London is unquestionably the epicentre of start-up activity in Europe. Check out these 30 start-ups to watch out for in 2017 and 2018.
The city of London is a melting pot of culture, finance and tech and, when it comes to Europe, it leaves Berlin and Paris in its wake, in terms of the amount of funding its start-ups attract.
Silicon Republic CEO and Inspirefest founder Ann O’Dea will visit London shortly (Thursday 23 March) for the third in her series of Salon events, so we decided to check out the city’s start-up scene. In the past month, the Inspirefest team also travelled to Munich and Paris.
London has become the start-up Mecca of Europe, with locations such as Shoreditch’s Silicon Roundabout (and virtually any nook and cranny where a start-up can get decent Wi-Fi) fuelling the hopes and dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs.
In 2016, London raised the lion’s share of all VC funding, to the tune of $26bn. Home to Just Eat, Asos and TransferWise, more than 25 VC firms have also established themselves in London since 2010, including Niklas Zennström’s Atomico as well as Highland Europe, Index Ventures, Lakestar and Balderton Capital, to name a few.
Here are the start-ups to keep an eye out for.
Seenit is a collaborative video start-up that aims to transform the biggest fans of event organisers into a film crew.
A business can hand-pick a group of followers and invite them to use the Seenit app to record and submit videos via their smartphone.
Founded by CEO Emily Forbes in early 2014, the company has raised $1.4m in various funding rounds to date. Seenit claimed top prize at the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield at Disrupt London 2016.
Pitched as a banking alternative, fintech start-up Revolut is redesigning foreign currency exchange by allowing users to transfer money globally without paying any fees, using a MasterCard-linked RevolutCard.
The company was founded in 2014 by CEO Nikolay Storonsky and CTO Vladyslav Yatsenko, and has so far raised $23.1m from investors such as Balderton Capital and Seedcamp.
Revolut recently added a bill-splitting feature to its app, eliminating the need to manually calculate what each person owes.
— Velocity App (@velocityapp) November 5, 2016
Founded by CEO Zia Yusuf and COO Alex Macdonald in 2014, Velocity caters for the hospitality sector with a restaurant app that aims to offer a premium dining experience for users.
Having acquired UK reservation app Uncover in 2015, the start-up raised $22.5m in Series B funding last August, bringing its total amount raised close to $40m.
Space Ape Games
Considered the hairy brute of mobile gaming, Space Ape Games recovered from the failure of its first game, a sports app, with the stunning success of its next title, a strategy game called Samurai Siege.
As of January, the game grossed $37m and attracted 16m downloads.
Space Ape was founded by John Earner and Simon Hade in London in 2012, and the company has so far raised $11.3m in three rounds from five investors.
— Babylon (@babylonhealth) March 7, 2017
Babylon Health is a digital doctor app that enables GP video calling and AI diagnoses, revolutionising the world of healthcare.
It was founded by Ali Parsa in 2013 and, in January 2016, it raised $25m in Series A funding.
Babylon Health recently partnered with the UK NHS to trial an AI-powered chatbot to act as an alternative for a telephone helpline, offering healthcare advice.
— REVL (@REVL_world) March 6, 2017
Revl provides an events app, claiming to host listings from every major UK city.
Having raised £2.4m earlier this year, the premise is pretty straightforward: providing people with event listings and brands with a platform to broadcast their events. The start-up is hoping to expand into a more acute service in future, detailing local pubs or other venues, for example.
It was founded by Jennifer Roebuck, Brandon Stephens and Aryn Hurst-Clark .
I've discovered @Jukedeck … The World is better today 😀
— [sTen]* (@sTen) February 1, 2017
Jukedeck uses machine learning to compose and adapt music, tailoring content for users’ specific needs.
Founded by Patrick Stobbs and Ed Rex, Jukedeck originated out of Cambridge University, using an artificially intelligent music composer – a system that writes original music completely on its own. This is good for the likes of movie makers, to source original content on the fly.
Kano is one of the more interesting companies, providing tools and toys for children to learn how to code. Its computer kit, for example, is an entire computer, in a box. Children learn to build it and code it from relative scratch.
The company – founded by Alex Klein, Saul Klein and Yonatan Raz-Fridman – has raised $15m since its first round of funding in 2015.
