London is officially the startup capital of Europe. London’s startups received more funding this year than any other European city, totalling over £1.8 billion in the first half of 2016, according to figures from Statista. And despite the uncertainty of Brexit, London continues its reign as the unicorn startup capital of Europe (with 14 companies reaching billion dollar valuations).
London’s startup scene is supported by a range of established organisations. When Google Campus opened in 2012, it became Europe’s largest purpose built space for startups – a hub for entrepreneurs and innovators in London. Meanwhile, organisations such as Tech City UK (founded in 2010) and 3beards provide invaluable support to London’s diverse tech community.
London is the number one fintech hub in the world and remains a highly attractive sector for investors. The city is home to numerous app startups challenging traditional financial services with their mobile-first approach. But fintech is not the only sector where London app startups are flourishing. Health, fitness, recruitment, and ticketing are all areas in which investor confidence remains strong. Here’s a list of rising London app startups that have enjoyed fast-growth and new investment in 2016.
Monzo (previously Mondo) is building its mobile-only bank from the ground up rather than running on pre-existing banking software. Monzo is geared towards tech-savvy millennials. The app continually updates your bank balance, gives intelligent notifications and allows peer-to-peer payments. This year, the London-based startup secured $5 million in venture funding from Passion Capital, broke the record for the fastest crowdfunding raise in history, and got their banking licence through. Things are looking up for Monzo.
- Led by: CEO Tom Blomfield
- Location: Old Street
Hailed as the world’s first artificial intelligence triage nurse, the Babylon app checks patients’ symptoms and medical background against a database of diseases to determine if they need to seek help. Users can also book video consultations with doctors and specialists through the app. At the beginning of 2016, Babylon raised $25 million in a Series A round led by AB Kinnevik, with participation from DeepMind and Innocent Drinks, to develop the app’s AI feature.
- Led by: founder and CEO Dr Ali Parsa
- Location: Chelsea
Velocity offers on demand curated dining experiences. Users can search for and book tables at premium restaurants and pay for their meals through the app. In August 2016, Velocity announced $22.5 million worth of fresh funding, in a Series B round led by DIG Investments. Currently operating in five cities, in the UK and US, Velocity’s goal is to expand into 29 countries by 2020.
- Led by: co-founders Zia Yusuf and Alex Macdonald
- Location: London and New York (dual headquarters)
Syft’s hiring app for London’s hospitality and events industry is challenging traditional recruitment agencies. Employers can find vetted and rated temporary staff via the app and job seekers have the flexibility to choose their assignments and hours. This year, Syft closed a £2.65 million seed round led by PROfounders Capital which included investment from Lord Young, Mike Kershaw and heavyweight boxer David Haye. The funds will be used to expand across London.
- Led by: co-founders Jack Beaman and Novo Abakare
- Location: Holborn
In just one year, foreign exchange app Revolut has grown to over 300,000 users. The app and pre-paid Mastercard allows travellers to spend in more than 90 currencies around the world without running up huge exchange fees. As well as the startup’s impressive growth, in 2016, Revolut raised £6.75 million from venture capital firms Balderton Capital and Index Ventures and ran a wildly successful crowdfunding campaign to fuel its expansion.
- Led by: founder and CEO Nikolay Storonsky
- Location: Canary Wharf
Racefully makes going for a run more fun by enabling friends to run together virtually, in real time. The app is designed to help runners achieve their goals through social support. It’s been a great year so far for Racefully as the startup raised £275,000 investment from friends, family and private angels and an additional £275,000 on SyndicateRoom. It also won the London Sport Technology Innovation Fund 2016 Award and officially launched Racefully in the App Store in July.
- Founded by: David Naylor and Chris Pointon
- Location: Fitzrovia
London-based startup Movebubble aims to “reduce the stress and hassle of renting”. The app allows users to book viewings, see feedback from other renters, make an offer and even put down a holding deposit to secure a property. This year, Movebubble raised £1.1 million from several high profile investors including former Spotify MD Adam Williams. Currently working in partnership with over 250 estate agencies in London, Movebubble is focused on further expansion.
- Led by: CEO Aidan Rushby
- Location: Clerkenwell
Tandem is an app-only bank that aims to help customers manage their money better. Tandem has its official Bank of England banking licence and is being shaped by feedback from its 7,000 “co-founders”. This year, Tandem raised $22 million in Series B funding from six investors, including eVentures and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s investment fund, and smashed its £1 million crowdfunding target.
- Led by: co-founders Matt Cooper and Ricky Knox
- Location: King’s Cross
YapJobs is a hospitality and retail recruitment app that matches candidates to roles in real time. Since founding in 2015, the London-based startup has processed over 500,000 applications, and Costa Coffee and The Ivy are already signed up to its employer list. YapJobs is attracting investors too, having raised £1.4 million in less than 6 months after launch.
- Led by: co-founders Shahzad Ali, Xen Lategan and Ziad Tassabehji
- Location: Shadwell
Splittable is an app that helps young renters in 36 countries manage their shared household expenses. Founders Nick Katz and Vasanth Subramanian teamed up, in 2014, to form Splittable with ambitions to fix flatshare woes. A year later, the pair raised £800,000 of seed funding from eight investors including London Co-Investment Fund, Seedcamp and Playfair Capital. Splittable is seeking partnerships with flat sharing websites, banks and energy suppliers to grow further.
- Led by: co-founder and CEO Nick Katz
- Location: Shoreditch
Mindfulness startup Headspace makes money by selling subscriptions to its guided meditations. Users are in good hands as the app’s guided meditations are led by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk who spent 10 years practising meditation and mindfulness. Headspace has over 8.7 million users in 190 countries and the startup is using its $30 million in Series A funding (led by Chernin Group) to expand its team and content.
- Led by: CEO Sean Brecker
- Location: Islington (UK head office)
Rock Pamper Scissors is a London-based hairdresser booking app, founded by former Just Eat CMO Mat Braddy. Designed for the millennial generation, users can flick through hairstyles to find the stylists who created them and book hair and beauty appointments through the app. This year, Rock Pamper Scissors bagged £1.2 million of funding from Seedcamp, 500 Startups and several angel investors (including New Look founder Tom Singh OBE) to grow its tech team, stylist and client base in London.
- Led by: CEO Mat Braddy
- Location: Islington
Yoyo Wallet lets users make payments with their phone, and earn rewards and discounts from retailers. Described as “Europe’s fastest growing mobile wallet”, YoYo Wallet has been chosen by FinTechCity as one of the Top 50 Fintech businesses in Europe. In 2015, the Fintech startup closed a $10 million Series A round including investment from Imperial Innovations and Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of Transferwise), to fund their global ambitions.
- Led by: CEO Alain Falys and CRO Michael Rolph
- Location: Whitfield Street, near Goodge Street
TalentPool is a recruitment app that helps companies find and hire young professionals. The fast-growing London startup now counts Deliveroo and iwoca among its clients. Following a challenging 2015, with team illness and investment money nearly drying up, TalentPool are surging ahead in 2016 after securing £300,000 of new funding from the likes of QVentures.
- Led by: co-founders Tom Davenport and Andrew Lavelle
- Location: St Katharine’s and Wapping
Startup scenes in European cities like Stockholm are making great progress and UK cities such as Manchester are following London’s digital lead. Tech City UK gradually extended its support beyond London to regional clusters including Newcastle, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Cardiff. But for now, London reigns as the startup capital of Europe. If you’d like to read more articles like this, check out our app startups series.