Top 10 tech startups lighting up London
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Photo courtesy: Andrew Fysh on flickr.com

Perhaps the model city for the entire world, London sparks creativity

Everyone knows London, one of the world’s leading cities and global hub for finance, culture, and, some claim, western civilization itself. London has been on the map since before recorded history, based on structures dating back to 4,500 BC. London is eternal.

London vibrates with energy, powered by businesses in the metropolitan area that generate about 30 percent of GDP for all of the UK. Nearly nine million people in the area speak over 300 languages, emphasizing the global allure of the city.

Global centers run on technology, and for London that means the East London Tech City for one example. The startup scene was one reason that in 2014 London was proclaimed the European City of the Future.

Farfetch

Photo courtesy: Farfetch

One of the culture areas where London dominates is fashion, and is the birthplace of Farfetch, the mating of technology with luxury goods boutiques from across the globe. Over 1,000 elite labels, many exclusive, make Farfetch the first choice of fashionistas from all corners of the world.

Founded in 2008, long enough for ecommerce to become routine, Farfetch focused on the highest end of luxury fashion. July 2010 saw some love in the form of $4.5 million in Series A money. Rounds of Series B, C, D, and E placements totaled $190 million between January 2012 and May 2015, including $20 million from fashion icon Conde Nast. May 2016 was wrapped with $110 million in Series F funds, and June 2017 glittered with $397 million from JD.com. Total package? North of $701 million.

Funding Circle

Photo courtesy: FundingCircle

Money makes the world go round, as the song says, and to keep it going round Funding Circle created an online marketplace for small business looking for investment. Investors spread their funds across multiple companies to spread risk, and growing businesses have an efficient way to find new funding.

Breaking onto the scene with $1.1 million in angel funding in early 2010, Funding Circle followed that with A, B, C, and D rounds from April 2011 to July 2014 that totaled over $121 million. April 2015 arrived with $150 million in Series E money. Latest infusion was $100 million in January 2017 for a total around $413 million.

WorldRemit

Photo courtesy: WorldRemit

London beckons to immigrants, and those new Londoners need ways to send money back home. WorldRemit makes that easy with millions of transactions to over 125 countries. Clients send money as quickly as instant messages in most cases.

Another 2010 startup with over a half million in seed money, regular small placements carried them through to March 2014 with Accel Partners ponied up $40 million in Series A money. Next February Accel placed another $100 million on the counter. Debt financing of $45 million in February 2016 brings total investment to nearly $200 million.

Darktrace

Photo courtesy: Darktrace

London means business and business means cyberattacks. Darktrace uses machine learning and other Artificial Intelligence tools to provide an “Enterprise Immune System.” They claim to have identified over 30,000 previously unknown threats for their 2,400 plus network customers.

Starting in 2013, Darktrace has become one of the world’s fastest-growing cyber defense companies. Fueled by Series A $18 million in March 2015, followed by another $22.5 million in July of that year, early progress gained them many admirers. Famous KKR & Co lead an investor group that placed $64 million in Series C money with them in July 2016. All told, nearly $105 million has been put to cyber defense.

BenovelentAI

Photo courtesy: BenevolentAI

Starting as Stratified Medical in 2013, BenevolentAI was the idea of the management team of Proximagen. Goal? To mashup bioscience and medical research with Artificial Intelligence. They now claim to be one of the top five private AI companies in the world, and their focus remains on medical research.

Just over two years after their start, in August 2015, four investor groups, including Woodford Investment Management and Upsher Smith Laboratories, combined to place $100 million in an unnamed funding round.

Blippar

Photo courtesy: Blippar

Reality may be fine for people in the past, but citizens of tomorrow want augmented reality that uses Artificial Intelligence to explain and expand their world. Of course, marketing people will leverage Blippar first, since advertising pays for many tech advances. But your smartphone can now “blipp” objects and enhance their understanding.

Blinking to life in the summer of 2011, Blippar gained seed funding of an undisclosed amount in January 2012. Qualcomm Ventures appeared with $45 million in March 2015, followed by a Series D round of $54 million in March 2016. Blippar has augmented their reality to the tune of $99 million so far.

BabylonHealth

Photo courtesy: BabylonHealth

Huge cities mean medical research facilities. Tie those in with high tech and you get companies like Babylon Health working to disrupt medicine. Babylon does it with Artificial Intelligent chatbots to start the query process, followed by mobile phone video chats with specially trained doctors any time night or day. Prescriptions follow, sometimes directly to your door.

Started in 2013 after the smartphone enabled easy videoconferencing, Babylon Health received $25 million in Series A money in January 2016. That was followed by another $60 million Series B financing in April 2017. Adds up to a nice total of $85 million.

Qubit

Photo courtesy: Qubit

Ecommerce companies collect plenty of information about you, but deciphering your whims takes help. Enter Qubit, a company leveraging big data and Artificial Intelligence to help websites “retain your best customers through highly persuasive personalization.” The better they know what you want, the better chance they have of making you happy.

Angel money of $1.35 million started the company in October of 2010. In December 2012, their development efforts drew the attention of Balderton Capital who dropped $7.5 million in Series A money in their coffers. Accel Partners led a $26 million Series B round in September 2014. Goldman Sachs wrapped their arms around another $40 million in Series C money in February 2016. So far, nearly $75 million says Qubit has a good idea.

RateSetter

Photo courtesy: RateSetter

People and businesses that need money can avoid banks by going to people they know for help, if they know people with money. RateSetter uses technology to help people avoid banks by matching borrowers with independent investors. No bank means less hassle and lower rates, always good for both sides of the money equation.

Beginning their development work in the fall of 2010, RateSetter grew to the attention of a venture manager in July 2014 who placed 10 million pounds in their pockets. That was followed by Woodford Investment Management placing 20 million punds in March of 2015 and another 13 million pounds in May 2017. Peer to peer total so far is about $64 million dollars.

Starship Technologies

Photo courtesy: Starship Technologies

Too cool not to include, Starship Technologies says, “We believe our robots will revolutionize local delivery.” Yes, they are building a fleet of self-driving delivery robots. Autonomous for 99 percent of their journey, the robots work from local hubs to deliver goods within 30 minutes.

Founded in 2014 by co-founders of Skype, nine major investors have delivered $17.2 million in a seed round in January 2017, following an undisclosed placement in October 2016. So far, investments in way-cool robots are up over $17 million and counting.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin


James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don't read his books and articles.

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