England and the UK may be dominated by London, but Birmingham leads the rest as the second largest city with a slew of startups
Nearly dead center on the map of England, Birmingham, the home of 1.1+ million people created more new businesses in most years than any city except London. And speaking of the home of Big Ben, Birmingham is near enough to gain the benefits of the big city without the overhead driving costs up and out of reach.
The second most populous British city, Birmingham started somewhere in the area of 10,000 years ago based on stone age artifacts. The first settlement, in the 6th century, things started cooking in 1166 when it became a market town.
Growing to prominence as an engineering and manufacturing center, thanks to the early Industrial Revolution. Jaguar and Land Rover still have plants there. Five universities also call the mid-country city home, and a combination of a marketplace, engineering, and research and education means startups.
Attraction World Ltd
People love to travel, and Attraction World Ltd and their ticket brokers make events and places easier to see. Acknowledged as the UK’s leading theme park and attraction ticket specialist, with a reach around the world, they do it all with a managed cloud.
Ticket brokers aren’t new, and Attraction World opened up in 2006. But getting in early to the cloud business on a global level, they sold Maven Capital Partners in December of 2010 (plenty of track record) on buying a ticket worth nearly $11 million dollars.
Toys are as old as parents trying to distract children, but Wow! Stuff adds some modern pizzazz. First, they work with major retail partners to sell more toys per square foot than any competitor. Second, they actively encourage inventors to contact them with ideas they then design and produce through their global supply chain.
Beginning in 2006, Wow! Stuff hustled and built their wholesale-only business. In March of 2012, Business Growth Fund gifted them with nearly $7.5 million.
“Entertain me!” demand people constantly. One company doing that with amazing visual effects, both in movies and attractions, is Simworx. They are one of the world’s leaders in 3D and 4D effects with installation in five continents.
3D films were ramping up in 2005 when Simworx jumped into the market. Developing new visual effects takes time, but their work was rewarded in April of 2012 with an undisclosed amount of venture funding from Midven Business Growth Fund pitched in 4.5 million pounds in August 2015, adding up to an attractive nearly $7 million total.
Smart Antenna Technologies
We all love wireless yet we forget some kind of specialized hardware must be used to make sure our smartphones get the latest tweet or Like or email. One leading company that makes this happen is Smart Antenna Technologies, holder of 60+ patents (granted and pending) that can support multiple frequencies and technologies in a single device. Yes, cellular, WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS in one antenna system.
Spun out of the University of Birmingham in 2013, SAT received an undisclosed amount of “non-equity assistance” in November of 2014. October 2015 brought $2.3 million in seed money, followed by 1 million pounds in January 2017, for a total just over $3.5 million dollars.
What do marketing firms and their clients want? Increased revenue, of course, but one way to get that is through customer research and analysis. VoxPopMe leverages smartphone video selfies from customers to speed research and increase engagement from customers who feel embraced and valued.
Started by tech marketer Dave Carruthers at the start of 2013, VoxPopMe racked up relatively small amounts of seed and angel funding throughout 2013 and 2014. In October their innovative work paid off with 1.4 million pounds of seed money from two investors, bringing their total placement amount to near $3 million dollars.
Social networking has for too long focused only on personal activities. Wambiz Ltd has taken the back and forth of sharing and put it to work, with contained social networks for enterprises, their partners, and even their customers. Mobile is a big value-add.
2013 wasn’t too late to start a social network, especially with a twist. Seed money in early 2013 and 2014 led up to angel rounds near $1 million in August 2014 and June 2015. Total to date: $2.6 million from unlisted angels.
“Powering a quiet revolution at the corner of your street,” is one tagline for Droplet, a new twist on the mobile payment market spreading across Birmingham. A combination of loyalty for brick and mortar merchants and payments, Droplet bypasses traditional banks (no transaction fees!) in a person to person to business model.
Starting late in 2011, Droplet has taken a “grow with success” model. 20k pounds in early 2012 followed by successively larger seed and angel placements through May 2015. Total so far? Nearly $2.4 million.
People trust their desktops and laptops to protect their data too much, and pay dearly when wrong. Phone users are even worse and most have never backed up once. When you lose phone data, you’ll need Enigma Digital, one of the few companies specializing in mobile device data recovery.
Founded in June 2012, Enigma (also known as Infinity Wireless) received their first seed funding of $350k in March 2014. Three more venture rounds, including participation from Mangrove Capital Partners, brings their total close to $1.5 million.
New Media Education
We need more doctors, and technology should be able to train them faster. Thanks to New Media Education, that’s now true. They offer thousands of learning resources for medical students and new doctors. Even better? Free to the medical folks who need the training.
Online education has been a big deal for a while, and NME started in 2008. Developing their material and distribution, NME was rewarded by Technology Strategy Board in March 2014 with $1 million in seed funding.
Foodies devour edible items and ideas at a startling rate. Whisk mixes in the ability to turn a recipe into a shopping list. Sprinkle on a little Artificial Intelligence, and you get a universal recipe box, smart shopping list, and personalized food recommendations.
Whipped up in June 2012 by Nick Holzherr, 170k pounds from an undisclosed investor sweetened the pot. Another 360k pounds folded into the mix in January 2013. Total so far is nearly $850k, rising well for a food focus startup.