With Christmas fast approaching, there’s a note of urgency in the air when it comes to sorting out gifts. Most of us turn to major retailers and international e-commerce giants in our time of need. But there are alternatives. Startups around Britain are creating a huge variety of products that would make excellent presents.
We’ve put our in-depth, up-to-the-minute research platform to the test to discover the very best present-shaped offerings from young, high-growth British businesses.
This Birmingham-based company puts a twist on the traditional gift of flower bouquets by offering “beer bouquets made up of bottles of real ale or craft beer”. These are “hand-selected from some of the UK’s finest micro-breweries,” meaning they won’t be found in your local supermarket!
Founder Lisa Molloy, who remains the company’s sole shareholder, attended the Entrepreneurial Spark accelerator in October 2015, winning a £2000 prize for her business pitch. This has helped her to expand Bro-quet’s product offering to include whiskey and gin bouquets.
This holiday season Bro-quet is offering a ‘little Christmas bro-quet’ complete with three bottles of carefully-selected beers and ales.
Each bouquet is accompanied by a glass, a bottle opener and a beer mat.
If those weren’t enough, Bro-quet bouquets also come with a selection of Tyrrells quality snacks or luxury chocolates.
2. Sorry As A Service
Sorry As A Service aims to make corporate apologies that little bit easier. The company claims to allow firms to “express their human side” by providing an efficient and considered way to apologise to disgruntled customers. They achieve this by sending handmade gifts to unhappy customers all over the world on behalf of these organisations.
Sorry As A Service also offers ‘thank you’ and congratulatory gifts, as well as a select number of birthday and miscellaneous gift options too – most of which are culinary or stationery-based, but the service also offers a tank-driving experience.
After moving operations to the UK in 2015 (to take part in an incubator), Sorry As A Service raised £14,600 in equity investment from accelerator Startup Wise Guys. Still in its seed stage, the firm has continued to grow raising a further £11,500 through Techstars London Acceleratorand in 2016 an undisclosed amount from innovation specialists L Marks.
We’d have to say some of the company’s beautiful personalised biscuits – what better way to show your commitment to customers?
Wisher aims to make dealing with unwanted gifts a thing of the past this Christmas. The app attempts to eliminate the burden of returning gifts by allowing users to create a wishlist – simple and effective. It even deals with the potential issue of the same present being bought twice by notifying other users once a gift on the list has been purchased.
Founder Marelize Cohen remains active in the company acting as director of the organisation. In 2016 Wisher raised £300k in equity investment from undisclosed investors.
Not strictly a gift, but Wisher is a useful and effective tool to get the gifts people actually want.
4. The Unseen
A global consultancy and brand in its own right, The Unseen describes itself as a ‘material exploration house’; it mixes science, fashion and ‘magic’ to create its unique collections of clothes, artwork and jewellery. A key feature of the organisation is a special ink they have developed which is able to change colour in response to different environmental stimuli.
In keeping with the mystery that surrounds the brand, investors remain undisclosed. However, their magic is clearly working. Founder and sole director Lauren Bowkers’ company has managed to secure £626K in three rounds of equity investments since 2013.
There are a number of options to choose from, but with with it being winter we have to go for their scarf, shown right. Just be prepared to splash the cash…
5. Culture Label
The firm creates physical products, ideal gift material, from contemporary and famous works of art from around the world. These range from crockery to jewellery, bags, and accessories. While many items will set you back more than £200, gift cards start from just £10.
Backed in 2012 to the tune of £650k, Culture Label has dran funds from EC1 Capital, in a round that valued the firm at £1.8m.
There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to art, but we think this beautiful unisex Klimt t-shirt is guaranteed to please.
Wonderbly (formerly Lost My Name) is not your everyday children’s publisher.
They believe in the uniqueness of every child’s imagination, and follow this philosophy by creating personalised books placing children front and centre of their own stories.
Launched in 2012, the firm works by allowing customers to create a book based on the name and illustrations of a particular child, creating a level of personalisation not seen in elsewhere the industry.
Wonderbly’s rise has been meteoric. After initially raising £400k in equity investment from Forward Partners and angel investors Tom Hulme (of IDEO), Paul Fisher, and Matt Wheeler (from Driftrock), the publisher also received £100k after an appearance on the BBC’s Dragons Den. This investment continued, with the company raising £5.7m in 2015 from investors including Google Ventures (GV), Greycroft Partners, and Allen and Company, to name a few.
That same year, the firm was accelerated by FutureFifty, and proceeded to raise £3.1m in June 2016. One year on in July 2017, the company’s most recent round of fundraising, the firm secured £6.4m of investment through a combination of equity fundraising and loans, in a round which valued it at just under £37m.