Startups 100 2019: 86 to 90

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Startups 100 Ranking: 86
Company name: JHP Recruitment
Founded: 2015

Veterinary recruitment specialist designed to be caring and compassionate

Having started out in his garage with just £9,000, Justin Powlesland has built a veterinary recruitment business which works with over 2,500 clinics across the UK. Four years on from launch, the company boasts 16 staff members and a turnover of around £2.6m.

Powlesland has been recruiting to the veterinary sector since 2009 and has built his company to be knowledgeable and conscientious – attributes which aren’t always evident in the recruitment industry. JHP’s staff roster includes a specialist compliance manager, charged with ensuring candidates have all the necessary documentation and are ready to work before they are sent out. Whenever a new consultant joins the team, they are given intensive training on the veterinary industry as well as essential recruitment practices.

This attitude applies to the company’s treatment of its own staff, too. Powlesland has built a business which cares about its staff, designed to keep staff turnover to a minimum… after all, as the founder says, it’s hard for clients to trust a recruitment agency which can’t get its own staffing right. The company is now expanding internationally, having begun partnerships with hospitals and clinics in Dubai, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand, but Powlesland will ensure it never forgets its roots.

JHP Recruitment was named Best Veterinary Recruitment Specialist – UK at last year’s LUX Pet Product & Services awards 2018, and Powlesland is the only recruiter ever invited to give a guest lecture to the British Veterinary Nursing Association annual congress.

Startups 100 Ranking: 87
Company name: Perlego
Founded: 2016

‘Spotify for textbooks’ aiming to reduce the price of learning for students

Since 1970, the average price of an academic textbook has increased fifteen-fold, or three times that of inflation. This leaves the average British student with an annual book bill of £439, piling fresh debt upon our best and brightest.

Enter a London-based startup whose business model has been dubbed ‘Spotify for textbooks’. Perlego – which came in at 87 in last year’s Startups 100 – offers unlimited reading for £12 a month, less than the price of a single book. Its subscription-based platform unlocks access to over 250,000 educational titles, with the goal of making reading and learning accessible for everyone – professionals as well as students.

The Perlego model is designed to work for everyone, creators and consumers alike. Publishers receive a percentage of each subscription, based on the number of pages of each book a student reads. The company also works closely with publishers to help them avoid textbook piracy. Little wonder that academic giants such as Bloomsbury and Oxford University Press have signed up.

The company has already raised £4m in funding, backed by Zoopla founder Alex Chesterman and LoveFILM co-founder Simon Franks. The company says it will use the money to fund expansion across the UK and Europe, and continue refining its product.

Startups 100 Ranking: 88
Company name: The Vurger Co
Founded: 2016

100% vegan restaurant chain aiming to prove you don’t need meat to create moreish burgers

As Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts say, there’s no need for plant-based food to be dry, bland and boring. In fact, their on a mission to prove this by creating natural burgers that are devilishly moreish.

Startups 100 2018-listed The Vurger Co was born from serious adversity. Potts had suffered chronic stomach problems for years, and couldn’t find a way to mitigate his condition. Eventually he and Hugh went on holiday to California and started eating vegan food, whereupon the complaint began to clear up.

The pair decided to become vegans back in London – but all they could find in their local restaurants was a pile of non-descript mush. So Potts and Hugh decided to create their own business from a market stall in 2016, and now they’ve got two restaurants in the heart of the British capital.

Right from the start, the Vurger Co has celebrated veganism in all its glory. Flavours such as Big Mex and New York Melt are designed to provide all the juicy hedonism of a conventional burger restaurant, and if that’s not mouth-watering enough for you, try the chunky fries or macaroni cheese sides.

Yet, at the same time, Potts and Hugh have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure their product is as natural as possible. There are no ‘fake’ ingredients, just genuine, organic components such as seeds, nuts, grains and legumes.

The company has built recognition through a series of festival pop-up stalls, and this grass-roots appeal helped it become the fastest restaurant ever to reach its Crowdcube target last year. With a range of retail products in the works, this brand reach is set to grow and grow.

Startups 100 Ranking: 89
Company name: The Dots
Founded: 2014

‘Linkedin for no-collars’ striving to join up the new creative workforce

If you haven’t read about the no-collar workforce, it’s a concept that’s rapidly gaining traction among the business commentariat. No-collar workers are those who don’t fit neatly into the traditional brackets of office and factory: they flit somewhere in between, with a common focus on creativity and new technology.

The Dots is a professional networking site designed for this growing tribe. In fact business bible Forbes has even asked whether The Dots is the next Linkedin, so rapid has been its growth in popularity among creators, freelancers and entrepreneurs.

The site allows no-collar collaborators to connect, share their work, find collaborators and seek out networking opportunities, both online and at events. The platform is beautifully designed and highly visual – ideal for the young, imaginative types who make up the no-collar workforce.

Unlike other networking sites, based around contacts and professional experience, The Dots is predicated upon a member’s creative output: it’s about what you do, not who you know. In terms of layout and feel, it’s closer to an artist’s IMDB site than a typical business platform.

This fresh, future-ready approach has attracted a hugely diverse membership base. 68% of Dots members are women, 31% are members of the BME community and 16% are LGBT+. For clients striving to deliver on diversity targets, this presents an extremely attractive resource.

Five years on from launch, The Dots now numbers 400,000 members, and founder Pip Jamieson has been named as one of the Top 100 Disruptive Entrepreneurs by the Sunday Times.

Startups 100 Ranking: 90
Company name: HoloMe
Founded: 2017

Augmented reality specialist using holograms to redefine audience engagements

HoloMe pledges to change the face of e-commerce as we know it – literally as well as metaphorically. The company deploys human holograms to redefine audience engagement, and has already worked with commercial monoliths such as H&M and Esquire Magazine.

Using HoloMe’s technology, a person can film themselves (or someone else), turn the image into a holograph, and then send it to another person’s smartphone. HoloMe proudly claims theirs is the most life-like holographic technology yet devised, and that they are the first company to create a simple, cost-effective method to insert holograms into the augmented reality space, instantly.

The company has already created a number of eye-catching promotions, including its ‘virtual catwalk’, produced for Asos, which transposes a runway, complete with models, onto any flat surface. Suffice to say we can expect plenty more where that came from in the months ahead.

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