Celebrating the Startups 100’s 10-year anniversary: From 2008 to 2018

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.

Entries are rolling in for the Startups 100 2018 – the official annual index ranking the UK’s 100 most exciting start-ups launched in the last three years.

Alongside being the definitive countdown of the country’s best new businesses, an industry-renowned endorsement and an opportunity to impress investors, customers and prospective talent (and don’t just take our word for it), the Startups 100 is also the longest-running index of its kind.

In fact, this year marks a whole decade since the first Startups 100 went live in 2008.

Over the past 10 years, the buzz surrounding the index has escalated, and 2017’s index was bigger and better than ever before.

High-profile press outlets were quick to cover Startups 100 2017 – including Forbes and The Independent – with the index featuring more new entries than ever before for businesses from across the UK; from Scotland and Yorkshire to Bristol and Bournemouth, and featuring a diverse mix of 193 start-up founders ranging in age from 22 to 59.

Now, though, we’re casting our minds back even further than 2017.

To celebrate the index’s 10-year anniversary, we’re reflecting on 14 of the businesses we featured in the Startups 100 2008 and what they’ve achieved since we shone a light on them as largely unknown start-ups.

Many have gone on to become household names and industry giants, but all have enjoyed incredible growth. Read on for their success stories…


2008 ranking: Number four

Then: Notorious for the fact that co-founders Sokratis Papafloratos and Walid Al Saqqaf were so dedicated to the business that it cost them their girlfriends, TrustedPlaces.com’s user numbers had quadrupled over the months prior to its feature.

Now: Just two years on from the Startups 100 2008, the online review site for pubs, restaurants, hotels, travel, home maintenance providers and more was attracting 700,000 unique users every month.

This didn’t go unnoticed, and in 2010 the business was acquired by Yell Group for an estimated £2m.

As part of the deal, Young Gun Papafloratos became Yell’s head of social products in the UK, while the tech and reviews developed and curated by TrustedPlaces.com were integrated into Yell’s offering. Papafloratos went on to co-found Togethera, Upshot and Penny.


2008 ranking: Number seven

Then: Launched by YO! Sushi founder and former Dragon Simon Woodroffe OBE, Yotel was inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, marrying luxury and technology with space maximisation. 2007 had seen the hotels launch at Gatwick and Heathrow airports under the YotelAIR brand.

Now: Yotel plans to have opened 15 hotels across the world by 2019. The past decade has seen it open in two more airports – Schipol, Amsterdam and Charles de Gaulle, Paris – and in New York, Singapore and Boston.

The business has also signed deals to open more hotels in Amsterdam, London, Singapore, San Francisco, Miami, Edinburgh and Dubai.

Making a name for itself as tech-inspired, every hotel has electronic check-in and control panels for lights and air conditioning. As well as occupation sensors, Yotel New York is famously home to a robotic luggage concierge named the YOBOT.

Simon Woodroffe OBE: Yotel

Simon Woodroffe OBE: Yotel

Levi Roots’ Reggae Reggae Sauce

2008 ranking: Number 14

Then: Musician Levi Roots’ range of spicy Jamaican sauce was known for its musical Dragons’ Den pitch, which captured hearts with a memorable jingle in 2007. As a result, the sauces had launched in Sainsbury’s and Roots was hosting his debut TV series, Caribbean Food Made Easy.

Now: Surpassing his sauce’s fame, Roots himself has become a successful and diverse brand. His product range has expanded to include ready meals, meal kits, soft drinks, pasties, cakes, snacks, wraps and seasonings, and in December 2015 Roots opened his own restaurant – Levi Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse – in Westfield Stratford City.

To date, the entrepreneur has published six cookery books and a business book, and has also launched a mobile app, Levi Roots Sunshine Food, which contains 65 searchable recipes.

Levi Roots

Levi Roots: Reggae Reggae Sauce


2008 ranking: Number 15

Then: Described as the Facebook for enterprise, Alastair Mitchell and Andy McLoughlin’s online collaboration and project management network had just secured £2m VC funding after undergoing the g2i investment programme.

Now: Used by over 160,000 organisations and with more than 1.5 million active workspaces and 26 million documents managed through its software, Huddle now has offices in London, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York.

