Business Technology

Future 50 retrospective: Dreaming big

9 min read

27 February 2017

Former special projects journalist

Once again, our well-known Future 50 campaign is just around the corner. The campaign shines a spotlight on disruptive businesses that are dreaming big nationwide and give the entrepreneurial spirit some much-deserved recognition.

Once again, our well-known Future 50 campaign is just around the corner. The campaign shines a spotlight on disruptive businesses that are dreaming big nationwide and give the entrepreneurial spirit some much-deserved recognition.

As we wait on tenterhooks to meet the next batch of Future 50 companies, the time feels right to reflect back on some past favourites.

If you think your company, or another disruptive venture, fits the Future 50 brief then don’t forget to nominate before the 28 February cut off.

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

Business: Rainbird
Sector: Technology
Year founded: 2013
Future 50 class: 2014

Rainbird is a cognitive reasoning platform that uses AI to rapidly automate decision-making and build tools that augment human workers.

The technology’s uses include automated problem solving, compliance oversight and loan approvals – Rainbird is dreaming big.

“When Rainbird was selected for Future 50 it was just a handful of founders with a beta platform and big ambitions. Since then the company has grown to over 20 staff, opened a satellite office in London and is working in range of sectors from banking to defence,” said Kirsty Jarvis, CEO of Luminous PR, on behalf of Rainbird.

“The team have become thought leaders in the practical application of AI and their technology has gone on to win the East of England tech award. Rainbird has raised around £2.5m in funding and is now looking to scale its operations.”

Business: MarketInvoice
Sector: Finance
Year founded: 2011
Future 50 class: 2011

MarketInvoice is another business that is dreaming big; it provides finance to businesses. Its main strategic ambition is to broaden its offering to be able to support a wider range of businesses, from start-ups to businesses looking to scale-up.

Anil Stocker, CEO and co-founder of MarketInvoice, said: “MarketInvoice has gone from strength to strength over the past 12 months. We’ve reached the seismic milestone of delivering £1bn funding to UK businesses, lending over £2,000 per minute in 2016. As a business, we secured £7.2m series B funding, installed a senior management team, grown our headcount to 90 people and moved into amazing new offices in Shoreditch. So, it’s been quite a rollercoaster time for us.

“The £7.2m raised came at a timely moment as we were creating a new product, MarketInvoice Pro, our first since setting up. Both the businesses seeking funding and the investors who buy their invoices were clamouring for us to create a product that provided a deeper funding line and more investment opportunities respectively.

“As Brexit takes shape, we think the coming months present a significant opportunity for MarketInvoice. In every period of turmoil there exists huge opportunity – we believe our model will mature through this cycle, and prove we are here to stay.”

Business: We Are Social
Sector: Marketing
Year founded: 2008
Future 50 class: 2011

We Are Social is a global marketing agency, and another example of a business dreaming big. It produces social content such as short films, animations, and photography.

Robin Grant, co-founder, We Are Social, said: “We Are Social has come a long way since our inclusion in Real Business’s Future 50 back in 2011, although we’re still focused on delivering world-class strategies and creative campaigns for forward-thinking brands.

“We’ve grown even further internationally, with 600 people spread throughout our offices around the world – London, New York, Paris, Milan, Munich, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai and Sydney – cementing our position as one of the world’s leading creative agencies.”

Business: miDrive
Sector: Driving lessons
Year founded: 2013
Future 50 class: 2015

miDrive’s free apps for Android and iOS help learner drivers to improve their driving skills, find qualified driving instructors and pass their driving tests more quickly, while also saving as much as £300 on lesson expenses. Additionally, miDrive gives learner drivers access to an extensive library of articles and videos, and allows them to easily track their drives in a similar manner to fitness tracking apps.

“2016 was a year of change and growth at miDrive. It was the year that we entered the next phase of our business swiftly moving from a start-up to a scale-up. We shifted from being a directory of driving instructors to a platform with purpose,” said Asher Ismail, CEO.

“Now, our purpose is what drives us (excuse the pun) and all of our processes and activity are geared towards raising the expectations and standards of the industry. Currently, many new drivers are taught to simply pass their tests, they are not taught – or encouraged – to be safe drivers.”

Business: Crowdcube
Sector: Finance
Year founded: 2011
Future 50 class: 2015

Crowdcube is a crowdfunding platform. Back in 2015, it had 100,000 registered investors and had raised over £45m for businesses. Less than two years on, the platform has helped more than 445 businesses to raise £213m in startup and growth finance, while its investor community now numbers 345,000. There are 80 employees on the team, across five offices in three countries.

Luke Lang, co-founder of Crowdcube, said: “The last two years have seen the UK become the world’s fintech nerve centre, and we’re proud to have been a part of that through changing the way businesses access seed and growth capital. We’ve broken UK crowdfunding records – including the fastest ever raise (£1m in 96 seconds for Monzo) and highest raise (£10m for BrewDog’s bond in December) – and £5m has been returned to investors through equity exits and bond interest repayments.

“Looking broadly, it’s been thrilling to see crowdfunding evolve as a finance model. Institutional investors and VCs are increasingly joining rounds to back businesses alongside the crowd, and more established businesses are pitching, which has boosted the average funds raised to £642,000 from £550,000 in 2015.”

Business: Settled
Sector: Real estate
Year founded: 2014
Future 50 class: 2016

Settled is also dreaming big with its online platform that helps people sell their homes. It aims to simplify the buying and selling process and reduce the emotional and financial costs involved by cutting out the middle man.

“It was an honour to be featured in the Future 50 in Settled’s first year (2016). Since then, in just under a year, we’ve had quite a journey. We’ve helped 100s of people sell homes saving them over £4m in estate agent fees,” said Gemma Young, co-founder and CEO.

“We’ve secured investment from prominent American venture fund, 500 Startups, we’ve launched technology that completely streamlines the normally cumbersome processes in the estate agency sector and we’ve grown from a team of five to a wonderful team of 14. So, what’s next? For us, it’s all about continuing our commitment to technology that evolves the real estate sector.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards