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What the future holds for top UK start-ups: The Startups Awards Winners’ Dinner

We've brought Startups Award-winning companies together to share secrets of their early success and challenges they face over the next 12 months...

As the UK’s longest-running awards of its kind, The Startups Awards has a well-earned reputation for recognising phenomenal early-stage businesses set for growth.

The success of its past winners is testament to this with the likes of Purplebricks, Crowdcube, and Naked Wines among its alumni and, just seven months on from the Startups Awards 2016, its most recent winners have already made major in-roads.

For instance, PensionBee recently joined forces with Revolut, Onfido has attracted a top Google executive as its general counsel and, just this week, LOVESPACE was revealed as one of two winners of a £50,000 TV advertising campaign.

With the Startups Awards back for 2017 – its 14th year – sponsored by small business loans provider The Start Up Loans Company and chartered accountants and tax advisors haysmacintyre, we brought some of our winners together to share their stories and learn what makes for start-up success.

Far from presenting a rose-tinted view of business, the lively discussion, held at the Haymarket Hotel, saw our 2016 winners discuss both the highs and lows of running an early-stage business in the current economic climate.

We wanted you to be able to share in this discussion so we’ve compiled the best bits from the Winners’ Dinner for you to read and enjoy.

Find out more about each of our attendees in the bios below, or go straight to our first topic of discussion here.

Startups Awards winners

Steve Folwell, LOVESPACESteve Folwell, LOVESPACE

Winner: Crowdfunded Business of the Year

A former Guardian director, Steve Folwell set up LOVESPACE with co-founder Brett Akker in 2012.

Aiming to make storage accessible for everyone, LOVESPACE applies the concept of cloud storage to the physical world and offers door-to-door collection anywhere in the UK. LOVESPACE ensures customers only pay for what they need as users buy physical storage by-the-box.

In May 2016, LOVESPACE launched a £500,000 crowdfunding campaign and overfunded by nearly 40%, bringing in £690,000 from over 250 investors.

Luke Barlow, NetdumaLuke Barlow, Netduma

Winner: Lean Start-up of the Year and Export Business of the Year

Former senior finance analyst Luke Barlow, along with co-founder Iain Fraser, has created the Netduma R1: an alternative internet router which combats problems such as congestion and lag and is used by tens of thousands of customers in over 95 countries.

The router eliminates the usual queues and connection issues that happen when too many devices are connected to the internet in one household/office.

It also helps online gamers thanks to its ‘geo-filter’, which allows players to set the maximum distance they are prepared for their game’s connection to travel from home. No other router in the world has this feature.

Jasper Martens and Jonathan Lister, PensionBeeJonathan Lister and Jasper Martens, PensionBee

Winner: Innovative Business of the Year

CTO Jonathan Lister previously co-founded Shoreditch Works, before going on to teach code before becoming principal at Penrose Studio. VP of marketing Jasper Martens previously headed up marketing and communications at Simply Business, and is also an advisor at Digital Risks.

An online pension manager, PensionBee helps users combine and manage all their pensions online into one plan which can be organised much like a bank account.

After submitting details on its website, PensionBee will automatically track down users’ old pensions and then put them into one of three plans managed by BlackRock or State Street.

Via its 24/7 online dashboard ‘The BeeHive’, customers can access a live pension balance, make online contributions, and use a smart calculator to help prepare for retirement.

James Davidson tailsMiranda Cresswell Tails.comJames Davidson and Miranda Cresswell,

Winner: Product Business of the Year

James Davidson is CEO and one of’s eight-strong founding team, and previously worked as head of operations at Innocent Drinks and operations manager at Unilever.

Miranda Cresswell is chief marketing officer at, and has had previous brand strategy and communications roles at onefinestay and Ralph Lauren, after serving as senior vice president at BBC Worldwide Americas.

Producing tailor-made dog food delivered to your door, offers a two-minute nutritional consultation, analysing your dog’s health, lifestyle, life stage and flavour preferences to calculate the exact level of nutrients your dog needs.

With over 65,000 customers signed up, tails’ goal is to continue their growth in the UK dog market and, ultimately, to change the world of pet food for good.

Liam Dickerson HousekeepLiam Dickerson, Housekeep

Winner: Service Business of the Year

Now heading up marketing at Housekeep, Liam Dickerson was previously marketing and product manager at taxi app Addison Lee.

Housekeep is an on-demand home cleaning platform delivering high-quality, vetted cleaners to time-poor professionals in London. From just a handful of customers and two cleaners at launch in 2014, the company has grown to more than 20,000 customer accounts with 5,000 recurring subscription contracts.

Now, on the back of its continued success, the next 12 months will see Housekeep scale its service to more than 10,000 regular subscription customers and 1,000 cleaners.

Once it’s cracked the £1bn London market, the company has ambitions to sweep into new geographies.

Guy Buckley-Sharp ClearscoreGuy Buckley-Sharp, ClearScore

Winner: Venture Funded Business of the Year

Before credit scoring service ClearScore, Guy Buckley-Sharp was previously CFO at Gazoob and before that

By the time of its Startups Awards win in November 2016, ClearScore had grown to 2.5 million users and amassed an army of fans.

Unlike other services that charge consumers a fee, ClearScore allows users to access their credit report for free to help them monitor their financial situation. The start-up monetises the service through the promotion of loans and credit cards tailored to customers’ needs.

Boasting an average of 10,000 new sign-ups every day at the time of its win, ClearScore plans to expand into international markets.

Penny Roberts OnfidoPenny Roberts, Onfido

Winner: Sage Startups Business of the Year and Young Entrepreneur

Before managing operations at Onfido, Penny Roberts worked as operations director at, and prior to this was a management consultant at Accenture.

Onfido uses machine learning to automate document and identity verification as well as the detection of fraudulent documents. At the time of its Startups Awards win last November, it had scaled to employ 145 members of staff and served over 1,000 business customers.

Its innovative solution, which can run database searches to supplement user identity verification has been adopted by major names including Deliveroo and Just Giving

Onfido is backed by more than $30m in funding.

Editorial team

Ian WallisIan Wallis,

Editorial director.




Megan DunsbyMegan Dunsby,

Features and news editor.






The Start Up Loans Company – Headline sponsor

A government-backed scheme, The Start Up Loans Company enables small businesses to borrow up to £25,000 via a low-interest loan and provides successful loan applicants with free mentoring from experienced advisors.

David English Start Up LoansDavid English, The Start Up Loans Company

Chief marketing officer.




Russell Web Start Up LoansRussell Webb, The Start Up Loans Company

Customer acquisitions manager.



haysmacintyre – Sponsor

haysmacintyre is an award winning, single office firm of chartered accountants and tax advisers based in central London, delivering high quality accountancy, tax, corporate finance and business advice to start-ups, fast growing and entrepreneurial businesses and listed companies.

David Cox haysmacintyreDavid Cox, haysmacintyre




Jon Dawson haysmacintyreJon Dawson, haysmacintyre

Assistant manager.


(will not be published)