Having gone on to take the number one spot in the Startups 100 2010, by 2012 the cloud-based service had raised approximately $40m funding. In 2017, the business was acquired by US private equity firm Turn/River for an estimated $89m.


2008 ranking: Number 18

Then: Scottish native Fraser Doherty had been making and selling his 100% fruit jams since the tender age of 14. When his business, SuperJam, made the Startups 100 2008, it had just been stocked in Waitrose and Tesco.

Now: SuperJam has now sold millions of jars in 2,000 supermarkets across seven different countries. The business has been entered into the National Museum of Scotland as an iconic Scottish brand, and its range has expanded to include 100% nut peanut butter and all-natural honey.

Doherty has found success as a public speaker and serial entrepreneur, having also founded Envelope Coffee and co-founded Beer52. Awarded Young Gun status in 2011 and an MBE in 2014, Doherty has penned a cookbook and a business book.

Moshi Monsters

2008 ranking: Number 26

Then: Started by Michael Acton Smith in 2006, the online platform on which children could design and raise virtual pet monsters in a closely-monitored space showed the all makings of popularity, with merchandise and accessories launching.

Now: If you have children or spend any of your time anywhere near a primary school, you’ll know Moshi Monsters. An ongoing craze, the website is active in 150 territories worldwide and now boasts a reported one billion users.

The franchise’s ever-expanding list of products includes a best-selling Nintendo DS game, countless toys (including McDonalds Happy Meal giveaways) and Moshi Monsters Magazine, which was reported to be the UK’s top selling children’s magazine in 2011.

Not to mention the feature film Moshi Monsters: The Movie, released in 2013.

Michael Action Smith: Moshi Monsters

Michael Action Smith: Moshi Monsters


2008 ranking: Number 27

Then: Having secured deals with Flickr, Second Life and Bebo, 55% of online printing service MOO’s business was coming from the US – and founder Richard Moross told us he was surprised by the growing international demand.

Now: Today, MOO prints premium business cards for millions of customers in almost 200 countries, with over 400 employees across six locations in the UK and the US.

While it also serves small businesses, MOO’s roster of larger clients includes Google, Buzzfeed, Monotype and Airbnb.

In 2015, the business received a £3m investment from Barclays, and in 2016 MOO reported revenue of £71m. Young Gun Moross, now an MBE, has been named in The Telegraph’s 1,000 Most Powerful People in British Business and The Guardian’s top 10 most influential people in digital media.

Ella’s Kitchen

2008 ranking: Number 32

Then: Inspired by founder Paul Lindley’s daughter Ella and his desire to combat childhood obesity, Ella’s Kitchen had secured a revenue-sharing deal with Viacom in February 2006. The start-up had gone on to sign Sainsbury’s as its first major stockist, appearing in 338 stores.

Now: Sold in supermarkets across Europe and the UK as well as in China, Canada and the US, Ella’s Kitchen has a presence in 16 markets and is said to have a whopping 30% share of the baby food sector.

Having sold to The Hain Celestial Group in May 2013 for £66m, the brand has reportedly achieved global turnover of $121m.

In late 2017, Lindley was a judge for the Startups Awards 2017, drawing on his experience of growing a small business into a global success.

Paul Lindley: Ella's Kitchen

Paul Lindley: Ella’s Kitchen


2008 ranking: Number 42

Then: Founded by Rhodri Ferrier and Simon Duffy, when we featured all-natural men’s skincare range Bulldog in the Startups 100 2008, it was stocked in Sainsbury’s and on course to turnover an impressive £500,000 in its first full year.

Now: Today, Bulldog sells its paraben-free, vegan grooming products across the UK, Europe, Asia and the US. In 2016, the brand signed a deal with major US retailer Walgreens which saw it stocked in 2,000 of the firm’s stores.

In the same year, Young Guns Ferrier and Duffy’s award-winning brand expanded its range of skin and body care products to include shaving and beard care products.

Far from its year one predictions, in 2014 it was reported that Bulldog had turned over £8m and was forecasting £11m revenue for 2015.


