¡¡¡¡The UK tech industry has expanded ten folds in the last decade. According to a new report by Dealroom.co and the Digital Economy Council, it is paving the way for several fast-growing tech companies that are all set to challenge Silicon Valley in the next decade.
¡¡¡¡Since 2010, the UK has experienced a sustained increase in the VC funds flowing into the tech sector, especially fintech, food delivery, e-commerce, and healthtech.
¡¡¡¡During the past decade, the number of unicorns, private tech companies valued at $1 billion or more surged to 81 in 2020 from a meagre eight in 2010. Unicorns such as Betfair, Admiral Group and Ocado have progressed into household names.
¡¡¡¡Also, there is a surge in the number of futurecorns ¡ª tech companies with the potential to grow into a unicorn has skyrocketed from 10 in 2010 to 126 in 2020. Further, there is also a surge in the VC investment into the UK tech sector from ¡ê1.2 billion in 2010 to a whopping ¡ê11.3 billion right now.
¡¡¡¡These numbers point out that the UK is catching up with the US and China in tech, with London being the fourth region trailing behind the Bay Area, Beijing and New York in terms of the number of tech startups and unicorns. It is touted that no other European country has been able to grow at such a rate.
¡¡¡¡Despite the pandemic, in 2021, the total number of unicorns and futurecorns has continues to grow. The UK has now created 91 unicorns and a further 132 companies are now regarded as ¡®futurecorns¡¯. Digging deeper into the report, let¡¯s take a look at the 15 most fast-growing UK-based tech futurecorns ¡ª those with a valuation between $250 million (nearly ¡ê179 million) and $1 billion (nearly ¡ê718 million) that are marching towards the unicorn path.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Zopa
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Richard Duvall, Tim Parlett, Giles Andrews, James Alexander, David Nicholson
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2005
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê375M
¡¡¡¡London-based digital bank Zopa is a P2P money lending service that allows lenders and borrowers to deal directly with one another, thereby eradicating the middlemen. The company takes on responsibilities such as distributing money between parties, completing the legal paperwork, performing borrower identity/credit checks, and employing a collections agency that chases missed payments for the lender. Also, it mitigates risk for lenders by enforcing monthly direct debit repayment, making borrowers sign a legal contract, and allowing lenders to lend small chunks of money to individual borrowers.
¡¡¡¡In January this year, Zopa bagged ¡ê20 million in funding led by IAG Silverstripe alongside a slew of investors, including Augmentum, Waterfall managed Alternative Credit Investments, and Venture Founders. Zopa announced that it will use the funds to fuel its growth when it believes that there is more demand for products.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Moonbug
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: John Robson, Rene Rechtman
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2018
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê208M
¡¡¡¡Moonbug is a global kids entertainment company from London that creates and distributes inspiring and engaging stories to expand kids¡¯ worlds and minds. The company creates, produces and publishes thousands of minutes of video and audio content every month with the goal of teaching compassion, empathy and resilience to kids around the world.
¡¡¡¡In 2020, Moonbug pocketed $120 million (nearly ¡ê87 million) in a funding round to support growth and acquisitions led by Goldman Sachs Growth Equity and Fertitta Capital and existing investors including The Raine Group and Felix Capital. Moonbug acquired YouTube Sensations CoComelon and Blippi to become the world¡¯s largest digital kids media company.
¡¡¡¡Ren¨¨ Rechtman, Moonbug co-founder and CEO, said: ¡°We set out to create the next generation kids¡¯ entertainment company and now only three years later we are amongst the world leaders. We have created some of the most influential kids¡¯ brands today and we are continuing to expand our franchises to more shows, platforms and products. The UK has been a great hatching ground for us as we are building a global business across the US, UK and Asia.¡±
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Atom Bank
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Mark Mullen, Anthony Thomson
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2014
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê471M
¡¡¡¡Based in Durham, Atom Bank is a mobile banking application that offers a range of personal and business banking products. It is UK¡¯s first bank built for mobile as it lets users log in using face and voice recognition. It became a regulated bank in June 2015 and rolled out market-leading Fixed Saver accounts and secured loans for UK smaller businesses (SMEs) in 2016.
¡¡¡¡Last month, Atom Bank announced that it secured ¡ê40 million funding led by Toscafund Asset Management LLP and BBVA. The mobile banking platform will use the proceeds to accelerate their progress this year and prepare them for the next phase in their development prior to IPO in the coming years.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Wejo
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Richard Barlow
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2014
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê100M
¡¡¡¡Manchester-based global leader in connected car data, Wejo partners with automotive manufacturers to organise and enhance streams of authentic connected vehicle data and unlocking its value for drivers and public and private sector organisations. It specialises in in-vehicle data and processes billions of data points from thousands of sensors globally. Wejo analyses this data and makes it accessible to create customer and economic value, enables safer driving, makes cities more liveable and delivers a better driving experience.
