Tracking a selection of new and interesting start-ups as they find their way, drive their ideas forwards, creating disruption and innovation, through challenges and pivots, seeking to make their dreams come true … We selected a small number of start-ups to watch over time … What can we learn from them? How can we help them? Will they be the next Gamechangers?
FiveAI … the service-based business model for driverless cars.
Driverless vehicles will transform personal mobility. Instead of owning a car, a significantly cheaper lease system will become the norm. Stan Boland, co-founder of UK-based FiveAI says he is building the world’s most reliable autonomous vehicle software stack to solve the most difficult problem of all – delivering a solution that’s safe in complex urban environments, without any driver involvement. That’s defined as the top level in autonomy – 5. He says his solution will enable safe, cost effective urban mobility for all. Watch their ideas grow at FiveAI.
Chef Seasons … gourmet taste naturally
Chef Seasons creates gourmet seasonings, sauces and spices that enhance meals with flavor without smothering them in additives. Its wide variety of 2,000+ all-natural products—from salts to herbs to marinades—add instant flavor and nutrition through the infusion of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The company is an exclusive global supplier to some to some of the world’s most recognizable fast food chains, such as Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Burger King, Subway, Starbucks. To date, Chef Seasons’ award-winning products—also sold under its own retail brand—have also found their way into over 50 million households across 18 countries, proving their salt in the $13 billion global spice and seasonings market.
Closca … designer Spanish cycling helmets
Today, more than 200 million people worldwide cycle as their preferred mode of transportation in cities, yet only 24% of urban cyclists use a helmet (European Commission, Mobility & Transport). Aiming to change this, Closca has developed a one-of-a-kind foldable helmet that people want to wear and carry. Capable of shrinking by 52% in size, Closca’s 100% safety certified and patented “Fuga” helmet has gained brand recognition and worldwide adoption thanks to partnerships with high-end designers and boutiques like the MoMa Design Store, Adidas, Paul Smith, TED and more.
Lendinvest … online property marketplace
Claiming to be the UK’s “first and largest” online marketplace for property, LendInvest matches investors looking for prime retail opportunities with property entrepreneurs looking for short-term mortgage finance. Founded by qualified solicitor Christian Faes and chartered surveyor Ian Thomas after they’d become frustrated with the slow process of mortgage applications, the duo decided to adopt the principles of consumer and small business P2P lending. Last summer, the company secured a #22m from Chinese tech firm Beijing Kunlun. With £15m turnover and plans to increase headcount from 90 to 150, the start-up has ambitious goals. Watch their ideas grow at Lendinvest
Platinum Heritage … premium, authentic luxury in the desert
Ironically enough, with 100+ tourism companies in Dubai, most all offer the same inauthentic, low quality experience filled with dune bashing (desert off-roading), subpar facilities, western food, and pan-Arab belly dancers. Platinum Heritage has brought tourism home, showcasing the true roots of Emirati and Bedouin cultures. By offering a truly authentic and premium experience in eight different languages, Platinum Heritage has differentiated itself from competitors, becoming TripAdvisor’s No.1 desert safari and securing its place in the $16.7B tourism industry in Dubai. In five years, the company has hosted hundreds of thousands guests and won four different awards.
iOutlet … second hand smartphones and tablets
Launched in 2013, young founders Liam James and Matthew Green have turned a relatively simple concept into a multi-million pound company. Capitalising on the second hand phone market and the rise in SIM-only contracts, the duo buy in iPhones, smartphones and tablets in bulk, refurbish them where needed, and then sell them on for a discounted price using eBay as their main sales channel. This model effectively gives consumers the same quality but at a much lower cost. With sales of around 100,000 items per year and customers in over 40 countries, and revenues close to £20m, a new warehouse is in the pipeline over the coming months along with at least one more retail outlet, and there are also plans to enter into the iMac and MacBook market. Watch their ideas grow at iOutlet
Modacruz … pre-loved online Turkish bazaar
Modacruz’s user-friendly marketplace for pre-loved fashion items, accessible on web and mobile, provides a seamless experience for Turkish sellers and buyers. Users can sell clothes they no longer wear and buy brand name clothing at an affordable price. Modacruz offers additional features including a blog, advanced search and recommendation which lets buyers filter by brand and size, and a social component through follow and commenting mechanisms. The company also has an equivalent offering for baby products through its second hand marketplace, Bebecruz, where users can buy and sell used items such as clothing, toys, and strollers.
