14 years of Startups Awards winners: Where are they now?

With entries for the Startups Awards 2018 now open for applications, we’ve reflected on the success stories of our top titles

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Running since 2004, the Startups Awards is the longest running new business awards of its kind in UK history.

A champion of incredibly exciting, disruptive, innovative early-stage companies launched in the last four years, the Startups Awards has earnt an industry-wide reputation for unearthing start-up talent and identifying the future businesses of tomorrow.

To demonstrate the Startups Awards’ credentials and its ability to cherry-pick start-ups that will soon be the name on everybody’s lips, we’ve created a timeline of our overall winners.

These are the inspiring businesses which have taken the top title of ‘Startups Business of the Year’ or ‘Start-up of the Year’ since the awards’ inception 15 years ago.

With entries open for the Startups Awards 2018 – where your business could be crowned the overall winner; The Start Up Loans Company Start-Up of the Year, we bring you our timeline of Startups Awards winner’s stories…

Startups Awards 2004 to 2017 overall winner timeline

2004: Goingreen


Goingreen was the first ever winner of a Startups Awards Business of the Year title.

Launched in 2003, before electric cars were a ‘thing’, GoinGreen effectively pioneered electric vehicles in the UK market; retailing Reva G-Wiz’s to green drivers across the capital.

At the time of winning, founder Keith Johnston had commented that “Every big global auto manufacturer is doing their damndest not to have electric cars on anybody’s radar, so it’s left to the small guys like us to put it on there.”

He continued to say that he wanted “to make the car popular in London and then roll it out across the UK and key cities in Europe”…


Today, GoinGreen has become the UK’s number one independent electric vehicle support specialist.

After 2008, the business moved away from Reva G-Wiz to focus on the EV aftersales business and today it services and maintains over 1,000 private, business and commercial fleet vehicles. It operates both on a mobile basis and from its 7,000 square foot centre in Hayes, Middlesex.

Its customers have driven 150 million electric miles and it has gone on to win a number of accolades since the Startups Awards including European Business magazine’s Top 50 Global Low Carbon Pioneers and the Industry Market Leadership Award at the Environmental & Sustainable Technology Awards.

GoinGreen Startups Awards winner

2005: Glasses Direct


One year after launch and Glasses Direct, the first online prescription glasses retailer, was crowned the Startups Business of the Year with founder Jamie Murray Wells also taking home the Startups Award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Murray Wells had established the business while at university and, after generating sales of more than 50 glasses a day, decided to put his studies on hold to pursue his innovative business idea.

At the time of winning the award in 2005, the e-commerce business had achieved revenues of more than £1m, had recently expanded to a new office, secured a second round of funding, and had just recruited a small marketing team.


After rebranding in 2012 to MyOptique Group following its purchase of European retailer SunglassesShop, Murray Wells stepped down from the company a year later aged just 30 years-old; selling his shares to Munich-based private equity firm Cipio Partners.

At the time of his exit, the company had grown to revenues of more than £29m a year, a team of 150, and was selling to 50 overseas markets.

In 2016 the business was acquired by French lens producer Essilor International, having grown sales further to hit revenues of £56m and shipping over 280 million contact lenses and seven million glasses!

2006: BeatThatQuote.com


Helping consumers save money by finding, comparing and applying online for the best deals on a range of financial products, BeatThatQuote.com entered the Startups Awards ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2006 on the back of its success in identifying a better way to provide financial information – challenging the established financial services industry.

At the time of its Startups Business of the Year win, one year after its launch, London-based BeatThatQuote.com enabled users to compare products such as credit cards, loans, mortgages and insurance, and had positive feedback from customers, while revenues were growing at a rate above projections.

The judges felt that BeatThatQuote, the start-up founded by serial entrepreneur  John Paleomylites, had created an “excellent platform for future growth and has potential to diversify into other markets.”


By 2007, BeatThatQuote had become one of the fastest growing UK websites and by 2008 was attracting 2.5 million unique visitors to its site each month.

On the back of its stellar growth, the site caught the attention of tech giant Google who acquired the business in March 2011 for a whopping £37.7m. Google used parts of BeatThatQuote’s technology to create Google Compare.

2007: SportStars


Winner of Startups Business of the Year and the Community Impact Award, 2007’s overall winner accolade went to social enterprise SportStars.

Founded by Welsh entrepreneur James Taylor, the business provided safe, affordable childcare and coaching to children via schools and a network of out-of-school activities and clubs, bringing together pupils, teachers and parents.

