A curated list of companies in London to accelerate your career in 2021 - and they're all hiring! They're fast growing, exciting, and innovative. Built for job-seekers.
Jobs at all the companies on this year's Rocket List are available on Otta. We provide you with only relevant recomendations and in-depth insights to help you put your best foot forward
Allplants is aiming to better our planet, by making eating more plants delicious, imaginative and easy. To start that journey, they're delivering hand-prepared meals to doorsteps UK-wide. Allplants is on a mission to inspire the next billion plant-powered people.
Last updated Dec 2020
How the food industry is serving up sustainability
An interview with Alex Petrides
Allplants is served £7.5M Series A funding
Vegan Food Company Raises £2 Million In 48 Hours
Whether it's the wonderful mouthwatering food we cook up every day and deliver to homes across the country, or the culture we instil at The Greenhouse (our home!), we're all about positive change at allplants
We're building the best team and everyone in our family brings something special to the table. 2020 is going to be a HUGE year for us with growth plans involving new products, markets and of course incredible people joining the team
Allplants has found a niche within home food delivery, competing with the likes of Gousto and Hellofresh (albeit Allplants meals come prepared rather than as recipe boxes)
While vegans make up a smaller portion of the total market, the proportion of people trying to reduce their meat and dairy intake now makes up around 33% of people in the UK, giving them a big and growing market to tap into (especially as people trying to change their dieting habits are probably more likely to try new things)
The UK is also now the world leader for vegan food product launches, with 1 in 6 new food products coming to market claiming to be vegan. This is not just a London fad, with Allplants saying that only 38% of their customers are based in London.
As a certified B Corp, Allplants are taking their commitment to the environment seriously, and they’ve designed the packaging so it’s as environmentally-friendly as possible. They use offcuts of cotton denim from the factory floor to produce insulation, which goes in its cardboard boxes so it can be recycled and used again. This compares with the polystyrene boxes that are used for food logistics 90% of the time.
It will be important for Allplants to maintain high quality and a strong brand to build the defensibility of the business. It will be easy for bigger meal delivery companies to offer vegan alternatives, but not so easy for them to live up to Allplants environmental credentials.
Babylon’s mission is to put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth.
Last updated Dec 2020
An interview with Babylon's CEO
Babylon CEO wants to make healthcare ‘accessible’ for all
The cautionary tale of how Babylon disrupted the NHS
Founder of Circle, Europe's largest partnership of clinicians. Previously Executive Director at Goldman Sachs
Our biggest challenge for 2020 is to continue to address the global crisis in the healthcare system.
At present, even in the wealthiest parts of the world, healthcare services are difficult to access and unaffordable for many. In developing countries the situation is severe, with half of the population lacking essential services. At Babylon we believe everyone, everywhere, has the right to a long, healthy, happy life. We're working to make that possible, using the power of artificial intelligence and technology.
In other words, our mission is clear: We want to put an accessible and affordable health service into the hands of every person on Earth. We're partnering with governments, existing providers and insurers all over the world – from the UK and US, to Rwanda and South East Asia – to realise this ambition.
This year, we'll continue to grow rapidly, meaning we'll carry on recruiting ambitious, positive and empathetic people who want to make a difference in the world.
Babylon has a huge mission, to make health care accessible for all. This helped them attract a lot of funding and talent. In 2019 they raised $550m, the largest round ever for digital health delivery.
Making time to go and see the doctor can already be difficult, and often you have to wait over a week for an appointment. Bablyon's first step to making healthcare accessible is enabling people to interact with doctors over the phone or on video, a huge step change in convenience for the consumer.
Babylon says it delivers 4,000 clinical consultations each day and covers 4.3 million people worldwide, with more than 160,000 giving 5-star ratings for appointments. This traction certainly suggests they’re onto something.
Babylon partners with the NHS - one of the largest employers in the world and by far the biggest employer in the UK – and its staff and systems are stretched. It is turning to technology to help save time and redirect focus, but this process isn’t straightforward and will take time. Babylon is also looking to expand into the US and Asia, where the markets are larger but arguably even more complex given the regulatory environment.
BenevolentAI's mission is to unlock the power of AI to transform drug discovery and bring effective medicines to every patient. Their vision is to drive transformational change through scalable technology solutions that result in a consistent pipeline of successful trials and new medicines for patients.
Last updated Dec 2020
This AI unicorn is disrupting the pharma industry in a big way
BenevolentAI starts AI collaboration with AstraZeneca
How BenevolentAI bounced back from a $1 billion loss
Previously CEO of Proximagen, a biotech company committed to delivering novel drugs and innovative new treatments for central nervous system disorders
Long career in technology, having previously worked at Google, Facebook and Bebo. Appointed to the House of Lords in 2014 and works as a Digital Economy Adviser to the UK Government
90% of the world's data was produced in the last two years, and this rapid increase in data creation is felt most acutely in medical science. The sheer quantity of biomedical information available to scientists is increasing exponentially: from biomedical, genomic, patient, clinical trial and molecular data to consumer genetic data.
Although disease affects everyone and trillions have been spent on research and development, there are still thousands of diseases without any treatment. And, there are over 300 million people suffering from rare diseases that, unless we dramatically disrupt the economic and development models, there won't be a medicine developed for them anytime soon
Developing a drug and getting it to market can easily take 10-15 years at a cost of more than $2.5 billion. Furthermore, the Top Ten selling drugs that are on the market today only work on average for just 30-50% of the patients for which they are prescribed. The reason is because biology is incredibly complex and that the fact that the human body itself is one of the most complex data systems with over 37 trillion cells.
This represents a perfect opportunity for machine learning, which we continue to tackle at BenevolentAI.