— Syft (@Syftgroup) March 8, 2017
Syft helps employers to find fully vetted temporary workers in the hospitality and events sectors, claiming to save clients 55pc in fees over competitors.
The company was founded in London in 2015 by Novo Abakare and Jack Beaman.
Syft raised $3.5m in a seed round last year from heavyweight boxer David Haye, David Cameron’s former enterprise adviser Lord David Young as well as Profounders Capital, Mike Kershaw and founders from Gamesys, Velocity and CloudVolumes.
— Renters Union (@RentersUnion) March 9, 2017
Appealing to the abundance of renters in London, RentersUnion is a chatbot that provides housing advice for people in the locale. Advice on energy bills and repair problems is included, appealing to the non-homeowners in London that otherwise deal with landlords on a regular basis.
Launched at the turn of the year, RentersUnion’s chatbots have already analysed and given advice on rental contracts totalling more than £1m.
Did you know that 9/10 graduate jobs are at #SMEs? We're here to help the quiet majority of the market engage the right graduates for them 💥
— TalentPool (@TalentPoolTweet) March 7, 2017
Started last year by Andrew Lavelle and Tom Davenport, TalentPool operates in what is now a noisy space, connecting employers with job candidates. As a little twist on the norm, the service allows employers to search for candidates, who then receive notifications when they discover they are shortlisted. As a policy, unpaid jobs are not advertised on the service.
— Racefully (@Racefully) March 8, 2017
Focused on the surging fit-tech market, Racefully is the creator of the eponymous social running, virtual, real-time racing and goal-tracking app.
The company was founded in 2014 by Chris Pointon and David Naylor and aims to capitalise on the predicted $5bn activity tracker market by 2019.
The company was named winner of the London Sport Technology Innovation Fund Award in 2016. It has raised more than $996,000 in funding to date.
Not short of funding itself, Tandem has raised more than £55m, including about £35m from House of Fraser. Tandem will leverage the retailer’s customer base alongside its community of more than 10,000 ‘co-founders’ who will get first use of services.
The real company founders are CEO Ricky Knox and Matt Cooper, co-founder of Capital One.
— Onfido (@Onfido) February 22, 2017
Founded in 2012 by Oxford graduates Husayn Kassai (CEO), Eamon Jubbawy and Ruhul Amin, Onfido has helped clients such as Morgan McKinley, JustGiving and Hassle.com to run background checks.
Scaling fast, Onfido has raised more than $30m in funding to date.
Founded by CEO Dmitry Aksenov and San Francisco-based Mikhail Naumov, the start-up’s Human+AI platform integrates with existing CRM tools to give human operators some chatbot assistance for the more repetitive parts of customer service.
DigitalGenius secured $4.1m in seed investment in April 2016, with Salesforce Ventures among its cohort of backers.
While some start-ups strive to be ‘the Airbnb of’ a particular sector, others are cashing in on the Airbnb movement with complementary services such as host management and assistance.
Founded in 2014 by Nakul Sharma, Hostmaker stakes its claim as the “most trusted” Airbnb management company in London – one of the famous rental platform’s biggest marketplaces.
So far, Hostmaker has raised £7.5m in funding, including a recent £5m Series A round.
YapJobs is an app that seeks to match jobseekers and employers in the hospitality sector in real time.
The company was founded by Shahzad Ali, Xen Lategan and Ziad Tassabehji in 2015.
To date, YapJobs has raised $2.9m in two seed rounds, including funding from private investors.
Exciting discussions with potential partners to develop the future of music #StayTuned
— Ujo (@UjoMusic) February 10, 2017
Utilising Ethereum blockchain, Ujo Music works with artists, allowing users to purchase downloading, streaming, remixing and syncing licences. With transactions taking place exclusively on blockchain, payments are automatically split between individual contributors to the piece of music.
A branch of ConsenSys, Ujo Music debuted in October 2015 and, as its product develops, will offer artists a homepage that is self-operated and completely self-owned.
— HeySuccess (@HeySuccess) March 5, 2017
Founded in 2014 by Milenko Pilic, HeySuccess has connected more than 50,000 students and graduates to more than 6,000 companies, universities and organisations.