The judges crowned Taylor’s venture the overall winner for having developed a scalable and highly profitable business model which, crucially, provided a community-focused business to benefit all.

It was felt that both Taylor and SportStars were “ahead of the game and forward thinking”and the business was investing heavily in staff and infrastructure at the time.


Rebranded to SuperStars and no longer solely focused on sports, the child development organisation now supports more than 80,000 pupils a week in over 250 primary schools across South Wales and the South West of England.

The business, which boasts some 240 staff, now covers all areas of curriculum delivery including teacher release time, PPA cover for art, drama, music and PE, breakfast and after school clubs, and extra curricular support.

Founder and managing director Taylor was crowned the Institute of Directors (IOD) UK Director of the Year back in 2014, and Taylor has since been involved with the Welsh government’s BE THE SPARK enterprise initiative.

2008: Home Instead Senior Care


The only franchise (so far!) to take home the overall Startups Awards title: 2008’s Startups Business of the Year went to Home Instead Senior care.

The chain was established by brothers Trevor Brocklebank and Sam Brocklebank soon after they acquired the UK master licence from American firm Home Instead.

In 2008, the franchise boasted a network of 25 offices across the UK and generated revenue of more than £550,000, with revenue growth up 15% month on month.

Brocklebank was also pioneering the market; offering staff training in dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s – which, at the time, most carers didn’t get in the UK. Trevor was also running a lot of work at national level with the Department of Health and with other charities like Age Concern and the Alzheimer’s Society.

The judges comments on Home Instead Senior Care were that it was a “company with heart” and a “fantastic business with the scalability to have a massive impact throughout the UK”.


Home Instead Senior Care has become the world’s leading home care company, offering non-medical care for older people.

Today, the UK operation is owned by the original Home Instead founders Paul and Lori Hogan, has a franchise network of over 190 franchisees, looks after more than 10,000 clients, employs 9,000 caregivers, and its national head office team is 43-strong.

In 2016, the franchise brand was awarded the esteemed accolade of The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation and also featured in The Sunday Times’ annual ranking of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

The Home Instead Senior Care franchise opportunity has also proved to be a lucrative one. By years three to four, it’s typical for a franchise to achieve £1m turnover and operating profits of 15% to 20%.

2009: Three Sixty Entertainment


The company combining live theatre, computer generated imagery and a twist on the traditional circus tent in Kensington was our 2009 Startups Business of the Year.

The live entertainment business had created the smash hit show Peter Pan supported by a £2.75m funding round from 58 angel investors, and the show was in the process of being exported to other countries.

The show had been the stand-out smash hit of summer 2009, outselling West End hit Mama Mia! and it had been operationally profitable from the second week after launch.

At the time of its win, the young business also had new shows in development and, in a rare occasion for the Startups Awards judging day, there was a unanimous decision that Three Sixty should be crowned the overall winner.


One year after its win – with £7m turnover for its first year trading – Three Sixty headed to San Francisco with a seafront tent.

In the years that followed, the show grew globally and its Peter Pan show continued to run along with a second production; The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

In its first four years of trading, the company generated turnover in excess of £40m, and ran in America until 2015 when shows were cancelled due to declining ticket sales.

Co-founder Colin Wilkinson now runs a ‘specialist business start-up boutique’ and tours the country as a motivational speaker. He has also appeared on The Apprentice: You’re Fired.

2010: Naked Wines


Two years after launching and former Virgin Wine employee Rowan Gormley’s online wine retail business Naked Wines took home the Startups Awards Startups Business of the Year title.

In 2010, Naked Wines – its mission focused on funding the wine producers it worked with to help them develop their own ventures – had enabled 22 winemakers to set up their own operations, strengthening the retailer’s own product range while simultaneously supporting other new businesses.

In terms of finances, the business was soaring with turnover projections in excess of £9m and a customer base of some 60,000.

The judges commended the start-up for “doing its bit, both for its army of loyal customers, and the wider business community.”


The online wine marketplace has continued to grow and diversify its offering.

In 2013, it demonstrated its innovative mindset by launching the UK’s first ‘wine bonds’ boosted by some $10m in funding and, by 2014, had reached sales of £74m and was shipping 25,000 bottles a day to the UK, US and Australia.

In 2015, Naked Wines was acquired by rival Majestic Wines in a £70.7m deal in a bid to create a global specialist wine firm. Founder and chief executive Rowan Gormley took on the role of chief executive of Majestic Wines – a role he still maintains today.

In an interview earlier this year with The Evening Standard, Gormley explained that when he became chief executive of the combined group he devised a three-year turnaround plan that was designed to achieve sales of £500m by 2019… Watch this space!

