The UK tech sector has shown resilience and fought back the tribulations and trials of the pandemic last year. London as capital continues to lead the way as a global tech leader as the homegrown companies raise around billions of fundings combined. According to Tech Nation, VC investment in UK tech firms reached $15 billion (approx £10 billion) last year.
In the latest development, the UK tech sector has achieved a new milestone – after reaching 100 unicorns. Meaning, the UK tech sector has 100 companies that value more than £1B, according to the report.
Tractable, a London-based AI company that develops artificial intelligence for accident and disaster recovery, becomes the 100th unicorn company after securing funding in the Series D round at a valuation of £1B.
Co-founder and CEO of Tractable, Alex Dalyac said, “We’re proud to be the UK’s latest unicorn and the world’s first computer vision unicorn for financial services.”
First in Europe
Notably, the UK is the first country in Europe to achieve this feat. Now it joins the US and China, which has triple-digit unicorns.
The report says around 13 unicorns have been created in 2021, which is five more than the unicorn created in 2020. The number has grown by 127% since 2017.
The unicorns collectively raised $32 billion (approx £22.9 billion) in VC funds across e-commerce, insurtech, cybersecurity, and energy. The UK tech startups have raised $14.5 billion (approx £10.3 billion) in 2021, surpassing the previous record of $8.9 billion (approx £6.3 billion).
“It’s fantastic news that the UK now has 100 unicorns. We are only the third country in the world to reach this milestone, which cements our place as one of the world’s top tech hubs.” Oliver Dowden, Secretary for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport.”
Having said that, we have jotted down the list of five startups that have soared during the pandemic.
Founder/s: Robert Flowers
Founded year: 2015
DivideBuy offers interest-free credit through their retail partners. The Newcastle company reported an average three-year growth rate of 20,733% to the year 2019/2020. The company is on a mission to transform the point of sale finance industry through providing innovation and technology. DivideBuy provides a fast application process and an immediate decision which means that customers can spread the cost of their purchases with no hidden charges.
Founder/s: Johnny Boufarhat
Founded year: 2019
Hopin is a live virtual events platform where users can learn, interact, and connect with people from around the globe. In March 2021, the company secured $400M in Series C funding, tripling its valuation in just a year of its launch. The company now values around $5.65 billion.
With Hopin, you can create live virtual and hybrid events that are interactive and immersive. Hopin acquired StreamYard, a leading video streaming studio, in 2020. Hopin is a remote-first company headquartered in London, with employees in 42 countries.
Founder/s: Riccardo Bruni and Alessio Bruni
Founded year: 2020
Heroes, a London-based e-commerce company that buys, operates, and scales Amazon businesses, secured $65 million (approx £49 million) from Fuel Ventures and 360 Capital Partners along with the participation of other investors.
The Thrasio rival acquires FBA (‘Fulfilment by Amazon’) brands that are performing well in a high-growth niche sector including, Baby, Pets, Homeware, Kitchenware, and more. The company aims to become Europe’s largest acquirer and operator of Amazon FBA brands in the coming years.
Karma Kitchen (London)
Total funding: £272M
Founder/s: Eccie Newton, Gini Newton
Founded year: 2018
Karma Kitchen is a provider of shared and private kitchen spaces used for businesses to grow and scale. The rental kitchen startup secured a huge 318M (nearly £240M) Series A funding from Vengrove Asset Management last year. The company aims to expand its operations in the UK and Europe in the upcoming days.
Karma Kitchen provides a workspace that encompasses the full needs of the food and drinks business. The team behind Karma Kitchen is the same team behind Karma Cans, the lunch delivery company. Gini and Eccie founded Karma Cans in 2014, making fresh healthy salads for offices around London.
Total funding: £2.3B
Founder/s: José Neves
Founded year: 2008
Farfetch, a London-based online luxury fashion retail platform, got £1B backings from Alibaba and Richemont to expand its footprint across China and accelerate the digitisation of the global luxury industry. The company saw a 64% revenue increase YoY to $1.7 billion (approx £1.2 billion) in 2020. Further, the GMV (Gross Merchandise Value) also exceeded $3 billion (approx £2.1 billion), up 49% year-over-year.
Farfetch operates an e-commerce website that unites various independent fashion boutiques and during the pandemic, the fashion retail site thrived in online sales. The company connects customers in over 190 countries with items from more than 50 countries and over 1,300 global brands, boutiques, and department stores.