From Victorian engineers to Internet entrepreneurs, London has been a world centre of technological innovation for centuries. And although its startups are yet to reach the fame of Silicon Valley, there are already plenty of innovative products that impact the world far beyond the East London tech district. The list below includes those software development outsourcing companies in the UK that already made an impact if not globally, then at least in Europe. Interestingly, their innovation is not so much in technology, as in concepts, creative design and user experience. These are startups London can be truly proud of.
Some may say that business cards are things of the past. But for most of us they still remain the easiest way to exchange contacts. MOO has made this interaction more personal and delightful. This Hoxton-based company reinvented the stationery and printing business through great design, and managed to create an international brand well known among entrepreneurs and creatives.
When London’s scientists, developers, and entrepreneurs come together, some serious stuff is bound to happen. One of Apple’s ‘Apps of the Year’ in 2014, Peak, is surnamed the ‘gym for the brains’. A Soho-based company has received £4.8 in funding this year to bolster its team of neuroscientists and engineers, and has plans to become the number one choice for tracking cognitive performance and brain training.
With a rich history of transport innovation, London continues to lead this field, but now also in digital commuting. CityMapper helps commuters in 29 cities across the globe to travel faster, smarter, and healthier. Its small team “based somewhere in London” is on a mission to “make cities easier to use”. Indeed, their app excels in simplifying the complex transportation systems, while encouraging the use of walking and cycling with small features like calorie estimation for your journey.
The first time I’ve heard about this startup was outside of the UK, from a friend who praised it for being the best website for learning languages. Many of us know that learning a foreign language takes effort and patience. So making the learning experience more enjoyable is a great innovation itself. With over 50 million users globally, Busuu London team seems to be on the right track. Being conscious of global issues, the company now also offers its premium courses in English and German to Syrian refugees for free.
Being one of the most ethnically diverse city in the world, many Londoners frequently deal with international money transfers. So it’s no wonder that the most innovative money transfer startup was made here. It was born out of the frustration of two exceptional individuals who were living in London but had financial transactions to make to their home country Estonia. With experience working for Skype, PwC and Deloitte, they also have been backed by many influential investors, including Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group. TransferWise has quickly become a Unicorn company and a set-up for the world domination in international money transfer.
The chances are most of us who ever tried to set up a blog have probably, like myself, ended up doing it with WordPress, the most popular blogging platform in the world. The problem is, WordPress has grown to be much more than a blogging platform, hence its complexity. The user design wasn’t able to catch up with all the functionality that it now provides, making the blogging experience not very user friendly. Ghost is set out to change the current state of things by developing a pure blogging platform with a focus on amazing user experience. The need for such platform has been confirmed by more than five thousand people who backed it on Kickstarter. Just like WordPress, Ghost is an OpenSource community project, so its code is readily available for anyone to download and start blogging fast and easy. It has the power to launch millions of media projects worldwide in a delightful way, making it perhaps the most powerful startup London can be proud of.
There are of course other great companies that are big in the UK, but lack international impact. If you believe there is another startup that should be on this list, please let us know via comments below.
At YouTeam, we are helping our clients to build great products, to reach global impact, and to become the next London Unicorn. We are constantly thinking what is missing here, what is present in Silicon Valley and what allows it to ship Unicorns consistently. Possibly, one component is the abundance of highly talented engineers. This is why we are connecting London entrepreneurs with the best talent in the Eastern Europe. What other ingredients do you think are still missing? Let us know in the comments section below.