There is a lot of research being done in the pharmaceutical industry. BenevolentAI say there's a new research paper being published every 30 seconds. They argue this information is not being used in a smart way for the discovery and development of new drugs.
To tackle this problem, BenevolentAI uses artificial intelligence to analyse biomedical information, from clinical trials data to academic papers. They can then identify molecules that have failed in clinical trials and predict how these same compounds can instead be more efficient targeting other diseases.
They argue this approach can dramatically accelerate the discovery of new drugs. They've collaborated with large pharma companies like AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica.
It's a big market, with Global Market Insights estimating the global healthcare AI market will exceed $10 billion by 2024. This gives them a big opportunity, but it won't be an easy problem to tackle.
Cleo’s mission is to fight for the world’s financial health.
Last updated Dec 2020
Cleo, the AI-powered ‘financial assistant’, raises $44M Series B led by EQT Ventures
Cleo has stealthily entered the U.S.
Five questions for Barney Hussey-Yeo
Data Scientist at Wonga, one of the companies that pioneered the smart use of data for loan decisions. Joined Entrepreneur First where Cleo was formed
As we scale, our biggest challenge is maintaining our strong, collaborative, and inclusive culture
We want to take the "money bit" out of financial services - and expand our recruitment beyond traditional fintech and banking.
Together we are working towards our mission to fight against the banking industry and empower everyone to own the relationship they have with their money
People are increasingly not satisfied with the products being offered by traditional banks, who have proven slow to react to the needs of younger consumers who expect more from their everyday experiences.
Cleo was one of the first companies to make great use of chatbots that sit within Facebook's messenger app. This chatbot-first approach and Gen Z user base has given them strong virality, enabling them to grow to over 2.5 million users (up from 1m in early 2019). This seems to have been largely driven by a better-than-expected US launch in 2019.
Financial advice delivered via bots is now a very crowded space, so Cleo is benefiting from being a strong brand in the space. They’ve gone for very bold, fun, millennial-focused messaging which helps them stand out from the rest.
They’re experimenting with cash advances (an alternative to overdrafts) and premium accounts. Cleo is in a trickier position than some other fintechs who hold customer deposits, as these are much easier to monetise (even though a lot of the challenger banks say they don’t want to make money in the same way as a traditional bank!).
Cuvva started with the problem that nobody was offering short-term car insurance. Since then they've taken on greater challenges in insurance. They're on a mission to make it fast, flexible and clear. So they've cut out the middlemen, ditched the jargon and put heart and soul into customer support.
Last updated Dec 2020
Early press article explaining Cuvva's founding story
Cuvva raises £15M Series A to launch flexible monthly car insurance
Customer support as a product
Scaling the team. We want to completely rebuild the insurance industry, and to do that we need to hire the right people to build the technology we need to take on the big insurers
Competing with established fintechs like TransferWise and Monzo to hire the best talent in the UK
Before companies like Cuvva, the most recent consumer-facing innovation in insurance was through aggregators such as Moneysupermarket. However, the experience of using these is not great. The industry is known for low levels of customer support, confusing policies and needing to create a new account every time you want a quote.
Brokers and comparison websites add another step to the process, and charge companies they work with ~£70 on each policy sold, which is passed on to the customer in the form of higher policy costs.
Cuvva's focus on customer service is unusual in insurance, but it's providing them a winning edge. They are trying to make insurance more about the experience than simply the price of the policy. It seems to be working so far, as they’ve got a lot of great customer reviews. The challenge will be scaling this support (it’s notoriously hard to scale great customer service when you’re growing fast).
For an industry where brand loyalty is currently near zero (because people go for the cheapest policies) there could be a big opportunity for a company that provides an end-to-end amazing experience and cuts out the middlemen.
Duffel is on a mission to unravel travel — simplifying systems and building the tools that will make the future of travel effortless. Duffel is rethinking travel from the ground up. Their platform helps bring new experiences to life so that travelling feels like a seamless part of your journey instead of a chore.
Last updated Dec 2020
Duffel raises $30M led by Index Ventures
Duffel accelerating efforts to reinvent airline distribution
Travel disrupter Duffel raises another $30m and finally comes out of stealth
In the same way that challenger banks have come along to re-invent legacy banking software from the ground up, Duffel is doing the same in the travel market, linking up airlines directly with travel agents with a modern platform.
Duffel's system connects with airlines’ booking channels more extensively than those of incumbent operators, like Amadeus and Sabre, meaning they can facilitate selling not just seats on a plane, but also other products such as speedy boarding, airport transfer and seat selection.
Add-on products make up an increasing part of airline revenues (currently 10% for European low-cost carriers, up 105% over the past four years in Europe) but are mostly sold through airlines own websites at the moment (whereas bookings are increasingly being made via intermediaries like Skyscanner). Duffel's technology will make it easier for airlines to sell more of these ancillary services, which is what makes them so attractive to airline customers.
Their main competitor in Europe, Amadeus, has $5bn+ revenue and 19,000 employees, so there's a big challenge ahead, but a big prize if they succeed in capturing some of that market.
Elliptic’s co-founders were driven by a belief that cryptocurrencies would play a key role in the future of finance. Elliptic believes that illicit activity in cryptocurrencies must be disrupted to stop criminals from undermining the ideals on which cryptocurrencies are built. They do this by solving the crucial problem of identity in cryptocurrencies, with the sole purpose of combating suspicious and criminal activity.
Last updated Dec 2020
London-based Elliptic raises €21 million
Cryptocurrency: restoring reputation for the future
Wirex and Elliptic unite to make cryptocurrency safer
Computer Science PhD in Natural Language Processing from Oxford
Mathematics PhD from Imperial College. Previously a quantitative analyst at Liquid Capital
Physics PhD from Oxford. Previously CEO of a company working towards clean energy
The rise of cryptocurrency in the last 5 years has been dramatic. While there hasn't yet been a huge breakthrough in terms of a mainstream product for consumers, there are some interesting applications appearing.