2011: The Cambridge Satchel Company


Founded by mother and daughter team Julia Deane and Freda Thomas in 2008 with just £600, satchel start-up The Cambridge Satchel Company was the 2011 Startups Awards Startups Business of the Year.

At the time of their award win, the company was generating multi-million revenues, had a team of 47 staff, was internationally acclaimed – the business featured in Vogue in six countries – and was estimating turnover of £10m for 2012.

In the space of three years, the company’s satchels – which included Harry Potter designs – had become huge hits with the blogger community and had translated well overseas with customers spreading from the UK to South Korea.

Part of the business’ appeal – aside from the fashion and quality of its satchels – was its ‘Made in Britain’ tag with every bag made on British soil from its Leicester factory.

The judges said they “were swayed by the phenomenal growth of the company” in that it was making 3,000 bags a week with “retailers literally queuing up to stock them.”


By 2015, The Cambridge Satchel Company, dubbed the ‘Brit It bag’, was generating annual revenues of £13m and boasted celebrity customers including Taylor Swift and Alexa Chung.

That same year, co-founder Deane was awarded an OBE for services to entrepreneurship and the government tasked her with leading an independent review of self-employment in the UK. This was published in February 2016 and called for additional support via 10 key changes to help the country’s self-employed.

The business regularly launches new lines extending to pencil cases and wallets, and stores are popping up in regional locations.

Deane, who has become a well-recognised face of British enterprise, was made Entrepreneur in Residence of the British Library in 2016 following in the footsteps of names such as Dame Anita Roddick.

Julie Deane OBE The Cambridge Satchel Company Startups Awards winner

2012: Abcodia


Founded by Dr Julie Barnes, Chris Hodgkinson and Professor Ian Jacobs in 2011, Abcodia was crowned the 2012 Startups Business of the Year having already taken home a trio of awards that same night; Women in Business, Angel/VC-backed Business, and Innovative Business.

Having established a partnership with University College London, Abcodia had exclusive access to the largest blood serum bio-bank of its kind in the world – worth £30m and 10 years in the making -and it then licenced this out to some of the world’s largest diagnostic companies.

At the time, Abcodia was the world leader in biomarker validation and discovery, supporting the search for cancer biomarkers to diagnose cancer earlier.

The company was planning to develop its own intellectual property and the judges felt the business showed “all the signs of being a genuine game changer”.


The business has since collaborated with Cancer Research UK and Cancer Research Technology and maintains its focus on creating products for the early detection of cancer.

In 2015, the company raised £5.25m in fresh funding to launch its first product.

This product is the ROCA® Test for the early detection of ovarian cancer, and the business is also expanding its pipeline of early detection technologies for lung, colorectal and pancreatic cancer.

2013: YPlan


With over half a million users, going out app YPlan – the app founded by Rytis Vitkauskas and Viktoras Jucikas in 2012 – was the Startups Awards 2013 Startups Business of the Year.

The app, which counted fans such as Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher, enabled users to browse through a curated list of the best events taking place each night, book in two taps and simply show their phone at the door to get in.

By the time of the awards ceremony in November 2013, the business had attracted $13m investment from firms such as Wellington Partners, had expanded to the US with event listings for New York, and was in talks to expand its curated event offering to Europe, Japan and Tokyo.


One year on from its Startups Awards win and YPlan had achieved its aim of international expansion; opening offices in New York, San Francisco and Las Vegas.

Fast forward to October 2016 and the London-based events discovery and booking platform was acquired by publicly-listed media company Time Out for an initial price of £1.6m, rising to £2.4m if certain terms were met in the first year following the acquisition.

Fun fact! UK equity crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and invoice finance service MarketInvoice were also named Startups Awards winners this same year. 

2014: Beer52


Delivering craft beer straight to your door, Edinburgh-based subscription start-up Beer52 would take the reins as Startups Business of the Year in 2014.

Founded by young entrepreneur James Brown, the beer business had already achieved £1m in first year sales, was generating a profit, and was expecting to double its revenue in year two.

The company had some impressive backers too; it had raised £100,000 via Angels Den and investment from Secret Escapes’ co-founder Andrew Bredon, while SuperJam entrepreneur Fraser Doherty MBE was involved in the business alongside ex-Naked Wines executive Ben Hopkins (further evidence of Naked Wines evolution as a Startups Awards winner!).


