According to our research, there are currently 3,831 companies in the UK that have a female founder and have raised equity finance, totalling £6.82b since 2011. To be precise, that’s 4,375 female founders working across industries such as pharmaceuticals, tech, financial services and more.
In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, we’ve narrowed down those 4,375 entrepreneurs to 50 ones to watch, collectively leading 43 companies.
Everyone who has earnt a spot on our list is an active (co-)founder of a UK-registered business that has raised equity finance. To highlight the best and brightest in emerging talent we’ve kept it to businesses that have been incorporated since 2016.
Each company has raised many millions of pounds in investment, reaching into the hundreds of millions at the top end. Raising such large sums of money is no small feat for any founder, but particularly for women entrepreneurs, who are vastly underrepresented in the equity-raising space.
So far in 2021, female founders have raised 152 equity rounds worth £646m, representing 23% of all deal numbers and 19% of pounds raised, despite the fact that 25% of high-growth businesses have a female founder.
Of the 43 companies featured on this list, 28% are in the seed stage of evolution and 58% are in the venture stage, indicating that there is plenty of room for growth and development over 2021 and beyond.
Collectively, they’ve raised £1.14b of investment, with a median deal size of £3m. Interestingly, a huge 30% of these businesses are in the pharmaceuticals sector, with many of their founders entering the business world via academia.
Without further ado, read on to discover the most high-potential women in business today—and find out what they have to say about their journeys so far.
Francesca (Eccie) Newton
Co-Founder and CEO at Karma Kitchen
Francesca (Eccie) Newton is co-founder and CEO of Karma Kitchen, a startup part of the sharing economy. One of the younger female entrepreneurs on our list, Newton and her sister founded Karma Kans, which delivers healthy lunches to offices, in the year after she graduated from LSE with a Master of Science in Terrorism and Conflict.
After three years, the Newton sisters built on the knowledge they had gained running Karma Kans and expanded the company to include Karma Kitchen, which delivers co-working and commercial kitchen spaces to over 5,000 startups and SMEs in the food and drink industry. Newton reveals that “we’re working on building homes for 5,000 food businesses over the next six years in the UK and in Europe.” To date, Karma Kitchen has raised over £252.3m over two funding rounds.
According to Newton, the most valuable resource she uses is “Seedlegals. Without question this is the most important resource tool and service. Legal work can be complicated and expensive, Seedlegals makes things simple and straightforward.”
Co-Founder and Head of Sales
at Karma Kitchen
Sister to Eccie, Gini Newton is co-founder and head of sales at Karma Kitchen. After graduating from Bristol University, she worked as the Marketing Director and Sous Chef at London-based pop-up Sustainable Supper and authored cookbook ‘Raw is More’, before founding Karma Kans and Karma Kitchen.
Gini and Eccie’s experience in building kitchens for Karma Kans has directly impacted Karma Kitchen’s mission to provide workspaces that encompass every need of a food and drink business. It is currently funded by Vengrove Real Estate Management and a number of undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer at COMPASS
Ekaterina Malievskaia is the co-founder and chief innovation officer of COMPASS Pathways, a life science company that develops psilocybin to help people with treatment-resistant depression. Malievskaia studied medicine in St Petersburg before moving to the US, where she completed her Internal Medicine residency training and worked in private practice, academic medicine and public health for over 15 years.
She founded COMPASS Pathways in the UK with her husband, after they experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to find adequate mental health treatment. The company is currently running the world’s first large-scale psilocybin therapy clinical trial in 20 sites across Europe and North America. COMPASS Pathways has raised over £102.6m from three fundraising rounds, and underwent a £113m IPO on the NASDAQ market in September.
To those just starting out in business, Malievskaia advises to “have a really clear mission, and then surround yourself with good people who share your vision and values.”
Co-Founder, Chief Product
& Marketing Officer at Pollinate
Fiona Canning is co-founder and chief product & marketing officer at Pollinate, which develops software aiming to improve merchant acquisition for banks, while providing merchants with digital tools and insights into their business. Having worked at companies such as Prophet, Visa, Nectar and Natwest, Canning has used her background in consulting and customer-centric roles to build the consumer engagement programme at Pollinate.
Pollinate aims to use the expertise and reach of the world’s largest banks to provide small business owners with the tools they need for growth. In the past year, the company has built specific solutions to help small businesses overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic. Pollinate has raised £70m over two funding rounds, from EFM Asset Management, Mastercard, Motive Partners, National Australia Bank and RBS.