¡¡¡¡In August 2020, Wejo raised ¡ê10 million in a round led by DIP Capital along with support from the UK government¡¯s Future Fund and a slew of new and existing investors. The funds will be used to bring new products to market and expand through partnerships with auto companies.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Vashi
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Vashi Dominguez
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2007
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê1M
¡¡¡¡London-based Vashi is a diamond jewellery brand that offers a genuinely unique, disruptive, and omni-channel retail experience. The brand sells direct-to-consumer diamonds online. Vashi makes bespoke fine jewellery accessible to everyone. It offers high-quality diamond jewellery without traditional industry markups. Now, the company has six stores in the UK and a workshop inside each to make bespoke, customisable diamonds.
¡¡¡¡Vashi Dominguez, Vashi founder and CEO, said: ¡°Jewellery should be an expression of your story, not another brand¡¯s story. For generations you have had to buy the same ready-made jewellery as everybody else, to express something that should be personal, unique and individual to you. Based on tradition, but reinvented for now, Vashi makes truly personal jewellery more accessible and transparent through technology. It¡¯s a pleasure to work daily with people I admire, but we have only achieved 1% of my vision to date. We have exciting plans for Vashi to scale in the UK and go global imminently.¡±
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Gigaclear
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Matthew Hare
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2010
¡¡¡¡Total funding: NA
¡¡¡¡Gigaclear is one of the fastest and most reliable broadband networks in the UK. The service provider delivers broadband services only to the rural areas. It is touted to provide better broadband than the service that is available in most towns and cities. With ultrafast fibre broadband available to customers, rural communities will be ready to meet the demands of internet services ofthe future.
¡¡¡¡In 2020, Gigaclear picked ¡ê525 million investment from Lloyds, Natwest, Santander and ABN Amro. The package comprised a ¡ê480 million seven-year capital expenditure facility and a ¡ê45 million revolving credit facility. It was announced that the investment will be used by the company for their future rollout plans.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Bloom & Wild
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Aron Gelbard, Ben Stanway,
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2014
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê100M
¡¡¡¡London-based Bloom & Wild is a letterbox flower delivery company, which takes the traditional business of ordering and delivering flowers online. It has infused the traditional flower-delivery experience with predictive analytics and technology to deliver a fresher, less-traveled bouquet to the people they care most about. Bloom & Wild aims to become the pan-European market leader in flower and gift delivery.
¡¡¡¡This January, Bloom & Wild grabbed ¡ê75 million Series D funding in an investment round led by General Catalyst along with participation from Index Ventures, Novator, Latitude Ventures, D4 Ventures (established by Hanzade Dogan), and existing investors including Burda Principal Investments. With this funds, the company intends to expand into the European markets, on broadening and enhancing its range of products and services to better serve customers¡¯ needs and build shopping missions outside the traditional flower industry peaks.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Truphone
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Alexander Straub, James Tagg
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2006
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê472M
¡¡¡¡Based out of London, Truphone, a global leader in digital connectivity, provides mobile network services to its users. It has built state-of-the-art SIM software and intuitive management platforms. Also, Truphone enables other mobile operators to rapidly roll out support for eSIM enabled devices. With this service, enterprises and individuals are benefiting from its international SIM cards and worldwide subscriptions.
¡¡¡¡Last year, Truphone raised ¡ê30 million from existing investors ¨C Minden, Millhouse, and Abramovich to further develop its eSIM software and expand business in North America and Asia Pacific. Truphone said it will invest the money in software development, and accelerate its global expansion plans, especially North America and Asia Pacific.
¡¡¡¡Ralph Steffens, Truphone CEO, said: ¡°Since day one, it¡¯s been in our DNA to innovate, to adapt and to drive transformation for our customers and for the industry. The UK has proven remarkably fertile ground for this journey. Now, our engineering hubs here and around the world are developing new software and new solutions to fully digitise cellular connectivity ¡ª at a speed and specificity that is blowing past the rest of the industry.¡±
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Zilch
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Philip Belamant,
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2018
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê94M
¡¡¡¡Zilch is a buy now, pay later app that allows its customers to shop wherever Mastercard is accepted. Based in London, the fintech lets users keep track of all their purchases in one place, be it online or in-store transactions. It ensures that they have a transparent view of their finances and repayment timelines. The company operates with the mission to put their consumers in full control of their money and make life as convenient as possible. Late last year, Recently, Zilch has become the first company in the market to become fully Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) licensed.
