London’s established successful tech companies include Shazam, Wonga, Mind Candy, Songkick and Alfresco. Informilo polled some of the most active venture capital in London to come up with a list of the current hot crop of start-ups, including many 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: Hyper-local premium food delivery service.
Why it’s hot: Deliveroo delivers meals from more than 5,000 high-quality restaurants around the world that generally do not offer delivery. The company also delivers customers’ orders itself. Deliveroo is available in 30 UK cities and at least 20 cities outside the UK. Most are in Europe, but in the last year it added Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney. In May 2016 the company announced a 460-restaurant deal with Pizza Express. In November 2015 the company raised $100 million in a Series D round, bringing total funding to close to $200 million. The round was led by DST Global and Greenoaks Capital; existing investors Accel, Hummingbird Ventures and Index Ventures also participated. The company was founded by former investment banker Will Shu and CTO Greg Orlowski in 2013.
What it does: Enables individuals to lend to small businesses.
Why it’s hot: Funding Circle, launched in 2010, is the third-largest net lender to small businesses in the UK according to the Bank of England. In December 2015 the company had facilitated more than £1 billion in loans to more than 12,000 small and medium-sized firms in the UK, Europe, and the U.S. It expects to process the same volume in 2016. In April 2015 it raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation. The company has raised $288 million from Accel Partners, Index Ventures, Union Square Ventures, Ribbit Capital, angels, and new investors DST Global, BlackRock, Sands Capital Ventures and Temasek. In April 2016 The European Investment Fund and German government bank KfW invested in the securitization of Funding Circle loans.
What it does: Customer experience platform.
Why it’s hot: Qubit’s marketing hub integrates analytics, segmentation, A/B testing, and web personalization with its “Visitor Cloud” to help its customers understand visitors in detail. Founded in 2010, Qubit processes more than 2.5 billion customer events online every day. Its 300 clients include TOPSHOP, Uniqlo, John Lewis, bebe, Jimmy Choo and Staples. The company claims growth of 100% per year, and is on track to be cashflow breakeven in the next year, with an annual revenue run-rate of $100 million on the horizon. In February Qubit closed $40 million in Series C funding (total raised is $76 million). Goldman Sachs led the round, and was joined by new investor Sapphire Ventures (the investment arm of SAP) and existing investors Salesforce Ventures and Accel Partners. Balderton Capital is also an investor.
What it does: Foreign currency transfer services.
Why it’s hot: TransferWise, founded in 2007, focuses on international currency transfers. It claims to keep costs down by using the real exchange rate and charging a low service fee. Co-founder Taavet Hinrikus calls it “the Skype of money transfers.” The company handles $750 million in transfers per month, and has sent more than $2 billion in total. In 2015 it launched services in the U.S. and Australia; this year it added Singapore, Japan, Canada, and Mexico. In May TransferWise announced it had raised $26 million from Scottish asset manager Baillie Gifford, bringing total funding $117 million. The company is now valued at $1.1 billion. Other investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, and Richard Branson. In the year to March 2015 TransferWise made a loss of £11.4 million on revenue of £9.7 million.
What it does: International money transfer.
Why it’s hot: WorldRemit enables customers to transfer funds from 50 countries to more than 120 destinations using smartphones, debit or credit cards, or bank transfers. The World Bank estimates that remittances to the developing world will reach $459 billion this year. In 2015 WorldRemit’s revenue reached £27 million, up from £15 million in 2014. In February 2015 the company raised $100 million from Technology Crossover Ventures at a $500 million valuation. It had raised $40 million from Accel Partners in 2014. In February 2016 WorldRemit secured a $45 million line of credit from TriplePoint Venture Growth and Silicon Valley Bank, bringing total funding to close to $193 million. The investment will support further geographic expansion, particularly through the formation of new alliances.
What it does: Cross-device digital advertising platform.
Why it’s hot: Adbrain’s customer ID mapping platform enables marketers to target and measure an individual consumer across different devices, channels and platforms. Customers are high-profile agencies and trading desks, including Omnicom Media Group and M&C Saatchi Mobile. In February 2016 the company raised $7.5 million from existing investors Octopus Investments and Notion Capital as well as new investor Cisco Investment. Following a $1.5 million seed investment in June 2013, and $7.5 million round in March 2014, total funding is now $16.5 million. The latest investment will support further expansion in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as recruitment of staff in product development, marketing and sales. The company has offices in San Francisco, New York and London.
