10 super promising UK-based startups to watch in 2021

When the UK’s departure from the EU was announced, we asked EU-Startups readers if they would still like to hear about the British startup ecosystem. The answer was a resounding yes. It seems that despite its ‘official’ parting, the UK is still very much linked to the continent across the British channel, on multiple levels, and will probably continue to be so even after all the official ties are cut. Whether startups have offices in the UK, consider the UK market a large target audience, or work with partners across the channel, the UK is still very much on many people’s radars.

In fact, London featured in our TOP30 list of Europe’s biggest startup hubs in 2020. It achieved the No.1 spot, due to its innovative ecosystem, number of new/active startups and the number and size of funding rounds.

With this in mind, we set to work with a deep analysis of the UK startup scene, only considering young teams founded after 2018 for this particular list. There are many promising startups, scaleups and established companies nestled in the UK, however we whittled down this list by focusing on startups founded between 2018-2020, with exceedingly fast-growing teams (growth in 2020), funding raised in 2020, and innovative products or services.

Hopin – Founded in 2019, this rocket of a startup got a huge boost from the ‘stay at home’ pandemic restrictions. Now with around 390 employees, Hopin offers an online event space which offers full conference capabilities: stages, networking, breakout sessions (roundtables), sponsors, tickets, analytics, and sponsors. It’s aim is to be a place where attendees can learn, interact, and connect with people from anywhere in the world, in a more human way. In June 2020, they landed €35.6 million, having raised a further €6 million earlier in the year.

Cazoo – Founded in 2018, now ‘unicorn’ Cazoo has been on a roll, landing huge funding rounds, acquiring other companies like Drover and Cluno, and building a team of 520+. Cazoo makes getting your next car as simple and seamless as buying any other product online, offering thousands of cars available at any time for either delivery or collection in as little as 72 hours. Every Cazoo car comes with a full 7-day money back guarantee and a comprehensive 90-day warranty.

Pure Electric – Founded in 2018, Pure Electric is based in Somerset. This mobility startup is an electric bike and scooter business, offering government, councils and employers ways to move people around cities faster, cheaper and more safely whilst being environmentally friendly. Having already grown a team of 130+, and with growing public interest in sustainable transport and individual distanced methods of getting around, this company shows promising signs indeed.

Beacon – Founded in 2018, Beacon offers global trade and freight forwarding solutions, including global ocean, truck and air freight, as well as warehousing, customs, financing and insurance. The team has grown to around 120+ pepople, and in June 2020, the company landed a Series A funding round of approximately €12.6 million, with participation by Amazon’s chief executive Jeff Bezos.

Huboo – Founded in 2019, Huboo offers award-winning multi-channel e-commerce fulfilment. What does that mean exactly? They take your stock, and store it, pick, pack and deliver it for you automatically. Their aim is to help teams get back the time they spend on fulfilment to spend on building their bottom line instead. With a team of around 115 employees, the startup has raised around €19.3 million in total, with the last round being a Series A in 2020.

Salt Pay – Founded in 2019, Salt Pay is building a payments company that’s it describes as different. With Salt Pay, SMEs get an ecosystem of speedy services to automate their operations and grow profits. Think onboarding in minutes (not days), and a personalised service. Having grown to a team of around 200 employees, the startup has raised around €136 million in total, with the last round being in November 2020. 

Wagestream – Founded in 2018, Wagestream works with employers to give employees power over their pay. One of the services they offer is Earned Wage Access, or EWA, which allows employees to access their wages as they’re earned. So far the team has grown to around 110 people, and landed a fair amount of funding to take their solution to more workplaces. For instance, the startup raised €20 million in 2020, and clients already include the UK health service called the ‘NHS’, Bupa, Green King, Holland & Barrett and many more.

Moonbug Entertainment – Founded in 2018, Moonbug is a digital-first kids entertainment company. The team creates and distributes fun and safe content for children which encourages healthy values such as compassion, empathy and resilience, while teaching fundamental life skills. Having grown to around 195 employees, the company has raised a whopping €100 million already.

Pangaia – Founded in 2018, this London-based company is a ‘materials science brand’ on a mission to save our environment. From grape leather repurposed from the Italian wine industry’s waste, to recycled cashmere and wool, the startup’s team is certainly tapping into sustainability and the circular economy. Pangaia (‘pan’ meaning inclusive, and ‘gaia’ meaning mother earth), has already grown a team of 120+ people.

Dija – Founded in 2020 in response to the pandemic, Dija is a super-fast grocery delivery service. Founded by former Deliveroo executives, Dija combines guaranteed stock availability, an innovative UI and ultra-fast delivery. The team has grown to 60 in less than a year, and is backed by top tier VCs, having raised one of Europe’s largest seed rounds in history at around €17 million.

By the way: If you’re a corporate or investor looking for exciting startups in a specific market for a potential investment or acquisition, check out our Startup Sourcing Service!