Startups 100 2019: 56 to 60

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Startups 100 Ranking: 56
Company name: Fancy Dress Worldwide
Founded: 2016

Fancy Dress business which started out at university and has grown into a global operation

The fancy dress industry has traditionally been the preserve of family businesses with small neighbourhood stores. But now a West Midlands company is taking it global. Fancy Dress Worldwide – which won Export Business of the Year at the Startups Awards 2018 – is operating in 85 different countries and stocks over 17,000 products, all managed through a proprietary software system which is honed to streamline processes and manage stock levels.

Founder Dom Portman started out selling dress-up outfits to his friends while studying at Nottingham Trent University. After graduating, he built out his hobby into a fully fledged business and the idea immediately took off, recording turnover of £680,000 in its first year. This early success has been sustained: the company is growing at 100% per year and is projected to hit £4.4m turnover by the end of its fourth financial year in March 2020.

Already valued at £2m, the company launched a crowdfunding campaign last summer in search of £200,000, and ended up raising over £278,000 – all in the space of a month. The money has been used to expand into new warehouse premises, integrate with Amazon Prime and build an export strategy to the US. With the appointment of Citibank executive Kayar Raghavan and Pure Gym CFO Adam Bellamy, Portman has some serious nous to call on as he plots the company’s next chapter.

By 2024, the company is targeting turnover of £16m. It’s an ambitious target, but given how far Portman’s business has come since he was dressing up for those student parties, few would bet against him hitting it.

Startups 100 Ranking: 57
Company name: Farillio
Founded: 2018

Legaltech startup offering advice on everyday tasks to help SMEs cut their legal bills

With SMEs spending around £13.6bn a year on their legal bills, there’s a clear gap in the market for a company which can help small businesses with day-to-day administrative tasks. Farillio is striving to meet that need.

Founded by qualified lawyer Merlie Calvert, this software-as-a-service platform provides a plethora of checklists, guides and infographics to walk users through everyday administrative tasks, backed up by templates for essential documents such as trade mark registrations and late payment letters.

If users need more information, Farillio has amassed an army of SME-friendly advisors who can be accessed through the site on a pay-as-you go basis. The ultimate aim is to ensure a fast, intuitive user experience… “peopletech” as the company describes it.

Farillio says one of its key goals is to help small businesses “focus on doing great work, making sales and growing brilliant teams.” It’s something Calvert and her team have been doing pretty well themselves. Farillio now numbers 12 people and several of those have run their own companies in the past.

Farillio is located in TechHub, the beating heart of London’s digital community, providing access to a high-class pool of engineers and product testers. The company feeds off the innovative atmosphere that surrounds it, embracing flexible working and adopting a collaborative approach which turns each member of the team into a stakeholder in its success.

If any of Farillio’s users need advice on how to run a disruptive small businesses, they should try giving Calvert a call.

Startups 100 Ranking: 58
Company name: Issoria
Founded: 2016

Change management hub providing access to a global team of consultants

Everyone’s talking about embracing disruptive technology and migrating to agile working practices, but what does this mean in practice? How can firms which aren’t blessed with digital savantes cut through the jargon and get with the program?

Issoria offers a full suite of change management services, backed up by methodology, tools and support, to help firms big and small negotiate today’s relentless pace of change. The company serves as a gateway to around 5,000 consultants, spread across 100 countries, in a managed service model which has underpinned rapid-fire international growth.

Local, bi-lingual change management teams have been established across 72 countries, all overseen by founder Ibi Thomson and his team, who say they have studied some of the world’s most innovative companies to see true disruption at work.

Having studied a number of different industries and business models, the Issoria team purports to provide a bespoke approach to each client, giving them a tailored methodology that suits the size of the business and the environment it operates in. A proportion of Issoria’s fee is tied to the completion of key objectives, and the competitiveness of its pricing is a major asset against its more established competitors.

With a client roster that includes Nestle, G4S and Jaguar, Issoria is establishing itself as a partner of choice for some of the world’s most respected companies. However the company says it’s determined to retain its lean, startup model, allowing it to continue to evolve along with its clients.

Startups 100 Ranking: 59
Company name: Capitalise
Founded: 2014

Finance platform for SMEs tired of being rejected by established lenders

High street banks closed almost 3,000 branches across the UK between 2015 and 2018. While this has provided a major headache for small firms looking for funding, it has also opened up a major opportunity for non-traditional finance companies.

Capitalise is firmly in the vanguard of this particular revolution. The company’s app and website allows companies to compare business loans online from over 100 lenders, using cutting-edge technology to minimize the chance of application rejection.

Whenever a user searches for a particular product, the Capitalise algorithm analyzes over 2,500 data points with each search. Behavioural data is used intelligently, scanning each provider’s past approvals and declines to match and rank lenders for every search. In addition, Capitalise is designed to synchronise with a raft of accounting platforms, allowing applicants to import their key directly into the system and convey it to multiple partners.

Alongside its core comparison facility, Capitalise provides an additional consultancy service for those who need help putting offers in context and decide between different options. Information is always available and everything is designed to be friendly, simple and accessible.

Given the manifold advantages of the Capitalise system, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the site’s roster of partners has grown 300% in the last year alone. The company raised £3.5m in its series A earlier this year, and will use this injection to make its offering even better in the months ahead.

Want finance advice? Visit our Raising Finance category.

Startups 100 Ranking: 60
Company name: Red Rickshaw
Founded: 2016

Burgeoning meal kit specialist with integrated e-commerce and wholesale arms

With the meal kit delivery market forecast to be worth nearly $9bn by 2025, a raft of startups are scrambling to follow the lead of pioneers such as Graze and Sun Basket.

Red Rickshaw, founded by female entrepreneur Jyoti Patel, is one of those companies jostling for position. However, it enjoys two distinct advantages. The first is that it specialises in Asian and Middle Eastern food, whose popularity continues to soar in both Europe and the UK. The second is that it has added e-commerce and B2B wholesale operations to its core delivery service, creating a three-pronged operation all run out of one central London office.

The company’s flagship recipe brand is called Feast Box, and, like all good food kit businesses, comes in perfectly weighted portions and contains plenty of rare ingredients, designed to pique consumers’ curiosity and widen their palette. Twelve different recipes are provided each week, with several vegan options.

The wholesale and e-commerce businesses, meanwhile, are supplied by a full range of Asian food specialists, from street food markets to Michelin-starred restaurants. Patel and her team strive to provide genuinely fresh produce, rather than ambient foods that can be stored for days, and harness on-demand forecasting technology to minimize wasted inventory.

Having received rave reviews from the Telegraph, which rated Feast Box the best recipe box on the UK market, Red Rickshaw is now expanding into Europe, hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in Asian food among continental consumers. Patel says the company is also working on a proprietary wholesale technology, whose ultimate aim is to reduce waste and operating costs and help the restaurant industry survive.

Inspired? Find out How to start a food business of your own.

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