At the beginning of this year, the UK has boasted 5.8 million small businesses.
This fact alone should be enough to leave you in awe – that’s more than the entire population of some European countries.
Although it undoubtedly enjoys a pleasant business climate, and is home to many more than the 17 successful startups we’re about to list, let’s not forget businesses fail in the UK, too.
This is precisely why our list of UK startups aims to serve as a blueprint and treasure map for the entrepreneurially minded among you. What is it that sets these 17 apart from those whose names have already been forgotten?
Let’s take a look.
Gymshark is a privately held fitness apparel brand, manufacturer, and online retailer, founded in 2012.
Started by Ben Francis, who was still in his teens at the time, and a group of friends, it has (in true American Dream style), gone from garage to global in just a couple of years.
With followers and customers all over the world, they’ve contributed to making working out feel cooler, helping millions envision and work on becoming the best versions of themselves they can be.
Gymshark is an example of how one man’s drive can inspire millions, bring in incredible revenues, and forge a name in one of the most competitive industries on the market. Not to mention, the power of motivation and hard work they showcase is a beacon to aspire to in today’s cash grab world of Instagram influencers.
2. Monzo Bank
Monzo is a digital-only bank aiming to change the way you access your funds. A fintech giant who has managed to earn the trust of 3.3 million users in the four years it has been operating, they are a true example of how a great innovation can take the market by storm.
A bank without a physical location, Monzo helps you access and manage your money from your phone and has all sorts of neat features. What sets them apart even further is the way they treat their employees – truly a company you would love to work for, if there ever was one.
Revolut is another fintech company founded in 2015 that has fast made a name for itself in the world of online banking.
They provide easy international money transfers without the interbank exchange rate. One of their goals is to help both businesses and individuals have better control and a better overview of their finances at all times.
They are an alternative to the brick-and-mortar banks we’re all used to, made for a generation of global citizens, travelers, and innovators.
Stasher is proof that novel solutions to problems are often the best way to succeed in the world of business. Incorporated in 2015, it was started by two roommates, then still at Oxford, who found a unique gap in the tourism industry: what on Earth do you do with your bags and luggage while sightseeing for the day?
Their unique idea was quickly backed by VC investors, and they have since expanded all over the UK, Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. Their one-of-a-kind concept, ease of use and affordable prices make them a force to be reckoned with, and as they partner with some major hospitality names, they are certainly a company to keep an eye on for the years to come.
5. Babylon Health
Babylon is a digital healthcare provider that aims to provide access to healthcare to everyone.
They’ve created an app that delivers personalized and comprehensive healthcare services via your phone or computer. You can book a video consultation with a physician and get access to an AI that can give you a quick diagnosis based on a set of symptoms.
Currently covering over 800.000 people globally, Babylon also has local services operating in the UK and Ireland, as well as Rwanda.
Voted one of the best apps of 2015 by Apple, it’s well on its way to change lives, one at a time.
6. The Goat Agency
The Goat Agency styles itself as the best influencer marketing agency in the world.
With offices in London, New York, and Singapore, and an average age of their employees steadily and confidently at 24, this team of youngsters is taking the marketing world by storm. They’re definitely a force to be reckoned with.
They provide insight into the way they operate via their Daily Goat Vlog, a unique glimpse into the frenzy that is digital marketing today.
Bud provides a thoughtful layer of financial control over the everyday, as they would put it themselves.
The company strives to eliminate the confusion that comes with navigating the complex financial system we’ve developed for ourselves. As a result of this praiseworthy effort, they’ve seen some significant growth in the previous year, expanding their team by over 200%.
Their apps and infrastructure are aimed at returning financial power and personal data to the user. For anyone who’s struggling to understand where their money is and where it needs to be, Bud has the right solution.
Cubefunder offers short-term business loans for startups and small businesses looking to get over a challenging period in their operations.
As a fast way to access funds, at a fixed cost and with no charges for early or late payments, Cubefunder is a startup’s best friend. Knowing how much a small business depends on funding, it is companies like these that help the startup world thrive.
