\The London startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

\The London startups and scaleups to watch in 2021

London is the top startup city in Europe. Which companies should be on your watchlist?

So far this year London startups have raised a record €11.8bn from VC funds, more than the €14.5bn in all of 2020.

But which are the most exciting startups and scaleups based in the city? Which are the ones to watch in 2021?

Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of more than 130 exciting companies we think you need to know about, with an added 'Sifted take' on some to provide an extra layer of insight.

It's a mixture of the big and the small, the well known and the under the radar. But all are making waves. Keep reading below and stay informed about Europe’s new economy!

(P.S The data is from European Startups, with valuation estimates from Dealroom. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know by email at [email protected]).

Key

Year founded

Amount raised

Last funding round

Valuation

Employees

Zencargo's logo

Zencargo

Digital freight forwarder

transportation / logistics & delivery

zencargo.com

London, UK

2017

€59m

SERIES B

€80-120m

100-500

Sifted Take

Zencargo is in the market of digitising the European logistics market currently worth $427bn in Europe alone, using machine learning in its operations. In 2020, the freight forwarder collaborated with DHL and a crowdfunding campaign to deliver millions of £ worth of essential PPE for frontline NHS workers.

Perhaps 2021 will bring another successful funding round after it raised $20m in its 2019 Series A round, led HV Holtzbrinck Ventures.

Related: Germany's Sennder becomes Europe's latest unicorn

What3words's logo

What3words

Allows people to find a location more accurately

fintech; marketing / ecommerce solutions

what3words.com

London, UK

2012

€27m

LATE VC

€39m

100-500

Sifted Take

What3words is a geocoding system that communicates locations without the need for latitude, longtitude, or location sharing — or internet connection, as the system relies on a fixed algorithim. Why did no one think of this before? It has great potential not only for emergency services, but ecommerce and general navigation. In February 2020, it was used for the first time in Scotland by stranded walkers, in the same month in Australia for a rescue mission. The PR fodder just keeps coming.

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Primer's logo

Primer

API-based digital payments

fintech /

primer.io

London, UK

2020

€22m

SERIES A

€67-101m

10-50

Sifted Take

The fintech startup only launched in early 2020, and has already received £14m in backing from Accel. But it still needs to win over larger payment providers in order to operate. If Accel has hope, we're watching closely — and you should too.

Checkout.com CEO pours cold water on Accel’s £14m fintech investment in Primer

Read more: The best London startups to work at in 2021

Farmdrop's logo

Farmdrop

Online grocery platform

food / logistics & delivery

farmdrop.com

London, UK

2012

€21m

SERIES B

€34-50m

50-100

Sifted Take

In the first lockdown, online grocery platform Farmdrop experienced unusually high demand. It delivers fresh, sustainable and locally-sourced produce and it works with 450 food and drink producers in the UK, supplying Londoners.

By simplifying the supply chain, its experienced serious levels of growth year on year, including a record month in March, so 2021 bodes well.

Read more: Lunch club: Farmdrop stirs up its business model

WeFarm's logo

WeFarm

Social media for farmers

food;enterprise software / agritech

wefarm.org

London, UK

2015

€31m

SERIES A

€47-70m

50-100

Sifted Take

Agtech is a key industry, and Wefarm is one of its key cogs. It's focused on SMS messaging that connects rural farmers around the world to an AI-based crowdsourced network of forums. Since its launch in 2015, over 5m questions have been asked with over 11m answers. Backed by the Norrksen Foundation, it's one to watch.

Related: Building the first sustainability unicorn

Argent Labs's logo

Argent Labs

Safe, simple, decentralised Ethereum wallet

fintech / cryptocurrency;investing

argent.xyz

London, UK

2018

€18m

SERIES A

€44-65m

10-50

Sifted Take

Argent was Sequoia-backed VC firm Paradigm's first European investment. And after a bumper season for the primary altcoin Ethereum, the decentralised, non-custodial wallet designed for ETH holdings can be expected to boom in a market increasingly fuelled by institutional investors.

The app has raised $16m since its public launch in May 2020, primarily backed by Paradigm, Index Ventures and Creandum.

Read more: Betting on the future: The VCs backing 'decentralised' finance

Codat's logo

Codat

API-based financial software provider focused on small businesses

fintech / enterprise software

codat.io/

London, UK

2017

€64m

SERIES B

€36-55m

50-100

Sifted Take

Codat's definitely a fintech to watch in 2021. Isabel Woodford reports: "As the UK begins the transition from open banking to open finance, Codat is a prime example of the benefits an open finance future could hold."

Related: Move over Monzo: investors love B2B fintechs now

Plum's logo

Plum

Automated savings bot

fintech /

withplum.com

London, UK

2016

€18m

EARLY VC

€35-52m

50-100

Sifted Take

Catering to first-time, small investors, Plum is certainly popular with over 1m users. And it's paying off — it raised $8.7m in its July 2020 round led by Global Brain, and has tripled its number of employees across its London and Athens offices from January 2020. It hopes to deliver a complete product to the rest of Europe soon.