2008 ranking: Number 48

Then: It’s hard to imagine the retail giant as a start-up, but back when it first made the Startups 100 it was just two years old – though it had already experienced 600% growth in 2007, going on to host 800 sellers and close a round of funding in 2008.

Now: Notonthehighstreet.com now offers more than 200,000 products from over 5,000 independent sellers, and has gained a reputation as the place to find unique gifts for every occasion.

Along the way, the platform has collected countless accolades, including being named in LSEG’s 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain in 2015 and the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 more than once. In 2016, the business closed a £21m Series E round.

In recognition of their services to small businesses, co-founders Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish were awarded MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list of June 2013.

Notonthehighstreet.com: Holly Tucker MBE

Holly Tucker MBE: Notonthehighstreet.com


2008 ranking: Number 52

Then: Launched by Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain – formerly of the LOVEFiLM founding team – Zoopla was already being hailed as “the Wikipedia of the property market”.

Now: Since 2008, Zoopla has made no less than seven acquisitions to build and cement its market position, notably buying uSwitch in 2015 and Money.co.uk for a jaw-dropping £140m in 2017.

Avid football fans will recognise the business as the sponsor of West Bromwich Albion Football Club in 2012, with the company forming Zoopla Property Group in the summer of the same year. In June 2014, Zoopla was floated on the London Stock Exchange by Daily Mail and General Trust.

As of 2016, the business – which changed its name to ZPG plc last year – had a reported revenue of over £197m.


2008 ranking: Number 66

Then: Started by Vincent McKevitt, Tossed’s salad bars were launched with a mission to bring exciting yet healthy food to market. In 2008, McKevitt had just been chosen as “the one to watch” in that year’s Courvoisier Future 500 shortlist’s food category.

Now: The Young Gun has proved that he was indeed one to watch. A mainstay of UK shopping centres and service stations and a beacon to drivers who want something healthier than Burger King, Tossed now has 16 salad bars across the UK and employs more than 150 people.

Most notably, however, the business made headlines in 2016 by opening the country’s first entirely cashless restaurant in Upper Thames Street & Coleman Street.

Tossed Holburn

Tossed Holburn


2008 ranking: Number 74

Then: With healthy fast food restaurant pod, founder Tim Hall wanted to promote healthy eating and sustainable production. In the two months prior to the Startups 100 2008, pod had achieved impressive growth which looked set to continue.

Now: If you live or work in London, chances are you’ve visited a pod store or found colleagues (or yourself) tucking into a pod lunch on more than one occasion.

With 23 shops and 300 employees across the capital, pod is a champion of nutritional eating at work and on the move, serving tens of thousands of customers per week. As well as in-store, pod also delivers food directly to offices and events across London.

Staying true to its ethical foundations, the business sources local food, minimises waste and uses sustainable and recyclable materials.


2008 ranking: Number 84

Then: Founded by James Watt and Martin Dickie, BrewDog aimed to bring quality craft beer to the people. Having previously sold at local markets, in 2008 the business’ growth potential was starting to show as it became Scotland’s biggest independent brewery.

Now: Now with 70,000 shareholders, BrewDog is famed for its wacky marketing stunts – including projecting nude photos of Dickie and Watt onto the Houses of Parliament, dropping stuffed cats from a helicopter and brewing at the bottom of the ocean.

With eight regular varieties, seasonal beers and its LoneWolf craft gin and vodka, the brand has opened bars across the UK, Europe, Brazil, Australia and the US; employing over 1,000 people.

In 2016 the business broke world records with a £10m equity crowdfunding campaign; the largest of its kind. Then, in 2017, the company hit unicorn status after raising £100m from TSG Consumer Partners. Earlier this year, BrewDog announced plans to build a $30m brewery in Brisbane, Australia.

BrewDog: Martin Dickie and James Watt

Martin Dickie and James Watt: BrewDog

Where will your business be in 10 years? Join the ranks of these impressive businesses by applying to be featured in the Startups 100 2018 here! Entries close at midnight on Friday 23 March.

Leave a comment

We value your comments but kindly requests all posts are on topic, constructive and respectful. Please review our commenting policy.

Back to Top