There are literally thousands of companies that could have made this list. I’m not sure if it’s the bleak weather or the thousands of pubs where ideas are born, but Britain is a magnet for successful startups.
This isn’t just a guess, Britain is expecting a record breaking 600,000 new companies to startup this year. That’s 20,000 more than last year. To put that in perspective, Canada, with roughly 50% fewer people that Britain, has about 80% fewer startups each year. The United States is still king of the hill though, as they’re creating about as many companies in a month as Britain does in a year. That’s still way down from the boom of the 70’s and 80’s though.
It’s hard to define success in a startup – it can take decades to realize its full potential. Do you go by sales? How about capital raised? Maybe it’s notoriety? For our list, we’re going to use our highly unscientific method that blends that three.
It’s hard to believe this feisty little startup is 6 years old now. Seems like just yesterday they were the savior of taxi cab companies from that other feisty startup Uber. The concept is fairly simple: hail a taxi cab from an app on your phone. Seems simple enough – and users thought so too.
With over 125 million in venture capital raised, they were able to dominate the black cab hailing market in London, and slowly expand around the world. Fierce opposition in North America has meant worldwide domination has been met with mixed reviews, but Hailo currently operates in 8 cities around the world.
Yes, it’s another food delivery service startup. What makes this one so special? The company is currently valued at 100 million dollars and has attracted over 200 million in investments.
Following the Uber method, Deliveroo hires independent bike contractors to deliver its food. Everything is ordered and paid for through the app to allow a seamless flow from restaurant to the destination. It’s allowed businesses which don’t normally offer delivery to attract new customers. They’ve also found ways to make sure the food gets to the destination quick – usually 30 minutes or less.
Now available in 30 UK cities, and 20 international cities, Deiliveroo shows no sign of slowing down.
Virgin is probably the mother of all UK startups. Richard Branson was an entrepreneur going all the way back to the 70’s – but my favorite story is how he founded Virgin Atlantic in the 80’s.
The famous story goes that he was stuck in Puerto Rico because his flight was canceled due to a lack of passengers. Richard rented a plane, then put up a sign as a bit of a joke selling seats for Virgin Airlines. He filled the plane, and Virgin Atlantic was born.
Magazines, trains, radio stations, record labels, and 400 other companies now make up this massive 5-billion-dollar company. Not a traditional startup patch, but you just need to develop the good leadership skills of Richard Branson to be just as successful.
A bit of a greybeard for modern day internet startups, AlertMe was founded in 2006. It sold last year for 65 million pounds. That’s a success no matter which way you measure it.
A pretty simple concept in today’s world of Nest and the internet of things, back in 2006 home monitoring was still a new concept. AlertMe connected to your smartphone to allow you to monitor and control you home heating, energy use and smart controls. It’s won almost a dozen awards in the last decade and is known as one of the UK’s top startup companies.
They’d probably be insulted to be called the PayPal of the UK, but that’s the closest comparison I can draw. They’re a lot more than just a payment facilitator. They’ve developed banking apps, merchant-to-customer UX experiences. It’s all about creating easy to use and understand secure transactions that move a business forward. They are usually defined as mobile banking, payment, and commerce networks.
In the last year or two, revenues have slipped for Monitise. Although that certainly ways into the success of the future, we’re going to look at the last 13 years of business to look at the success they’ve had. They’ve had steady growth since inception, peaking in 2014 as they hit 100 million pounds of revenue working with the world’s biggest banks and technology firms.
You just knew an advertising agency was going to hit this list eventually. It would be hard to leave Infectious Media off the list since it’s even been called one of the top 6 startups in the world.
Programmatic advertising is still relatively new – and poised for big growth. Infectious Media has only been around since 2008 but has already grown faster than any other UK startup at more than 10,000% in the last 8 years. That’s more than just impressive, that’s downright unbelievable.
It wouldn’t be a true UK startup list without a music startup – especially one connected with Sir Paul McCartney. Songkick is essentially a service that keeps you connect to your music. It keeps track of who you like when they’re coming to town, and even goes as far as selling tickets to these events in some cases.
This lands on the success list mostly for the way it’s changed concert culture in the UK. Their apps have been mimicked countless times due to the engaging way they reach out to fans and connect them to their music. 10 million monthly users can’t be wrong.
Online shopping was still picking up steam in the year 2000 when ASOS.com was founded. Back in 2000, most homes were still on dial up running at the blazing fast speed of 56Kbps. Downloading pictures was painful – forget about video. However, ASOS.com started the exact same time that modern day broadband technology was coming online (ADSL). This meant that as online shopping grew, so did ASOS.
What really made them stand out was that you were able to discover fashion instead of just browse it. ASOS is now pulling in a staggering one billion in revenue each year.
FreeAgent was one of the first players to dive into cloud accounting, making them one of the only choices for online accounting software for small business owners. What makes them successful is their ability to pivot in a market that is seeing more mergers and acquisitions.
Not only has FreeAgent avoided selling itself short, it’s been able to raise millions relatively easily in order to fund their growth strategy. It’s too early to say if they’re going to be a huge it, but I’m confident enough to call them success at this point.
Celebrating a decade of curing parking frustrations, JustPark is a pretty simple and brilliant concept: it matches parking spots, with those that need parking. With over a million monthly users, it’s easy to call this a runaway success. It’s not just me that thinks so. They were able to hit their equity crowd funding goal in just 4 days. As JustPark is just now turning global, there’s no saying how big this company will get.
Again, this list could have been a top 100 – the UK has so many successful startups. Next time you’re looking at starting a company, or investing in a startup, look at what Britain has to offer. They’ll surprise you every time.