A record 660,000 new businesses were created in 2018, showing that the UK’s start-up revolution is showing no signs of slowing down. But with so many new businesses launching every day, it really takes something special to stand out from the crowd.
These are 20 of the most exciting entrepreneurs to watch this year, and they’re definitely standing out from the crowd.
Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka – Bulb Energy
Bulb Energy is probably the best-known company on this list. Created by co-founders Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka in 2015, Bulb is shaking up the energy industry in a big way. It is providing 100% renewable electricity to over one million customers through solar, wind and hydropower. Bucking the industry trend of increasing prices, Bulb stands out from the crowd cutting its prices nine times in just a few years.
Ed Barton and Ben Kidd – Curiscope
Ed Barton and Ben Kidd are the founders of Curiscope, an award-winning business that utilises augmented reality to help children develop a love of science. Combining its ‘Virtuali-Tee’ and app, it allows children to learn about the human body on a human body. Since launch, it has been described as “one of the most innovative and engaging ways…to learn about biology”.
Helena Ford and Kirsty Williams – DashHound
Capitalising on the rise of influencers, Helena Ford and Kirsty Williams are the founders of DashHound. Recently launched, DashHound is a platform which utilises artificial intelligence to automatically detect the products showcased by beauty YouTube and Instagram stars and allows users to purchase them.
Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood – Didsbury Gin
Rising to fame after securing investment on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, Liam Manton and Mark Smallwood are the founders of Didsbury Gin. Inspired to start their own business after redundancy, these two gin-loving friends created a range of products to “reflect the unique vibrancy” of Didsbury. Seeking funding to expand the business, Liam and Mark secured a £75,000 investment from Jenny Campbell.
Digby Vollrath and Hugo Campbell – Feast It
Childhood friends Digby Vollrath and Hugo Campbell are the founders of Feast It. With years of working in the event catering business, the duo were frustrated by how much time they spent searching for the right catering companies, contacting and booking them. They launched Feast It in 2017 to tackle the problem, providing a single platform to find and book catering companies. They are now working with 650 of the UK’s most exclusive food and drink companies, including Michelin-starred restaurants.
Steve Moore and Paul Barham – Flight Club
Steve Moore and Paul Barham are the founders of Flight Club, a chain of venues disrupting the bar scene in London, Manchester and Chicago. It combines unique design, bespoke cocktails and ‘Social Darts’, their own format of darts based on faster, multiplayer games that use tracking technology. Opening their first venue in 2014, Steve and Paul only expected a few customers, but they were packed out and haven’t looked back since.
Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles – Graphcore
Nigel Toon and Simon Knowles are the founders of Graphcore, a technology company that develops accelerators for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Having started one of the most exciting tech companies in the UK, Nigel and Simon aim to dominate the AI chip industry and projects revenues of $1 billion within the next five years.
Daniel Hegarty – Habito
Daniel Hegarty is the founder of Habito, an award-winning online mortgage broker service which created the world’s first AI mortgage adviser. Launched in 2015, Habito rapidly searches over 20,000 mortgages in seconds to find the best one for its customers. It has received significant backing from investors, with over £24 million of funding raised.
Lucy Greenwood and Chris Renwick – Lucy & Yak
In 2017, Lucy Greenwood and Chris Renwick used their last £400 to create Lucy & Yak, a fashion brand with products handmade ethically and responsibly by family-run tailors in North India. Focused on trousers and dungarees, they are making a name for themselves with great but affordable style and biodegradable, recycled or reusable packaging.
Nuala Murphy – Moment Health
Nuala Murphy is the founder of Moment Health, an award-winning app that utilises technology to help prevent and treat mental health problems among women. Launched in 2017, Moment Health became the most downloaded app in its category in its first week. Not just a tool to be used by individuals, Moment Health can be used by employers to monitor staff mental wellbeing and clinicians to harness its data to better inform mental healthcare.
