Head of Engineering
After attracting a record $15 billion in venture capital funding in 2020, it's safe to say that the UK’s technology industry is booming, with no intention to stop any time soon.
We’ve put together our pick of the UK’s top ten tech unicorns and fast-growth startups that are making their breakthrough. The list takes into account funding rounds, valuation and speed of growth.
After only launching in 2019, this virtual events platform has raised $1bn over 7 rounds of funding and is now valued at $7.75bn. Hopin enables users to host virtual, in-person or hybrid events from large-scale conferences to cross-continent weddings and also offers a complete suite of features, including event marketing, security and event app integrations.
Its popularity coincides with the rise of remote events and home working due to the pandemic. But as the world continues to open up, allowing for more in-person events, many are questioning if Hopin's growth will be quite as rapid. Despite this, many are betting that event tech companies will continue to thrive post-pandemic. The jury's out.
Another business to have weathered the pandemic well is online car retailer company Cazoo. Founded in 2018, the platform boomed through 2020 as its service allowed customers to buy fully cleaned and reconditioned used cars entirely online and delivered to their door. Not only did the avoidance of public transport drive more people to seek buying a car, but the opportunity to avoid social interaction in Cazoo's transactions proved a big hit.
In 2020, the company raised over $240m in a fundraiser and was valued at over $1bn. In 2021, Cazoo started trading on the New York Stock Exchange after a business combination deal with Ajax I – a publicly traded acquisition company – which saw them combine under a new holding company and receive proceeds of $1bn. Now, the company is worth $6.78bn and is still experiencing impressive growth.
Founded in 2013, Deliveroo has reached unicorn status, and we can’t imagine our lives without the restaurant food-at-your-doorstep service - especially in 2020.
Headquartered in London, the company operates across 12 countries and has over 60 thousand riders on the team. In the last 7 years, it’s partnered with over 80K restaurants.
Deliveroo was valued at $2 billion in June 2018 - and its latest funding round in January 2021, saw $180 million raised, taking their total raised to $1.7bn. In March 2021, Deliveroo was listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of £7.6 billion.
Founded in 2015, Snyk’s software enables more than 1.5 million businesses worldwide to build security into their continuous development process.
They've come a long way since their first funding round in 2016, having gone through 10 rounds and – after securing $530m in September 2021 – have raised a total of $1.3bn. In September 2020, Snyk was valued at $2.6 billion. A year later, this has almost doubled and the company is now valued at $4.7bn.
5. OakNorth Bank
OakNorth provides business and property loans to small and medium-sized businesses. The company was established by the founders of Copal Amba after they experienced the frustrating world of small business loans first hand.
The company heavily invested in engineering and credit science over 5 years to develop the ON Credit Intelligence Suite – a system that has propelled OakNorth Bank UK into the top 1% of banks in developed markets in terms of RORE and efficiency. This has enabled it to handle a multi-billion-dollar commercial lending portfolio.
Featured in LinkedIn’s top 2020 list of startups to work for in the UK, Revolut eliminates the need for travel money with its “live” exchange rate debit cards. Revolut’s users are free (literally) to spend their transferred funds in 150 countries with absolutely no fees added.
The London-based fintech startup has grown a 15 million+ customer base since it was launched in 2015. They offer a ton of features for customers, such as current accounts, medical insurance, the ability to hold up to 27 different currencies in your account and even a cryptocurrency option.
The company continues to thrive over competitor challenger banks, with a higher revenue than Monzo and Starling combined. Their most recent funding round landed them an extra $800m, shooting their valuation up to $33 billion – a whopping six-fold increase from their $5.5 billion figure last year.
Smart chip maker company Graphcore is most widely known for the design of its original intelligence processing unit, which is optimised for machine learning and AI applications.
After first achieving unicorn status in 2018, the company has since gone through two more rounds of funding, with the latest in December 2020 raising $222m. Graphcore is now valued at $2.8 billion.
Starting out as the first peer-to-peer lending company, Zopa has extended its proposition to include banking with Zopa Bank. With this addition, Zopa now offers a full range of finance solutions, including lending, investing and managing.
As of May 2020, they have given over £5 billion in personal loans in the UK and generated £350 million of interest for over 60,000 active investors.
In total, Zopa has raised £492.3 million of funds after its latest funding round in March 2021.
Cybersecurity company Tessian is dedicated to protecting employees' emails with their Human Layer Security Intelligence. With tons of sensitive information being shared over email every day, Tessian helps to prevent security threats, reduce phishing attacks and data loss while helping employees practice safe email behaviour.
Its most successful recent round of funding raised $65 million in May 2021, with a top up in August of £6.5 million from three investors. After nine complete rounds to date, the company has raised $132.6 million.
10. Octopus energy
Octopus provides greener, fairer renewable energy, giving customers 100% green electricity and the chance to carbon offset their gas usage.
By offering transparent daily rates, flexible tariffs and investment in future technologies like an EV-only product, they gain an average of 50,000 customers a month and supply green energy to over 2 million homes in the UK. They're also the UK's largest investor in solar power.
In 2020, Octopus gained double unicorn status after being valued at $2 billion. As a company still referred to as a challenger supplier, it's expected Octopus will keep nipping at the heels of the Big Six energy suppliers to make even more of a name for itself.
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Are you next?
Between January and June 2021, more than 340,000 new businesses were registered in the UK. That’s 960 new businesses per day. Statistically, there's got to be some unicorns in there. If you've started a business recently, this could be you.
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