Along with internships and other graduate opportunities, HeySuccess offers advice, webinars and other helpful resources for students to achieve career success.
Pushfor is a smart, secure, content-sharing app for business use. The company was established in 2013 by John Safa.
While there is a free app for the average customer, Pushfor offers businesses a safe, protected method of swapping messages.
In December 2016, the company secured £1.2m in a pre-Series A round of funding.
Tackling the renting headache, Movebubble is an app for renters to find, view and secure their next home.
As well as showing properties in real time, the app will show you all the costs involved in renting the property, give area recommendations and allow you to book viewings and secure properties.
Founded in 2013, the company has achieved more than $3m in funding.
— CharlieHR (@JoinCharlie) February 28, 2017
Founded by Ben Gateley, Rob O’Donovan and Tom Carrington Smith, CharlieHR provides free, HR software to take the stress out of HR admin.
Founded in 2015, the company has already received $1.44m in one round of funding from 12 investors.
The software simplifies booking time off, onboarding and keeping companies’ team directories in order.
House sharing is becoming increasingly common among young workers in their 20s and 30s. Splittable aims to ease the pain of living with other people by taking the money issue off the table.
Splittable is a bill-sharing app with a focus on household expenses, allowing users to track what they’ve paid and creating a centralised record of who owes what to whom.
The start-up generated $1.2m in a 2015 funding round.
Zesty is a digital health company, providing on-demand access to healthcare appointments. The start-up aims to enable patients to book appointments in less than 60 seconds on any device, or through its cross-platform apps.
Founded by Lloyd Price and James Balmain in 2012, Zesty has raised $9.2m in funding rounds to date.
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Have you guys seen the new and improved Lyst app? 😍 You can now save your favorite items and get notifications as soon as they go on sale, as well shop from multiple stores like Saks, Balenciaga and hundreds in one checkout. 🙌 Search 'Lyst' in the App Store and start shopping the smart way.
E-commerce start-up Lyst brings designer fashion to the masses, standing apart from competitors with its technology. The app utilises tech to create a personal shopping experience for users, with customised feeds highlighting the clothes that men and women will really love.
Founded by Chris Morton, Sebastjan Trepca and Devin Hunt in 2010, the start-up has pulled in $60.52m in funding so far.
Launched in 2014 by Ruzbeh Bacha, CityFalcon was born out of the 2008 crash as a means for investors and traders to keep on top of news about the companies they have a financial stake in.
Acting as a news aggregator, the service uses algorithms to curate a news feed specifically for a client based on a score.
It has so far raised £350,000 in funding.
We’ve hit £2.5 million! Thank you all ♥️ Capital At Risk pic.twitter.com/cUPJDngEgA
— Monzo (@monzo) February 28, 2017
Founded in 2015 by Tom Blomfield, Monzo is a fintech start-up with ambitions of becoming a major bank based entirely from a smartphone.
Monzo’s app is designed to notify users when transactions are made, and give them the ability to place limits on spending for a specified time, such as the week before payday.
The company has attracted serious interest from investors, amounting to $45m in funding to date.
Founded by ex-Shazam employees Rahul Powar and Randal Pinto in 2015, Red Sift provides a data analytics and chatbot platform designed to help companies sift through and automate workflow data.
It does this through a series of apps provided, and customer apps – or Sifts – can be created using an open source SDK.
In October 2016, it announced that it raised $2m as part of a seed investment.
— Metail (@Metail) March 8, 2017
Founded in 2008 by Tom Adeyoola and Duncan Robertson, Metail is an online clothing company that allows customers to create 3D models of themselves based on their measurements, and virtually try on clothes.
So far, the company has raised nearly $20m in funding and, since launching with Tesco in 2012, it has expanded internationally to other clients in the US, India and South Korea.
Founded in 2013 by Ted Nash, Dom Bracher and Nick Reffitt, Tapdaq is an advertising platform that offers both ad mediation and cross-promotion to make an ad network as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
In January of last year, the company received its single largest investment, totalling $6.5m, out of a total investment to date of $7.9m.
Updated, 5.13pm, 14 March 2017: This article was updated to provide the correct spelling for Jack Beaman, co-founder of Syft.