Claire Henderson and Michael Branney – Oh Polly
Despite huge competition both in the UK and globally, in Oh Polly, Claire Henderson and Michael Branney have created one of the fastest rising stars of women’s fashion. As well as making statements with its designs, Oh Polly is making a name for itself by being ‘For Girls, By Girls’, which Claire attributes to its success.
Alessandro Savelli and Chris Rennoldson – Pasta Evangelists
With their ‘pasta through the post’ concept, Alessandro Savelli and Chris Rennoldson have revolutionised the way we think about quality food. With backing from Great British Bake-Off judge and cookery school founder Prue Leith, food critic and journalist Giles Coren, and Masterchef and food critic William Sitwell, Pasta Evangelists is delivering around 3,500 portions of restaurant quality pasta every week.
Freddie Blackett – Patch
Freddie Blackett is the founder of Patch, an online garden centre that allows customers to choose the perfect plants to create their perfect urban jungle, providing expert advice on how to care for them. Launched in 2015, Patch began delivering only to central London for those city-centre dwellers who struggled to find a garden centre. But with demand growing and growing, it is quickly becoming a household name with the likes of Nike, Google and Levi’s using Patch for their office.
Michelle Kennedy and Greg Orlowski – Peanut
Launched in 2017, Michelle Kennedy is the founder of Peanut alongside Deliveroo co-founder Greg Orlowski. Dubbed ‘Tinder for mothers’, Peanut is an app that allows its users to connect with like-minded mothers and make it easier to meet, helping to tackle problems of loneliness for new mothers. The app was an instant hit, with over 325,000 mums using the app within a year of launch.
Ben Corrigan and Jonny Plein – Pouch
If voucher and discount websites disrupted the retail industry, Ben Corrigan and Jonny Plein are disrupting the voucher and discount industry with big effect. Pouch is a web plugin tool that automatically finds applicable discount codes for shoppers, allowing them to apply a discount with a single click, rather than having to search for one.
Jack Jenkins and Dan Jefferys – Resooma (University Cribs)
Formerly known as University Cribs, Resooma is a property search service for students that manages the entire rental process from viewing to handing the keys back. Further disrupting the students rentals market, in February 2019, founders Jack Jenkins, Dan Jefferys and Christian Samuel launched a new service that allows tenants to split utility bills.
Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts – The Vurger Co
Having started as a small market stall in North London in 2016, Rachel Hugh and Neil Potts soon started taking The Vurger Co to festivals and even launched a Christmas pop-up with Lululemon. The Vurger Co is a vegan burger company dedicated to providing great tasting, ‘soul-satisfying’ burgers that taste so good non-vegans want them. Growing an almost cult-like following on social media, the pair smashed their crowdfunding target to open their first permanent restaurant in Shoreditch last year.
Hamish Grierson, Elliot Brooks and Tom Livesey – Thriva
Started in 2016, Thriva is the world’s first preventative health service. Launched by Hamish Grierson, Elliot Brooks and Tom Livesey, it enables customers to proactively manage and monitor their health, with convenient insights giving them the knowledge and understanding required to make changes in their lifestyle.
Louisa Rogers – Trendlistr
Louisa Rogers is the founder of Trendlistr, an online collection of vintage fashion and accessories curated from across Europe piece-by-piece. Started in 2016, Louisa has positioned herself and her business at the forefront of trends shifting towards vintage fashion, combining iconic moments from the 20th century with modern style. Within a year, Trendlistr was delivering products to 48 countries around the world and its online following led to a studio in Newcastle and places at Clerkenwell Vintage Fair in London.
Mandeep Singh and Alex Loizou – Trouva
Mandeep Singh and Alex Loizou are the founders of Trouva, an online marketplace for physical independent homeware and clothing boutiques. Started in 2015, it has received backing from a host of retail and e-commerce entrepreneurs and former executives. Notably, Trouva has been described as the online equivalent of “those cool curated shops you find off the beaten track” by GQ.