Founding Expert at Quell Therapeutics
Giovanna Lombardi is a founding expert at Quell Therapeutics, which develops Treg cell therapies to address a range of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, as well as preventing organ transplant rejection. Previously based at the Department of Immunology at Hammersmith Hospital and at the University of Rome, Lombardi is a Professor of Human Transplant Immunology at King’s College London. Her research focusses on transplant rejection and tolerance as well as the phenotype and function of Treg cells in health and disease.
At Quell, Lombardi is one of six founding experts who partnered with a leadership team in 2019 to build a major pharmaceutical company. To date, Quell has raised almost £61m through two fundraising rounds.
Founding Expert at Quell Therapeutics
Also a founding expert at Quell Therapeutics, Cambridge-educated Morris is a Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy, Consultant Haematologist, Director of the UCL Division of Infection and Immunity and Director of the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre Inflammation, Immunity & Immunotherapeutics Programme. Her research covers novel aspects of immune therapies for haematological malignancies and inherited immunodeficiencies. She brings this expertise to her role as one of Quell Theraputics’s founding experts, helping to bring life-changing treatments to patients.
Co-Founder at Multiverse (FKA WhiteHat)
Sophie Adelman co-founded Multiverse, formerly WhiteHat, which connects school leavers and apprenticeships to create an alternative to university and corporate training as a path to employment. With a background in finance and recruitment, Adelman founded Multiverse in 2017 and now sits on its board as a non-executive director. She also works in several advisory roles and, in her own words on LinkedIn, is ‘working on something new’—watch this space!
Multiverse has three primary disciplines: measuring potential beyond academics and experience, delivering world-class training through applied learning programs, and helping people build social capital and strong professional networks on and offline. Today Multiverse is part of the Deloitte Fast 50 and Startups 100, and has raised over £48m in funding.
Founder and NED
at OMass Therapeutics
Carol Robinson is a founder of OMass Therapeutics, currently working as a non-executive director and as an advisor to the company. Awarded a DBE in 2013 for services to science and industry, she is recognised for using mass spectrometry to further research into the 3D structure of proteins and their complexes.
Robinson brings her expertise to OMass, which uses high-resolution native mass spectrometry and other biophysical technologies to drive drug discovery. Incorporated in 2016, Omass’s strategy is to discover, develop and commercialise small molecule therapeutics to help patients with immunology and genetic disorders. It has raised £42.5m in equity finance so far.
Benedetta Arese Lucini
Co-Founder and CEO of Oval Money
Benedetta Arese Lucini is co-founder and CEO of Oval Money, along with Simone Marzola (CTO), Claudio Bedino (COO), and Edoardo Benedetto (CDO). Oval Money is a fintech app which helps users to manage their money. With names such as Uber and Zalora on her CV, Lucini has held mentoring roles within accelerators for startups and small businesses, and states on LinkedIn that tech has ‘shaped her life’.
Headquartered in London and Turin, Oval is made for a generation of digital natives with flexible income, variable expenses and limited access to financial products. It helps over 450,000 users to save and invest, and has raised over £8.5m in equity finance so far.
Lucini has three pieces of advice to founders just starting out: “choose your co-founders wisely, make sure you complement each other as it is like a marriage. Learn from others but stick to what you believe in, take a ‘no’ as an opportunity to challenge the status quo. Also, find mentors that can help you along the way, as being a co-founder is a lonely job”.
Co-Founder at PepGen
Caroline Godfrey is one three academic co-founders of PepGen, which develops peptide platform technology for the delivery of oligonucleotides to muscles. Godfrey’s background is in genetics. She worked at the University of Oxford to develop drug delivery technologies before founding and developing PepGen. She is credited with being a key part of the company’s fundraising—it has raised £38.5m to date—as well as advising in an academic aspect.
Pepgen is still yet to reveal further details on what it’s specific area of focus within the peptide technology space will be, but ultimately it aims to commercialise its therapies. Its investors include Action Duchenne, CureDuchenne Ventures, MRC and RA Capital Management.
Co-Founder and NED at Vaccitech
Professor Sarah Gilbert is a co-founder and non-executive director of Vaccitech, a company that works in the clinical stage of T cell immunotherapy and vaccinations. She began her career at Delta Biotechnology Ltd, before moving to Oxford as a Reader in Vaccinology and becoming Professor of Vaccinology in 2010. Some of her most notable achievements include the development and testing of the universal flu vaccine, and, more recently, having played an instrumental part in the pandemic by designing and developing the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine against COVID-19.
Vaccitech is backed by leading investment institutions, including GV, the venture capital investment arm of Alphabet Inc., Sequoia Capital China, Liontrust, Korea Investment Partners and Oxford Sciences Innovation. The platform has a pipeline of six clinical product candidates for infectious disease and cancer indications, four of which have reached the stage of co-development. Vaccitech has raised £36m in its journey so far.