A key issue with most cryptocurrencies is that their nature means they can be used by criminals for illicit activities (especially money laundering). Elliptic’s focus is on tackling financial compliance, and they have developed machine learning tech that screens transactions to identify suspicious patterns and dubious transactors.
They now offer an integrated suite of products for financial institutions to screen crypto-flows, which they analyse for links to illicit activity such as money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes. Their success in this area could be key to helping cryptocurrencies get the regulation they need to go mainstream.
Elliptic are especially targeting business growth in Asia, where they’re planning to open new offices in Japan and Singapore. They say client revenues in the region have risen 11x over the past 2 years.
Farewill's mission is to change the way the world deals with death. Farewill was set up in 2015 to make everything to do with death fairer, simpler and cheaper. Since then, they’ve become the biggest will writer in the UK, writing over 30,000 wills and raising over £100 million for charity along the way.
Last updated Dec 2020
UK’s Farewill raises $25M for its new approach online will writing, funerals and other death services
Farewill wants to give will-writing a web-based makeover
Farewill Q&A — Dan Garrett, Farewill CEO
Studied Global Innovation Design at the Royal College of Art
2 years experience as a software engineer. Studied Mathematics at Oxford
After raising our Series B and more than doubling our team last year, we've got an exciting year ahead in 2021. We're investing in furthering our lead as the UK's favourite & largest will writer, and carry on transforming the probate and funerals industry with our newer product lines. As ever, exceptional customer experience lies at the heart of our approach, with an NPS of 82 across all of our services. We're hiring across the board - building three new product teams, as well as more than doubling headcount in every other function.
In the UK, the majority of wills are made by solicitors or will-writing firms, with prices normally around £200-300 on the high street and £850-£5000s with established firms.
There have been DIY will services for the last 5 years, but most have poor user experience and no real support beyond the form itself. Customers are required to read 10-20 pages of legal documents and decide what applies to them.
Farewill's technology asks simple questions and generates the legal text. Wills are important legal documents, and so every will still gets checked by a specialist and phone lines are open 7 days a week and 12 hours a day. Farewill are also cheaper than alternatives, with a cost of just £90 for an individual.
A competitor in the US (Willing) has taken the freemium route, referring customers to funeral services to make money. However, Farewill believes they can provide a better experience if the product is paid for. Farewell is also partnering with UK companies to provide the service as a perk to their employees, a novel distribution method.
flatfair is on a mission to make tenancy deposits a thing of the past so that property letting becomes more affordable. When they launched in 2016, UK renters were struggling to pay large deposits, leaving landlords with rising void periods. In addition to this, the Government deposit schemes and insurance policies of the time simply weren’t benefiting either party — often leaving landlords or tenants out of pocket.
Last updated Dec 2020
Previously an Associate at Deutsche Bank
Previously a Global Account Manager at Criteo and an Account Strategist at Google. Also working on deskfair (deposit-free solution for co-working spaces)
Previously the Lead Game Designer at King and a Senior Game Designer at Gamesys
Attracting the best talent to be part of a fast-paced rental revolution
Finding passionate people who want to deliver the best possible experience to tenants, landlords and agents
Maintaining the amazing culture created by our employees as we scale up
Building a team of experts who genuinely want to transform the future of renting and change how people think about the experience of renting
Creating a community built on trust, transparency and honesty
The average rental deposit in the UK is £1,110 and this means tenants struggle to pay the deposit when moving home.
For those with cash flow issues, there was previously no solution to finding £1,000 at short notice. Flatfair have created a solution where you pay a membership-fee equal to one-quarter the cost of a rental deposit. This is non-refundable, but means people don't have to take on credit card debt or borrow from family and friends.
Other companies such as Goodlord and Movebubble have tried to disrupt rentals, but it's a hard space to crack.
flatfair's access point to the rental market is a smart one. They become pivotal to both landlords and tenants, and so are in a smart position to streamline processes and improve the experience (for example when there are disputes over damages at the end of a tenancy).
Freetrade is a next-generation investment tech startup, bringing free stock investing to the UK and Europe for the first time. Their mission is to build a totally new culture around investing: millennial-friendly, innovative, customer-first and universally accessible.
Last updated Dec 2020
Freetrade launches ‘zero-fee’ investment app
Revolut challenges Freetrade with US-only commission-free stock trading
Meet Freetrade, The Challenger Stockbroker
Started his career at Google where he worked for 7 years. Most recently Head of Growth for Notey, a blogging company based in Hong Kong
Started his career in KPMG, where he worked for 6 years in Audit before starting Freetrade
Nearly 20 years of experience in software engineering. Most recently worked in engineering management roles at Amazon, Trailsuite and Snapchat
Our mission is to get everyone investing. To reach and educate our future investors, we're working on next-level educational efforts.
Continuing to hire the top 10% of engineering talent in London in the face of a competitive market.
Our expansion into Europe requires us to build a deep understanding of the different markets and cultures.
Continuing to build the home screen app for investing, with trust at its core.
Freetrade is aiming to democratise investing. Investing in stocks has traditionally been restricted to a more wealthy generation who can afford the commissions of £10-£12 per trade and have the money to pay for financial advice. Freetrade are trying to make investing accessible for all (according to them, there are 16m millennials in the UK who have never invested in stocks before).
Freetrade have strong customer loyalty. This enabled them to raise nearly all of their early investment through record crowdfunding founds (they also recently raised £12m from VC Draper Esprit). Crowdfunding tends to work particularly well when the investors active in crowdfunding communities can relate to the product, which is certainly the case here!
