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Taking an idea and running with it: Businesses which exemplify British scale-ups

From TransferWise to Secret Escapes, the Future 50 campaign has been adept at identifying potential British scale-ups – and now it's time to find some more.
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It’s all well and good having a sound idea, but how do you then turn that into a buck-backing business? The growing trend of British scale-ups achieving success in a variety of sectors demonstrates the growing entrepreneurial talent we have.

Our Real Business Future 50 campaign, which highlights innovative and disruptive businesses throughout the UK, has proven time and time again that it has picked tomorrow’s game-changing businesses ahead of explosive growth. And now it is once again time to determine who will join the latest cohort.

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Many previous Future 50 winners have gone on to achieve huge success and become household names leading the way in the British scale-ups scene. With that in mind, the time feels right to showcase a few of our favourites that have scaled up in recent years.

If you think your company, or another disruptive venture, fits the Future 50 brief and has the potential to join the ranks of great British scale-ups, then don’t forget to nominate before the 28 February cut off.

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

Business: Hire Space

Sector: Events

Year founded: 2013

Future 50 class: 2016

Traditionally, the venue booking industry has relied on offline media. Hire Space aims to simplify the process, and has 5,000 venues across the UK listed on its online platform.

The platform is backed by Karen Hanton, founder of dotcom success story TopTable.com, and is used by brands including Facebook, Google and Instagram to source spaces for events and launches.

Venues include Tate Modern, the Olympic Velodrome and Hampton Court Palace, and the platform offers recommendations on the newest event suppliers, including caterers, entertainment and production companies.

Co-founder Edward Poland told us: “In the past 12 months we’ve completed a successful crowdfunding campaign with fantastic buy-in from the events industry, and strengthened our relationships with key event suppliers and venues. We’ve also grown the team and moved to a brand new office.

“In 2017 we’re launching EventLAB, our first live event for senior events organisers. The event focuses on disruption and learning in the event industry, with masterclasses from leading events influencers and a ‘best in show’ of venues and suppliers. It’ll become a regular fixture in the UK events calendar in the years to come.”

Business: Clifton Asset Management

Sector: Funding

Year founded: 1986

Future 50 class: 2015

Pension-led funding, from Clifton Asset Management, helps businesses access finance accrued in pensions.

This could be through an occupational pension, or a private scheme, but whatever the source some business owners can be frustrated by the lack of performance of their pension funds. Clifton enables entrepreneurs to access these funds and use them to help grow their business.

“Since 2015 the Clifton Group has continued to increase assets under administration (AUA) to almost £300m,” said Adam Tavener, chairman of Clifton Asset Management.

“In turn the volume of funding to SMEs facilitated through pension-led funding has increased to £250m since launch. As pioneers of this form of SME finance, we stand out as the market leaders, and continue to see an increasing appetite from business owners to utilise their personal pensions to fund business growth,” he added.

“In addition to this, last year we commercialised the Alternative Business Funding (ABF) portal – an online tool to assist SMEs in the search for business funding. The site now has over 100 products available giving SMEs a wide choice of funding possibilities. The site matches an SME with potential funders in a safe, secure, and efficient environment. Since the commercial implementation in June the site has facilitated over £2.8m of funding to SMEs.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

Business: Hubble

Sector: Property

Year founded: 2014

Future 50 class: 2016

Hubble is an online marketplace that seeks to match up people that need office space with people that have office space. It covers co-working, shared and private office spaces.

“Over the last year, Hubble has gone from strength to strength. We have now become the largest online marketplace for finding and renting office space in London. We’ve also increased space available on our platform for businesses – up to 1,500 buildings and 15,000 desks,” said Hubble’s Varun Bhanot revealed to Real Business.

“In addition, we’ve moved beyond just helping startups to now helping all types of larger businesses including SMEs, agencies and consultancies across creative and professional service industries. Recent companies we’ve helped find space include Monzo Bank, Jaguar Land Rover and Etsy.”

Business: HonestBrew

Sector: Food and drink

Year founded: 2012

Future 50 class: 2016

HonestBrew makes and sells its own beer, and in addition to this it hosts its own online supermarket of craft beers. It also offers a subscription package, and gift boxes of different craft beers in its online shop.

“At HonestBrew, we’re focused on getting the best independent craft beer into the hands of beer lovers across the UK. We offer a range of ways to enjoy beer from a flexible subscription to online bottle shop and more recently trade options,” said Andrew Reeve, CEO and founder.

“We achieved 2.6x growth in 2016, and have now listed over 1,000 different beers. We work with hundreds of breweries around the world and are proud to be able to tell their story to beer lovers. The craft beer market is continuing to grow and it’s great to see more and more people enjoying innovative beer.”

Business: Paythru

Sector: Payments

Year founded: 2009

Future 50 class: 2014

Paythru aims to make the mobile handset the payment device of choice, both for consumers and merchants. Its payments infrastructure operates across retail, food service, collections and parking.

“So much has changed for Paythru in the last 3 years. The business has now established a foothold in a select number of vertical markets. We have launched a ticketless mobile parking solution with our partner, Parkeon, which combines the use of ANPR technology with seamless secure payment methods,” said Keith Brown, MD at the company.

“We are looking forward to rolling out the solution to other sites in the UK and Europe. We are working with major partners to provide solutions in the food and beverage sector, that enhance infrastructure and software capabilities in Smart Cities and Buildings (including Stadia).

“It is the debt collection sector in particular where Paythru has made a significant breakthrough by providing a highly effective mobile and online collection solution to several of the top players in this market. We continue to develop this solution and plan to roll it out extensively through the collections and recoveries sector including insurance brokers and credit providers.”

Business: Chaser

Sector: Financial services

Year founded: 2013

Future 50 class: 2015

Chaser aims to transform how businesses carry out credit control. It’s software provides the tools to automate chasing customers to pay their invoices. Chaser uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide insights about which customers to grant credit to and how best to chase up customers to pay their invoices.

David Tuck, founder and CEO, said: “It has been a fantastic year for us. We were incredibly proud that Xero, identified by Forbes as the World’s Most Innovative Growth Company in 2014 and 2015, named Chaser their App Partner of the Year for 2016 from among their ecosystem of 550+ integration partners.

“We’re proud to be helping 1,000s of businesses across the globe transform their credit control. We are growing fast. We are barely touching the surface of the power that machine learning and artificial intelligence has to transform the outcomes businesses achieve from their credit control. We are really excited to continue to innovate and deliver more and more value to our customers in 2017.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

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About Author

Letitia Booty

Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Real Business. She has a BA in english literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.

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