What it does: Bitcoin wallet and website.
Why it’s hot: Launched in August 2011, Blockchain provides data on recent transactions, statistics and resources for developers. The site began as a Blockchain explorer intended to make it easier for users to study transactions and analyze the bitcoin economy. Blockchain Wallet was launched soon after; it’s now the world’s most popular Bitcoin wallet. The company also provides the most widely used Bitcoin APIs and the most popular block explorer and search engine. Over the past two years Blockchain has grown from 100,000 users to more than 3,500,000. In May 2016 the company released the alpha version of its Thunder Network; according to the company it’s the first usable implementation of the Lightning network for off-chain bitcoin payments. Blockchain has raised more than $30 million from investors in the U.S. and UK.
What it does: Transaction network for the fund industry.
Why it’s hot: Calastone’s mission is to make markets friction-free by connecting trading partners through a global fund transaction network. Launched in 2007, the company claims its automated service has enabled the fund industry to reduce the cost of electronic transactions by over 60%. It has more than 1,000 clients in 29 countries and territories and handles more than 4.3 million fund messages each month. Calastone has offices in London, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Sydney with more than 9,700 active trading connections. In September 2013 the company raised $18 million for international expansion from Accel Partners and Octopus Investments. Total funding is close to $23 million. Calastone is ranked in The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 and is one of the Tech City’s Future Fifty companies.
What it does: New car marketplace.
Why it’s hot: Carwow helps consumers find the best price for a new car. Users enter details of the car they’d like to buy; carwow sends the requirement to its network of more than 1,500 dealers, then presents users with the five best offers. Since its launch in 2010 more than £600 million worth of cars have been bought via carwow, saving consumers £61 million (or an average of £3,600 per car. In January the company raised £12.5 million in a Series B round led by Accel Partners. Previous investors Balderton Capital, Samos Investments and Episode 1 Ventures also participated. The funds will support growth of the platform and marketing to raise awareness of the brand. Total funding is now £18.4 million. Carwow is currently a UK-only service; it says it has no international expansion plans for this year.
What it does: Payment card.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2015, Curve enables users to combine all of their debit and credit cards into one physical payment card to unlock multiple benefits, combine reward points, and “make your money work harder for you.” Users can see and manage all transactions in one place. Curve is a MasterCard prepaid card that can be used around the world, without roaming fees. The card currently supports 15 different currencies. Curve is free to use, with an initial one-off cost of £35, It soft-launched in February with a limited run of 10,000 cards aimed at freelancers and small-business owners; it’s initially available on iOS across Europe. In December 2015 the company raised a $2 million seed round from angel investors, including Taavet Hinrikus, co-founder of TransferWise.
What it does: Cyber security.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2013, Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System technology detects and responds to threats in complex environments in real time; it’s powered by machine learning and mathematics developed by specialists from the University of Cambridge. The company has more than 1,000 deployments around the world, across a wide variety of industries. Clients include PWC, Prudential, Toyota, Zappos and BT. In February it announced that year-on-year bookings growth was 510%, with revenue growth of 450%. In April 2016 Darktrace won a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. The company has raised a total of $40 million from Invoke Capital, Summit Partners, Talis Capital, Hoxton Ventures and angels, and is rumored to be in the process of raising another round that would value it at $400 million.
What it does: Global start-up community.
Why it’s hot: F6S, founded by ex-TechStars UK MD Jon Bradford, provides a platform for founders and start-ups. It claims that each day thousands of start-ups apply to accelerators, pitch to investment funds, post or apply for jobs, and get free deals through its site. (The F6S name comes from shortening the six letters between the “f” and “s” in “founders.”) There are more than 1.2 million founders and start-ups on the platform. In March F6S launched an invitation-only elite tier of membership — the Alpha Card. The new VIP service will offer each founder up to $1 million of benefits, such as Rackspace hosting, access to co-working spaces, and free flights. Two thousand founders have been chosen so far, with another 18,000 planned. The company has received an undisclosed amount of funding in a seed round.
What it does: Online mortgage platform.
Why it’s hot: Since LendInvest launched in 2013, investors on its platform — which includes individuals and institutions — have lent more than £640 million to hundreds of borrowers to finance 2,300 new and rebuilt homes worth over £1 billion. The company is now Europe’s largest marketplace platform for property and represents 10% of the short-term mortgage market in the UK. In the 12 months to March 2015 LendInvest generated £15 million in revenue and £3.1 million in profit. The average rate of return to lenders is 7.22%. In March LendInvest raised £17 million from Atomico in a Series B round. It had previously received £22 million in investment from Beijing Kunlun, a Chinese technology firm. Total funding is more than £200 million.
