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6 min read

Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! 10 of the Coolest Startups

How many times have you come across a cracking business, only to swear blind that you came up with the same idea slightly before they did?  

If you haven’t already thought of the business ideas below then you’ll probably wish that you had. They are some of the coolest and most successful startups of the last few years. They capitalise on the latest economic trends including subscription models, being socially minded and the culture of sharing. 

The concepts and stories behind these businesses are guaranteed to get your entrepreneurial juices flowing.

 

1. Mindful Chef 

The founders: Set up by school friends Giles Humphries, Myles Hopper and Rob Grieg-Gran in 2015. 

The idea: After seeing the growth in subscription recipe boxes, the group of friends noticed a gap in the market for supplying this food in the most healthy and ethical way possible. Ingredients are sourced from small UK farms where possible, are low in refined carbs and sugar and they have pledged to be plastic-free by 2020. Celeb ambassadors include Sir Andy Murray, Fearne Cotton and Victoria Pendleton CBE. 

“Kim and I loved it so much we invested in the business.” 

Sir Andy Murray

The figures: They forecasted turnover of over £10 million in 2018.

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FEARNE’S GINGER MISO TOFU 😋 crisp golden tofu with a sweet miso dressing, tamari tenderstem & oodles of noodles! Sounds good right? Cook up this quick, healthy recipe over the weekend 👇 We deliver all this… 100g brown rice noodles 120g tenderstem broccoli 1/2 red chilli 1 lime 1 red pepper 2 spring onions 2 tbsp sesame oil 2 tbsp sweet white miso paste 2 tsp maple syrup 2 tsp tamari 300g firm tofu 4cm fresh ginger Method 1. Boil a kettle. 2. Drain the tofu and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut into 2cm cubes. Heat a pan with half of the sesame oil on a medium-high heat and cook the tofu for 10 mins until turning golden. Set aside for later, keep warm. 3. Meanwhile, to make the miso dressing; finely dice half the chilli and finely slice the other half, then finely slice the spring onions. Place the diced chilli and half of the spring onion in a small bowl followed by the sweet miso paste, the juice from just half the lime, maple syrup and 3 tbsp of water. Combine well to make a smooth paste. 4. Pour 500ml boiling water into a large saucepan, bring to the boil and plunge the brown rice noodles into the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to soften for 10 mins then drain and rinse briefly under warm water to remove any starch. Place the noodles back into the saucepan and add half the miso dressing, combine well. 5. Peel and finely dice the ginger, thinly slice the red pepper and cut each tenderstem spear into 3 pieces. Heat the same pan the tofu was cooked in with the remaining sesame oil on a medium heat. Cook the ginger, red pepper and broccoli for 5-8 mins until softening, tossing occasionally. Add the tamari to the pan for last minute. 6. Add the noodles to the pan, toss together for 30 seconds to warm through. 7. Divide the noodles and vegetables between two warm plates and top with the crispy tofu. Drizzle with the remaining miso dressing and scatter the remaining sliced spring onion and sliced chilli over the top. Squeeze over the remaining lime juice (to taste). #mindfulchef #recipebox #fearnecotton #HappyVegan @fearnecotton @orionbooks

A post shared by Mindful Chef | Healthy Recipes (@mindfulchefuk) on

 

2. Fat Llama 

The founders: Co-founders Chaz Englander, Rosie Dallas and Owen Turner-Major founded Fat Llama and launched the website in 2016.

The idea: Based on the growing sharing economy and the idea that having experiences is more important than owning things, Fat Llama is a peer-to-peer marketplace where you can buy, sell or rent belongings to/from other people. Customers can make money by renting things that they don’t use very often or save money and the environment by borrowing (not buying) things.

The figures: Fat Llama have raised a total of $12.8 million over three funding rounds.

 

3. Elder 

The founders: Pete Dowds and Tom Brooks founded Elder in 2015 after having horrible experiences finding care homes for their own grandparents. 

The idea: Elder is based on the principle that you shouldn’t have to go into a care home unless you want to and so it works on quickly matching the ideal homecare service providers with the elderly people that require them. 