They've also created an active community where potential investors can share advice and learn about company stocks, which has helped fuel engagement and growth. Freetrade are in a market with a lot of well capitalised incumbents (such as the big banks and brokerages) and some big disrupters (like Robinhood and Revolut, who are both £bn+ companies already). The key to continued customer growth will be finding marketing strategies that don't rely on them outspending deep-pocketed rivals.
On the product side, Freetrade have built a brokerage platform from scratch using serverless technologies. This will help them scale their product in a cost-effective way, as they're not reliant on a 3rd party broker.
Over the last 10 years, GoCardless have seen the rise of the subscription economy and the boom of the business services sector. GoCardless are on a mission to take the pain out of getting paid for businesses with recurring revenue.
Last updated Dec 2020
GoCardless raises another $95M as it bets on open banking alongside its recurring payments network
How to beat banks using great design
Brunch with Hiroki Takeuchi, founder of GoCardless
Sustaining momentum from 2019, when we really accelerated our growth with multi-currency and multi-country payments
Maintaining our culture as we scale
Securing the right talent with a keen eye on diversity and inclusion
Increasing the number of women in leadership roles
Subscription models are becoming the standard, yet recurring payments is still a messy space. GoCardless are attempting to build the one-stop shop globally for businesses that want to let customers pay via recurring bank payments.
GoCardless had a strong 2019, securing $75m led by GV to fund international expansion with new offices across EMEA, APAC and North America. They now have offices in France, Australia, Germany and the US and process $10bn in transactions each year for over 50,000 businesses.
Larger payment companies (e.g. Stripe and Square) don't seem to be focused on tackling the subscription economy yet, though they are starting to make some moves into that space, which means GoCardless needs to expand fast to keep them away.
Later in 2019 GoCardless announced a partnership with TransferWise for its currency exchange, allowing them to provide TransferWise’s FX rates to its own customers. This is a big win for GoCardless, as it helps them much better serve global businesses.
Habito use a unique combination of cutting edge technology and industry-leading mortgage experts to get you the best mortgage possible. Habito's mission is to fundamentally change the entire mortgage broking industry by making it clear, simple and jargon-free.
Last updated Dec 2020
Habito will begin direct lending via its own mortgages
CEO creates own mortgage platform after almost losing first buy
Habito raises £18.5M Series B led by Atomico
Held senior roles at Wonga including Head of Strategy
Access to mortgages was historically controlled by mortgage brokers who acted as gatekeepers to the market. 10 years ago the mortgage process involved meeting someone in an office somewhere to discuss your options; not exactly 21st Century.
This is changing with the rise of online brokers, who are bringing innovation to this previously undisrupted market. It's a big market, with £240bn of mortgage loans originated each year, so there’s plenty of money to be made for Habito.
In 2019, they started direct lending from their own range of mortgages, which are being funded by a £500m commitment from a large financial institution. Habito are hoping that other lenders will want to use their technology to launch their own digital lending products. They believe using smart technology enables them to provide a better customer experience and faster loan decisions, which will give them a long-term edge over traditional banks.
For now, they’re innovating by offering lending products targeted at underserved groups, e.g. mortgages suitable for self-employed people who don’t have a traditional financial footprint. Another opportunity the startup is eyeing up are mortgages with a much longer fixed term, which are more common in other countries, but in the U.K. are typically restricted to 2-5 years.
Habito ran a bold advertising campaign titled ‘Hell or Habito’ starting in late 2018, which they’ve built on in 2019. This has been successful in driving awareness of the brand and helping fuel their growth.
Our vision is to make every travel experience perfect. By building a future in which travel is seamlessly connected and relentlessly inventive.
Last updated Dec 2020
Backing Impala — the universal hotel API
Jobs @ Impala: What the hell is Impala anyway?
Travel tech startup Impala raises $20m just four months after raising $11m
Our Culture Deck
Previously worked as a software engineer
Previously worked in Sales at Patch Plants, and in various other sales roles
Scaling operations to ensure that absolute best quality service to all hotels covered by Impala technology, in the face of significant demand from very large customers
Ensuring the scalability of a data platform that already today covers over 1bn data points
Maintaining a position as one of the best places to work remotely in the country as we go from 10 to 50 remote staff
Impala wants to be as simple as Stripe or Twilio but for hotels. With a few lines of code, any developer should be able to get started with Impala before diving deeper.
Hotels use Property Management Systems to manage rooms, room types, extras, pricing, taxes etc. These systems are old, and providers to hotels need a load of integrations to connect to all the different hotel systems to get the data they need. Impala wants to make this easier by building a standardised API for anyone building services on top of hotel systems.
They're also building a direct booking API. Right now, many hotels manually upload booking data to websites like Booking.com, or use a middle-man to do this. Their API could cut out all of that and the commissions to middle-men along the way.
Koru Kids is building the world’s best childcare service, starting in London. Childcare in London is currently hard to arrange, incredibly expensive, and common options like nursery just don't work for lots of families. They're making it easier and more affordable for families to access high quality childcare and share nannies.
Koru Kids is trying to fix a 'broken' childcare system
Koru Kids founder Rachel Carrell on using tech to fill the childcare gap
Interview with Rachel Carrell CEO
Previously CEO of Lloydspharmacy Online Doctor (world's largest online doctor service). She spent 6 years as a consultant at McKinsey and has a DPhil in Development from Oxford University
The childcare sector in the UK is under pressure, with prices rising and nurseries closing down. The way of finding nannies hasn't seen innovation in decades, and there hasn't been an introduction of technology to drive great experiences.
Koru Kids has focused on after-school childcare, allowing them to hone their product and solve one of the most neglected areas. This is specifically important in major cities like London, where parents are often working longer hours.