Kubo Robot … educational robot for primary schools
Kubo is an interactive modular robot designed for use in schools. With Kubo children have the opportunity to develop their logical skills in subjects such as Danish and music. Kubo is designed to teach children programming through physical interaction in the form of interactive cards – a combination of interactive robotic learning and play. Kubo Robot is founded by two Odense-based entrepreneurial engineers Tommy Otzen and Daniel Lindegaard. hands-on learning. Watch their ideas grow at Kubo Robot
Glamping Hub … the glamour of camping
For some people, nothing beats getting dirty and exploring the “great outdoors”. Others prefer more glamorous accommodations: room service, hot showers etc. Spanish firm Glamping Hub is a booking portal that combines the best of both worlds, where travelers can book over 14,000 unique outdoor accommodations from tree houses overlooking the Sacred Valley in Peru to luxurious campervans off the coast of Portugal. Glamping Hub has tapped into a $50bn highly fragmented sector, hand-selecting an exclusive directory of luxurious outdoor accommodations in over 80 countries based on comfort, proximity to nature, and affordability.
YouVisit … immersive video
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would YouVisit? Organizations in every industry leverage traditional videos and 360° videos to drive customer engagement. However, traditional videos have now become commonplace, 360° videos are costly and time-intensive to produce, and both fail to convert audiences due to the spectators’ passive involvement. YouVisit is SaaS company that combines its award-winning production studio with its proprietary platform, Aria, to help organizations better engage and convert audiences through interactive 360° experiences across mobile, desktop, and virtual reality devices. The$3bn VR/AR market that is projected to explode to $108bn in 2021.
Nic Nac Noo … traditional wooden toys
Edinburgh-based NicNacNoo was founded by serial entrepreneur Ed McCabe and his wife Julia, who was inspired by the lack of wooden toys she could find in the UK compared to her native Germany. They sold all types of wooden toys, educational toys, jigsaws, baby toys and much more, through its own site, but also on Amazon marketplace. However they are now having a rethink – a pivot is needed. They are exploring how to relaunch as an online platform – the Etsy of children clothes, perhaps – or a digital version of the hugely successful Mum2Mum nearly new toys and clothing marketplace Watch their ideas grow at NicNacNoo
Elderbrook Drinks … as good as water, but better
The basics are easy – pour enough cordial to just cover the bottom of your glass, add still or sparkling water, drink. The ‘not squash’ cordials are a blend of super-good-for-you natural ingredients (Lime, Mint & Baobab or Yuzu, Lemon & Lucuma anyone?) and use coconut nectar to sweeten. What’s really exciting is the beautiful bottles are delivered to your door monthly so sit back and let the magical power of superfoods come to you. David Folkman used to work for big companies like Nestle and Mars, but then he discovered the beauty of being small at Innocent Drinks, and after a quick strategy stint at Peppersmiths he created Elderbrook – a better-for-you cordial. Watch their ideas grow at Elderbrook Drinks
Eve Sleep … the world’s most comfortable mattress
The brainchild of dynamic foursome Jas Bagniewski, James Fryer, Kuba Wieczorek, and Felix Lobkovich, eve was born as a way to disrupt the “archaic traditional mattress industry”. Selling their “super comfy mattresses” direct to consumers within “three sleeps” (days). Having created what they call the world’s most comfortable mattress at a “price that’s fair”, they have attracted over 10,000 customers to date (including the X Factor finalists), secured £3.5m in external investment, and built a team of 35. In fact, they’re so confident in its premium quality product – made with memory foam layers and latex – that it even offers customers a 100-night sleep trial, with the option to return if they aren’t completely satisfied. Watch their ideas grow at Eve Sleep
Afineur … raising the bar in cultured coffee
Camille Delebecque developed a platform that naturally enhances the chemistry of food using tailored fermentation. It opens a new realm of possibilities to naturally craft healthier, tastier and more sustainable food. Afineur’s first product, Cultured Coffee, is a healthier coffee with fruity, floral and chocolate notes and extremely low bitterness that is easier on the stomach. Watch their ideas grow at Afineur
Paranoid Fan … extending the live event experience
This is a mobile app that uses social mapping to mobilize fans at live events across the globe. Fans can optimize their live experiences with venue maps, watch parties and discover where other like-minded fans congregate. With over 250K users, Paranoid Fan is the premier fan utility for any event, connecting people, venues, and sponsors like never before. Watch them grow at Paranoid Fan
Twiga Foods … connecting consumers and farmers in Kenya
Twiga Foods is revolutionizing Africa retail. A mobile-based supply platform for Africa’s retail outlets, kiosks, and market stalls, Twiga Foods allows grocers to access better quality products, at lower prices, delivered directly to their shop. Twiga’s solution completely replaces informal markets by giving vendors, simple mobile-based ordering platforms to purchase their stock and providing farmers with predictable pricing for their crops.