Co-Founder and CEO at SpyBiotech
The second on our list of female entrepreneurs working in the vaccination world, Sumi Biswas is co-founder and CEO of SpyBiotech, which uses a biotechnology called superglue technology to develop and produce vaccines. Biswas is an immunologist, and leads both the scientific and strategic development of the company. Her vision is to apply the superglue technology to commercial vaccines in development and production. An inspiring example of female entrepreneurship within science, Biswas has developed two vaccines against malaria, both of which have reached clinical trial stage.
Last year, SpyBiotech and biotech company Serum Institute of India announced the signing of a licensing agreement for the development of a vaccine against COVID-19, which reached the clinical trial stage in September. The company has raised over £28.5m to date.
Lara Campana is the co-founder and Macrophage Biology Director of Resolution Therapeutics, an Edinburgh-based company which develops cell therapies aimed at treating inflammatory organ diseases. With a PHD in Cellular and Molecular Immunology, her research interest is in the role of inflammation in tissue repair. She has spent seven years studying the role of macrophage phagocytosis in acute and chronic liver injury.
Campana brings this background to Resolution Therapeutics, which initially is developing a cell therapy product to treat patients at risk of liver decompensation as a symptom of chronic liver disease. Resolution Therapeutics raised £26.6m in its latest funding round, which was backed by Syncona Ltd, out of a total of over £27.9m.
To those starting out as a founder, Campana says that “probably the one [piece of] advice I’d give is the one that one of my mentors gave me when I started this adventure at Resolution Therapeutics: ‘Dream big, work hard and give it your best shot. And remember to use a little bit of craziness to push the boundaries and bring change’. His quote stayed with me, and even in the hardest days at work it inspires me to give all that I have.”
Co-Founder at AllBright
The first of two co-founders of AllBright on our list of female entrepreneurs, Debbie Wosskow has a background in management consultancy and has held varied roles across finance and the arts, including Chairperson of Sharing Economy UK, CEO of Love Home Swap and Senior Adviser at McKinsey. Wosskow was awarded an OBE in 2016 and in 2018 was named as The Evening Standard’s Entrepreneur of the year.
Since 2018, Wosskow has worked as a co-founder of AllBright, a network and community providing support and training for women at all stages of their careers. With a particular focus on women running their own business, AllBright provides a club with a live events programme as well as a digital offering with over 170 courses. Ultimately, AllBright aims to help female founders and women in business thrive through community and collaboration. To date, AllBright has raised over £23.8m.
Co-Founder at AllBright
Completing our set of AllBright co-founders is Anna Jones, who comes from a media and marketing background. She was previously CEO at Hearst UK, where she led a transformation programme and diversified the company’s offering into digital, events, licensing and brand services. With a particular interest in female empowerment, Jones works as a United Nations Women UK Changemaker alongside her role at AllBright, where she and Wosskow develop the strategy for the business and work to create a community of successful women. AllBright is funded by Cain International, Galliard Homes, and a number of business angels and undisclosed investors.
Founder and Commercial Director
Nancy Butler is the founder and commercial director of B-North, a challenger bank based in Manchester. B-North aims to disrupt the lending market by partnering with global fintech leaders to deliver a great borrowing experience for startups and SMEs. Butler has over 36 years’ experience in business and commercial banking, and draws on her knowledge of lead generation and customer relationship management in her role at B-North.
B-North is currently applying for regulatory permission, and ultimately aims to become the first genuinely regional business bank in 150 years. The company has, so far, raised £23.1m and has investors including Channel 4 Ventures, Crowdcube and Growth Capital Ventures.
Co-Founder and COO at Emergex
Storme Moore-Thornicroft is the co-founder and COO of Emergex, a UK-based biotech company that develops vaccines to address some of the world’s most immediate health threats, such as Dengue Fever, Zika, Ebola, Flu and intracellular bacterial infections. Moore-Thornicroft has operated in the biotechnology sector for over two decades, and specialises in entity incorporation, corporate and business strategy formulation, resourcing, implementation and execution. She has formed subsidiaries and strategic structures in the UK, Europe and US and has worked with businesses, governments and NGOs in South America, Southeast Asia, India and Africa.
At Emergex, Moore-Thornicroft is responsible for strategy, implementation and execution. The privately-held company develops vaccines based on T cells, many of which are created with the aim of addressing serious infectious disease in less developed parts of the world, and has raised over £22.1m to date.
Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Snoop
Jayne-Anne Gadhia works as the co-founder and executive chairman of startup Snoop, which develops a mobile app using artificial intelligence to discover ways in which users can save money. Gadhia began her career as an accountant and held positions such as Managing Director of Virgin One Account, Retail Managing Director of RBS and CEO and Senior Adviser to Salesforce, before founding her own business in the fintech Space. Gadhia is an advocate for gender diversity in business, which has clearly fed into Snoop’s mission to bring money-saving to everyone.
A member of last year’s Fintech50, Snoop has raised £18.2m over three funding rounds and had 100,000 downloads in September 2020, just six months after launch. It is funded by a number of business angels, the Future Fund managed by British Business Bank, Havisham Group, Salesforce Ventures and Seedrs.
Co-Founder at Snoop
Joining Jayne-Anne Ghadia on our list of women entrepreneurs is Cara Norton, also a co-founder of Snoop. Currently heading up the company’s operations, Norton spent an impressive sixteen years at Virgin Money and was the Head of Customer Interactions Capability for Virgin Money Digital Bank before founding Snoop.
Since the fintech startup’s public launch in April 2020, Norton has been responsible for Customer Support, feedback management, supplier procurement and data privacy, as well as leading out-of-app customer engagement strategy and execution.
Co-Founder and MD at Goodbox
Francesca Hodgson is a co-founder and the managing director of Goodbox, a fintech for the third sector company that works to bring up-to-date payment technology to charities. Hodgson’s background is in charity; in her previous role at BGC Partners LP she ran the department responsible for CSR and the annual charity day, and before that worked at the World Cancer Research Fund. The University of Cambridge recently awarded her a scholarship off the back of her work for Goodbox.
Goodbox was founded on the basis that many charities have struggled to keep up with an increasingly cash-led society. Its products range from contactless devices, which have helped charities to collect donations during the pandemic, to analytics software. Since its 2016 launch it has raised £5.5m in donations for its customers and has a predicted 2,485% return on investment. Goodbox has raised over £17m in equity finance.
To any female founders just starting out, her advice would be to “just go for it! The UK is an amazing place to found a business, we have phenomenal support networks and resources available to support you. Make sure you have a solid plan in place and be prepared for a rollercoaster ride, the journey won’t necessarily be smooth but the learning and experience is invaluable”.
Founder and Director at Beckley Psytech
Amanda Feilding is the founder and director of Beckley Psytech, which works to integrate psychedelic medicines into modern medicine as a treatment for neurological and psychiatric disorders. With a background in comparative religions and mysticism, Feilding discovered the potential of psychedelics in the 1960s and has since been committed to developing their usage for medical needs. Her work has led her to be featured on the Guardian’s list of the Bravest Men and Women in the History of Science.
Beckley Psytech’s work can be divided into three areas; developing well-known psychedelics, developing under-researched psychedelics that might be more effective than the previous group and designing new chemical entities which might provide better clinical and more cost-effective outcomes. It has raised £17m from two fundraising rounds.
Co-Founder and CEO at Peanut
Michelle Kennedy is the founder and CEO of Peanut, which creates a mobile app to help women in all stages of motherhood form connections. Kennedy was previously the deputy CEO of Badoo and a Board Advisor and Director at Bumble before founding Peanut, which she launched when she herself struggled to meet like-minded women as a new mum.
A member of Startups 100, the Peanut app has created a community of mothers, expectant mothers and those trying to conceive. Women can use the app to meet local people at a similar stage in life, share advice and discuss all stages of motherhood. Peanut has raised £16.6m over four fundraising rounds.
Co-Founder and Head of Marketing
Lindsay Bunton comes from an editorial background, working in HR for Conde Nast and Communications and PR for Vogue before joining Peanut as a Founding Director and its Director of Marketing. Bunton has worked solely as a Founding Director since 2019, and works alongside Michelle Theresa Kennedey on Peanut’s strategy. Outside of work, Bunton holds a private pilot’s licence and studied interior design at the prestigious Parsons School of Design.
Co-Founder and COO at Limitless
Megan Neale is a co-founder and COO of Limitless, which develops a cloud-based platform and an AI-powered app which allows companies to utilise their existing customers as brand ambassadors. Before Limitless, Neale worked as an advisor to an impressive roster of companies including Unilever and PC-1, and was a founding shareholder in Semafone. With an interest in technology, AI and delivering customer engagement through digital empathy, Neale now works on the strategy and operations of Limitless across over 25 countries.
Limitless helps brands by offering loyal customers the opportunity to earn money and rewards for providing customer service and being a brand ambassador on-demand. The company has clients across eight different sectors and has raised £15.1m overall, from investors including AlbionVC, Unilever Ventures and Genesys Cloud.
