The founders and directors of Britain’s 100 fastest-growing private tech companies were recognised at our 20th annual Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100 awards, held yesterday as an interactive virtual event. Tech Track 100 alumni Alex Chesterman, founder of Cazoo and Zoopla; and Poppy Gustafsson, co-founder and CEO of Darktrace, were guest speakers. Seven companies won prestigious awards.
The annual Sunday Times Sage Tech Track 100 awards event brought together the founders and directors of the UK’s private tech companies with the fastest-growing sales over the past three years. Pre-Covid-19, they grew their sales by between 48% and 310% pa to a combined £2.8bn.
Special awards were sponsored by Sage, BDO, Barclays, BGF, N+1 Singer, and The Sunday Times (see below).
Guests & sponsor welcome
280 guests attended the interactive virtual event, including founders and senior directors from Bought By Many, Mindful Chef, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, PsiOxus, Revolut and THG.
Encouragingly, 90% of guests polled were very confident (50%) or confident (40%) about their company’s prospects over the next 12 months.
They were welcomed by Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Oliver Dowden, who told guests: “These 100 companies cover the absolute gamut of digital innovation – when things return to normal, I look forward to getting out there and visiting them.”
Paul Struthers, managing director UK & Ireland at Sage, our title sponsor, praised guests for their hard work and determination in the face of the Covid-19 crisis: “The group of innovators here today has put the UK at the centre of the global tech stage – and partly hold the key to economic recovery,” he said.
Keynote speeches from Tech Track 100 alumni
Guests heard from two Tech Track 100 alumni who featured on our Ones to Watch and main league table: Alex Chesterman, the only person to have founded two UK unicorns: Cazoo the used car marketplace valued at over £2bn, and Zoopla, the property website which was sold for £2.2bn in 2018; and Poppy Gustafsson, co-founder and CEO of Cambridge cyber AI firm Darktrace, which was valued at $1.65bn in 2018 and has featured four times on Tech Track 100.
In a Q&A with Oliver Shah, business editor of The Sunday Times, Alex described how he identified the market opportunity for Cazoo.
He told guests: “I didn’t think there was a space that was still ripe to disrupt and discovered that the single biggest retail market in this country, which is used cars – worth over £50bn a year – had zero percent online penetration.”
In a keynote, Poppy, co-founder and CEO of Darktrace, explained how the pandemic and advances in digital technology have made companies more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks.
She said: “Digital transformation opens new doors for hackers, and attackers prey on chaos and uncertainty. Today, cyber is no longer about just protecting data, it is about keeping the lights on and protecting the resilience of your businesses.”
Both speakers joined Oliver Shah to take questions from guests.
Virtual roundtables & 1:1 networking
After the Q&A, guests participated in small virtual breakout discussions to share their thoughts on the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic, with sponsor representatives facilitating the conversations, and also in 1:1 video networking.
After the awards, two breakout discussion groups took place, featuring Tech Track 100 alumni speakers.
Louise Hill, co-founder and chief operating officer of children’s money app gohenry, shared her growth story at a Sage breakout on managing hyper-growth in uncertain times.
Alex Loizou, co-founder and chief executive of online marketplace Trouva, spoke at a BGF breakout on raising capital for growth companies.
Tech Track 100 companies presented with special awards were:
- Cera, which uses AI to help detect health issues in the elderly, has raised £70m from investors and is forecasting sales of £250m by 2022, won the Tech Ones to Watch award, sponsored by The Sunday Times
- Tessian, the email security firm which uses machine learning to stop email-based cyber-attacks and prevent human error, won the SaaS innovation award, sponsored by Sage
- Elvie, which innovated in an underserved market with its smart technology devices for female health and has raised $54m from investors, won the Social innovation award, sponsored by Barclays
- Elder, the home-based elderly care platform which matches self-employed carers with families looking for an alternative to residential care, won the Best management team award, sponsored by BDO
- OXIS Energy, which develops rechargeable batteries that pack up to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries, and has raised £49m from investors, won the Green Tech to Watch award, sponsored by BGF
- Quantexa, the data analytics provider which develops AI tools to detect financial crime and has raised £70m in venture capital funding from investors, won the Best use of IP award, sponsored by N+1 Singer
- Revolut, the fintech unicorn valued at $5.5bn in July which grew sales by 310% a year to £163m in 2019, won the Fastest-growing company award, sponsored by Sage.
Accepting the award, Revolut co-founder and chief executive Nikolay Storonsky said: “I would like to thank Sage and The Sunday Times for giving us this award – it’s exciting to get it a second time – and thank my colleagues, the people who create the technology and the products that bring Revolut to life, and finally our 13m personal customers and half a million businesses who put their trust in us every day.”
League table award certificates
All companies on this year’s Tech Track 100 league table received a league table award certificate to recognise their success.
These were shipped with a goodie box by our alumni company Diamond Logistics, with gifts from our sponsors and other alumni kindly provided refreshments: Cobra beer, Naked Wines and Graze snacks.
Recognising the achievements of all these companies is made possible by support from our sponsors Sage, Barclays, BDO, BGF and N+1 Singer.
More information on the league table
The 2021 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 league table supplement will be published with The Sunday Times on 5 September, with an awards event in November.
For company nominations please enter your details here.
For opportunities to meet and build relationships with the founders and directors of these fast-growing private tech companies, see sponsorship opportunities for Tech Track 100.