Trip Temptation … better travel experiences
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences” said Eleanor Roosevelt. Latvian duo Alina Lisina and Ingus Kruklitis wanted to turn their love of travel into a business concept. Unlike most travel websites focus on the destination, where to stay and how to get there, they wanted to focus on the experience when there. Their target audience is the aspirational, freedom-loving 20-30 year old. They realised they needed to communicate through high quality image and video, forming partnerships with brands like Leica, whilst also showcasing fashion and destination experiences. Having built a catalog of tempting trips, they are now working out how to monetise their concept. Watch their ideas grow at TripTemptation
Sensohive … IOT sensors for production monitoring
Sensohive was founded in 2014 by four students from University of Southern Denmark, who had a shared interest in wireless sensor networks and data analysis. They have since extended the solution, and are now in market with a ground-breaking solution with an innovative IoT approach for business intelligence solutions with the development of our novel wireless climate sensor. They help customers to monitor their production much more closely, enabling them to optimize the production process and as a result minimizing waste produce/production. They supply operational intelligence to the production line. Watch their ideas grow at Sensohive
CarWow … a better way to buy a car
Originally founded as a research site, David Santoro and his friends saw an opportunity to modernise the awkward and antiquated process of buying a new car and making it a more convenient experience for the consumer, and take the process out of the showroom and onto the internet. Users can quickly compare cars from rated and approved dealerships by price, location and reviews – removing the need for haggling, while claiming to save an average of £3,600 per purchase. carwow charges only the dealer for the number of sales completed through the platform, with the user able to find the best deals at no extra cost. After taking total investment to £18.4m in 2016, over a million people are now signed up, plus a network of 1,300 dealerships. They have just launched in Germany, and claiming to still have no direct competitors, CarWow also plans a used car marketplace for the site. Watch their ideas grow at CarWow
Magic Leap … bringing virtual reality to life.
Wired Magazine describes it as the world’s hottest (and most secretive) startup. Magic Leap’s mind-bending “mixed reality” technology uses photonic wafer chips to manipulate light. It superimposes 3D generated images over real world objects, by projecting a digital light field into the user’s eye. Founder Rony Abovitz says “the best way to describe it, is like dreaming”, has attracted $1.4bn funding from Alibaba and Google, and is currently signed up contracts with leading movie studios and game makers.
D-Orbit … how to remove old satellites
It’s time to make space for space travel. By the end of 2016, satellite operators and space agencies had launched more than 6,000 satellites into space. With 11,000 new satellites expected to be launched in the next ten years, mounting orbital debris increases the risk of collision, which can be expensive for space business and detrimental to the success of future launches. Left to each operator and agency, removing and disposing of satellites results in an overall success rate of 50%. D-Orbit is a satellite technology company that produces launching, decommissioning, and life extension devices to help satellite operators and agencies manage their satellite end of life. It’s first group of products focus on satellite removal, cutting decommissioning times from weeks or months to a matter of hours. Patent protected in 11 countries, D-Orbit is the only global provider of decommissioning solutions that fully meets international space debris regulations.
Nauto … capturing driving data
Real-world data is essential to creating robust autonomous driving systems. Computer vision dash-cam Nauto collects anonymized safety data from its connected camera network. Its partnerships with big-name auto and insurance companies suggest a wide impact both in vehicle systems and liability reduction.
Dispatch … making delivery smart
Dispatch is creating a platform for local delivery powered by a fleet of wagon- sized autonomous robotic vehicles. Dispatch’s robots are designed for sidewalks and pedestrian spaces, taking on terrestrial drones space in last-mile delivery.
Cambridge Quantum Computing … superfast computing
Building a quantum operating system and developing quantum algorithms, with specific focus on quantum cryptography for its secure currency platform. Quantum encryption techniques will be necessary as current encryption will be rendered useless (quantum computers will be powerful enough to brute-force break classical encryption methods).
Knu-Edge … brain chips
Founder Dan Goldin surprised the world by announcing $100M in angel funding for his 10-year-old stealth chip company. Knu-Edge plans to make chips inspired by human neural networks to power artificial intelligence.
