6 London startups who made it big
Starting up a company from scratch is not only risky business, it’s a lot of hard work, too. Making a success of it is even more difficult. Those that have managed to do so prove inspirational to a host of others looking to follow in their footsteps.
Securing investment is the aim of the game. The easiest way to the top is by proving to investors you’ve got what it takes to be the next big thing. Take the recent FinTech investment boom, for instance, where a handful of UK tech startups focusing on the financial sector have even been able to achieve the £1 billion funding goal to make it to unicorn status – an achievement in itself.
Here are a bunch of London’s most successful startups who’ve managed to make it big in the last few years…
Challenger bank Monzo was founded just four years ago, the London-based firm has rocketed to success as a “bank for the people”. It now touts more than one million users, counting for 15 percent of all newly-opened British bank accounts. Unlike regular banks, Monzo shuns brick and mortar stores for a smartphone app that gives users complete control – updating expenditure in real time and automatically categorise purchases so they can more easily track spending on the go. Last year, Monzo raised £85 million from US venture capital investors, hitting a landmark valuation of over £1 billion.
Money transfer platform TransferWise is one of the most successful startups to come out of London in recent years. Offering a faster, more affordable way to send money abroad (often on average eight times cheaper, in fact) TransferWise announced last year that it raised an additional £224 million through a secondary share sale at a valuation of £2.6 billion, making it the most valuable fintech startup in Europe. It’s also a business that rewards loyalty and hard work. Over 80% of team leads have been promoted internally and after four years employees are offered a six week paid sabbatical.
Founded in 2015 by Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka because they were fed up with the way the energy industry treats its customers, Bulb has quickly become the UK’s fastest-growing energy supplier. With a mission to help people lower their energy bills, the company supplies 100% renewable electricity from solar, wind and hydro. After an investment of £60million last year, the company is now supplying over 670,000 households, sourced from independent, renewable energy sources.
Founded in 2014 by Anne Bode, Starling Bank is a digital platform offering real-time, seamless and secure banking. Since fruition, the company has raised a whopping £72 million in funding from Harald McPike and Merian Global Investors. It now maintains over 460,000 personal current accounts and 30,000 SME accounts, offering lending, business banking, budgeting, money transfers and saving tools to its users.
Revolut is yet another London fintech success. With the aim of making banking stress-free, the service involves a prepaid debit card that works alongside a mobile app to deliver fee-free currency exchange. In October last year, the company hired JPMorgan to oversee a £400 million equity and raise a £1 billion convertible loan; a move that would bring the total funding raised by the firm to almost £2 billion. The search for new capital came just weeks after Revolut secured a global deal with Visa that saw it move into 24 new markets and boost staff numbers to 3500.
Online student accommodation startup was kickstarted in 2011 by Shakil Khan, JP Jones and Luke Nolan with a goal of helping Asian students study in Europe. Recently raising approximately £7.5 million from CITIC Capital, the company is now the largest student accommodation marketplace helping students find accommodation
Freelance journalist & copywriter
Lee’s been writing about London’s buzzing tech scene for over eight years. Kick-starting his journalism career in the technology industry at The INQUIRER in 2012, he found his voice in the innovations space, focusing on the latest advances in tech and how they are affecting society.
These days, he’s a freelance journalist and copywriter. He covers news, features and reviews for a host of national print and online lifestyle titles such as GQ, Esquire, Shortlist, Men’s Health, Wired, The Metro, and The Mirror. He specialises in health and fitness innovations, and how the latest tech developments can improve wellbeing.