Amandine Le Pape
Co-Founder and COO at Element
Amandine Le Pape is the co-founder and COO of Element, which creates web-based software to allow governments, businesses and individuals to run their own secure communication structure. With an engineering degree in Telecoms, Electronics and Computer Science from CPE Lyon and an EMBA from Rennes School of Business, Le Pape is also co-founder of Matrix.org. Matrix.org is a not-for-profit open source project that has created a new, decentralised IP messaging and VOIP ecosystem for the internet, which Element is based upon.
The 28 million users of Element communicate through the open global Matrix network, which offers the privacy of being in one’s own home. It is used by the French, German and US governments, as well as private companies, to communicate securely. To date it has raised £14.3m from three funding rounds.
Founder and CEO at KoruKids
Rachel Carrell is the founder and CEO of KoruKids, a startup in the sharing economy making childcare easier and more affordable for parents. Carrell was educated at the University of Otago and the University of Oxford, and spent six years at McKinsey. Later, she became the CEO of DrThom, a successful healthcare business which she grew to 1.3 million paying users before leaving to start her own business, KoruKids. Currently a WEF Young Global Leader, Carrell was named ‘Best Businesswoman in Technology’ at the 2017 Best Businesswoman awards, and also won the ‘Inspirational Mother’ award at the 2017 Inspiration awards.
Carrell founded KoruKids when she realised how difficult child care was to organise in London. The company gives training to students and older nannies, and then uses the platform to connect them with families who may need them on a flexible or part-time basis. KoruKids has raised £14.1m over three fundraising rounds.
On starting a business, Carrell says that “the thing that has made the biggest difference to me personally has been finding my tribe. I would really urge anyone starting out to find other founders and connect with them, open up, be vulnerable, and ask for help. The community is very generous and very willing to help—and no one can do it alone.”
Co-Founder and CEO at Molo
Francesca Carlesi is the co-founder and CEO of Molo, the UKs first digital mortgage lender. Carlesi has over 15 years’ experience in the financial sector, and is passionate about fintech and using technology to transform financial services. The second businesswoman on our list of top female entrepreneurs to be a WEF Young Global Leader, Carlesi also holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School and a Diploma in Leadership and Public Policy from Harvard.
Carlesi had the idea for Molo when she started looking for a mortgage and realised how slow and outdated the process was. The fintech platform allows customers to obtain a mortgage in minutes; as Molo itself is the lender, it cuts out the middleman and thus speeds up and simplifies the process. Next up, Carlesi reveals that “we will expand to residential mortgages (from buy-to-let currently), whilst also enriching our proposition with new exciting products, designed around the customer and for the customer.” The company has, so far, raised over £13.7m.
In terms of resources, Carlesi says that “when starting a business every little helps and I would encourage every founder to be resourceful, to reach out for help to your network, to connect as much as you can. Talking to people that have done it already or are more knowledgeable in what matters will accelerate your learning curve dramatically. In my case, some resources or organisations that have been quite helpful; I would mention Technation and Innovate Finance.”
Co-Founder and Director at proSapient
Margaryta Polishchuk is co-founder and director of proSapient, which develops AI-led software designed to assist research by connecting users with industry experts, creating bespoke surveys and managing research projects. Educated at the European Business School, Regent’s University London, and LSE, Polishchuk spent two and a half years at Coleman Research before founding proSapient.
ProSapient’s research platform allows users to identify industry specialists, gather data from them using consultations or large-scale surveys and then maximise the value of those insights. To date, the company has raised £13.3m over six funding rounds from investors such as 24Haymarket, Smedvig Capital and a number of business angels and undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer at IMMO Capital
Samantha Kempe is the co-founder and chief investment officer of IMMO Capital, a PropTech company that aims to increase the efficiency of the residential sales, lettings and investment process. With over 15 years of real estate experience, Kempe cut her teeth at names including PwC and Blackstone, before founding IMMO. From 2017-2018, she was also co-president of the Women in Business Club at London Business School.
IMMO streamlines the selling process by purchasing properties directly from the vendor for no fee, allowing the vendor to make a sale chain-free and complete on a date of their choosing. IMMO then sells the property directly to a buy-to-let investor, who pays the purchase fees, and finds appropriate tenants. By cutting out the middleman, IMMO makes the process quicker and easier for both vendor and investor. The company has raised over £12.1m in equity finance from business angels and undisclosed investors, Surplus, Talis Capital and more.
When it comes to advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, Samantha says that “it’s important to openly listen to all feedback. Remember though that it is your decision, your vision, your company. Be selective about which feedback you act upon. Don’t just listen to the ‘yes’ people who always agree with you. On the flip side, don’t be disheartened by the ‘no’ people, understand what their concerns are and why they’re not buying into your concept. It’s important to see the bigger picture, and be open to the idea of a larger pivot if something isn’t working out.
