Startups 100: Where are they now?

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Our flagship Startups 100 list has been running since 2008, and we have recognised some amazing businesses in that time, many of which have gone on to achieve truly global renown.

As an index of the 100 most promising start-up businesses in the UK, the list has proved to be a remarkably accurate barometer of the entrepreneurial superstars of tomorrow; many businesses featured have found the exposure generated by the list to be instrumental in their success.

As the 2015 list opens for entries, we thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the stand-out businesses from years gone by and see whether they fulfilled their early promise. Just a small selection of the many successful businesses we have featured are seen here – we were completely spoiled for choice.



Featured: 2008 (2nd)
Founded: 2003
Founders: Alistair Lukies and Steve Atkinson

Where are they now: The mobile banking specialist was just on the cusp of success when we featured it in 2008’s list, and has now gone on to become one of the leading mobile payments specialists in Europe. It saw particularly spectacular growth last year, growing revenues from £43m in 2012 to an estimated £73m in 2013, with the company expecting to increase this again to £110m in 2014. The last few months have seen a number of high-profile deals, as the company acquired Turkish competitor Pozitron after entering into a five-year Mobile Money partnership with a ‘leading UK bank’ to design and build a bespoke mobile banking system.


Featured: 2008 (3rd)
Founded: 2005
Founder: Giles Andrews

Where are they now: Zopa can count itself as a true pioneer of the burgeoning alternative finance market, launching as the world’s first online peer-to-peer borrowing and lending marketplace back in 2005. Since being featured in 2008 it has grown into one of the leading companies in the European alternative finance sector – with more than £455m of loans facilitated through the platform – and recently listed as one of the 2014 FinTech 50, an independent index of the ‘hottest’ companies in the European fintech market. In January of this year, Zopa announced an investment of £15m from asset manager Arrowgrass Capital as it looks to build on its continued rapid growth.


The Gym Group

Featured: 2010 (5th)
Founded: 2008
Founder: John Treharne

Where are they now: When we covered The Gym as part of our 2010 list, it was still comparatively early-stage, but the potential was obvious; with more than 30,000 members across six sites, the contract-free alternative to the traditional gym had an ambitious plan to open more than ten additional outlets per year. As it happens they have exceeded this, with around 50 gyms across the country now part of the network – and with more than £50m of funding secured from private equity groups Phoenix Equity Partners and Bridges Ventures, the Gym’s growth is only set to continue. In December 2012, this growth was recognised by the Sunday Times in its prestigious Fast Track 100 list of the fastest-growing companies in the UK. Coming in at number 13 on the list, The Gym Group is the only company in the budget fitness sector to have achieved this accolade. ​At the time of publishing, The Gym Group had just announced a merger with Pure Gym, the terms of the deal not yet disclosed, to become a single national gym operator with a network of over 103 clubs.


Featured: 2010 (1st)
Founded: 2006
Founders: Andy McLoughlin and Alastair Mitchell

Where are they now: We described Huddle as an ‘easy choice’ for top spot in our 2010 list, as the online collaboration platform looked on the course to global domination after successfully breaking into Silicon Valley with the help of $10.2m funding from Matrix Partners. So it has proved – the firm has seen explosive growth in the three years since its win, and is now backed by more than $40m of capital from global investors including In-Q-Tel (the venture arm of the CIA). Revenues are doubling year-on-year, and the software is now trusted by top government organisations and financial services companies across the world, beating out competing services offered by global giants Microsoft and Oracle. The company employs 200 people, with offices in London, San Francisco and New York, and with the market for cloud-based services estimated at $132bn, Huddle will be looking forward to further success in years to come. ​


Featured: 2010 (10th)
Founded: 2008
Founders: Alex Chesterman and Simon Kain

Where are they now: Set up with the aim of promoting greater transparency to renters and buyers looking for property online, Zoopla has become one of the UK’s leading property listings platforms, quickly closing the gap on rival Rightmove – recent data showed that traffic to the portal had increased 36% over the last year, compared to just 18% for Rightmove. In September 2013, the site marked a major acquisition when it purchased the Trinity Mirror group’s four property websites for £3.3m, and is rumoured to be edging closer to a £1.3bn flotation on the London Stock Exchange.



