10 of the Best Startups in the UK from 2021

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10 of the best startups in the UK from 2021

Approaching the year’s end, we spotlight ten standout UK startups that have thrived in 2021. Spanning various sectors, including fintech and health, these promising ventures vary in age and maturity, offering diverse investment opportunities.

1. Tembo Money

Based in London, Tembo Money has set out to change how people get mortgages by utilising the power of family and generational lending. 2020 and 2021 have both been adequate years to apply for mortgages as rates have remained competitive in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic (via Fool). And whilst mortgage rates have been low, Tembo Money’s investment funds have been high. Over three rounds, the fintech company has received a grand total of $3.5 million, with the latest investment being $2.5 million in the Seed round in August 2021 (via Crunchbase).

The Moral of the Startup Story

On the recent investment round in August, CEO and co-founder of Tembo Money Richard Dana noted that:

“The average first-time buyer is confronted by a number of significant obstacles on their route to homeownership, and for many these were thought of as insurmountable.” (via UKTech News)

Tembo Money tackles generational wealth gaps affecting home ownership with a sustainable approach, boosting its longevity and attractiveness to investors. Solving enduring problems enhances both business sustainability and investment appeal.

2. Vendoir

Vendoir, the second events technology startup featured, aims to simplify booking vendors for events. While its launch is pending this year, it has already raised over $163,000 through a March 2021 equity crowdfunding round on Crowdcube.

The Moral of the Startup Story

Seek funding from investors before your service launches; pre-seed funding, similar to what Vendoir received, can fuel your growth. Utilizing contemporary investment platforms like Crowdcube simplifies fundraising, reducing reliance on traditional methods.

3. Payl8r

Payl8r, akin to Sweden’s Klarna, offers a ‘buy-now-pay-later’ option aimed at millennials. After an 18-month due diligence, it secured a £40 million investment, setting the stage for a projected £1 billion revenue in the coming years.

The Moral of the Startup Story

Payl8r’s success demonstrates the important of performing due diligence and how carrying out proper and thorough research can really help your business flourish. If you need help performing your due diligence, contact one of our experts at 7startup for personalised due diligence guidance.

4. Hopin

2021 has seen UK startup and Zoom rival Hopin rapidly grow to take the number one spot of the fastest growing European startups with an estimated value of $7.75 billion (via UKTech News). The now-unicorn successfully capitalised on the COVID pandemic and new work-from-home culture by creating a platform to help previously in-person events go virtual.

Despite only being created in 2019, Hopin has raised a grand total of $1 billion over seven funding rounds, with a Series D round raising them a whopping $450 million in August this year (via Crunchbase). The event technology company now has 30 funding investors in total and has acquired 6 organisations.

The Moral of the Startup Story

Hopin is a superb example of a startup that found a prevalent and current problem, such as the new work-from-home culture instigated by the ongoing pandemic, and created a solution. Just like Payl8r, they also show that successful businesses do not need to stem from a wildly creative and original idea – Hopin had plenty of rivals in the likes of Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams – but by providing a new angle or targeting a different market businesses can be successful even in the most congested of industries.

5. Zoe

Founded in 2017 but remaining low-key for three years, nutrition startup Zoe seized its opportunity to prosper in March 2020 when the UK entered lockdown and the startup company launched a government-supported study to locate COVID hotspots using data from 4.5 million people. Zoe’s latest investment funding was in May 2021 when the company received  $20 million from a Series B round of funding, pushing their grand total of investments up to $47 million over three funding rounds (via Crunchbase).

The Moral of the Startup Story

Startup founders can learn from Zoe that even innovative and fantastic business ideas may need some time to come into their own. Whilst rapid success stories like Hopin are more appealing, most new business startups will take longer to reach those heights. Startup founders should also be on the lookout for perfect opportunities to seize to push their business to scaleup, such as the founders of Zoe did in 2020.

