Want to be an international business? Here’s how 5 London start-ups went global

The Mayor’s International Business Programme has helped 400 businesses go global – follow in their footsteps as part of the 2018 cohort

London is one of the world’s truly global cities: a magnet for homegrown and international business and a gateway to the globe for intrepid UK start-ups.

If you’re a London-based start-up in the technology, life sciences, urban infrastructure or creative sectors with global ambitions then look no further than the Mayor’s International Business Programme.

As long as you can demonstrate strong revenues, the programme will give your business access to a bespoke mentoring scheme, expert advice and workshops, targeted trade missions and other opportunities to help grow around the world.

Since its inception, the Mayor’s International Business Programme has helped more than 400 companies expand into new territories, create jobs and grow including signing new deals, opening new offices and strengthening their management talent and finances.

The programme also selects winners in a number of categories every year including highest growth, highest number of jobs created, largest financial investment, highest number of deals, and ambassador for the programme.

The following companies show the innovation and disruption that’s coming out of the London tech scene. All winners in their categories, what these inspiring businesses show is that to achieve global ambitions you need a global idea…

Century Tech – highest growth

The cloud-based education platform – which uses artificial intelligence, big data and neuroscience to improve learning outcomes – was founded by 2008 Young Gun and inspiring woman Priya Lakhani in 2014.


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Lakhani has always had an international outlook: her first business Masala Masala gave an underprivileged person in India a hot meal for every pot sold. By 2016 it had provided more than one million meals and 35,000 vaccinations.

Century Tech won the Best Use of AI in Education prize at the Global Annual Achievement Awards for AI last year.

Yoti – highest number of jobs created

Founded in 2015 , Yoti – which featured in Tech Pitch last year – is a digital identity platform that claims to make it quicker, easier and safer to verify peoples’ identities.

Consumers can download the app for free, allowing them to prove their age and identity to businesses and access websites using biometrics.

One major advantage to the user is that it reduces their data footprint by only sharing the details that organisations need. Personal details such as name and date of birth are stored separately so there is nothing for “hackers to target”. With increasing awareness about how consumer data is used by private companies, it’s not hard to see the global appeal of Yoti’s technology.

McLEAR – largest financial investment

McLEAR has fused fashion with technology to create smart near-field communication (NFC) rings with contactless payments. All you have to do is touch your finger to the card machine.

It’s scratch resistant, waterproof and hypoallergenic.

The company gained global exposure by showcasing at some of the world’s biggest events over the last few years including the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Super Bowl 51, Eurovision 2017 and the FIFA Confederate Cup 2017.

Previously known as NFC Ring, the Model M. Vega One is now a subsidiary of a large conglomerate.

Takumi – highest number of deals closed

Micro-influencer agency Takumi allows Instagram users with between 1,000 and 200,000 followers to support brand campaigns. They are paid to post creative content for the likes of Domino’s, the BBC and Clinique.

Clients can find influencers that are aligned to their brand by filtering them by segment, location, gender and age.

Takumi, which raised a £3.2m Series A funding round in 2017 has a presence in London, Reykjavik, Berlin, and New York.

Soline Kauffmann-Tourkestansky, global head of ecosystem at Early Metrics – Ambassador for the Programme Award

A truly novel idea, Early Metrics is a rating agency for start-ups and small businesses, assessing the growth potential of innovative businesses for corporations, investors and entrepreneurs.

Based on non-financial criteria, Early Metrics emphasises qualitative data, and can be used for start-ups in any industry and at any stage of growth. This is done by interviewing the founding team, examining the market positioning, commercial trends, technology and execution.

A vital and innovative service, Early Metrics has found itself doing business with some major global names including Santander, Deloitte, Visa, and L’Oréal Paris.

The Mayor’s International Business Programme has already helped over 400 companies realise their international growth ambitions. Follow in their footsteps and apply to take part in the 2018 cohort today at gotogrow.london.

How you can save money when you go global

If you operate internationally, you probably know how expensive it can be to send and receive overseas payments.

Banks often charge hidden fees by giving you a bad exchange rate. This fee is on top of the transfer costs. And worse, you may not know about the cost until you see less money than expected paid out.

So whether you need to pay invoices in another currency, or work with remote employees, the costs associated with bad exchange rates or transaction fees add up. Luckily there are alternative providers out there that could help you save money like TransferWise.

Unlike banks, TransferWise will give you the mid-market rate and only charge a small upfront fee, which you can see before you make your payment. This can make them up to eight times cheaper than the bank.

TransferWise is a multi-currency account that lets you send, spend, and receive money all around the world. It comes with bank account details for the US, Eurozone, UK, and Australia to help further support your work globally. You can also hold over 40 currencies in the account.