September 2013 from Index Ventures, Octopus, Cambridge Capital Group and angels, bringing total funding to $21.6 million.
What it does: Foreign currency transfer services.
Why it’s hot: TransferWise keeps currency transfer costs down by using the real exchange rate and charging a low service fee. Co-founder Taavet Hinrikus calls TransferWise “the Skype of money transfers.” In April the company announced it had made foreign exchange transfers totaling £1 billion. In May 2013, Valar Ventures, Peter Thiel’s VC fund, led a $6 million round for TransferWise, bringing the total raised to $7.35 million.
What it does: International money transfer.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2009, WorldRemit enables customers to transfer funds from 35 countries to more than 100 destinations using smartphones, debit or credit card, or bank transfers. It processes 1.3 million transactions per year. In March the company raised a $40 million investment round from Accel Partners — one of the largest Series A VC rounds in Europe to date. The investment will support expansion into new markets.
What it does: Property portal.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2008, Zoopla is the UK’s second-largest property website (after Rightmove), with more than 30 million unique visitors per month and 2013 operating profits of £29.5 million. Revenues increased 2% to £1.75 billion. Majority-owned by a division of the Daily Mail Group, as well as by Atlas Venture, Octopus Ventures and several angel investors, Zoopla is planning a float that could value the business at more than £1 billion.
What it does: Real-time, multi-screen digital ad platform.
Why it’s hot: Adbrain’s vision is to give global advertisers technology that allows them to use their data to better understand and reach mobile-first, multi-screen consumers. It works with high-profile agencies and trading desks. Following a $1.5 million seed round in June 2013, in March 2014 Adbrain raised $7.5 million in Series A from Octopus Investments and Notion Capital. The round will boost expansion into the U.S. and Europe.
What it does: Global transaction network for fund industry.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2007, Calastone claims its transaction service has enabled the fund industry to reduce the cost of electronic transactions by over 60%. It has more than 450 clients and 4,200 network connections and has carried order value in excess of $280 billion. Message volumes have doubled each year. In September 2013 the company raised $18 million from Accel Partners and shareholder Octopus Investments.
What it does: Multi-modal transport and mapping app.
Why it’s hot: The Citymapper app provides real-time routing using multiple methods of transport in London, New York, Berlin and Paris. It claims the app is installed “on half the smartphones in London.” Citymapper takes feeds from a variety of open data sources to suggest routes in real time. In April it raised $10 million in a round led by Balderton Capital. Existing investors Connect Ventures, Index Ventures and Greylock Partners participated.
What it does: Premium food delivery service.
Why it’s hot: Deliveroo delivers meals from a portfolio of high-quality restaurants that are not exclusively take-aways. The company also delivers customers’ orders itself, unlike some food delivery websites in the UK. Its platform allows users to track their orders. Funded by JamJar Investments and several angels.
What it does: Cyber intelligence.
Why it’s hot: Financial sector organizations expose a great deal of information online, particularly through social media. Hackers increasingly use this to launch focused attacks. Spanning over tens of millions of sources of information in 26 languages, Digital Shadows delivers an up-to-the minute “hacker’s eye view” of an organization, identifies risks, and helps clients mitigate those risks. Customers include some of the world’s largest banks.
What it does: Enabling individuals to lend to small businesses.
Why it’s hot: Set up in 2009 and backed by Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Union Square Ventures and angel investors, Funding Circle has so far enabled 30,000 investors to lend £285 million to British businesses. £130 million was lent out in 2013 alone. In October the company merged with San Francisco-based Endurance Lending Network, following a $37 million round.
What it does: Makes it simple for anyone to collect direct debits online.
Why it’s hot: GoCardless processes over $200 million in transactions for UK businesses a year; it grew 700% in 2013, and now serves more businesses than any other UK direct debit provider. In January it raised a $7 million Series B round from Balderton Capital and existing investors Accel Partners and Passion Capital, bringing the total raised to $11.8 million.
What it does: Social fashion shopping site.
Why it’s hot: Lyst partners with thousands of the world’s leading brands, boutiques and department stores, so users can follow their favorites and shop from one place. The business has grown over 400% in each of the past two years, and generates $60 million for its brands. Two million shoppers visit the site each month. In January it raised a $14 million Series B round led by Balderton Capital; existing investors DFJ Esprit and Accel participated.
What it does: Big data customer experience management.
Why it’s hot: Qubit makes companies’ websites perform better by delivering relevant content to visitors. It claims it drives an average of 20% growth by converting new visitors and generating higher revenue from existing customers. Qubit works with 16 out of the 159 UK retailers featured in Internet Retailer’s Europe 500 list, including Arcadia, LK Bennett and John Lewis. Qubit received $7.5 million from Balderton Capital in December 2012.
What it does: Members-only travel flash sale site.
Why it’s hot: Secret Escapes negotiates exclusive discounted rates (up to 70% off) for luxury hotels and holidays. In 2013 membership more than doubled, to over four million in the UK. Revenue tripled to £75 million. It launched in Sweden and Germany. In January it acquired Germany’s JustBook. Secret Escapes has raised more than £14 million from Index Ventures, Octopus Investments and Atlas Venture. It will launch in the U.S. later this year.
What it does: Simple international payments and transfers.
Why it’s hot: The Currency Cloud enables users to send, receive, track and automate cross-currency payments. Over 250,000 businesses and consumers use its cross-border payment capabilities through 100 application partners and financial institutions. In April it raised $10 million from Atlas Ventures, Anthemis Group, Notion Capital, XAnge Private Equity and Silicon Valley Bank, for geographic expansion and platform development.
Below The Radar
What it does: Provider of capital to SMEs trading on electronic invoicing networks.
Why it’s hot: When it launches in June, Capital Aid will help manage small businesses’ cash flow by offering instant payment on their invoices. It has partnered with TradeShift to create a factoring network that will initially serve UK companies, offering small businesses on TradeShift instant payment on their invoices. Investors include entrepreneur Morten Lund, who also serves as chairman.
What it does: Social games on tablets and mobile phones.
Why it’s hot: Space Ape is a mobile/social gaming start-up founded by an experienced team from Playfish, Skype and Mind Candy. It has raised $2.6 million and is backed by Accel Partners in the UK and California, Initial Capital, Connect Ventures and angel investor Gigi Levy. Its Samurai Siege game is a U.S. top 50 grossing app (top 10 in some countries) played by more than four million people in its first few months since launch.
What it does: Specialist e-commerce platform.
Why it’s hot: Tizaro is an e-commerce company for maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) products. It offers access to over 500,000+ scientific, industrial, and business lines across 4,000 brands. The company ships to any destination through any viable mode of transport. Industrial supplies is a multibillion-dollar market with 60% to 70% product margins that is ripe for disruption. Backed by Hoxton Ventures.