¡¡¡¡Following this, in December 2020, Zilch secured $30 million (nearly ¡ê21.2 million) equity funding and closed its pre-Series B round. The investment came from Simon Nixon (Seek Ventures and co-founder of Money Supermarket) and Gauss Ventures.
¡¡¡¡Philip Belamant, Zilch founder and CEO, said: ¡°At Zilch we¡¯re transforming the buy-now-pay-later market, putting consumer financial wellness at the heart of our business. We use Open Banking technology combined with soft credit checks to ensure consumers are only borrowing what they can afford and we¡¯re one of the first fully FCA-regulated BNPL product. We¡¯ve had an amazing few years growing in the UK and we can¡¯t wait to launch Zilch in the US and Europe.¡±
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Tripledot Studios
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Akin Babayigit, Eyal Chameides, Lior Shiff
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2017
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê67.2M
¡¡¡¡Tripledot Studios based in London is a mobile gaming company. Its goal is to create the highest quality casual games for everyone to enjoy. Tripledot brings the best team together in an awesome environment to create the ¡°Apollo Programme¡± of mobile games. Some of Tripledot¡¯s popular game titles include Solitaire, Woodoku, and Blackjack.
¡¡¡¡Last month, Tripledot Studios, secured $78 million (nearly ¡ê55 million) Series A funding from Eldridge, Access Industries, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The investment round will let the company accelerate their growth by acquiring studios.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Gryphon Group Holdings
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Daniel Pender, Simon Davis
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2016
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê186.4M
¡¡¡¡London-based Gryphon Group Holdings is an insurtech startup poised to launch an exciting new protection challenger. It works with the ambition to protect more families in the UK. The company plans to maximise the potential of insurtech by taking a fresh approach designed around customer and adviser needs. Its focus is on building an intuitive proposition and an effortless adviser experience.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Pollinate
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Alastair Lukies CBE
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2017
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê172M
¡¡¡¡London-based Pollinate is a fintech that partners with banks to help them deepen and extend relationships with their business customers. It is focused on reinventing merchant acquiring for banks around the world. The company enables banks to compete with these disruptors. Pollinate technology is an innovative cloud-based platform that wraps around a bank¡¯s legacy payment systems. This allows merchants to more effectively manage their businesses with digital tools and data integrations, grow their businesses by connecting with their consumers, and give back to their local communities.
¡¡¡¡In March this year, Pollinate bagged $50 million (nearly ¡ê35.2) in a Series C funding round led by Insight Partners along with participation from all existing investors, including NatWest Group, Mastercard, National Australia Bank (NAB), EFM Asset Management, and Motive Partners. With the proceeds, Pollinate will focus on further global expansion and move into North America. Also, it will accelerate the expansion of Pollinate¡¯s white-label marketplace.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: AgriProtein
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: David Drew, Jason Drew
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2008
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê96M
¡¡¡¡Demand for fishmeal is expected to outspace supply by 5 million tonnes by 2024. Over 90 million tonnes of fishmeal is captured every year. Guildford-based AgriProtein is working to produce 100% natural, sustainable insect protein alternative to fishmeal for use in aquaculture feed. In 2018, the insect farming business raised $105 million (nearly ¡ê77 million) in equity and debt. This marked the largest capital raised back then in the insect farming industry.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Bulb
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Amit Gudka, Hayden Wood
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2015
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê64M
¡¡¡¡Leading the London cohort and in second place overall is Bulb, the renewable energy specialist, with a growth rate of 14,288%. Bulb is the UK¡¯s fastest-growing energy supplier that provides 100% carbon-neutral gas and 100% renewable electricity to over 1.6 million members across the UK. Its electricity is sourced from renewable generators that are located across the UK including solar, wind, and hydro sites. Bulb¡¯s mission is to help people reduce their bills and reduce carbon emissions.
¡¡¡¡Image credits: Thought Machine
¡¡¡¡Founder/s: Paul Taylor
¡¡¡¡Founded year: 2014
¡¡¡¡Total funding: ¡ê120M
¡¡¡¡ThoughtMachine is a cloud-native core banking technology firm based in London. Its primary product and technology is called Vault, a modern cloud-native core system for banks constrained by legacy technology. Its scalable, secure, and flexible API-driven solution unlocks the banking industry¡¯s ability to innovate and offer customised products and personalised customer experiences while ensuring security, cost-effectiveness, and virtually zero downtime.
¡¡¡¡Back in July 2020, Thought Machine raised $42 million (nearly ¡ê85 million) Series B funding from Eurazeo Growth alongside British Patient Capital and Thought Machine customer SEB. The company announced that it will use the funds to grow rapidly to serve its target markets.