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8 women-led pre-seed UK tech startups to watch

Female tech companies
Image credit: Space DOTS

The majority of equity funding continues to go to companies founded by men – particularly those at a later stage. In fact, just 9% of the UK’s tech unicorns – private companies with a valuation of $1bn or more – were founded by women. But things are slowly changing, and the signs are a bit more encouraging at the earlier stage of the investment cycle for female-founded startups.

Government figures published today show that women-founded tech companies in the UK raised £3.6bn in venture capital funding in 2022, an increase of £700m on the year prior. Despite the improvement, that figure accounts for just 15% of the £24bn raised by tech companies last year.

The largest portion of female tech funding in 2022 went to pre-seed and seed tech startups, the government figures showed. While the industry has a long way to go, there are plenty of female-founded pre-seed stage startups rising through the ranks.

UKTN has compiled a list of eight female-founded pre-seed tech startups from around the UK to watch.

Financielle

Founded: 2018

Founders: Laura Pomfret and Holly Holland.

Location: Manchester

Financielle is a female-focused financial wellbeing app that provides tools for budgeting, along with resources to learn about money management and investing. The sister-founder duo initially started the idea as a hobby Instagram account in 2018 before leaving their jobs at a travel business to launch Financielle. It has since grown to a financial wellbeing community of over 40,000 like-minded women and received investment from Haatch Ventures and a roster of angel investors.

Bloss

Founded: 2021

Founders: Binky Felstead and Steph Desmond

Location: London

Bloss is an online platform for businesses to offer their employees parenting advice in areas including fertility, health, sleep training, nutrition, education and finance. Desmond and Felstead, both mothers, launched the platform during the pandemic. Desmond was an early employee at Uber, while Felstead is a TV personality and influencer who starred in the reality TV show Made In Chelsea. Bloss has raised £1m in pre-seed funding and counts venture capital firm Antler among its backers. The company also has a consumer-facing platform.

Twirl

Founded: 2022

Founders: Lara Stallbaum and Jamie Bubb

Location: London

Twirl is a remote content studio where companies can purchase paid video social content such as Instagram Reels, testimonials, demos and unboxings. Brands send a brief to a creator listed on Twirl’s platform to create “authentic” content. Last year, Twirl received £120,000 from Antler.

Space DOTS

Founded: 2022

Founders: Bianca Cefalo and James Sheppard Alden

Location: London

Space DOTS builds modular testing devices for companies to test materials in space. Its first product, the Barnacle DOT, is a 10cm x 10cm x 1cm module that hitches a ride on rocket missions to provide “in-situ environmental testing of advanced materials and small components”. Before founding Space DOTS, Cefalo was the space systems thermal product manager for Airbus Defence and Space UK.

Used and Loved

Founded: 2021

Founders: Jess Potter and Davey Brown

Location: Cardiff

Used and Loved is a search engine for shoppers to find second-hand items from multiple brands in one place. Potter and Brown, who are a couple, founded the company after realising the second-hand online shopping experience is “fragmented”. Like Pinterest and Amazon, Used and Loved gives online shoppers suggestions and inspiration for items to purchase, but specifically for pre-owned goods. The marketplace currently aggregates nine websites, including Vinted and eBay, acting as a search engine across all the platforms it works with.

PlayThru

Founded: 2021

Founder: Rose Tan

Location: Cardiff

PlayThru is a platform for teachers to increase engagement during lessons using gamification. Educators upload their lesson content onto PlayThru, which then converts it into a game. Tan came up with the idea when she was teaching a virtual class and realised that all the students were playing computer games. Teachers upload their lesson content onto PlayThru, which turns the session into an interactive game.

Umii Technologies

Founded: 2020

Founder: Georgia Wheadon

Location: Manchester

Umii’s app is a social networking app for students to find friends at university. Wheadon created the app following her own experience at university whilst studying for a joint honours degree, which meant she saw different people each day in classes. The startup has partnered with academic institutions including the University of Sunderland, the University of Kent and Cardiff Students’ Union.

Base Plus

Founded: 2021

Founder: Yasmin Greenaway

Location: London

Base Plus is a personalised skin care app that lets people track and manage the condition of their skin. Users submit images and data, including skincare products, diet, supplements and stress levels. The app uses AI to make suggestions on how to improve skin conditions. Greenaway was previously worked at Barclays Investment Bank before leaving to launch Base Plus in 2021.

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