Startups 100: where are they now? Urban Jungle

Nine months after ranking in the 2021 Startups 100 index, prop-tech startup Urban Jungle tells us what they’ve been up to since gracing our esteemed list.

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Since 2008, our Startups 100 (SU100) index has celebrated the 100 most disruptive new businesses in the UK.

We’ve featured an elite group of entrepreneurial superstars including experimental eatery Deliveroo, billion-pound fintech Revolut, and proptech firm Urban Jungle.

Urban Jungle came an impressive twelfth in our index last year after placing 49th in 2020. That’s a significant jump upwards in just 12 months and represents just some of the huge success the company has achieved since starting in 2015.

Indeed, the team behind Urban Jungle recently celebrated raising £16.5m ($23m) in its latest Series A funding round, led by Intact Ventures. That puts its total funding pot at a massive £32m in just six years.

We caught up with Urban’s co-founder and CEO, Jimmy Williams, to discuss the company’s journey so far, the biggest achievements to date, and what the future holds for the insurance trailblazer.

The idea that’s safe as houses

Urban Jungle’s ethos is simple: offer insurance plans that are focused on helping the rental market.

As Jimmy explains it, the insurance industry is old-fashioned, and riddled with unfair and outdated habits. Tenants have historically been given a poor user experience with lots of hidden fees.

In contrast, Urban’s policies are designed to be clear, and aren’t unfairly priced on traits that the customer can’t help, such as age, marital or employment status.

“We’ve set out our stall as the fair insurance provider,” Jimmy explains. “Our customers really appreciate that against a backdrop of an industry that has ignored customers for too long.”

Urban Jungle also doesn’t charge fees to amend customer contracts. Customers can sign up for insurance on their mobiles. From there, they can manage their entire account online, prioritising greater user control.

Being featured in the Startups 100 was really exciting for us to get our name out there as a great employer that’s disrupting an outdated industry.

That’s one of many reasons the startup – whose tagline is ‘finally, fair insurance’ – recently celebrated reaching the milestone of helping 100,000 customers get better home insurance.

“Along with transparent pricing, we use technology to make our products more affordable, while lowering operating costs and fighting fraud,” Jimmy says proudly.

“Despite all of this growth, we’ve kept up our 4.8 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot.”

House speciality

Since we announced the winners of the Startups 100 index last year, the property market has blown up like a ton of bricks.

ONS data shows that in October 2021, the average house in the UK cost £268,349. Now, in June 2022, it costs £368,814 – a 37% increase.

The resultant shockwaves for prospective buyers has created huge demand for rented accommodation – something that Urban Jungle has fed right into.

“Some of the new product launches we did last year have really taken off,” Jimmy tells Startups. “New product lines have more than tripled in the months since we featured in the Startups 100.”

The company is currently 50-strong. However, Jimmy is keen to tell us about the number of new team members the business has on boarded – not just its many new customers.

“Being featured in the Startups 100 was really exciting for us to get our name out there as a great employer that’s disrupting an outdated industry,” he says.

“As we’re growing so fast it’s important for us to keep adding bright new people to our team, and campaigns like the Startups 100 help show who we are to potential applicants.”

Bringing home the bacon

One of Urban Jungle’s most impressive feats has certainly been its recent Series A funding round.

Having doubled his company’s funding by raising £16.5 million earlier this year, we ask Jimmy: what advice do you have for other startups looking to attract external investment?

“I’d always recommend to any startups raising money that it’s important to run a proper process,” he answers.

“You need to recognise that as the CEO you’re not going to be able to do much in the business whilst you are raising funds. [Make] sure the business is set up with a clear strategy and responsibility to operate with minimal involvement from you.”

Jimmy tells us that deliberate actions are the most important way to secure investment in your startup.

“Get organised, get materials sorted, prioritise funds you like, and refine your pitch with friendly investors and other founders,” he advises.

New product lines have more than tripled in the months since we featured in the Startups 100.

Investor interest in Urban Jungle is only likely to increase in the coming months. The cost of living crisis has sent household bills skyrocketing for many consumers.

Urban’s cheap costs and user-centric design means Jimmy is expecting more signups than ever this year as customers shop around for the best value deals.

“We’re super excited about the future here at Urban Jungle,” he grins. “Our laser focus is on customers [and] leveraging the latest technology to deliver that allows us to take more market share from the incumbents.”

Do you want to feature in the Startups 100 index?

We’ll be accepting applications for the 2023 Startups 100 campaign in late summer. Keep an eye out on our website to get first dibs at the form.

Or, if you’d prefer, send us your contact email to hello@startups.co.uk. As soon as the awards are open, we’ll let you know.

Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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