Affectiva … reading emotions
The MIT Media Lab spinout focuses on emotion recognition, using deep learning to identify emotions in facial expressions. Affectiva’s technology can enable applications to use a webcam to track a user’s smirks, smiles, frowns and furrows, which measures the user’s levels of surprise, amusement or confusion.The technology also allows a person’s heart rate to be measured from a webcam without the person wearing anything. This is done using color changes in the person’s face, which pulse each time the heart beats. Among the commercial applications, this emotion recognition technology is used to help brands improve their advertising and marketing messages. Another major application is in political polling, which has struggled to predict election results like Brexit and Trump in recent times.
Filament … blockchain payments
Filament is developing decentralized machine-to-machine (M2M) mesh networking technology. The blockchain- based system could advance M2M payments, allowing machines to pay one another for data usage via bitcoin, as well as tackling connectivity in industrial IoT.
Veniam … turning vehicles into wifi hotspots
Develops vehicular mesh networks, turning buses and moving objects into Wi-Fi hot spots. The technology allows for wireless coverage in ports, airports, construction sites, and mines, but could eventually be a cost-effective alternative to cellular networks.
Bitso … Mexico’s first digital currency
Launching Mexico’s first digital currency exchange via an online platform, Bitso’s cofounders have developed a system based on blockchain technology, which allows for fiat (national currency) to digital currency trades (and vice-versa) and worldwide money transfers. Operating in the vibrant emerging Mexican fintech market, Bitso boasts an impressive number of B2C and B2B clients, which use its technological infrastructure to send and receive payments from end-users in Mexico. Working to fix Mexico’s financial inclusion problem, Bitso looks to grow international transfers, including remittances, which represent Mexico’s most important source for capital inflows at US$28B per year.
Kernal … superhuman intelligence
Braintree founder Bryan Johnson announced a $100M investment into his startup Kernel, which will focus on hardware and software to augment human intelligence. Kernel is first planning a device for alleviating Alzheimer’s and dementia. But future iterations will focus on a neuroprosthesis for using AI to augment human brainpower.
Enlitic … machine-learning doctors
Enlitic uses machine learning to provide the tools that allow physicians to fully utilize the vast stores of siloed medical data collected today, regardless of what form they are in — such as medical images, doctors’ notes, and structured lab tests.
Kindred … robotic exoskeletons
Founded by former co-founders and researchers of the quantum startup D- Wave, Kindred Systems is an AI-driven company working in human exoskeleton robotics. Kindred’s exo-suits supposedly allow one human worker to do the work of four.
Seedtag … rethinking images in advertising
90% of information transferred to the brain is visual, so it isn’t surprising that online articles with images receive 94% more views than those without images. While pictures and videos are key elements of storytelling, they have remained under-utilized by advertisers. Seedtag has changed that – it places non-invasive ads into digital images so that publishers can monetize and advertisers can leverage a new format of premium ad space. Seedtag’s high-performance technology positions it as a premium player in advertising technology. The page analysis algorithm matches relevant images with the native ads that will complement them. This contextualization increases the probability that an ad will reach its target audience leading to an increase in CTR and conversions for advertisers.
Party with a local … connect with local people everywhere
A quirky one to finish. This is a platform that connects people for nightlife all over the world. With over 140,000 members in more than 150 countries, Party with a Local makes it possible for you to connect with new people wherever you are. Whether you are new to a city, traveling solo, or just can’t find someone to go out with – set a party status, explore nearby events, meetup and party! Party with a Local
Peter Thiel of Founders Fund famously commented about a perceived lack of real innovation in VC investing and startups with the following quip: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” I’d certainly disagree with Thiel’s assertion. Innovation of a very real kind is alive and well among startups and their investors.
Take a look at some of the following graphics from CB Insights and others which demonstrates the incredible breadth and depth of “game changing” start-ups right now:
There are 185 private unicorn companies valued at $1B+ as of 01/31/17, all tracked on CB Insights global real-time unicorn tracker. Venture capital investors have seen in recent years that billion-dollar companies are being created at a rapid pace, with 2014 through 2015 seeing a notable uptick in unicorn births. In 2016 the density of unicorns increased even more rapidly:
Just consider some of these examples of markets being disrupted, unbundled, or even new markets being created by start-ups right now:
And also how traditional industries, and the companies who used to dominate them, are being challenged and disrupted, and unbundled by specialist, better, or different start-up solutions: