Promoting entrepreneurship became a central tenet of the UK’s economic strategy under the Cameron-Osborne premiership. By copying the ambition and innovation of Silicon Valley, the government hoped it could encourage a whole generation of entrepreneurs to reinvigorate an economy which was flailing in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash. In some regards, this policy was a success – the UK is now the unicorn startup capital of Europe, and was recently named the most business-friendly country in the world by Forbes. Some of the founders behind this boom have helped found numerous successful startups – so-called serial entrepreneurs. In this post we’ve researched some of the UK’s top serial entrepreneurs, looking at the success of the companies they’ve founded.
Matt Robinson – GoCardless & Nested
First up on our list is Matt Robinson. This serial entrepreneur graduated from Oxford in 2008 with a law degree, before a 2 year stint on a Mckinsey graduate scheme. Following that, he founded GoCardless, fast becoming something of a household name. Company filings for their latest fundraising have yet to be released, but our research indicates their 2017 investment round gave them a valuation of over £400m. This company has developed a software platform designed to help businesses arrange and manage recurring payments.
If this current rate of growth continues the startup could well be on course for a $1b valuation by the end of 2020.
After five years at GoCardless, Robinson launched a new venture – Nested, already a well-known brand in the UK’s fast-growth business ecosystem. Nested is a chain-free, digital-only estate agent, which provides sellers with an upfront advance whilst trying to sell their old home. This young company has already undergone huge levels of growth, raising nearly £200m in finance. It was recently listed as a Disruptor to Watch by The Sunday Times Fast Track.
George Karibian – PaymentSense & Capital On Tap
Next up on our list is George Karibian, a Texan native who studied at the University of Texas before completing an MBA at Wharton. Karibian founded two companies in the 00s – XLN Telecom and Euroffice. However, his more impressive ventures came from 2010 onwards – PaymentSense, Judopay, and Capital on Tap.
PaymentSense is one of the UK’s leading payment processing startups, providing card payment machines (with associated digitised payment software) to merchants in the UK. The company’s raised over £300m in total financing, and it’s already generating impressive levels of profit (£18m). Judopay also operates in the payment processing sector, developing software that allows for one-click payments in mobile apps (Amazon’s patent for 1-Click software recently expired). Capital On Tap, meanwhile is a challenger bank focussing on the SME loan market. Their turnover is growing rapidly, and remarkably, the company has already turned a profit.
Charles Delingpole – ComplyAdvantage
Cambridge graduate Carles Delingpole has had a surprising career, having founded The Student Room (a widely used educational forum) whilst at Sixth Form (according to his LinkedIn). Following university he worked at J. P. Morgan as an investment associate, before founding first MarketInvoice, and then ComplyAdvantage, which we recently rated as one of the UK’s leading AI startups.
MarketInvoice was an early fintech startup. Their online platform allows users to access finance which is secured against their invoices. Invoices are traditionally paid a few months after a service or project has been provided. MarketInvoice connects businesses with financiers willing to up-front the invoice, in exchange for an interest-added payment when the invoice does come through.
ComplyAdvantage, meanwhile, is a web-based, AI-enabled tool which helps firms comply with financial regulation relating to crimes such as money laundering and terrorist funding. In January they raised $30m from VC heavyweights Index and Balderton, in a round that our research suggests valued them at $115m.
Alex Chesterman – Lovefilm & Zoopla
The most successful entry on our list of the UK’s top serial entrepreneurs is Alex Chesterman. Chesterman is behind some of the UK’s most iconic startup successes from the 00s. In the world of internet business, he is perhaps the UK’s most successful entrepreneur.
Forming part of the old guard of entrepreneurs who cut their teeth during the dotcom era, Chetserman (an Old Pauline) was one of the original founders of Lovefilm. This startup shipped hard copies of DVD to customers, operating a now antiquated postal- and rental-based business model. After the necessary internet infrastructure became available, the startup also moved into video streaming on demand. In 2011, they were acquired by Amazon for a reported £200m, and became the basis for Amazon Prime’s video streaming service.
In 2007 Chesterman founded Zoopla, which eventually became the UK’s 2nd largest property listing website. In 2014 the company was valued at over $1b on the eve of its IPO (on the LSE), making it one of the UK’s first unicorn startups. Following several notable acquisitions, like the price comparison website uSwitch, ZPG (the Zoopla umbrella group) was acquired by US private equity firm Silverlake last year, for £2.2b. Through this deal AC made £61m.
Far from taking the time to enjoy the fruits of his labour, Chesterman promptly launched another startup – Cazoo, a web-based marketplace for used cars. Incorporated last October, the company went on to raise £30m in December – probably the largest investment ever for a 2-month old company in the UK. Then again, with Chesterman at the helm, you can see why investors such as Octopus Ventures and the Daily Mail are so confident.
Prof. Chris Wood
Chris Wood has founded a variety of successful life sciences companies over a stellar 20-year career in the biotechnology industry. Bioenvision and Medirace are two notable firms that grew to sizeable market capitalisations, and were acquired for nine figure amounts by Genzyme Corporation and Celltech Group PLC, respectively.
His other ventures include founding Nucana, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focussed on oncology. Founded in 1997, the company IPO’d on the NASDAQ in 2017, raising $114m. He has also gone on to found MedAnnex, treating autoimmune diseases; aTen Therapeutics, concentrating on cancer treatment; and EdixoMed, building solutions made from nitric oxide.
Graduating from Somerville College, Oxford, Dominic Perks is a true serial entrepreneur. In his own words, he aims to found or co-found at least three businesses a year. As well as founding companies such as Takumi, Laundrapp and Vida (to name just a few) he also started Hambro Perks, an investment firm.
The data for this list of the UK’s top serial entrepreneurs came from a new feature on the Beauhurst platform known as Networks. This is a comprehensive database of all the people behind Britain’s fast-growth business ecosystem. If you would like to find out more please get in touch.