The business takes out all the hassle of finding a nanny. The solution isn't simply technology: Koru Kids also interviews, trains and references its nannies, and takes care of contracts, holiday pay and taxes. This operational complexity builds a competitive advantage.
The mission is easy to relate to and has been a strong attraction point for customers and employees.
When aiming to create the best childcare service in the world, quality will always remain important. Koru Kids have made sure to grow carefully. In 2018 they only accepted 6% of applications by people wanting become after-school nannies, to ensure standards remain high.
MarketFinance delivers business finance solutions using smart technology, backed by help from real people, so entrepreneurs can get on with growing their business.
Last updated Dec 2020
MarketInvoice raises $33.5m from Barclays and Santander
Boss of fintech firm: 'I don't worry about valuations'
MarketFinance: a name to reflect who we are today
We've challenged, disrupted and redefined the lending experience of businesses seeking finance over the past 8 years.
Having lent over £2.7bn to UK companies using our tech-led innovative finance products, we are always looking for ways to revitalise traditional lending products we will take the lending revolution to the next stage
Last year, we launched the first ever fintech-bank partnership in working with Barclays Bank to help their 1m business banking customers to benefit from our invoice finance product
We're always on the lookout for bright individuals who can help make a difference to UK entrepreneurs enabling them to get to wherever they want to go, however they choose to get there.
Smart financing has been one of the most important financial innovations over the last few years. Companies in this space look at cash flow/payment problems that companies or people face (for example delayed invoice payments hampering a company's cash flow) and try and come up with an intelligent financing solution while taking a cut on the way.
Late in 2019 they moved away from their original name (MarketInvoice) and rebranded as MarketFinance, as they have expanded their range to offer business loans and corporate lending products (alongside invoice finance). Ultimately, they want to become a single source for all the finance needs required by ambitious business leaders.
Earlier in 2019 they received strategic investment from Barclays and Santander, giving them substantial capital to grow and also enabling them to distribute the service to Barclays' large SME client base.
Monzo wants to make money work for everyone. Their focus is on making the best current account in the world, building a bank for a billion people. They are building the trust necessary to be the one-stop shop that caters for all of customers' personal money needs, and makes people effortlessly financially savvy.
Last updated Dec 2020
The bank of the future will be a marketplace
The new Monzo mission
Monzo's Tom Blomfield on lie-ins, video games and finding his zen
In 2020 we'll be focusing on launching business banking, launching a new paid account and continuing our growth in the US
The challenge is continuing our mission to make money work for everyone
The speed of the challenger banks to provide a delightful experience has been impressive, and the number of competitors appearing has proven the consumer desire for innovation.
The new technologies that banks are built on means they can quickly expand internationally, which Monzo started to do in 2019. By the end of 2019, they had 1,000 users with beta cards in the US and have big plans for international growth in 2020. Growth in the US will not be easy, with the complex federal and state politics interacting with the financial world in a unique way. Regulation in the US is highly fragmented, so getting this launch off to a good start will undoubtedly be their biggest challenge for 2020.
Monzo has a huge mission, and its culture is known to be transparent and celebrate diversity. This has helped them to attract the best talent and move fast. They've continued to focus on launching features people care about in 2019, e.g. helping people sort their money into pots when payday comes around, and allowing people to get paid a day early.
Monzo spent little on marketing for their first few years, with growth largely coming from word of mouth and their recognisable coral card. This changed in 2019 when they poured money into TV and TfL adverts, which they said were very successful. They launched the ads in June, and this was “by far” their biggest month for sign-ups, attracting more than 250,000 new customers, up from 150,000 a couple of months before. Their brand awareness also increased 13 points from 35% to 48%.
Motorway is reinventing how cars are bought and sold online. Their mission is to bring the car industry into the future through ground-breaking products and best-in-class technology.
Last updated Dec 2020
Motorway’s £11m funding round fuels ‘Pro’ car buyer comparison platform
Preparing for the car dealership of 2030
Motorway celebrates record £1.4m used cars sales in a single day
Delivering the best possible experience for people selling their car through instant online tools
Automating as much of the customer journey as possible, to be able to handle over 2 million monthly sale enquiries
Building out our development team with the best global talent
There are more than 8 million used cars sold annually in the UK — which is more than 3x the number of new cars sold, but the process of selling a car has gone largely unchanged for decades.
Motorway aims to make selling a car faster by bringing the options online and enabling easy price comparison. Buyers can quickly upload their information and compare headline offers, read buyer reviews, collection criteria, fees and payment methods before choosing their best deal. The experience is as fast and slick as they promise, with Motorway rated 4.8/5.0 on Trustpilot with over 2,500 reviews.
Motorway is growing fast, and as of their latest funding round they were handling over 100,000 monthly car sale enquiries. The UK used car market is worth over £50 billion per annum, so the potential for Motorway is significant.
Papier's aim is to inspire people to connect with each other in a more thoughtful way and more often. They help their customers share and capture the big and little life moments with a personal touch.
Last updated Dec 2020
5 Minutes With Taymoor Atighetchi, Founder, Papier
Papier founder: Creative partnerships key to strong customer reach
Papier secures $11m Series B to accelerate transatlantic growth
(Video) The Papier Story – Design, made personal
Previously co-founder at Tab Media and Consultant at Bain & Co.
Our US launch has been a great success so far. The challenge in 2020 will be building on that success and really doubling down. We want to take the brand to the next level and ultimately inspire a new generation of US Papier stationery addicts as we have done in the UK.
Keeping Papier's creative culture and entrepreneurial set of values strong as we scale. Our team has more than doubled in size over the last 12 months and we're moving offices (again). But we still want to be as agile, creative, daring and ambitious as we were on day 1 - that's what enables us to win.