What it does: Mobile challenger bank.
Why it’s hot: Mondo is “trying to build the best bank on the planet.” While the company waits to receive a full banking license, which should happen later this year, it’s offering limited-edition Mondo MasterCard prepaid debit cards. The company claims starting this way will allow it to test features with real users. In March Mondo raised £1 million in 96 seconds in an equity crowd-funding campaign on Crowdcube, offering a stake in the business and the opportunity to bypass the 30,000-person waiting list for its services. While 8,500 individuals registered interest in investing, in the end 1,861 put in an average of £542. Mondo also received £5 million in investment from Passion Capital, which invested £2 million in June 2015. The round valued Mondo at £30 million. Mondo hopes to have 100,000 cards rolled out by the end of the year.
What it does: Mobile bank account.
Why it’s hot: Monese calls itself “the current account for mobile people.” When it launched in September 2015 it was the first mobile-only banking service in the UK. The company enables users from across Europe to open a UK-based mobile banking account in minutes, without credit checks or residency restrictions. The company performs identity checks online, using social media and facial recognition, among other things, and requires users to have a registered address in the EU. Users can hold funds in different currencies; international money transfer services are also provided at the same rates as those offered by TransferWise. Monese recently switched from transaction fees to a £4.95 monthly subscription model. The company now has tens of thousands of users. In May 2015 it raised $1.8 million from Seedcamp and angels.
What it does: Online background checks
Why it’s hot: Onfido’s Identity & Document Verification service enables companies to run a variety of types of background checks, including criminal records, employment and education history, and negative publicity, to verify workers’ identities and other information. The service is powered by machine learning, and seeks to replace manual and paper-based checks. Founded in 2012, it currently can perform checks in 132 countries across hundreds of databases and information sources. In February 2015 OnFido raised $4.5 million in a Series A funding round led by Wellington Partners. Angel investors, including Michael Arrington, Brent Hoberman, and Nicolas Brusson, also participated. In April of this year Idinvest Partners, Wellington Partners, and CrunchFund injected a further $25 million for international expansion.
What it does: Loans for business school students.
Why it’s hot: Prodigy Finance’s platform offers loans to international postgraduate students attending leading business schools. Although some 60% of graduate students require funding, most banks won’t provide loans for study in other countries. Prodigy Finance was started by three INSEAD MBA graduates who experienced the difficulties of financing an international MBA. Since 2007, the company has processed over $140 million to fund more than 4,000 students of 112 nationalities, with a repayment rate in excess of 99%. In August 2015 it raised more than $100 million in loan capital ($87.5 million) and equity ($12.5 million) from Credit Suisse, Balderton Capital, and institutional and private investors, for further platform development and marketing. Prodigy Finance plans to expand into Asia this year.
What it does: International money transfer app.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2015, Revolut allows users to exchange currencies with no (or low) fees and at interbank rates, and to send money through SMS, email, social networks or WhatsApp. It also provides a multi-currency card that can be used everywhere MasterCard is accepted, and in ATMs abroad. A 2% fee is applied each month in which the user withdraws more than £500; additional fees apply to dollar transactions. Revolut has ambitions to compete with PayPal as a low-cost payments platform. The company has close to 200,000 customers. Revolut has raised a total of $4.8 million in two rounds; investors include Index Ventures, Balderton Capital, Seedcamp, Point Nine, Venrex and several angels. The company is said to be in the process of raising an additional $10 million now.
Below The Radar
What it does: B2B home furnishings marketplace.
Why it’s hot: eporta is a trade-only interiors sourcing platform that allows verified architects, interior designers and other professionals to discover product designers and furniture and furnishing suppliers globally. The furniture and home furnishings industry is characterized by global sourcing and complex, often paper-based, administration. eporta seeks to streamline the ordering process. Buyers can use the platform to negotiate trade discounts with suppliers directly, get quotes, and manage orders. The company was founded in 2014 by Aneeqa Khan, previously head of strategy at Zoopla. The company works with more than 700 brands in 40 different countries; partners include Content by Terence Conran, Cassina, Poltrona Frau, Tom Dixon and Jake Dyson. Investors include LocalGlobe, Guy Hands and Ed Wray.
