The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 league table lists the UK’s fastest-growing private tech companies – businesses that have identified a need and used technology to meet it. By providing better customer experiences and innovative solutions, these start-ups have survived and thrived in highly competitive sectors.
Here are five small businesses that feature in the latest Hiscox Tech Track 100. Their success is an inspiration to any budding tech entrepreneur.
Position 6: Lendable
Applying for a loan from traditional lenders can be slow, bureaucratic and pricey. Martin Kissinger founded Lendable in 2014, disrupting the established money-lending status quo by making the process quicker and cheaper for consumers.
Lendable works by analysing huge amounts of data almost instantly. Its technology automates credit analysis and gives decisions in minutes rather than days. This data-led approach allows the business to offer small loans more quickly and cheaply than banks, after an easy and paperless application process.
As a business model, it works. Lendable currently originates £40m of loans every month, up from £3m in 2017. Like all successful businesses, Lendable identified a gap in the market and created a solution that matched efficiency with ease of use for customers.
Position 9: Reverse Media Group
The message from the success of Reverse Media Group might be, if at first you don’t succeed… don’t be afraid to make a complete U-turn. The company started as an animal onesie clothing company before a rather spectacular pivot into online publishing. It was a wise decision. Sales hit £7.6 million last year, generated by a staff of just 15.
How do they do it? In a nutshell, founder Greg Burgess and his team are experts in cutting edge internet marketing, using proprietary technology to drive traffic to a portfolio of search, price comparison and news websites, and connecting those consumers to a raft of advertising partners.
This Reverse wizardry results in 100 million page views per month, and 7,000 online ads served per second.
Position 10: Rebound Returns
Entrepreneurs looking for opportunities would be well advised to follow the thinking or Rebound Returns founders Graham Best and Phil Smith. Back in 2014 they looked at the rapidly accelerating online shopping trend and identified a common but hidden problem for nearly every retailer.
Quite simply, when you can’t try things on you’re more likely to send them back. Or you order two sizes and only keep one. Online stores struggled with administering a mountain of returned goods, so Graham and Phil started work on software that would make the returns process smoother for customers and less time consuming for retailers.
Today the company counts Asos and Gymshark among 500 worldwide clients. Its platform plugs into a retailer’s website and lets customers download a QR code or printed label to send back unwanted goods. It can manage the whole process for retailers. Sales hit £16.7 million in 2018.
This isn’t cutting-edge stuff. But it’s an efficient solution to a problem that sneaked up in a business blindspot, quietly clogging up online retail systems.
Position 12: Spoke
Sometimes the best business ideas are staring you in the face. Ben Farren founded online menswear brand Spoke because of the struggle he faced finding the right fit.
Spoke doesn’t overcomplicate. It sells a small range of trousers, jeans and T-shirts. The secret is in the fit. Spoke’s proprietary technology – FitFinder – uses machine learning to help customers find the right size out of 200 different options.
Spoke is a mash-up between traditional tailoring and technological nous. It cuts more sizes than competitors, and then uses FitFinder to make sure customers get the right one for them.
It turns out that lots of men had the same problems as Ben, and Spoke has sold more than 300,000 pairs of trousers at last count. And again, while the technology behind Spoke is clever, the problem it seeks to solve is anything but new.
Position 33: Chameleon Technology
It might seem like Yorkshire-based business Chameleon Technology was in the right place at the right time when it was founded in 2010 to produce smart energy-monitoring devices. It was doing OK, right up until the Government announced its smart energy roll-out, requiring energy suppliers to offer smart energy meters to all residential and small business customers by 2020. Needless to say, the announcement was good news for the company, which saw sales spike to nearly £22 million last year.
But in business you tend to make your own luck. Founders Gary Martin and Mike Woodhall had been ahead of the game in identifying the twin pressures of rising energy costs and environmental concern, and what they would mean for energy supply. Chameleon’s current success is simply a reward for doing what successful entrepreneurs have always done: identifying a trend and taking a calculated risk.
Specialist small business insurer Hiscox sponsors the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, the definitive league table ranking the UK’s fastest growing private tech companies. As small businesses become more reliant on technology, they are increasingly becoming the target of cyber criminals. Hiscox CyberClear has been rated the most comprehensive cyber insurance policy for small businesses.
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