Beyond the perennial glow of Silicon Valley start-ups, London has been Europe’s king-maker, with businesses like Deliveroo, King and Swiftkey making waves across the world. Here are the next top start-ups headed by ten entrepreneurs under 30 to watch out for this year, from some of the capital’s top universities and accelerator programmes including Techstars, Entrepreneur First, and King’s College London.
Nafisa Bakkar, Amaliah
Nafisa Bakkar started the clothing website Amaliah with her sister to address the difficulty Muslim women face when looking for clothes that are modest yet fashionable. Since its launch ten months ago the site has evolved to also become a panel for the voices of Muslim women in the UK. Bakkar, who studied at UCL and worked at UCL advances before launching Amaliah, said that one of her top tips for future entrepreneurs was to make use of her network and the people you know. She credits Tim Barnes, former head of UCL Advances, and Alex Depledge, founder of hassle, with helping her build the network that later allowed her team to launch the site.
Ilia Zintchenko, Mindi
Mindi is an AI startup whose algorithms are reducing energy usage in data centres. Zintchenko grew up in Moscow and studied for a PhD in computer science at ETH Zurich, where he met his two cofounders. The team came to London after gaining a place in on the Techstars accelerator programme.
Jonny Grubin, SoPost
Jonny Grubin grew up in Newcastle and moved down to London for university, where a conversation with seven other strangers on twitter led to them founding his first startup. The business failed, though not, Grubin says, because the idea was bad but because the team was wrong (“don’t start a business with people you met on twitter!”). SoPost, which helps brands to drive their product sampling through online resources, launched four years ago and now has 18 full time employees and offices in London, Newcastle, and New York. When asked about his decision to set up base in his hometown, Grubin said it was a search for new employees that led him there. Having been priced out of the London market by larger corporates he quickly realised that there was an untapped talent pool in Newcastle whose salaries were far more affordable for a relatively new company.
Tommy Williams, All Shades Covered
Tommy Williams is at the helm of All Shades Covered, an e-commerce site providing affordable hair care products and extensions to women of colour. They achieve this by cutting out the middle man involved in most salon’s supply chains and dealing with extension factories directly. Williams grew up in East London and graduated from Oxford University in 2012. He worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs and Jumia in Nigeria before his sister’s comments on how much she had to spend on haircare led to him launching All Shades Covered in April 2016.
Tobias Rijken, Kheiron Medical
Kheiron is a medical imagery company that uses machine learning to develop tools for radiologists that improve the efficiency and accuracy of radiology reporting. Tobias grew up in Amsterdam and studied for a Masters at UCL before joining Entrepreneur First in March 2016, the same cohort as Phoebe Hugh, where he met his co-founder.
Dominik Tomicevic, Memgraph
Memgraph is developing the world’s first in-memory real-time transactional and analytical graph database. Tomicevic and his co-founder Marko Budiselić moved their company from Croatia to London to take advantage of the large Ecosystem and support network of UK and international connections available to those working from the capital.
Nisha Kotecha, Good News Shared
Nisha Kotecha first started her website, Good News Shared, after working for a charity where she gave free holidays to isolated elderly people to help them connect with others in the community. She found that one of the hardest parts of this was getting in touch with the older people to let them know about the charity’s work and she realised this was the case for many smaller charities. Kotecha set up Good News Shared in 2014 to share stories about the great work charities are doing across the UK and get them the recognition they deserve. The site now has over 50 regular contributors and has featured the work of over 500 charities.
Jamie Potter, Flexciton
Flexciton is an artificial intelligence company that improves the efficiency of rotation equipment by using machine learning to check the data generated by large machines and figure out a more energy efficient way to use this data. Huge equipment like this can consume over 25 per cent of the world’s energy and Flexciton’s applications can save companies up to £30 million in this area. Potter studied for a masters in maths at Oxford University and began work on a number of initiatives before meeting his co-founder, Dr Dionysios Xenos, when they were both selected to joining Entrepreneur First.
Clarence Ji, ViewLDN
ViewLDN is an augmented reality app for tourists to help them find nearby shops, restaurants, and sites of historical interest. Ji grew up in Beijing and is now in his final year studying for a masters in computer science at King’s College London while working on his app. He plans to launch ViewLDN in June. When asked how he balanced studying for a Masters with running his company Ji simply said that good time management was key. He doesn’t have any labs, he said, just lectures, and doesn’t use the library so can easily get coursework done while working on his startup.
Phoebe Hugh, Brolly
Brolly uses customised artificial intelligence to provide individual Insurance Advice. Users can understand all their insurances needs including whether they are over or under-insured. Hugh started working on Brolly back in 2015 before becoming one of the stars of Entrepreneur First’s 2016 cohort where, like Jamie Potter and Tobias Rijken, she met her co-founder Mykhailo Loginov.
These ten entrepreneurs under 30 were selected by an expert panel from Capital Enterprise, RBS, and Google Cloud Platform.