Featured: 2012 (4th)
Founded: July 2011
Founders: Jay Bregman, Russell Hall, Gary Jackson, Terry Runham, Caspar Woolley, Ron Zeghibe

Where are they now: You know a company has promise when it has the venture capital founders of Facebook, Groupon and Spotify behind it, and so it has proved, with the taxicab booking app going on to achieve near-ubiquity on Londoners’ smartphones since we featured it in 2012.

13,000 drivers in London – over half of the capital’s cabbies – have now signed up to the app, with more than three million customer journeys completed since launch. And Hailo isn’t just making waves in London, either – the service has now launched in 13 cities worldwide, including New York, Toronto and Dublin, with more than 42,000 drivers now part of the company’s global network.

MVF Global

Featured: 2012 (3rd)
Founded: September 2009
Founders: Titus Sharpe, Tom Morgan, Jules Hopkinson, David Walton and Simon Venturi

Where are they now: MVF Global made it onto the Startups 100 for its unique pay-per-lead approach to lead-generation marketing – a proposition that had already seen it build up a platform of 60,000 members in 2012. Since then the business has seen truly remarkable growth – the average growth rate over the last three years has been 278% and the business increased revenues from £8.5m in 2012 to £13.9m a year later. This has seen the 125-strong company recognised as the fastest-growing tech firm in the UK as winner of the prestigious 2013 Times Tech Track, as well as earning the gong of Fastest Earnings Growth Technology Business in Europe in the Media Momentum Awards.


Featured: 2012 (8th)
Founded: September 2009
Founders: Greg Marsh, Demetrios Zoppos and Tim Davey

Where are they now: This innovative business was listed on the 2012 Startups 100 for its unique approach to holiday accommodation, which is a marketplace connecting London’s idle luxury homes with well-heeled holiday renters.

The company has since grown into a full-time team of more than 200 people  and is well on its way to becoming a major player in the holiday rentals market, with more than 1,000 homes in London exclusively listed on the site. Onefinestay marked a successful international launch in May 2012 when it opened its doors to the New York market; it now has more than 300 properties listed across the pond, with more being listed every day. Further international launches have followed in Paris and Los Angeles, launching with two dozen homes each, and the company has also been building on its website technology, introducing map-based search along with a new Area Guides feature on the Onefinestay website.


Featured: 2012 (7th)
Founded: September 2010
Founder: Marc Worth

Where are they now: Started by internationally-renowned fashion entrepreneur Marc Worth as a rival brand to WGSN, which he sold for £142m in 2004, Stylus reinvigorates the fashion forecasting concept by pulling together a disparate range of cultural influences to provide ‘design inspiration’ for its business clients, which include household-name brands like Marks and Spencer. The business grew turnover from £2.5m in 2012 to around £3.2m last year, doubling its client base in the process. To cope with the increased demand, Stylus has widened its offering to include a new consulting service, helping clients ‘turn inspiration into innovation’. The dynamic Worth has no plans to slow down, either, with a stated aim of doubling Stylus’ client base again in 2014.


Mainstage Travel

Featured: 2013 (45th)
Founded: September 2011
Founders: Rob Tominey and Aiden Levin

Where are they now: Just months after we featured Mainstage in our 2013 list – excited by the young company’s almost unbelievable proposition of ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ clubbing holidays starting from £120 – the company achieved nationwide renown by featuring on BBC Two’s Dragons’ Den. Founding pair Tominey and Levin acquitted themselves admirably, too, standing up well to the Dragons in a no-nonsense pitch and walking away with a £100,000 investment from new Dragon Piers Linney, the third most valuable deal ever concluded on the show. Discussing his decision to invest, Linney called the company ‘phenomenal’ and enthused about the company’s growth potential. With high-profile venture capital backing and clear plans to expand the range of holidays it offers, it is clear Mainstage Travel is going places. ​

Featured: 2013 (1st) 2012 (13th)
Founded: November 2009 (launched June 2010)
Founders: David Grimes and Paul Haydock

Where are they now: Already having achieved the feat of being featured twice in our end-of-year list, moving from 13th to our prestigious number one spot, the comparison website for courier services recently announced a seven-figure investment from backers Praetura Capital – representing a major milestone for the business. The delivery business has achieved impressive growth since foundation, growing revenues by 46% in 2013 with 50% growth comfortably expected for this financial year. Praetura’s backing will allow it to create new online tools for customers to consolidate its market-leading presence in the sector, as well as fund new hires. With no real competitors and a huge potential market, great things are expected of this company. ​

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