The figures: Elder now operates in more than 300 towns and cities in the UK.

 

4. Who Gives a Crap 

The founders: Co-founded by Simon Griffiths, Danny Alexander and Jehan Ratnatunga in 2012. 

The idea: Born from the desire to help the 2.3 billion people across the world who don’t have access to a toilet. 50% of all profits go to help build toilets for those who need them. The 100% recycled rolls are wrapped in funky paper which looks great in your bathroom. They’re available on subscription and their cheeky marketing takes full advantage of toilet humour.

“Good for your bum. Great for the world.”

The figures: They’ve donated more than $1 million to non-profit organisations.

 

5. Trouva 

The founders: Launched in 2015 by Mandeep Singh, Alex Loizou, and Glen Walker.

The idea: Bringing together the best of independent homeware retailers from around the world. Suppliers have actual bricks and mortar shops and Trouva cleverly uses technology that blends the ease of buying online with the experience of going to a boutique. 

The figures: One of Europe’s top five fastest-growing tech businesses achieving over 1500% growth in 18 months.

These successful startups have a clear purpose, matching their niche products or services with a defined target market. Their ideas are easily explainable, often sustainable and focus on making life a bit easier for their customers.

6. Laundryheap

The founder: Launched in London in 2014 by Deyan Dimitrov. 

The idea: Dubbed as the Uber for clothes washing they provide same-day laundry and dry cleaning collection with next day delivery back to you. 

The figures: In 2017, after being bootstrapped for three years, the company raised £2 million via angel finance and was valued at £17 million.

 

7. Fancy Dress Worldwide

The founder: Fancy Dress Worldwide started life as a university freshers’ week fancy dress stall run by Dom Portman and was launched in 2016. 

The idea: Dom’s fancy dress stall went down so well with students that he concocted bigger plans to take his idea and the love of fancy dress to a worldwide stage through a market-leading e-commerce platform.

The figures: Two warehouses in Worcester stock the largest selection of costumes and partyware in the world and they have shipped over 500,000 orders to 85 countries.

 

8. Ideal Flatmate

The founders: Tom Gatzen and Rob Imonikhe co-founded and launched Ideal Flatmate in London in 2015. 

The idea: Almost half of 21-35 year-olds rent privately and people are now renting for much longer. Ideal Flatmate uses the same technology and algorithms as dating apps to match you with your perfect living partner. 

The figures: Over 2000 monthly listings and 1200 flatmates matched.

 

9. Emilia’s Crafted Pasta

The founder: Founded in 2016 by twentysomething pasta-fan Andrew Macleod after his travels through the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. 

The idea: With a real passion for pasta, Andrew strived to create the local trattoria atmosphere in London, complete with espresso bar, and makes fresh, authentic pasta and sauces every morning. 

“This place is tortellini awesome. A penne for your thoughts, we’re honestly so gnocchi to have a place like this in London. I cannoli shake my head and marvel at how fantastic you are.” 

Google Review 

The figures: They have two restaurants now open in London.

 

10. JHP Recruitment

The founder: Justin Powlesland started the recruitment business in 2015 in his garage with £9,000. 

The idea: JHP Recruitment specialises in the veterinary sector and pride themselves on their knowledge of the industry and providing superior service to their clients. 

The figures: Justin now employs 16 people, works with over 2500 clinics and has a turnover of around £2.6 million.

 


 

These successful startups have a clear purpose, matching their niche products or services with a defined target market. Their ideas are easily explainable, often sustainable and focus on making life a bit easier for their customers. Of course, it’s not just about the idea, it’s also about the execution, and you’ll notice that most of these startups have multiple founders – two or three heads and pairs of hands being much better than one. 

If you’re struggling to come up with a business idea of your own, remember, you don’t always have to do something different, you just have to do it better.

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Sophie Cross

Sophie Cross is a freelance writer and marketer specialising in business and travel. She is the editor for London Revealed magazine and her clients include lastminute.com Group and Merlin Entertainments.

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