Founder and CEO at LIMA
Lisa Thornton is the founder and CEO of LIMA, which designs and delivers IT solutions and services to businesses across multiple sectors and industries. Thornton began her career as a Sales Executive at Systems Direct, spending two years there before founding LIMA. She is also the Director of DataCentre UK.
LIMA designs and implements intelligent IT solutions which are customised to each individual business and its objectives. With IT solutions covering cloud, data centre, managed services and security & performance monitoring solutions, LIMA enables clients across multiple industries to achieve market growth. The company has raised £12m from just one fundraising round.
Co-Founder and COO at Globacap
Joanne Filbin is the co-founder and COO at Globacap, a fintech startup using blockchain to make it easier for SMEs to raise capital. Prior to Globacap, Filbin spent six years in senior positions at FTSE 100 and similar-sized private companies, and seven years in KPMG Transaction Services.
Globacap offers equity management software that supports business owners for the entire lifecycle from day one to exit, and ensures security through its use of blockchain. By giving entrepreneurs better access to funding and investors, Globacap hopes to make private capital markets as efficient as public markets are now. To date, it has raised over £11.1m from Contactpartners, Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Moore Strategic Ventures, Stoic Capital and undisclosed investors and business angels.
Co-Founder and CEO at
The Cheeky Panda
Julie Chen is the co-founder and CEO of certified B-Corp The Cheeky Panda, which produces an alternative to paper tissue made out of bamboo. With an interest in sustainability, Chen worked at energy-saving lighting company Inductec and ran an online fashion retail and wholesale business, Rhythm Lifestyle, before founding The Cheeky Panda.
Part of the Startups 100, The Cheeky Panda uses bamboo to create toilet paper, hand towels, napkins, facial tissues and kitchen roll that is better quality than high street brands and is at a good price. The company also invests back into protecting the rainforests and is carbon-balanced, and has raised over £10.8m.
Co-Founder and Head of Product at Parsley Box
Adrienne MacAulay is co-founder and head of product at Parsley Box, which delivers ready meals to customers that do not need freezing or refrigeration. MacAulay worked at Ness Clothing & Accessories for over 20 years as Head of Design and Production before leaving to start her entrepreneurial journey with her husband and business partner Kevin Dorren. Today, she runs product development as they grow their customer database within the UK.
Parsley Box was founded when MacAulay spotted a gap in the market while looking for ready meals for her mother-in-law. The meals are ordered online and delivered straight to the consumer’s door, and can be stored for up to six months in a cupboard, thanks to their innovative packaging system. Parsley Box has raised over £10m across four funding rounds to date.
Co-Founder and CEO at Resi
Business leader Alexandra Depledge is the co-founder and CEO of Resi, which provides architectural services for homeowners and allows clients to monitor the progress of their projects with an online dashboard. Depledge started off as a management consultant at Accenture before co-founding Hassle, Europe’s largest marketplace for domestic cleaners. She has been a board member of the Sharing Economy and has also been awarded an MBE for services to the tech industry.
The idea for Resi was born in 2016, when Depledge wanted to add an extension to her home and realised just how confusing and expensive the majority of people find using an architect. Resi connects homeowners with professionals to help with financing, design, planning, building regulations and construction, and has a dashboard to allow users to track the project. Resi has, so far, raised £9.5m from 5 fundraising rounds.
Depledge has the following advice for anyone looking to start their own business: “the best advice I could probably give is for someone starting out to find their tribe—the support network that will sustain you. It’s been my most important tool in growing both businesses. Your tribe can be fellow founders at the same stage, friends who understand or your partner. You just can’t go through it alone!”
Co-Founder and CTO at Resi
Julianna Coleman, described on her social media as a ‘serial entrepreneur’, is the co-founder and CTO of Resi, the second company that she and Depledge founded together after Hassle. Prior to Hassle, Coleman worked as a consultant and analyst at Accenture and a senior manager at PwC. Like Depledge she has been awarded an MBE for services to the tech industry, and also spent a year at Index Ventures as their entrepreneur in residence. Resi is backed by a number of undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and Publisher
at Tortoise Media
Katie Vanneck-Smith is one of three co-founders of Tortoise, which operates a media company that aims to provide in-depth and analytical news coverage—in their words, ‘slow news’. Before co-founding Tortoise, Vanneck-Smith held a number of prestigious positions within media, including sales and marketing director at The Telegraph and The Times, chief marketing officer at News UK and president of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones.
Tortoise is a membership-based business, in which members pay for ad-free news that is free of any political bias, along with tickets to online events, long-form reads and podcasts. The team cover one story a week, and aim to cover ‘not breaking news, but what’s driving it.’ Tortoise has raised £9.4m across two funding rounds, the last of which was in 2019.