Cutover's logo

Cutover

Cloud-based workplace management software

enterprise software /

cutover.com

London, UK

2013

€50m

SERIES B

€62-93m

50-100

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Visionable's logo

Visionable

Video platform for healthcare workers

health / media

visionable.com

London, UK

2019

€18m

SERIES A

€29-43m

50-100

Koru Kids's logo

Koru Kids

Platform to match nannies and families

marketplace & ecommerce / recruitment

korukids.co.uk

London, UK

2017

€17m

SERIES A

€48-72m

100-500

Sifted Take

As any parent of young children will know, the pandemic has made the challenging task of childcare next to impossible. Often overlooked, the childcare industry is an "essential infrastructure", Koru Kids' cofounder Carrell says.

The childcare startup has had to adapt from its core service — after-school care, to full-time support. And it's not doing bad at all — having received 100k applications from nannies in 2019.

Coronavirus prompts surge in demand for childcare startups

Qatalog's logo

Qatalog

Virtual workspace platform using SaaS

saas / enterprise software

qatalog.com

London, UK

2019

€17m

SERIES A

€55-82m

10-50

Sifted Take

Going virtual has been a challenge for almost everyone but Qatalog, the startup that brings together SaaS tools from Slack to Asana to form a 'virtual workspace'. In October 2020, it raised $15m in its Series A round led by Atomico. It tailors workspaces to companies, supporting them in the creation of workflows and silos. It plans to use the money to build its London team.

Yapily's logo

Yapily

Enterprise connectivity platform that allows companies to share financial data and access payment infrastructure

banking / payments

yapily.com

London, UK

2017

€63m

SERIES B

€185-278m

50-100

Sifted Take

Yapily is a London-based open finance infrastructure provider which connects companies to banks using a secure open API. During the pandemic it has seen customer growth surge 3.5x as online shopping became even more entrenched into the global economy than before.

In July 2021, the startup raised $51m in its Series B funding round led by Sapphire Ventures. Read more: 21 fintechs to watch in 2021, according to top founders

Fidel's logo

Fidel

Card-linking API

fintech / API

fidel.uk

London, UK

2013

€16m

SERIES A

€65-98m

50-100

Karakuri's logo

Karakuri

Robot kitchen

London, UK

2018

€16m

EARLY VC

€43m

10-50

Sifted Take

Set out to change the restaurant kitchen, Karakuri's robotics is focused on food prep. In a post-Covid-19 world where we're back at restaurants, its lack of compromise on hygiene and safety surely grants it a secure place in the increasingly saturated robot market. And its set to provide services for big catering companies and grocery businesses too. Watch out for the results of its DK-One robot trial in restaurants — when it finally goes ahead. Brunch with Sifted: Karakuri’s robot chef

Robots to reshape the post-pandemic economy

Unmind's logo

Unmind

Workplace mental health platform

health / enterprise software

unmind.com

London, UK

2016

€57m

SERIES B

€171-256m

100-500

Sifted Take

Unmind is a workplace mental health platform that includes services such as teletherapy. Its USP is the Unmind Index — a clinically backed assessment that helps users understand their mental health, and anonymises and aggregates the data to help employers understand trends within their team.

Currently, the company counts major businesses such as Uber, British Airways and Samsung amongst others, and serves over 2 million users. In May 2021, Unmind raised a Series B funding round led by EQT Ventures that made it Europe’s best-funded mental health startup. Read more: [Mental health startups boom as pandemic anxieties worsen] (https://sifted.eu/articles/mental-health-startups-are-in-high-demand-these-days/)

CharlieHR's logo

CharlieHR

Human resources platform for small businesses

recruitment / enterprise software

charliehr.com

London, UK

2015

€1m

SERIES A

€5-7m

10-50

Sifted Take

CharlieHR advises on the legislative aspects of recruitment and is backed by Connect Ventures.

Allplants's logo

Allplants

Making and delivering vegan meals

food / logistics & delivery

allplants.com

London, UK

2016

€14m

SEED

€17-25m

50-100

Sifted Take

The vegan meal delivery startup allplants has benefited not only from the pandemic, but from a huge boom in veganism and flexitarianism in 2020. In March, its customers increased by 400%.

Based on a record-breaking Veganuary alone (according to the Vegan Society), 2021 could well be another successful year for the company.

Online food startups sizzling — but for how long?

Infogrid's logo

Infogrid

Optimising building management and efficiency

energy / IoT

infogrid.io

London, UK

2018

€14m

SERIES A

€56-85m

10-50

Papier's logo

Papier

Online stationery store

fashion / accessories

papier.com

London, UK

2015

€14m

SERIES B

€41-61m

100-500

Sifted Take

With its high-street equivalent Paperchase recently going into administration, the online stationery brand Papier experienced a 300% demand and a 6% boost in overall revenue — and still its eager to broaden its reach further by exploring new payment and delivery options that could push them further.

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