Business Technology

Proof that risky business plans can produce disruptive market-leading ventures

12 min read

27 January 2016

Former editor

As our annual Future 50 initiative prepares to name its sixth batch of disruptive and game-changing businesses set to dominate tomorrow’s business landscape, we look back on five from previous years to see what progress has been made.

We now have 250 businesses in our Future 50 club, with another batch soon to join the growing community. From TransferWise to Secret Escapes, and from Gousto to Funding Circle, we have uncovered some gems in our mission to shine a light on disruptive businesses.

While it’s very rewarding to invite another 50 to the club, it is just as satisfying to look back and see how far some have come since being named in the Future 50. Here are five you should of heard about.

Business: MarketInvoice

Sector: Alternative finance

Year founded: 2011

Future 50 class: 2011

Disruptive concept: Get sophisticated investors looking for better returns than traditional methods to buy up invoices via an online platform from businesses in search of crucial growth capital.

One of the standout successes of our Future 50 initiative, MarketInvoice has raised over £20m of funds from venture capital investors, secured finance from the government’s British Business Bank to further the lending cause and helped unlock in excess of £600m for firms around the UK.

Part of a burgeoning fintech market that includes equity crowdfunding platforms, money transfer services and peer-to-peer lenders like MarketInvoice, the company has been earmarked for big things.

Anil Stocker, CEO and co-founder of MarketInvoice, told Real Business: “Looking back at the list five years on, it’s great to see MarketInvoice amongst some real success stories. Some of businesses that featured have gone on to big, big things, and I’m really pleased we’ve been able to join them at the top of their respective markets. Fintech is especially well represented, and I’m proud of just how much the sector has grown since.

“Back in 2011, we were less than a year old and the team hadn’t hit double figures. In the end we funded £3m to small businesses that year and now we’re lending that amount in a day or two. But those first milestones (£1m and ten hires) really stuck with me and are still some of my best memories of the business.

“Of course, being recognised early on helps. When we started out most people thought we were crazy, no one knew what peer-to-peer was, so getting support from Real Business was great. Even in 2011, the startup culture was so strong. Finding business owners that are actually willing to take you seriously, let alone trust you with their funding, was a huge challenge.”

Read the original Future 50 feature.

MarketInvoice: How to maintain culture in a growing business

Business: Mubaloo

Sector: Mobile

Year founded: 2009

Future 50 class: 2011

Disruptive concept: Help businesses of any size achieve a better digital presence –transforming business processes, staff productivity and customer engagement, all through the use of mobile and location-based technologies.

When Mubaloo was first dreamed up in 2009, mobile was just beginning to properly permeate our day-to-day lives. Nowadays it is where data suggests we spend the majority of our time engaging with online content.

Mubaloo has developed a powerful offering to produce intelligent mobile apps and been further recognised in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 UK.

Sarah Weller, joint MD at Mubaloo, told Real Business: “In 2011, when Mubaloo appeared on the Future 50 list, we were two years into our mission to help businesses transform operations through mobile. At the time, there was still a lot of education that needed to be done as to what was possible with mobile. You have to remember that most people in business were still using BlackBerry. 

“At the same time, people were using apps on their personal iOS and Android devices. Employees, customers and other stakeholders realised what apps could deliver and came to expect more from companies and the tools they were providing for these stakeholders through mobile.

“Since 2011, we’ve grown at a steady pace and really focused on growing our partnerships with leading technology companies, such as EE, IBM and Cisco, to become more embedded within the enterprise mobility space. We’ve also changed from having a team that focuses on planning, to growing a consultancy arm to the business. Over the past two years, especially, the consultancy side of our business has grown rapidly.

“Being recognised as a Future 50 company has helped us to have further validation around what we do. Over the past few years, we’ve also been recognised by NEF: The Innovation Institute as the Most Innovative Company 2014 and were ranked third in the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 UK 2014.”

Read the original Future 50 feature.