Sustainability is a major focus for us in 2020 and a challenge for every consumer brand that wants to stay relevant. We're investing a lot in research and development across our supply chain as we have set our ambition high - to lead the way in our industry.
Continuing to dream up and deliver design-led paper products for everyday and every occasion. As our mission, this is a challenge that we take on every day. In 2020 we're launching a suite of new wedding products that will make the lives of brides-to-be so much easier - watch this space!
Papier has grown rapidly since its launch in 2015 and has established itself as the leading direct-to-consumer brand in personalised stationery, building a growing community of ‘stationery addicts’.
The company is tapping into increasing demand for highly tactile and engagingly designed paper products and stationery. Industry analysts predict that this consumer trend will lead the UK market to be worth £2.1bn by 2021, while the US hobby and stationery market is today estimated to be worth ~$50bn and it is projected to grow by 9% annually over the next four years, so there's a big market for them to grow into.
Since launching in the US in 2018, the market now accounts for 15% of the brand’s total revenue and is growing at over 40% each month. They're planning to double-down on the growth in this market by collaborating with US designers and brands.
Plentific's mission is to improve lives by making housing work better for everyone. Plentific empowers housing providers with a platform to manage their properties. They utilise great local trade talent to create more jobs, build community cohesion and provide better services than ever before.
Last updated Dec 2020
Plentific raises €29.1 million in Series B funding to accelerate growth
The Uber of R&M? How a tech company wants to spark a repairs revolution
Plentific is a technology property management platform that enables landlords to deliver a better, more transparent and digital tenant experience whilst reducing operational costs across all repair and maintenance services.
They digitise the entire experience and streamline manual processes, whilst connecting landlords with a growing marketplace of approved independent local tradespeople.
To date Plentific’s focus has been mainly on housing associations, local authorities and large scale professional landlords in the UK and Germany, where there is a growing sense of urgency around the provision of safe, affordable and higher-quality accommodation at a time when budgets are under greater pressure than ever.
There are a few competitors when it comes to marketplaces for tradespeople, so Plentific will be hoping their management platform acts as the best distribution for these services.
Pollen is the global platform for 16-28 year olds to discover and buy from aspirational brands through their network. Pollen's mission is to bring everyone closer to the things they love.
Last updated Dec 2020
Verve acquires Campus Vacations for $7M
Verve scores $18.5M to reward you for selling tickets to friends
Verve raises $60M and rebrands as Pollen
Continuing to build out our global tech platform that enables word of mouth at scale and which sources and curates all the best experiences and products for young people
Expanding our unique data set with insights that no one else has of what drives young people
Scaling our unique culture of freedom, ownership, and mastery and enabling global collaboration of our 400+ employees across Europe, the UK, the US and Canada
Most would argue that the best advocates for a product are existing customers. Sometimes these customers can be incentivised to refer/sell the products they love.
Pollen (recently rebranded from the name Verve) has done just that, creating a platform to allow brands to provide various rewards for customers who help promote events. It is providing the infrastructure to make word-of-mouth marketing more scalable.
Pollen has sold 1 million experiences since being founded in 2014, with 330,000 sold in 2019, making tens of millions in revenue among a demographic that is mostly in the 16-28 range, a group whose disposable income will continue to grow.
Pollen has been known best for providing access to music concerts, club nights and one-off experiences. In 2019 they raised a large round of funding, which they’re going to be using to expand more deeply in their current verticals, but also sports and travel, for example beach holidays, city breaks, ski trips and festivals.
Relentlessly making all things money 10x easier, more rewarding and useful for everyone, everyday.
Revolut launches early salary feature in the UK and web app
Revolut lets businesses accept online payments
Revolut launches Revolut Junior to help you manage allowance
Previously 8 years of high finance experience at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse
Previously 9 years of software development experience at Deutsche Bank, UBS and Comarch
Continuing to innovate and grow as we expand. Countries throughout Europe, North America and APAC all have different attitudes to banking, different regulations and a multitude of complexities that we need to navigate this year as we establish ourselves in new markets
Scaling our team and hiring top talent, as we look to increase our workforce across the globe. We're looking for the brightest talent in all of our live markets and have hundreds of open roles
Banks haven't innovated their consumer offering for decades. The tide is now turning, with fast moving disrupters building consumer-first businesses and products with many more useful features.
Revolut has arguably been the consistently fastest growing startup in Europe since they launched in 2015. They kicked off 2020 by hitting 10 million customers, and the global team grew to 2,000 at the end of 2019. With over 500 job ads currently live, their CEO emphasised the drive to expand: they aim to have 5,000 employees by the end of 2020.
Growth is coming from all directions. Revolut launched free stock trading in 2019, and a business banking product to compete against Monzo, Starling and Tide. A partnership with Visa was recently announced that will enable it to grow faster outside of Europe. They are currently targeting expansion into the USA, Canada and further into the APAC region.
Revolut's team drives relentlessly to achieve success: they're known for being one of the fastest companies in Europe to ship new products. The team's attitude is to work hard, which has helped them to be incredibly successful at 'getting stuff done'.
Snyk's mission is to help developers use open source code and stay secure. Over 160,000 developers already use their enterprise-grade solution to find and fix their vulnerable dependencies. They protect more than 100,000 open source projects, and have many large organisations on board, including Google, New Relic and ASOS.
Last updated Dec 2020
Snyk brings in new CEO to help lead future expansion
Snyk accelerates dev-first security with €63 million funding round
Snyk snags $150M investment as its valuation surpasses $1B
Open source software is now a $14 billion market and it's growing fast. However, open source components can come with vulnerabilities, and so their widespread use in apps becomes a liability to a company’s cybersecurity.