6. Vaccitech

Emerging from the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, Vaccitech pioneers vaccine and immunotherapy advancements for infectious diseases and cancer. It gained prominence as the technology provider for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, solidifying its status in the startup realm. After four funding rounds, the startup raised a total of $215.6 million in investments, with their latest being a Series B round (via Crunchbase). In April 2021, Vaccitech made its debut on the US stock market where their shares were initially trading at $13.62 on the Nasdaq (via Financial Times).

The Moral of the Startup Story

Going public can greatly benefit your startup company in many ways. One main reason is that of publicity, since being placed on the stock market can widen the audience your business reaches. Learning to take advantage of timing is critical for new businesses and this was also true for Vaccitech at the time it went public. As Vaccitech’s chief executive Bill Enright said: “take money when it’s available” (via Financial Times). Enright also stressed to the Financial Times that the company had chosen that moment to go public since the global pandemic had made their work visible.

7. Koalaa

Koalaa is a soft prosthetics company that specialises in comfortable prosthetic limbs for babies, children, and adults. Over two rounds, one seed and one angel, Koalaa has raised a total of $177,300, with the latest being in May this year (via Crunchbase). A large proportion of this investment funding came from the British Design Fund. The company intends to use these funds to increase their manufacturing capabilities and to build an office from where virtual consultations can be held. Additionally, Nate Macabuag, founder of Koalaa, was recently named in Forbes’ 30 under 30 listing for social impact (via UKTech News).

The Moral of the Startup Story

While many startups typically seek funding from VCs, Angels, or Family Offices, Koalaa diverged by securing investment from the British Design Fund (BDF), known for supporting well-designed UK enterprises and providing mentoring. Tapping into industry-specific funding is an effective scaling strategy, providing access to expert guidance, yet it’s often overlooked by businesses.

8. Salestrip

Founded in 2017 and based in London, Salestrip focuses on simplifying business expense claims and spending tracking. The platform can also help companies book business trips for their employees. In January 2021, Salestrip gained $1.4 million in a Seed Funding round, reaching a grand total of $4 million in investments (via Crunchbase). The startup has had a total of three funding rounds.

 The Moral of the Startup Story

Salestrip hit the multi-million mark with investments after their first funding round back in 2019 gave them $2 million. This successful software-as-a-service (SaaS) therefore shows that a startup company does not need many funding rounds to gain plentiful and meaningful investment.

9. Omnipresent

Omnipresent simplifies hiring and managing remote employees, removing geographic barriers for startups seeking talent. As remote work gains long-term traction, investor interest in Omnipresent has surged. With ten investors and two funding rounds, the company has raised $17.8 million. Their most recent funding round took place in January 2021 where they received $15.8 million in a Series A round (via Crunchbase).

The Moral of the Startup Story

Omnipresent’s business model thrives on supporting other companies, implementing a strategy that benefits both their operations and generates profit by aiding others in similar ways.

10. Depop

Established in 2011, Depop provides a peer-to-peer e-commerce platform, ranking among the UK’s top startups and steadily enhancing its position. In April 2021, it secured an undisclosed amount from an investor in a non-equity financial transaction, sustaining its financial momentum for the year. The grand total of investments made into Depop since 2011 has reached $105.6 million over seven funding rounds (via Crunchbase).

The Moral of the Startup Story

Depop is a great example of a UK startup that never stops growing. Founded a decade ago, the platform continues to impact in 2021 with its innovative business concept. Depop exemplifies that there’s no ceiling to growth, encouraging founders to constantly broaden their business horizons.

UK startups can learn about ideal funding times and creative thinking for business ideas from these examples. Yet, business growth lacks a universal formula; trusting your intuition and seeking expert advice remain key strategies.


If you found this to be an interesting read, check out our post – Why invest in the UK?

Amit Khanna

Amit Khanna, 7startup Founder

Amit has two decades of experience in the industry and an MBA. He supports entrepreneurs with every aspect of their business including concept and product development, investor presentations, and fundraising. Amit & 7startup assist startups in the pre due-diligence process and help connect them to our vast network of investors. Reach out to us today and see if we’re a fit.

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