Vanneck-Smith’s advice to new founders is that “launching and building a business is relentless. Have a laser-like focus on what you are trying to achieve. Don’t be afraid to tweak and experiment but don’t get distracted by things that are not getting you closer to your goal. And remember to enjoy it—and share that sense of energy with your team.”
Founder and CEO at Priximie
Nadine Hachach-Haram is the founder and CEO of Proximie, which develops remote surgery technology using augmented reality to train and assist surgeons worldwide. Also currently a practising plastic surgeon with the NHS, Hachach-Haram is known as a clinical entrepreneur and is a TED speaker.
Proximie was born out of Hachach-Haram’s own experiences as a surgeon, as she realised the differences in clinical care in the developed and developing world. The platform allows clinicians to virtually ‘scrub in’ to another operating room or cath lab anywhere in the world, which enables them to share skills in real-time and ultimately move closer to a universal standard of clinical care. Proximie has raised over £9.4m in equity finance.
Co-Founder and COO at Clara Pensions
Kim Toker is the co-founder and COO of Clara Pensions, a consolidator for defined benefit pension schemes. As a qualified accountant, Toker spent 20 years working in financial services, and has names including Barclays Africa, Credit Suisse and Grant Thornton under her belt. Today, her role at Clara is to ‘bring clarity’ and to make pensions easier to understand for its clients, to help them make better decisions about their retirement.
Members of Clara can either join as individuals or as part of a business. Clara aims to provide secure, easy-to-understand pensions, which in turn gives members security. To date, Clara Pensions has raised £9.3m over two fundraising rounds from undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder at Gymfinity Kids
Ruth Chapman is the co-founder of Gymfinity Kids, a chain of recreational centres for children aged 16 and under. A qualified PE teacher, Chapman worked at a sixth-form college in Manchester for three years before founding gymnastics academy Gymfinity Gymnastics and Gymfinity Kids.
With locations in Colchester, Reading, Farnborough, Milton Keynes, Cambridge, Maidstone and Wandsworth, and two to open soon in Bracknell and Chatham, Gymfinity Kids offers Gymnastics and Ninja classes as well as holiday camps and birthday parties. The company’s aim is to inspire children to keep fit, improve their wellbeing and most importantly to have fun. To date, Gymfinity Kids has raised over £9.1m from undisclosed investors.
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Founder and CEO at Viavi:be
Dr Sabine Donnai is the founder and CEO of Viavi:be, which operates gyms for those who do not feel comfortable in traditional gyms. Previously a director at Bupa Wellness, managing director at Prestige Health, and medical director at Sona Positive Health and Nuffield Health, Donnai is considered a world authority in proactive health management and is known for creating contemporary solutions for personal health.
Viavi:be offers clinical exercise programmes, lifestyle medicine tests and physiotherapy, as well as weight management, clinical yoga and pilates to its members. Currently closed due to the pandemic, it is being refurbished to create what they deem ‘the most advanced lifestyle medicine and rehabilitation centre in the UK’. Viavi:be has raised over £8.3m in equity finance so far.
Maria Chatzou Dunford
Co-Founder and CEO at Lifebit
Dr Maria Chatzou Dunford is the co-founder and CEO of Lifebit, which offers a cloud-based platform that combines biological data with previous workflows and analyses, using AI to automate future analysis. She holds a PhD in Biomedicine, a MSc in Bioinformatics and a BSc in Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics. Prior to Lifebit, Chatzou Dunford founded Innovation Forum Barcelona. She is a frequent industry speaker, covering topics such as cloud & big data, women in leadership, entrepreneurship and startups.
Lifebit helps to tackle challenges in drug discovery precision medicine and population genomics by democratising the analysis and understanding of genetic big data. To date, it has raised £8.3m across two fundraising rounds from Beacon Capital, Connect Ventures, Idinvest Partners, Pentech Ventures and Tiny VC.
Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer
Christina Daskalaki is the co-founder and chief product officer of Lenses, which develops web-based streaming data management software. Educated at the University of Piraeus, Daskalaki worked as a Software Development Lead at Marks & Spencer and a Senior Software Engineer at Net-a-Porter before co-founding Lenses. The company’s founders are some of the biggest contributors to the Apache Kafka and Kubernetes ecosystems.
Lenses aims to democratise data technology by helping enterprises simplify their operations and open data up to every team. It has raised £8.1m over three fundraising rounds from 83North, Marathon Venture Capital and undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and Head of Discovery
Oxana Polyakova is the co-founder and head of discovery at Adaptate Biotherapeutics, a pharmaceutical company which aims to develop antibody-based immunotherapies. With a PhD from Moscow State University, Polyakova is an expert in protein sciences within pharma and biotech settings, and has particular experience in discovering biologics for oncology indications.
