The UK's Top 20 Startups Of The 2000s Revealed – Forbes

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Which companies would top the rankings in a league of the U.K.’s best startup businesses? A new list from Startups.co.uk, the online advice platform for growing businesses, claims to have the answers. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, the platform has just published its list of the top 20 startup businesses that have emerged since its launch in 2000.
There have certainly been plenty of good candidates to choose from. The U.K. is sometimes criticised for its ability to generate world-beating scale-up businesses, but it has an excellent record on startup businesses. Britons have launched more than 600,000 new businesses in each of the past five years according to data from Companies House – pretty impressive given that 20 years ago, the number was more like 200,000.
Moreover, while sceptics tend to point out that the failure rate for new businesses is high, the U.K. has seen more incorporations than dissolutions in each year of the past decade – in other words, the country’s stock of businesses continues to grow.
Still, quality counts as much as quantity, which brings us to the Startups.co.uk ranking. The platform picked its winners by looking for those companies that have “shaped, defined and disrupted their sectors, or brought around major change in the U.K. startup scene.”
“The Startups 20 isn’t just an index of big U.K. businesses; it’s a snapshot of two decades of change,” says Startups.co.uk’s editor Bryn Glover. “From the start of the new millennium to Covid in 2020, so much can change and in so many cases these businesses have helped to lead the charge.”
Not all these businesses have become household names or reached stratospheric valuations, though the ranking includes examples that certainly do satisfy those criteria. But what’s really striking about the ranking is how so many businesses that once seemed so novel and unusual have come to define their marketplaces.
In the food sector, for example, Deliveroo is now a ubiquitous presence up and down the high street. In financial services, comparison sites such as GoCompare are an automatic first port of call for consumers shopping around for a good deal. TransferWise has revolutionised international money transfers while Zoopla has changed the way Britons search for a new property.
Some of the newer businesses on the list are yet to achieve such penetration, but there is every chance that startups such as Starling and Bulb, for example, will come to be seen as the norm in their sectors.
Nor is the list overly focused on technology businesses, which so often dominate in the startup date. There are indeed firms in the ranking that depend on technology to facilitate their business model, but there are also plenty of startups in very traditional industries. Brewdog, for example, has been a breath of fresh air in the brewing sector; Ella’s Kitchen has challenged the way people think about food for young children; Pip & Nut is riding the consumer health wave, promoting interest in natural products.
“Business is always evolving, and we’re proud to have seen these companies grow over the years from simple ideas into – in some cases – multi-billion-pound organisations,” adds Glover. And in doing so, these businesses – and many others – continue to prove that the U.K. really can support and sustain successful entrepreneurs.
The Startups 20
Brewdog (founded 2007)                  Craft brewery and pub chain
Bulb (2015)                                          Renewable energy provider
Cazoo (2018)                                       Used car seller
Crowdcube/Seedrs (2009)                Equity crowdfunding platforms
Deliveroo (2013)                                 On demand restaurant meal delivery service
Ella’s Kitchen (2006)                          Organic baby and toddler food
GoCompare (2006)                            Financial services comparison website
GymShark (2012)                               Gym clothes and workout wear
JustGiving (2000)                               Online fundraising platform
Levi Roots Reggae Foods (2007)    Jerk barbeque sauce
Mindful Chef (2014)                           Healthy recipe box delivery
Mumsnet Online (2000)                     forum for parents
Not On The High Street (2006)        Online marketplace for small businesses
Pip & Nut (2013)                                 Natural nut butters
Starling (2014)                                     Mobile only business bank account
Tails.com (2013)                                 Pet food subscription service
TransferWise (2010)                          International money transfer service
What3words (2013)                            Geocode system/location finder
Zoopla (2008)                                      Online property information service
Zopa (2005)                                         Peer to peer lending service
Nb. Companies are listed in alphabetical order
Nb. Companies are listed in alphabetical order

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