Snyk, has built a way to detect when those apps or components are compromised. They work with developers, who are now commonly the owners of application security. Snyk works as an integration into existing developer workflows, compatible with the likes of GitHub, Bitbucket and GitLab, as well as CI/CD pipelines.
Snyk’s valuation has grown fast, and they now have ~300,000 developers using it around the globe, with its customer base growing ~200% in 2019 and including Google, Microsoft, Salesforce and ASOS.
They vary their approach with enterprises depending on their security needs, working on-premises, via the cloud or a hybrid. This puts Snyk in a strong position to target all enterprises as customers.
Anne Boden founded Starling with a clear goal: to build a bank that would help you manage your money, all from one app. Their vision is to give everyone clarity and control over their money so they have the opportunity to enjoy a healthy financial life.
Last updated Dec 2020
Existing backers put another £40M into UK challenger bank Starling
Monzo and Starling sail ahead in banking apps poll
An interview with Anne Boden, Starling's CEO
Starling's 2019 review
Held senior roles in finance over a 30 year career, including COO for AIB and Head of EMEA for RBS
Looking forward to 2020, we've got big plans for our accounts for small businesses, with a host of new products and features coming very soon. In a world of big brands, it's easy to overlook SMEs. Yet they make up the vast majority of businesses in this country and are arguably more important than any other group to our economic health and long-term prosperity. We're here to support them.
There'll be lots of innovations for our personal customers too and more news on our international expansion.
Starting started life focused on consumer banking, they have since found most of their success by competing in the business banking space. They’ve caught up with Tide and beaten the likes of Monzo and Revolut to a more complete offering for businesses.
This progress resulted in them receiving a £100m grant in April 2019 from a body created to boost competition in SME banking, which they're using to accelerate building a full suite of digital banking products: intelligent forecasting tools, and digitally-enabled relationship management functions as well as lending products.
As well as continuing to expand in the UK, they’re expanding in Europe. They’re imminently launching an international bank in Dublin, which will allow Starling to offer its current account across the European Union after Brexit.
Banking for small businesses has historically been ignored even though the experience is poor. Starling is in tune with knowing what their customers want, and they continue to build out their range of third-party products within its banking app thanks to support from its open API. They currently have 11 integrations, including Xero, but that figure continues to grow.
Tessian is building the world’s first Human Layer Security platform to fulfil their mission to keep the world’s most sensitive data and systems private and secure.
Last updated Dec 2020
Building and maintaining a company culture while growing at speed; a culture based purely on growth is very fragile
Attracting and hiring the best talent to continue developing a truly innovative cybersecurity solution
While other forms of workplace communication are gaining a lot of traction (namely Slack and Microsoft Teams), email still dominates as by far the most popular way for people to communicate at work.
At the same time, sophisticated cyber attacks are becoming more common. Cybercriminals are impersonating colleagues, customers or suppliers in targeted attacks that are difficult for people to detect. Tessian’s technology detects when an email represents a threat, reducing the chance of human error.
The problem is real for all company sizes. Hiscox, a big insurer, reported that small businesses in the UK are targeted with 65,000 attacks per day. Those suffering from incidents are facing costs of ~£25k.
There are not many other companies that have rocketed as much as Tessian in the last couple of years. They started out slow, but have grown rapidly since their $2.7m seed round in 2017 (which was quickly followed by a $13m round in 2018 and a $42m round in 2019). Tessian’s latest round was led by Sequoia, who are one of the most respected funds in the world and rarely invest in European startups.
The Plum Guide is on a mission is to build the definitive collection of the world’s best homes. Through expert human curation and innovative tech, they’re taking a scientific and systematic approach to vetting every home in every city they open, and accepting only the top 1%.
Entrepreneurs: The holiday fanatic curating the finest stays in the capital
The Plum Guide raises $18.5m
The Plum Guide ramps up trade activity
Previously founded innovation agency firm Promise Communities (now C Space), which he grew to 140 people and ran for 10 years. Sold the business to Omnicom
Previously built and developed large scale platforms for BBC, Bacardi and Russian Standard
Previously worked for UBS as an Analyst then worked for C Space in Business Development
2019 saw huge growth for Plum Guide. Alongside a 20% increase in revenue month on month, we grew from 50 to 130 permanent family members in our Old Street, London head office
2020 will certainly continue this trend as we look to double headcount across London, Hong Kong and our new office in New York - further accelerating Plum Guide into 10 new cities across America
All exciting, but this will only be achieved through exceptional top quartile talent. People who can operate at pace, with energy, enthusiasm and professionalism. All start-ups speak of this, but our infectious drive, experience, comradery and hunger to take ownership of one's responsibilities, fully embody what it's like to be part of the Plum Guide family. A truly meritocratic environment.
The Plum Guide pitches itself as the Michelin Guide for Homes. They seek out the very best holiday rental homes across multiple sources (e.g. Airbnb, private short-term lets etc.), vet them in person, and put them all in one place for people to book.
Their main differentiator is that they select only the top 1% of properties in a given city. According to their website, they've reviewed ~500,000 homes and have accepted just over 7,000. All of their homes are reviewed by a real person, which marks the property against 150 parameters (e.g. wifi, water pressure).
The Plum Guide competes primarily with the luxury hotel market and Airbnb, who are increasingly targeting more affluent customers with the release of Airbnb Luxe in the summer of 2019. It will be important for The Plum Guide to maintain super high quality and build their brand/reputation to grow their share in the market.
Tray.io's mission is to empower business users (not just engineers) to take full advantage of APIs. Enabling them to sync any stack, automate any process and take full ownership of critical business data.
Last updated Dec 2020
How the Tray.io Team Raised $14M to Start Our Next Chapter
Tray.io brings in $50M more at a $600M+ valuation
Tray.io: Big numbers and bigger goals for 2019. Are you in?
