Welcome to the final instalment of our guide to the crème de la crème of the technology start-up scene
Capitalising on the ‘big data’ phenomenon, Halstead is the founder and CTO of DataSift, which helps businesses derive real value from the mountains of information produced by social media. Founded in just 2010, DataSift can already boast 10,000 users, offices in four cities and $14m in investment. Halstead has form: he is also the brains behind TweetMeme, which tracked the most commonly shared tweets. He later canned TweetMeme to focus on DataSift – but not before gaining millions of users across 30 different countries and famously inventing Twitter’s ‘retweet’ button.
It took many iterations of moo.com, the online print business started by Moross back in 2004, to get the recipe for success just right. Integrations with Flickr and Facebook, among others, and a solid focus on product quality and customer service alike have meant the company’s business cards now fly off the proverbial shelves. Turnover was a healthy £12.8m in 2011 and the company employs 125 staff across its UK and US offices. Self-confessed design geek Moross is hot property these days: last year he was made a non-executive director of betting firm Ladbrokes.
Martha Lane Fox CBE
Co-founder of lastminute.com and former poster girl of the dotcom boom, Lane Fox has since founded private karaoke company Lucky Voice, been a board member of Channel 4, mydeco.com (a business started by her lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman) and Marks & Spencer. In 2009, she was appointed the UK government’s digital inclusion champion and given the rather tall task of making the UK public more computer literate. All of this was achieved despite a serious car crash in 2004 that nearly killed her and has left her with ongoing medical problems. We take our hat off to this lady.
Oxford graduate Azhar began his career as a celebrated tech journalist for The Guardian and The Economist, where he demonstrated a deep understanding and passion for emergent technologies. Moving on to the strategy side, he worked at BBC Online during its formative years before becoming the head of innovation at Reuters in 2005. He founded PeerIndex – a tool for evaluating and understand the social capital a person has built online – in 2009. In stints between that little lot, he’s been an investor and advisor to some of Europe’s most exciting and fast-growth start-ups. Azhar’s social capital? Sky high.
Sara Murray OBE
Murray is best known as the founder of confused.com and the inventor of Buddi, a miniaturised tracking device for vulnerable people. Buddi is now used the length and breadth of the country to track previous offenders as well as sufferers of dementia. She is currently awaiting the outcome of a couple of public sector procurement bids, which would seriously bulk up her business. Not satisfied with that little lot, Murray is also a member of the government’s Technology Strategy Board and is a mentor at Seedcamp – an organisation set up to jumpstart entrepreneurial activity in the UK.
As co-founder and CEO of Monitise, Lukies has been a key figure in the mobile money space for more than a decade. Monitise has not only garnered support from global financial institutions, payment providers and mobile network operators, it has also attracted investment from blue-chips including Visa, Standard Chartered Bank and 3i. What’s more, Monitise was recognised as a ‘technology pioneer’ by the World Economic Forum in 2006 on the basis of its ability to help social change. Right on.
Shields caused some eyebrows to raise skywards at the end of last year when she quit as Facebook’s European boss to run Tech City, the government’s initiative to promote east London as a technology and innovation hub. It’s easy to see why Tech City was so keen to hire her: she has previously worked at Google and ran social networking site Bebo, selling it for close to $850m. It’s a good job Shields is no stranger to pressure: it’ll be all eyes on her to see what her expertise and knowledge can bring to the controversial government quango.
Samir Desai, James Meekings, Andrew Mullinger
Desai, Meekings and Mullinger are better known on the UK tech scene as the bright sparks behind peer-to-peer lending site Funding Circle. At the time of writing, Funding Circle has facilitated more than £74m in loans to small- and medium-sized businesses in the UK. Having secured funding from VC heavyweights Index Ventures among others (raising $21.2m to date) and attracting board members such as start-up veteran Ed Wray of Betfair, the future is certainly rosy for this lending innovator.
Doug Monro and Andrew Hunter
This month’s One to watch, these affable chaps are the brains behind Adzuna, a new kind of search engine for classified ads that uses nifty technology to connect the ads with companies that users already know via social networks. Still in its infancy, Adzuna has done enough to convince VCs they want a slice of the action with Index Ventures and Passion Capital on board already. It’s no surprise that they’re lining up to get involved, with Monro and Hunter’s sterling start-up credentials, many are expecting great things from this pair. No pressure, then.
