Business Technology

Future 50 retrospective: Proof pushing the boundaries works

9 min read

09 February 2017

Former special projects journalist

Our well-known Future 50 campaign shines a spotlight on disruptive businesses around the UK and showcases the very best of the country’s entrepreneurial spirit. Here's a look back at some old favourites.

As the Real Business Future 50 approaches once again, we take the time to look back on a few gems from previous years.

Our well-known Future 50 campaign shines a spotlight on disruptive businesses around the UK and showcases the very best of the country’s entrepreneurial spirit.

With the next Future 50 just around the corner, the time feels right to look back at few of our favourites from years passed.

Here are a few businesses that have continued to push the boundaries in recent years. 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: Semafone

Sector: Payments

Year founded: 2009

Future 50 class: 2012

The company was founded in 2009 and now supports customers in 22 countries on five continents. Semafone is vertical agnostic and its extensive customer base includes companies such as AO, AXA, The British Heart Foundation, Rogers Communications, Santander, Sky, TalkTalk and parts of the Virgin Group.  

“Looking back to 2013 when we were featured in the Future 50 list, Semafone had already been operating for four years, but we were still very much having to educate the industry about the importance of securing card payments made over the phone,” said CEO Tim Critchley

“Four years on, and the need for strong data security has only become more important for companies across the globe. Legislation such as the EU GDPR and Investigatory Powers Act is making information security and privacy an incredibly complex process for businesses.

“Thanks to this, and combined with the US introduction of Chip and PIN payments, Semafone has been perfectly positioned to not only grow the business here in the UK, but also to open our North American headquarters in Boston. In fact, in just the first six months of the US office being operational we signed three significant new customer deals worth $7.5m.”

Business: DesignMyNight

Sector: Events

Year founded: 2011

Future 50 class: 2016

Design My Night is a website dedicated to helping people discover and book their perfect night out in London.

The idea was born when its two co-founders were on a night out in New York and were amazed at how easy it was to arrange a night out compared to London. The pair ditched their corporate roles and set up the website, and since then have launched in nearly 20 cites across the UK and Ireland. They have also since created their own booking and enquiries system, Collins, and a ticketing system, Tonic.

“Since being one of the Future 50 companies, DesignMyNight has gone from strength to strength. We have experienced near 100 per cent growth in both revenue and profits and Collins has established itself as one of the most disruptive reservations systems in the casual dining and bar industry,” said Nick Telson, co-founder.

“In 2016 we crossed our 1,000th client mark in just two and a half years, including big hitters such as Fuller’s, Youngs and Wahaca and our online pre-order/deposit payment system, Collins Pay, grossed £7.2m in 2016, up from £1.7m in 2015. 2016 also saw steps into foreign shores with clients in Ireland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Norway.

“Collins also includes a self-service ticketing solution, Tonic, which saw huge strides in 2016; selling over 500,000 tickets, up from 150,000 the year before and grossing over £7.5m. In one year, our two SaaS systems grossed over £14.5m. DesignMyNight.com also topped the one million uniques per month target as well as over four million views a month, establishing us as one of the UKs largest discovery sites.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards

Business: Landbay

Sector: Investment

Year founded: 2013

Future 50 class: 2015

Landbay matches investors with borrowers in a bid to enable both parties to benefit from the British property market – whether that’s through investment or direct ownership.

The idea came about when founders John Goodall and Gray Stern recognised a shift away from traditional investing to a more transparent online platform. They decided to anchor peer-to-peer lending to UK rental properties.

“Since being included in the 2015 Future 50, we’ve invested heavily in building out our team and infrastructure, culminating in the receipt of full FCA authorisation at the end of 2016,” said Stern.

“We now look forward to launching our property-backed ISA in conjunction with our strategic partner and investor, Zoopla, and scaling our mortgage lending operation with a mix of funding, including retail and institutional. 2017 is set to be a big year as we roll out of a number of new products and partnerships that will help us move deeper into the UK property finance and investment ecosystem.”

Business: Captify

Sector: Business intelligence

Year founded: 2011

Future 50 class: 2015

Captify is a search intelligence expert.

“In the past two years we’ve experienced sensational growth of over 170 per cent year-on-year and now work with over 450 global brands. We’ve continually evolved our core technology products to now power video, display and mobile advertising,” said Adam Ludwin, chief visionary officer and co-founder.

“In tandem with this, we’ve grown our search data network from 1.2bn to now 30bn too. As a result, Captify’s insights have revolutionised how brands understand their audiences and have been used to predict elections and the Oscars and hedge funds even now use our data to predict markets.”

“We also expanded globally last year into the US where our products are enabling us to work with even more of the world’s biggest brands and agencies and to aid this growth we’ve increased our team to over 150 across the globe.”

Business: Journolink

Sector: PR

Year founded: 2013

Future 50 class: 2016

Journolink describes itself as an interactive platform that enables business owners to manage their own PR and send out business stories to journalists, broadcasters and bloggers. In addition, it acts as a meeting point for journalists looking to reach out to businesses.

“‘Top 50’, ‘Disruptor’, ‘Future’. No business can ask for more of an endorsement that the concept they have hit on has traction, which is what JournoLink, the software platform to enable small businesses to engage with the media in a targeted way, and manage their PR for less than a fiver a week, has seen,” said Peter Ibbetson, CEO.

“Partnerships with organisations who support businesses have flown in. Names like Virgin Start Ups, Entrepreneurial Spark, and a contract with the Government Start and Grow programme, have contributed to the thousands of businesses using JournoLink double in the past year. Businesses that never even contemplated using PR in the past.

“Now that ‘disruption’ is established, the ‘future’ is the key, with JournoLink currently attracting wide interest for a £1m fundraising to build automation and artificial intelligence into its wizardry.”

Click here to nominate for the 2017 Future 50 awards