The platform was founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, which has proven to be a fundamental advantage in the company’s relationship with its clients. Knowing someone on the other side understands what you’re going through will be a huge benefit for anyone struggling with the challenges of modern business.
Arrival is building a Generation 2 electric van – which might not sound like much, but in reality, it’s nothing short of awesome.
Their electric vehicles come at the price of fossil fuel ones, which is enough on its own to earn them a place on this list. They’ve successfully sidestepped the pitfalls surrounding other automotive giants, and are striving to invent new technologies that will make their vehicles both affordable and accessible.
If there ever was a way to help try saving the planet, this is surely it.
10. White Hat
White Hat provides an alternative to university education through apprenticeships, helping create the next generation of leaders.
They have nearly 800 000 young people aged between 16-24 in the UK going through their programs, in partnership with leading companies across different industries. Some of their partners include Google and Sky – a magnificent entrance into the job market, without a doubt.
They also provide one-on-one training, enabling the next generation to take their careers to the next level in terms of skillsets, drive, and innovation.
Darktrace has taken cybersecurity to the next level.
Combining a model of the human immune system with a self-learning AI, they’ve designed a product that protects cloud, email, network and large systems from threats. Some of these threats include industrial espionage, insider threat, data loss, and other infrastructural vulnerabilities.
They claim that their AI prevents a cyber-threat every three seconds, which makes their product an invaluable shield around its users’ data.
Softomotive is a robotic process automation company founded back in 2005, and it has been on an upward path ever since.
They’re the providers of a Windows desktop automation tool called WinAutomation, which is used by over 3000 companies worldwide. They also offer an Enterprise Automation package with ProcessRobot, another RPA product that can help take any business to the next level.
In a market where every second of time you can save is a second that can be used to generate more revenue, automating any process can be just the step that needs to be taken.
Another money transfer startup that has made a big splash, TransferWise is used by those looking to work, travel, and live internationally.
They consider themselves the fairest and easiest way to send money overseas and are valued by global citizens across all industries.
Their borderless money system is up to eight times cheaper than making the transfer through a bank, and they are aiming to make sending, spending, and receiving money anywhere in the world the simplest of feats.
As the concept continues to shape the modern world, TransferWise is expected to play an even bigger role in the world of finance.
Onfido is an AI-based system that determines whether a government-issued ID is fake and compares it against the user’s biometrics. It is used by companies who work with international employees, helping them execute safe and seamless remote onboarding.
They have offices around the world and are currently being used by over 1500 companies looking to verify their contacts and potential coworkers or clients.
As the world keeps opening up more and more, Onfido is certainly one of those pioneer systems we didn’t know we needed, but are now heavily relying on.
Truphone is invested in becoming the world’s first truly global network, and they provide their users with true local mobile network services wherever they are in the world.
Founded in 2006 in Kent, Truphone today partners with a large number of operators and has its own network infrastructure. Their patented technology is being used in 196 countries by over 3500 international and multinational companies.
16. Thought Machine
Another fintech company makes it onto our list: Thought Machine strives to improve the way banking works by eliminating the crippling effects legacy IT platforms still have on the world of finance.
Their Vault is a complete retail banking platform that can easily be configured to match the needs of any bank, making it simple to customize and simple to use.
It is precisely innovations like this one that are taking the world to the next stage of its existence – adapting to the new ways in which we live, do business, and have fun.
Finally, the last place on our list is reserved for a pet-friendly and essentially cute startup.
DogBuddy is a leading online marketplace for anything dog care-related. They connect dog owners with local dog lovers, sitters, walkers, groomers, and helpers, making sure all dogs are taken care of in their owner’s absence.
In short, they are champions at hooking up the right people with the right pups. And their marketing campaigns are an example of how speaking the language of your audience makes all the difference in the world.
The 17 startup stories listed above have hopefully given you an idea as to what is possible in business and what is yet to come.
All great companies germinate in the same manner: they are born as ideas, as sketches hastily scribbled on cocktail napkins, and begin to materialize cautiously if given extended and exaggerated care. Dream big or go home, as popular culture would have it. And good luck!