Eric van der Kleij
The Dutch-born, South-Africa-raised entrepreneur started and ran a number of successful technology businesses and raised £30m from VCs in 2000 to take his credit card fraud firm Adeptra to the world. Having left the business in 2006, it’s easy to see why he was asked by the government to help establish its Global Entrepreneur Programme, which helps early-stage entrepreneurs from around the world set up in the UK. In 2011, he was made CEO of Tech City, a post he held for a year before going to head up the Level39 Fintech Accelerator Programme for the Canary Wharf Group.
The only corporate representative on our list, we have a special place in our heart for the UK chief of tech giant Cisco. For, despite being at the helm of a behemoth, Smith is at the forefront of technical innovation and the push for increased entrepreneurialism in the UK. 2012 was a big year for Smith: he was named as the new chairman of the Technology Strategy Board and announced Cisco’s intention to invest an eye-watering $500m in east London’s burgeoning technology sector in the next five years. What’s more, the networking firm was a key London 2012 supplier, and set up 30 Cisco Network Academies in east London schools as part of its commitment to the Olympic legacy. The cherry on top for Smith was being voted as leader of the year at the National Business Awards last November.
Dey flexed his entrepreneurial muscle from a young age. At 17, he founded and chaired the first English Secondary Students’ Association (ESSA). Then, upon graduation from the University of Oxford (with a first class degree in economics and management, no less), Dey barely stopped to draw breath before founding enternships.com, a service providing ‘entrepreneurial work placements’ by connecting students and graduates to start-ups, SMEs and ‘intrapreneurial’ firms. His work has brought him to the attention of judging panels far and wide, not least of all the World Economic Forum who named him the youngest young global leader in the 2012 cohort.
Hogarth is one smart cookie: having gained a masters in machine learning from Cambridge University, Hogarth created a clever way to track the music users listen to and notify them when their favourite bands and artists are playing live. Taking a slice of ticket sales, Hogarth has proved that there are still ways to make money from the music industry if you’re innovative enough. Songkick is music to investors’ ears and has raised $16.5m since its inception in 2007, including wonga from high-rolling VC firms Sequoia Capital and Index Ventures.
Having begun her stellar career at Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Kiwi Murray subsequently joined Vodafone New Zealand and was one of the founding team to take it to full commercial launch in 1993. Having completed an MBA at London Business School, Murray co-founded Omega Logic in 1999 and launched pre-pay mobile top-ups in to the UK. After building revenues to an impressive £7m, she flogged the company to Eposs, later becoming the parent company’s CEO and doubling its revenues in a mere two years. She’s now an early-stage investor and was voted Angel Investor of the Year in 2011.
Not one to be deterred by a downturn, Barnett launched ad technology company Struq in 2008 at the height of the recession. Despite not raising a penny in finance, it survived and thrived during straitened times and has become a roaring success, adding All Saints, Nike, Adidas, Thomas Cook and Topshop to an impressive client roster. In 2011, the business turned over £19m – and its meteoric growth shows no sign of slowing.
Often dubbed ‘the godfather of European VC’, Klein has been at the centre of tech entrepreneurial activity for the best part of three decades. The last of the companies he founded, Innovations, conducted the first ever consumer e-commerce transaction in May 1995. Since his own glittering operational career he has proved to be a highly successful investor, backing the likes of Agent Provocateur, lastminute.com, LoveFilm, Wonga, moo.com, Moshi Monsters, Skimlinks and many more.
Albion London – founded by Goodman a decade ago – has positioned itself as the go-to digital agency for entrepreneurs. Having worked with the likes of Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks and Saul Klein from Index Ventures, Goodman has established himself as integral a part of the start-up scene as the entrepreneurs he works with. The agency also teaches blue-chip companies to think ‘smaller’, and be more nimble and innovative – before the scrappy start-ups outmanoeuvre them. Goodman is also a mentor at Seedcamp and accelerator Wayra.
It seems counterintuitive somehow to refer to Butcher as a mere hack as he is so much more. As European editor of TechCrunch and co-founder of TechHub, he is as much a part of the European tech scene as many of the companies he writes about. Having written for every UK newspaper you can think of, he has been named as a key influencer on every list from the Top 50 Most Influential Britons in Technology by The Daily Telegraph in 2009, and in both 2010 and 2011 Butcher was given the nod as one of London’s most influential people in new media and ‘king of dotcom commentators’ by the Evening Standard.