Mobile tech business Mubaloo appoints extra female leader to drive growth

Business: Cyclehoop

Sector: Cycling

Year founded: 2008

Future 50 class: 2012

Disruptive concept: Solve a vast array of urban cycling problems through a clever, but fundamentally simple, approach – with issues ranging from storage to security.

As London and the UK’s population have been increasingly turned on to the benefits of cycling, the issue of how to store and protect bikes has grown. Enter Cyclehoop, a business fusing practical solutions with eye-catching design.

It’s first major product, the self-entitled Cyclehoop, took the form of a retrofit bicycle stand that converts existing street furniture into cycle parking. The product was launched in London in 2008, and has since been adopted over 40 councils across the UK.

Anthony Lau, founder of Cyclehoop, told Real Business: “In 2012 Cyclehoop had had early success, which was great, but we were still a relatively new business and as such I was very focussed on growth and making the business sustainable for the future.

“When we made the Future 50 list, I had just moved the business office from the garage of my family home to a small industrial unit! We now operate from an 8,000 sq foot warehouse in South East London and employ 25 full-time staff.

“We’ve also enjoyed some steady international growth over the years, with our products being exported around the world: Sweden, Australia, New Zealand all host our products. Knowing that we thousands of our Cyclehoops on streets across the world, making life a bit easier for cyclists, is an amazing feeling. 

“Currently you can also see Cyclehoop products on show in the ‘Future’ section of the Cycle Revolution exhibition, hosted at London’s Design Museum. It’s a real honour to have our products exhibited alongside the likes of the world’s most famous high performance bikes and paraphernalia, as well as other artisan bicycle creators and innovators. 

“Knowing that tomorrow is another opportunity to work on inventing the next big problem solver for cyclists, is what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

Read the original Future 50 feature.

Blazing a trail: The urban cycling security entrepreneurs

Business: Chaser

Sector: Financial services

Year founded: 2013

Future 50 class: 2015

Disruptive concept: Help the millions of small businesses out there chase outstanding invoices in a more efficient and consistent way.

One of the newer businesses in this feature, Chaser has latched onto the late payment issue and created a technology-based service to deal with it.

Data has shown that the amount owed to small and medium-sized businesses in late payment averages out at around £75,000 in the South East of England. Chaser is on a mission to get this money to its rightful owner and help fuel growth ambition.

David Tuck, co-founder and CEO of Chaser, told Real Business: “Being part of the Future 50 and winning its Friend To Business award in March 2015 has been incredible for us. We raised our seed investment round at the end of April 2015. This brought the insights of expert investors along with the capital to expand our team.

We launched in Australia in August 2015, which has been incredibly exciting for us. Most pleasing has been the fantastic continued impact we are able to have as a product and a business. Seeing the benefits SMEs are able to derive from CHASER is a huge thrill. With one user recently sharing how they’ve been able to use the £30,000 cash flow boost they’ve got from CHASER to employ a new salesperson to help the business grow. 

Read the original Future 50 feature.

Payment wait of 72 days for firms turning over less than £1m

Business: Somo

Sector: Digital

Year founded: 2009

Future 50 class: 2012

Disruptive concept: Like Mubaloo, Somo is on a mission to take firms large and small (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the modern age by producing compelling connected experiences for customers.

Now spread across two continents, Somo is powered by venture capital and proving very popular with brands including De Beers, Home Depot and AirAsia Expedia.

Carl Uminski, COO of Somo, told Real Business: “Somo has skyrocketed since our inclusion in Real Business’s Future 50, back in 2012. We have experienced four straight years of rapid revenue growth with staff numbers nearly tripling in that time. 

“This success has been recognised by the industry over the years, with Somo ranking 19th in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 as well as being selected as Best Management Team.

“It’s been a busy few years at Somo, building some of the most innovative and creative products in the market and running hugely successful campaigns for brands all over the world. Most notably we have built a bespoke augmented reality platform for Audi (and now Skoda). ‘Audi Vision’ brings print to life through the power of mobile technology.

“We were thrilled to have been listed in the Future 50 amongst some of the most exciting businesses in the UK who are all still triggering change in their markets or creating new ones.”

Read the original Future 50 feature.

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