Meet our Class of 2011

For nine years Young Guns has uncovered 30 high potential companies. Meet our Class of 2011

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We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by:
  • Gareth Platt and Kate Walters
For nine years Young Guns has uncovered 30 high potential companies and the bright young entrepreneurial founders seemingly destined for success. All aged 35 or under and incredibly ambitious, meet the Class of 2011.

We hear constantly that Britain lags behind the likes of Sweden and America in the digital and new media industries. That we can't produce start-ups to match the likes of Google, Facebook, and Spotify, and that we can't provide the culture and resources digital entrepreneurs require.

Try telling that to Emi Gal, founder of Brainient, a London-based video advertising start-up which is growing at a rate of 120%, and doing business with the likes of Fox and Microsoft. Or James Connolly, whose 14-month old mobile advertising agency, Fetch Media, is currently running campaigns in 70 countries. Or Ian Hogarth, a Cambridge graduate who founded his own music social network, Songkick, in 2007, and is now attracting five million visitors a month.

Gal, Hogarth and Connolly were all honoured in our 2011 Young Guns awards – with their success helping to torpedo the myth that Britain is incapable of producing top-class tech and digital start-ups. In addition to this dynamic trio, our awards recognised companies such as Basekit, a do-it-yourself web development tool; Conversocial, a platform for managing and maximising social media conversations; and FusePump, which creates product data feeds for online retailers. In all, around two-thirds of the companies identified this year represent the onward march of the digital entrepreneur.

Given the abundance of web and mobile talent present at this year's awards, it was fitting that the highest overall accolade should go to Mark Pearson, one of Britain's most impressive online entrepreneurs. Pearson received the haysmacintyre Top Gun award for his work in building MyVoucherCodes.co.uk into Britain's biggest discount deals website, with 10 million users every day. As one of the first to spot the potential of the now-booming online deals space Pearson is a shining example of mould-breaking, market-leading British entrepreneurship.

Similarly the inaugural Farrer & Co Golden Gun award, which recognises excellence among our Young Guns alumni, went to Barry Houlihan founder of Mobile Interactive Group – another stunningly successful home-grown technology firm. Houlihan, who was named among our Young Guns in 2006, has since seen his interactive TV voting platform, which powers SMS voting for TV shows such as The X Factor receive top spot in the 2008 Sunday Times Tech Track 100, after revenue leapt from £250,000 in 2005 to £35.8m in 2008. Launched in 2004, the company has expanded into mobile payments, commerce, marketing and apps, while turnover topped £77m in 2010 and is on course for £100m this year.

However this year's Young Guns ceremony wasn't all about new, emerging industries. The 30 businesses recognised at the awards included a number of more traditional enterprises, including budget accommodation specialist Umi Hotels, business coaching firm Striding Out and Target Parking, which has transformed the way car parks are managed across Britain.

With such a broad range of companies recognised, this year's awards demonstrated that hard work, creativity and an eye for an opportunity will create a successful business, no matter what industry you're in. So if you're in the mood to get inspired, read on and meet our Class of 2011…

Photography: Joel Anderson
Words: Kate Walters and Gareth Platt

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Gareth Platt and Kate Walters

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