Disruptors / Ones to Watch

Fast Track researches and compiles two annual sub-tables, published in our Fast Track 100 supplement with The Sunday Times, featuring 10 of the most promising private British companies from a cross-section of industries that do not qualify for the main league table but deserve special recognition. One table focuses on companies with the potential to disrupt their market and the other on companies that are set to grow rapidly in the future.

The 10 finalists for each programme are selected by a judging panel and are featured in the Sunday Times supplement. Their senior directors are also invited to the awards dinner, where they receive a certificate, with one overall winner presented with an award.

Disruptors to Watch

Disruptors to Watch aims to highlight 10 companies with disruptive potential from a cross-section of industries, rather than claiming to identify the 10 companies with the most disruptive potential.

This year’s judges included Fast Track and past Disruptors to Watch finalists Tom Blomfield, founder of Monzo, the mobile banking app and Peter Roberts, founder of PureGym, the low-cost gym chain; and the overall winner in 2017, Ali Parsa, founder of Babylon Health, the mobile health care app, who was presented with its award at our national awards dinner.

Company HQ Location Disruptive activities
BulbRenewable energy provider Central London More than 850,000 households have signed up to its single, transparent green energy tariff since 2015, attracted by its renewable credentials, innovative technology and customer service. A £60m funding round in August reportedly valued the company at more than £400m, although it is operating in a competitive industry in which seven rivals went bust this year.
CallsignAuthentication platform Central London Its artificial intelligence-driven cyber-security software removes the need for customer passwords, using data to enable smartphone users to confirm their identity with a single swipe. It raised $35m (£27m) in 2017 from investors including Accel to expand in the UK and US, and was valued at more than $100m.
Culture TripLifestyle content platform Central London This company’s online lifestyle, cultural and travel content — created by editorial hubs and more than 300 local freelancers — is viewed by 18m people a month. It uses AI to recommend content for its millennial audience. It has raised $103m in funding, including $80m in April, to drive revenue through booking links in the 1,600-plus stories it publishes each month.
Evox TherapeuticsDrug therapy developer Oxford Its technology delivers drugs directly to patients’ brains and central nervous system, overcoming the limitations of traditional therapeutics, and potentially providing a new way to target cancers and rare genetic diseases. It raised £35m in September from investors including Google's venture capital arm.
FiveAIAutonomous vehicle developer Cambridge Aims to develop and operate a fully driverless shared urban taxi service for Europe’s $400bn transport market, using AI-driven software and hardware that can be integrated into any modern car. It has received $35m in funding from venture capitalists, the highest sum for an autonomous car firm in Europe.
GraphcoreComputer processor manufacturer Bristol Says its computer processors are 10 to 100 times faster than existing products, with the potential to revolutionise advances in machine learning. It has raised $110m to launch its first product from Silicon Valley investors such as Sequoia Capital and UK angels including Robin Saxby, co-founder of ARM.
MoneseMobile banking service Central London Offers a smartphone-only, multilingual current account that can be opened in minutes, even without a UK or EU address — making access to banking easier for those who travel for work or study. The business has attracted more than 650,000 customers in 20 countries since 2015 and raised $60m in September from investors including PayPal.
NestedOnline estate agent Central London Its data platform helps calculate the value of a house, on which it is prepared to offer sellers a cash advance of up to 94%, removing problems associated with property chains. It has sold more than £100m worth of property since 2016 and raised £165m in funding, including £120m in November from investors including Northzone.
Owlstone MedicalDiagnostic breathalyser developer Cambridge Aims to save 100,000 lives and cut costs for healthcare providers by $1.5bn a year with its breathalysers that can detect cancerous cells earlier and at a lower cost than existing alternatives. Its products are being used by Glaxo Smith Kline and it has raised £56m from investors including Foxconn Technologies.
Oxford NanoimagingMicroscope manufacturer Oxford Makes the world’s only portable super-resolution microscope, which offers resolutions 20 times higher than room-filling legacy models. The product is generating interest from life sciences researchers and pharmaceutical companies. The company completed its third funding round in July, raising an undisclosed sum from investors including Oxford Sciences Innovation.

Ones to Watch

Ones to Watch showcases a cross section of companies whose sales growth falls short of the strict criteria for the main league table, but who are set to grow rapidly in the future. All shortlisted companies are visited by the Fast Track research team and assessed for inclusion. Last year’s judging panel included senior representatives from our sponsors Barclays and BDO, and Fast Track’s founder, Hamish Stevenson.

The 2017 winner was Pip & Nut, the nut butter brand, with its founder & chief executive Pippa Murray presented with its awards at our national awards dinner. The two runners-up were Wattbike and Filmore & Union.

Company HQ location Year end Sales £000s Staff Founded Comment
CornerstoneShaving subscription service Central London Dec 16 *4,039 15 2014 Launched in 2014 by a 25-year-old serial entrepreneur, this shaving subscription service has raised £8m. Sales rose sixfold to £4m in 2016 and are forecast to double in 2017
Filmore & UnionHealth food restaurant chain West Yorkshire Mar 17 *3,989 195 2012 Serves healthy food at 14 eateries in the north of England. A £3.5m investment from BGF will finance new store openings in northern England and the Midlands next year
Green Sheep GroupBaby products manufacturer Stratford-upon-Avon Sep 17 *5,177 25 2006 Sells its high-end baby products online and in retailers such as John Lewis, and has tripled sales in three years to £5.2m in 2017. It plans to launch new products and expand exports
In The StyleOnline fashion retailer Salford Mar 17 *9,218 80 2013 Set up in 2013 from the founder’s bedroom, this online retailer had sales of £9.2m in 2017. It raised private equity funding from Livingbridge in April to expand at home and abroad
ISO SpacesModular buildings designer Truro Sep 17 *2,500 23 2013 Converts shipping containers into pop-up bars and portable stages for clients such as Tesco and Nissan. Demand for social housing is expected to increase production by 400% in 2018
One Retail GroupConsumer products supplier Northwest London Dec 16 †*5,915 4 2013 Set up in 2013 by a 24-year-old, this firm owns six consumer brands, sold in seven countries. It forecasts £15m sales in 2017, and plans to expand into high-street stores and China
Pip & NutNut butter brand Central London Dec 16 *3,100 6 2015 Sells natural nut butters and milks online and in 4,000 stores, including Sainsbury’s. Is expanding overseas and launched in 900 supermarkets in Holland in September
Pizza PilgrimsPizzeria operator Central London Jun 17 *5,985 200 2012 Inspired by their Italian travels, two brothers set up this pizza business in 2012 and have gone from a market stall to eight restaurants, with sales forecast to hit £9m in 2018
Tile MountainOnline tile retailer Stoke-on-Trent Dec 16 *8,800 31 2013 Set up in 2013 by former Topps Tiles executives, this online retailer doubled sales in two years to £8.8m in 2016. It opened a £10m facility in May and this year forecasts £11m sales
WattbikeStatic bike manufacturer Nottingham Sep 17 *11,500 46 2000 Its hi-tech indoor bikes are used by elite athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill and the England rugby team. It exports to 50 countries and recently launched a bike for home gyms

* supplied by company   † annualised figure