5 B2C companies disrupting major industries in London (2021)

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Founder: Simon Beckerman, 46

Recent events have placed many businesses in the UK under enormous pressure to innovate rapidly and reduce risk. But, as the pandemic subsides and Brexit forces a new direction for the future, the focus is now shifting from survival to long-term success.

That success comes with the ability to better accommodate the constantly evolving demands of customers and workforces alike. Remote work is undoubtedly here to stay, and technology is changing the way we buy products and interact with services. Startups that recognise these driving economic factors are those that will lead the way in their respective markets for years to come.

London is one of Europe’s leading magnets for startup investment, even despite the disruption of recent times. In fact, venture capital funding has remained largely unaffected by the impact of pandemic lockdowns and associated economic uncertainty.

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Here are our top-five picks of the fastest-growing startups headquartered in London:

#1. Monzo

Monzo simplifies online banking with the UK’s first mobile app-based current account

Founders: Gary Dolman, Jason Bates, Jonas Huckestein, Paul Rippon, & Tom Blomfield

Few sectors have undergone such a radical transformation in recent years than banking and finance. Traditional banks have long been criticised for their poor service and lack of usability, but Monzo was one of the first to challenge that reputation with the launch of one of the UK’s first mobile-first bank accounts.

Due to the extremely high barriers of entry in banking, Monzo started out in 2015 as a prepaid debit card managed entirely through their mobile app. However, two years later, the company was given a full banking license to operate current accounts for its customers. They now have over five-million customers in the UK.

Monzo’s main selling point is its outstanding ease of use. Not only is it quicker and easier to open a current account with the company – everything can be done using their Android or iOS smartphone app. This gives customers complete visibility over their finances, including where transactions took place and the logo of the company transacted with.

#2. Deliveroo

Deliveroo brings online food delivery to hundreds of locations across the UK and beyond

Founder: William Shu, 41

It wasn’t so long ago that the concept of ordering food whenever and wherever you want from a mobile app was unheard of. However, with the sudden and rapid rise of ride-sharing firms like Uber, innovative startups like Deliveroo also saw an opportunity to leverage crowdsourced drivers to deliver groceries and takeaway meals.

Founded by Will Shu in 2013, Deliveroo has since grown to become one of the fastest-growing online food delivery services in the UK. It was listed on the London stock exchange in March 2021, and now serves hundreds of locations in the UK, the rest of Europe, and beyond. While the company has yet to make a profit, it has added hundreds of millions of pounds to the UK economy.

Deliveroo lets anyone with a bicycle or valid driver’s license apply to become a rider, hence the company’s significant impact on the so-called gig economy. It has also opened up lucrative new opportunities for restaurants, particularly during the pandemic, to reach more customers and even operate exclusively as takeaways.

#3. Bulb

Bulb promotes environmental sustainability with competitive variable energy tariffs

Founders: Amit Gudka, 37 & Hayden Wood, 38

The need for clean and sustainable energy is one of the biggest concerns of the generation, but few people are willing to pay over the odds to reduce their impacts on the environment. Bulb is a London-based energy supply company seeking to change that by buying and selling electricity and gas supplies that are 100% renewable and 100% carbon neutral respectively.

Beginning trading in 2015, Bulb now holds a 5% share in the UK energy market, and it provides services in Spain, France, and Texas too. In the UK, it competes with the traditional ‘Big Six’ energy providers by offering affordable rates and a single, variable tariff. It now has more than 1.5 million customers in the UK alone.

Clean energy is Bulb’s key selling point, and the brand seeks to present itself as an exemplar in that market. It buys energy exclusively directly from wind, solar, and hydro providers or on the wholesale clean energy market. Moreover, like other tech-orientated startups, it provides convenient mobile apps for customers to track their energy usage and bills.

#4. TrimCheck

TrimCheck is an app connecting customers to a network of on-demand barbers & hairdressers.

Founder: Moaz Nabiel, 22

If you live in London and were in need of a haircut during lockdown, chances are you’ve either heard of or used TrimCheck. With the gig economy in full swing, there should be no reason why the world of barbering can’t go freelance as well. Currently, the vast majority of barbers either pay to rent a chair in a facility or split their earnings with a barbershop owner. Smaller barbershops often have to pay high rents or mortgages to the point their profits are significantly reduced.

Founded by Moaz Nabiel in 2020, TrimCheck seeks to make barbering more efficient for barbers and customers alike, and they provide mobile apps for each. Using the barbering app, barbers can manage their schedules, payment processing, messaging, and callouts. On the flip side, users can search, book and pay for a reviewed barber at the location of their choice, be it at home, the office or on the go.

The company saw a 261% increase in bookings over the past month as barbershops re opened following the lockdown. By offering haircuts on demand, either at home or in a traditional barbershop, the app is among the first in its industry to adopt a similar business model to the likes of Deliveroo and Uber.

#5. Depop

Depop brings peer-to-peer shopping for people to buy, sell, and discover fashion products

Founder: Simon Beckerman, 46

Peer-to-peer marketplaces have become one of the most popular business models of the era.  Consider, for example, how Airbnb mediates short-term property rentals for millions of venues around the world, despite not owning a single one of them. That very same model is now being applied to many other industry sectors too, such as e-commerce.

Depop is one such example of peer-to-peer commerce, albeit with the added advantages of social shopping. Social shopping uses technology to recreate the social interactions ordinarily found in physical stores and shopping malls. To that end, Depop offers a similar experience to Instagram, while facilitating buying and selling between users.

Depop specialises in fashion-related items, allowing members to buy and sell used items from clothes to jewellery and other accessories. It has proven especially popular for younger people thanks to the way it makes it easy to sell unwanted items for money. On June 2, 2021, US-based Etsy announced its intention to purchase Depop for £1.13 billion.