If there is one thing that is certain about the London startup ecosystem, it is the fact that no one knows what is the next big thing. Netguru has been brave enough to list top 10 most promising startups in 2016. We have now checked how our predictions worked and, happy with the accuracy, we take the challenge again.
This year’s list is made in a specific way. Firstly, we have selected the areas that we believe are ready for disruption in 2017: Automotive, AR, VR, Personal Banking and Personal Investment. Then we have looked for promising startups that already offer a product or service that we believe in. There are two startups in each field, one that is our favourite, and another that is there, but with a specific angle that makes it less disruptive while still poised for success.
For example, in the automotive industry, we have all heard about driverless cars. Five.ai is a startup from London that promises to deliver such vehicles by 2019. They will come to our list then, but now it is too early for them.
In 2017, the market is still about buying cars that need drivers. And this kind of market is being disrupted by our first choice.
Carspring - Fueled by the German Rocket Internet and founded by ex-McKinsey consultants, Peter Baumgart and Maximilian Vollenbroich, Carspring removes the pain of private purchase of used cars. It takes care of everything, including thorough technical and legal screening and delivery of the car to your driveway.
An alternative choice in this category is Carwow. The company launched by chief executive James Hind, Alexandra Margolis and David Santoro in 2013 has raised over £18 million and forced BMW Group to allow its dealers to work with the platform. Carwow allows you to configure your dream car and wait for the best offers from dealers.
Augmented Reality had a fail start with Google Glass, but in 2017 the time has come. Our favourite in this category is WaveOptics based in Oxfordshire. Founded by CEO Sumanta Talukdar and CTO David Grey, the company is going to revolutionise the logistics industry with its glass technology.
Our alternative choice is the well known British unicorn Blippar. Blippar is actually one of the investors in WaveOptics. The company created and led by Ambarish Mitra, recently named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, is an app that provides you with additional information on everyday objects. Recently it has added a face recognition feature with a database of 70,000 public figures.
If AR is not enough, how about full immersion? London has a choice of VR startups, but in 2017 we will be watching Improbable. Its SpatialOS has just entered open beta and allows developers to create big scale virtual worlds. It integrates with the Unreal Engine toolkit and subsidised Google Cloud which basically means that every indie developer can now start building VR games.
The alternative choice in this space is actually a hardware solution. Wizdish ROVR is kind of a treadmill that makes walking in the virtual world possible and safe in confined spaces. Compatible with most, if not all, VR googles it means that a First-Person Shooter played in VR will finally give you some sweat.
Whatever happens to the City of London after the Brexit we will still need some banking. If all the bankers are gone, at least we will have Monzo - the fully digital, mobile-first bank of Britain. The company has now almost finished its Crowdcube campaign to raise the first £2.5m of its £75m target and is promising an IPO in the next 7 to 10 years.
The alternative choice is Osper, which brings banking to children and teenagers between 8 and 18 years old. Its founder, Alick Varma, has previously worked at McKinsey and Spotify, he also trained to be a math teacher.
Nutmeg is surely a company to watch. It’s robo advisor platform offers ISA and pension plans. Founded in 2011 by former stockbroker Nick Hungerford, the company has recently closed a 42m Series D.
An alternative choice in this category is Moneybox. Much younger, founded by Ben Stanway and Charlie Mortimer in 2015 the company focussed on savings plans for Millennials allowing them to invest every single pound of spare change.
We have had to limit ourselves to just five areas and 10 startups for the sake of the clickbait title. There are other industries where 2017 will be a year of change. London is bustling with innovation with 7,682 startups born in 2016. We have no crystal ball either, so please feel free to add your areas and promising startups that you believe will have their place in the summary of the year that we will write in December.