What it does: Festival booking services
Why it’s hot: Festicket packages festival tickets with travel, accommodation and add-ons. The company launched in 2012 after its three co-founders tried to organize a trip to Coachella, but found the planning painful. Since then Festicket has grown to be one of Europe’s largest music festival websites, with more than one million members and monthly traffic of over 1.3 million views. In 2014 the company received $2.7 million in Series A funding, from Wellington Partners and PROfounders Capital. Previous investors Windcrest Partners, Playfair Capital, and Jacques-Antoine Granjon (founder of vente-privee.com), also participated. The company raised a $680,000 seed round in March 2013. In 2015, Arthur Kosten, co-founder of Booking.com, invested an undisclosed sum.
What it does: AI-created music.
Why it’s hot: Jukedeck has created a system that uses artificial intelligence to compose music. Its service enables users to create their own music tracks to use in videos, games or other content. Each track is unique and royalty-free (for individual users creating no more than five tracks a month; Jukedeck charges higher fees for professional use). Jukedeck so far has more than 20,000 users who have created over 200,000 pieces of music. Notable users so far include Google Developers and the Natural History Museum. Jukedeck has raised a total of £2.5 million in three rounds from Cambridge Innovation Capital, Backed VC, Playfair Capital, Parkwalk Advisors and Cambridge Enterprise. Jukedeck won the £30,000 top prize at the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt competition as well as Pitch @ Palace 3.0 in 2015.
What it does: Property crowd-funding.
Why it’s hot: Launched in January 2015, Property Partner allows anyone to invest in property to rent, for as little as £50. Its 7,600 investors receive a share of rental income and of any upside if the property is sold. The company charges 2% of the purchase price and 12.5% of rental income. So far, a total of £33,284,141 has been invested in 229 properties. In April 2015 Property Partner raised £5.2 million from Index Ventures and existing investors Octopus Ventures and Seedcamp. This was followed by £12.9 million round led by Octopus in March of this year. Index and Dawn Capital also invested. Property Partner has also secured a £3 million venture debt facility from Silicon Valley Bank. It has raised £22.5 million thusfar. The funds will be used for international expansion and to create a product for institutional investors.
What it does: Big data for individuals.
Why it’s hot: Redsift calls itself a Platform as a Service for your data. It has created a new kind of app, called a Sift, which it describes as “an always-on digital agent that can stream data from your silos and can present the things you need to know back to you.” The company wants to give users “a whole new class of insights” from their data, starting with email, “because it is a personal data-store that contains troves of interesting data but is usually inaccessible because mail apps don’t provide a data computation layer.” Redsift is starting as an open platform to enable users to create their own Sifts for their own data. Founder and CEO Rahul Powar envisioned and created the first Shazam iPhone App; Randal Pinto, co-founder and COO, led Shazam’s program management during its rapid expansion years.
What it does: Media monitoring services.
Why it’s hot: Signal is a market intelligence, media monitoring and information discovery platform. By scouring over 75,000 news outlets, 3.5 million blogs and 100 social networks, Signal’s machine learning enables individuals and businesses to access, analyze and monitor real-time information. Clients include The Centre for Policy Studies, Twitter, the British Transport Police and Jamie Oliver Ltd. Signal has raised a total of $3.2 million in seed funding. In March 2015 it raised a $1.8 million seed round led by Frontline Ventures. Other investors include Samos Investments; Reed Ventures and angels, including Better Capital’s Jon Moulton. In October 2015, Gorkana founder Alex Northcott invested £350,000 in a second funding round, which raised a total of £890,000.
What it does: Training and talent assessment.
Why it’s hot: Talent Rank’s mission is to level the playing field for all job candidates, regardless of educational advantage — founder Arjun Hassard says he would like to help the under-represented to get into elite jobs, especially in consulting, tech and finance. The company’s online learning and development environment immerses job candidates in interactive games and challenges to help them learn and prepare for real-world experiences. Data from these challenges also enables companies to assess the candidates’ skills and judgment. Talent Rank won the Mass Challenge Silver Award in 2015, and participated in Accenture’s Fintech Innovation Lab in Q1 2016. The company has received an undisclosed equity investment from Microsoft Ventures; other funding thusfar has come from family and friends.
Update at 0952 29 Jun 16: Updated the link for Blockchain to their .com address (from .info).