In 2015, Brown was named a Young Gun for having built what is said to be the UK’s biggest craft beer club with more than 10,000 members and revenues in excess of £2.5m for the previous year. The company had also bagged an extra £100,000 in crowd and angel investment.

At the close of 2016, the business raised a “six-figure” funding round from a number of investors, including Skyscanner co-founder Gareth Williams; Secret Escapes co-founder Andrew Bredon, and Funkin Cocktails founder Alex Carlton, to help brew up further growth.

Today, Beer52 has more than 15,000 full paying subscribers, sourcing exclusive beers from over 12,000 microbreweries around the world and has plans to achieve revenues of more than £7m by year-end.

Beer52 founder James Brown Startups Awards

2015: Appear Here


Three year-old retail space marketplace Appear Here scooped the overall winner title of Startups Business of the Year in 2015, having witnessed 500% growth in bookings and revenue and boasting a 10,000 strong client portfolio.

The business idea of young entrepreneur Ross Bailey, Appear Here’s platform enabled users to find and book unique retail spaces.

At the time of its prestigious win, Bailey’s business had secured deals with some of the biggest landlords in the country including British Land, Transport for London and Hammerson, and had added an end-to-end booking service, a concierge service, and created a Landlord Dashboard; enabling landlords to monitor the performance of their spaces online, and to book spaces in Paris.

With clients including Google, Marc Jacobs and the BBC, the judges were wowed at Appear Here’s rise to start-up stardom and said that a “company with global ambitions that helps other start-ups get up and running is one we can get behind”.


Two years on from its win and Appear Here has maintained its growth streak, winning over investors and adding offices across London, Paris and New York.

In October 2017, the business announced a $12m Series B fundraise to bolster US expansion while simultaneously unveiling a partnership with real estate VC firm Fifth Wall. The funding and partnership will enable the company to list “millions of retail square feet” across the US market.

Speaking at the time of the news release, Bailey said “we’re looking forward to launching more tools and opening up new locations for our growing community to take their ideas to the next level”.

2016: Onfido


2016’s Startups Awards overall winner was none other than high-growth tech start-up Onfido; the intelligent background checking platform.

Started in 2012 by young entrepreneurs Eamon Jubbawy, Husayn Kassai and Ruhul Amin – Oxford graduates all aged under 30 – the London-based business had attracted 1,000 customers worldwide, raised more than $30m funding, and had a team of 145 staff split between offices in London and San Francisco.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to update the laborious, expensive and often inaccurate manual processes of background checking, the start-up was able to run background checks for everything from anti-money laundering checks to criminal history.

It had already been adopted by fast-growth brands such as Deliveroo and Hello Fresh and was determined to bring identity verification “out of the dark ages” for companies of all sizes.


In September 2017, just under a year on from its Startups Awards crowning glory, Onfido made it into the history books with a funding round that saw its founders become the youngest to ever raise $60m in total investment.

The $30m Series C funding round, which involved Crane, Microsoft Ventures (its first European deal), and Salesforce Ventures, will enable the company to bring its identity verification technology to companies around the world “allowing millions more people to access online businesses and services”.

Onfido’s team now stands at 150 and, alongside London and Silicon Valley, it now boasts offices in New York, Lisbon and New Delhi. This month, the business announced new hires including a chief product officer, chief technical officer, and independent board director.

2017: Bulb


A supplier of 100% renewable electricity, Bulb succeeded Onfido to take home the 2017 Startups Awards title for its monumental success in challenging expectations of the UK energy industry.

At the time of its win in November 2017, Bulb – co-founded by young entrepreneurs Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka (pictured below)- had 100,000 customers and laid claim to being the fastest-growing energy business in the UK.

Able to charge 20% less than the Big Six, the start-up had also cemented a strong reputation for customer service as the highest-rated energy company on TrustPilot.

Championing innovation, Bulb described its offering as something that “made sense for our environment and future generations”.



Fast forward a few months and Bulb has continued on its growth ascent.

It now supplies a staggering 300,000 homes across the country; equating to 1% of the energy market or, to give a better idea of the scale of Bulb’s impact, enough homes to fill the size of Leeds.

Employee numbers have also surged with headcount sitting at 104.

And, in May 2018, the eco start-up was named the number one start-up in the UK right now.

What’s next for London-based Bulb? Speaking to us in May, the founders revealed plans to launch new products including a pre-pay offer so that their customers can access affordable renewable energy.


Who will succeed Bulb as the 2018 overall Startups Awards winner, taking home the title of The Start-Up Loans Company Start-up of the Year?

Enter the Startups Awards 2018 here now as it could well be you! 

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