Last year, the UK produced 11 unicorns — more than any other country in Europe and accounting for 23% of the 47 total unicorns "born" on the continent in 2022. That was nothing compared to the heady days of 2021 though, when the country produced 38 billion-dollar businesses, 55% of Europe’s herd that year.
Where once becoming a unicorn was many a startup’s dream, recently the magic has faded for some: plenty of billion-dollar businesses have lost the title — UK climate tech Britishvolt collapsed into administration this year and now publicly listed used car platform Cazoo and digital doctor Babylon are valued at far less than $1bn.
Despite the doubts, reaching the horned status is still quite a feat and retains some of its sparkle for much of Europe’s startup scene. So, who could be next to make it past the mark? Here are 12 UK-based startups that are well on their way to that $1bn+ valuation, according to Dealroom data.
What does it do? Buys business invoices for cash upfront
London-based Stenn helps businesses which trade around the world to quickly access cash from as yet unpaid invoices. Companies "sell" their invoices to Stenn for cash up front without affecting the credit rating of the business. The company last raised $50m from PE firm Centerbridge Partners at a $900m valuation in 2022.
What does it do? A stock trading and investing app
Freetrade has an app which makes it easier for everyday folk to invest in the stock market. It’s drummed up around $131m in investment since launching in 2016, with around $26m raised through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. VC backers include Molten Ventures and Left Lane Capital.
What does it do? AI-powered data analysis software
Quantexa uses AI to analyse user behaviour data, which it says helps companies reduce the risk of financial crime. The London-based company has raised around $241m to date; in 2021 it raised a $153m Series D from investors including HSBC, Albion VC, Warburg Pincus and Dawn Capital.
What does it do? Audience research and data platform for marketing teams
GWI is an audience data platform which it says helps customers keep ahead of consumer trends. It raised a $180m Series B in February 2022, led by investment firm Permira.
What does it do? Employee group insurance, benefits and rewards
YuLife is an employee benefits engagement platform which encourages members to prioritise their wellbeing. Those that do earn rewards, which can be used on climate-friendly projects like tree planting or meal donations; companies can track their carbon impact through those contributions. YuLife raised a $120m Series C in July 2022, bringing its total funding to around $207m. Investors include LocalGlobe, Anthemis, Creandum, MMC Ventures, Notion Capital, Target Global and Eurazeo.
What does it do? Menstrual cycle tracking app
Flo’s app helps users track their periods, ovulation cycles and fertility. It raised a $50m Series B in 2021 from Target Global and VNV Global.
What does it do? A single card for multiple bank accounts
London-based Curve lets customers consolidate several bank accounts into a single card, managed on one app. The company also has a "swipe now, pay later" service, backed by a $1bn loan facility.
What does it do? Card-to-card money transfers
Scotland-based PaySend allows users to transfer money from the UK to international accounts, cards or digital wallets for a £1 fee. It’s raised around $159m, most recently raising a $125m Series B in 2021.
What does it do? A platform for consumers to invest in public markets
PrimaryBid’s platform gives users in the UK access to public company fundraises and IPOs at the same time as institutional investors, and takes no commission on investments made. It’s secured around $253m in funding so far, boosted by its $190m Series C in February 2022, led by Molten Ventures and SoftBank.
What does it do? Commerce management for hotels
A London-HQ’d platform for hotels to manage booking sites, payments and cancellations in one place, SiteMinder has drummed up around $168m in funding since launching.
What does it do? Operating and infrastructure software for banks
Founded by former Barclays CEO Antony Jenkins, 10x Banking offers an operating system for banks to speed up operations and update legacy technology. In July 2021, it raised $187m from investors including BlackRock and Nationwide, bringing its total funding to around $252m.
Clear Score Technology
What does it do? Credit score and report provider
ClearScore allows users to access their credit score and credit report information for free, helps them check how likely they are to be accepted for credit cards and loans and connects them with partnered lenders. It last raised capital from PE firm Invus in June 2021, when it secured $200m at a $700m valuation.