There isn't a playbook for solving the challenges we face, as the users we're supporting haven't had access to functionality like this before
We are introducing programming concepts to technically savvy business users, which is a highly valuable yet profoundly challenging process
Tray.io aims to allow employees to essentially become programmers without them needing to have an engineering background, and enabling them to build out automation for their day-to-day role.
Tray's investors see them filling a big need in the automation space in a spot between high end tools like Mulesoft, which Salesforce bought in 2018 for $6.5 billion, and simpler tools like Zapier.
Tray’s rise comes on the heels of a wider trend. Integration and automation are key in advancing the way enterprises work. Bringing data out of silos, and doing so in an instant way, speeds up operations, reduces human error and helps drive down costs.
Tray has been around since 2012, but started slow by focusing on building out the product. Since raising their Series A in 2018 they have grown rapidly, with their annual recurring revenue growing by over 500%, customers include companies like SAP, VMWare, Lyft, Intercom and IBM.
TrueLayer's mission is to provide developers with a simple, secure and universal API to access the bank infrastructure and enable the next wave of financial services.
Last updated Dec 2020
Serial entrepreneur and previously sold a gaming analytics company
Worked before with Francesco on the business they sold (a good sign of their partnership)
Positively evolving our culture as we scale. TrueLayer is growing fast. In 2019, we announced our expansion into six new countries, and this is just the start. We have plans to grow exponentially in 2020, and we want to continue to be extremely intentional about the working environment we're building.
At TrueLayer, our people are our greatest assets. We value authenticity and champion risk-taking. Making sure every team member has access to the knowledge, skills, and resources needed to maintain and positively evolve our culture as we scale is going to be a key challenge.
Increasing global understanding and adoption of Open Banking. Since launching in 2017, Open Banking has driven positive transformation across the financial system; consumers and businesses have better control over their financial data, and as a result, access to better rates on overdrafts, savings, and credit cards. Merchants can now easily reduce the cost of accepting payments. Despite this, banks are not adopting the technology as fast as they should be, and a lot of consumers still do not understand what Open Banking means for them. Increasing awareness, understanding, and adoption of Open Banking globally will be a significant area of focus.
Fintech innovation has been pushed further by the introduction of Open Banking standards. Financial institutions are now required to host APIs that allow sharing of your financial data, and you are in control of which third parties have access. It has never been easier for finance products to interact with each other. For example, you may be able to view your Halifax credit card transactions from your Monzo account.
The technologies and partnerships to build this financial layer are complex. TrueLayer saw this problem early, and started years before the standards were enforced.
They have made the most out of the London fintech scheme with key partnerships (e.g. Monzo, Revolut) and are now expanding fast in Europe. They have recently opened an office in Australia, ready for Australia’s introduction of Open Banking standards. This will also provide a base for expansion into Singapore and Hong Kong.
Their role as the ‘connecting layer’ is incredibly defensible. As TrueLayers partnerships continue to increase, the value of their platform becomes harder to replicate. Particularly as their offering now has global reach.
Wefarm's mission is to build a trusted digital platform that empowers a global community of over 100 million small-scale farmers to be more successful. Their vision is a world where every small-scale farmer can connect with the people and resources they need to achieve their full economic potential.
Last updated Dec 2020
Previously worked for NGOs in Peru
We have a passionate team and a fantastic culture, and that's something we recognise as fortunate to have and worthy of fiercely protecting. As we quickly grow and hire more, we need to ensure that we never compromise on the new talent we're bringing in
1.8m+ farmers have joined as members of our community, and we're not planning to stop there, but it means we need to continue investing in our tech and machine learning so that every one of them has the same opportunity to connect to the people and resources they need to be more successful
Last year we launched our marketplace that helps our community access the products they need at affordable prices, it's got off to an incredible flying start, and in 2020 we need to not forget that sales are simply a consequence of offering outstanding product-market fit, and therefore scale it intelligently with the right partners
There are over 1 billion people directly involved in small-scale agriculture, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Together these farmers grow 70% of the world’s food, however many of these farmers do not have access to the internet, and therefore cannot effectively share knowledge and best practices, or benefit from combined buying and selling power.
Wefarm is building a trusted digital platform for these farmers to be able to connect to the people and resources they need to be more successful. And thanks to it's leading machine learning and natural language processing libraries it's able to do this even via SMS.
Wefarm have also made early moves into providing a marketplace — helping to put farmers in touch with local suppliers of goods and gear such as seed and fertilisers. They have generated $1m of sales in the first 8 months of operating, seeing the bulk of its growth in developing markets where small scale agriculture is more prominent, and those farms have been very underserved.
Businesses are currently unable to easily reward, incentivise or compensate consumers. WeGift is on a mission to power the future of digital rewards. They are democratising access to digital rewards removing complexity by building APIs that are simple enough for any developer to use.
Last updated Dec 2020
Stride.VC (lead investor) discusses WeGift
WeGift raises £4m
WeGift, the ‘incentive marketing’ platform, collects $8M in new funding
Previously founded a property investment company. Also worked for Zapper (payments and loyalty company)
We need to hire at scale while maintaining quality, and guarding our culture as the team continues to grow
A key focus will be scaling our sales internationally
The non-cash rewards industry is worth $300 billion, yet hasn't seen much innovation. Incumbents focus on physical gift cards, and a lot of the work is done on spreadsheets and outdated systems.
WeGift has built a platform that offers API access for businesses to automate sending digital rewards.
There are clear similarities to Stripe here: they revolutionised payments to businesses and are now worth $20 billion. WeGift is providing quick integrations for developers and simple design, just like Stripe, but do it such that businesses can 'pay' their customers.