Adaptate Biotherapeutics is developing a portfolio of antibodies designed to modulate the activity of a patrients cytotoxic gamma delta T cells, which has the potential to address the challenges often caused by current cancer immunotherapies. It raised over £8m during its first and only funding round last year.
Co-Founder and Head of Operations at Pathios Therapeutics
Kirsty McCarthy is the co-founder and head of operations at Pathios Therapeutics, which develops drugs designed to act as modulators for G protein receptor GPR65, a prominent protein in tumour development. Prior to Pathios, McCarthy founded and ran two companies in the intellectual property space, and is now responsible for the legal, financial and HR aspects of Pathios Therapeutics.
Pathios Therapeutics is an early-stage drug discovery company that is working to identify novel small-molecule modulators of GPR65 with expected utility across a broad spectrum of cancers. It is also interested in the potential to target GPR65 for the benefit of treating other serious diseases. Pathios Therapeutics has raised over £8m in equity finance so far from Canaan Partners, Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder at Smol
Paula Quazi is co-founder of Smol, which develops eco-friendly detergent for dishes and laundry. She previously spent 20 years at Unilever as the vice president of marketing, and 10 years at PEA Consulting Ltd as a founding partner, before launching Smol out of a belief that there is a better way to buy cleaning products.
Smol makes affordable, eco-friendly products which are posted to customers at a frequency of their choosing. Currently Smol offers products for laundry, dishwashing, fabric conditioner and cleaning sprays. Last year, it raised over £7.9m in its first funding round from Balderton Capital, JamJar Investments and undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer at Cannaray
New York-based Leah Park is the co-founder and chief creative officer of Cannaray, which makes cannabis-infused healthcare products. Educated at the ArtCentre College of Design in California, Park has previously co-founded two companies: Vaunte and Project September. Her role now encompasses the strategy, art and design of Cannaray.
Cannaray makes premium-quality CBD products, in oil, capsule, cream and balm, and gummy form. Its mission is to demystify CBD and make its daily use accessible for everyone. To date, Cannaray has raised £7.8m over two funding rounds from undisclosed investors.
Co-Founder and COO at The Bike Club
Alexandra Rico-Lloyd is the co-founder and COO of The Bike Club, which operates a bicycle subscription service where users can rent bicycles and exchange them for different models as needed. Rico-Lloyd previously worked across operations and support at Greater London Authority and systems at SolarCentury before co-founding The Bike Club. The company was founded when she and her co-founder James Symes wanted to find an alternative to ownership or traditional retail finance when purchasing consumer goods.
The Bike Club has a hybrid hire-exchange and rent-to-own solution, and is now one of the UK’s largest bike rental networks. Rico-Lloyd reveals that 2021 will be “a period of time for us to lay down the solid foundations to support future growth.” To date, the company has raised over £7.6m across four funding rounds.
To any young people hoping to become a successful entrepreneur, Rico-Lloyd says that “entrepreneurship can be extremely lonely. You’ll face challenges on a day-to-day basis that you could never have foreseen and they’ll be incomprehensible to those around you. The best step forwards we made was to get a desk in a shared office space. Taking a step out of the flat where we started out and having the right working environment and other founders to share experiences with was such a positive move for the direction of the Bike Club.”
Charlotte Casebourne Mills
Co-Founder and CEO at Theolytics
Charlotte Casebourne Mills is co-founder and CEO of Theolytics, which is developing a cancer treatment utilising a virus to target cancer cells. She is also a board member of the UK BioIndustry Association. Prior to Theolytics she worked as a co-founder and director of New Medicine Partners, and has wide-ranging experience in transforming life science technologies into commercially viable products. Casebourne Mills has also recently been named one of In Vivo’s 20 Rising Leaders in Life Sciences.
Using a phenotypic screening platform, Theolytics aims to discover and develop candidates for intravenous delivery to combat cancer. Its pipeline of programs include those that target solid and liquid tumours, and also establishes partnerships to accelerate development. To date, the company has raised £7.6m from two fundraising rounds.
Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer
Margaret Duffy is co-founder and chief scientific officer of Theolytics. Duffy has over ten years’ international research experience and specialises in virology. Her role at Theolytics involves leading the scientific teams in the discovery of new oncolytic viruses for clinical development.
Co-Founder and CEO
Jenna Brown is co-founder and CEO of Shipamax, a company that aims to make it simple for any logistics organisation to automate data entry. Prior to founding Shipamax, Brown was an early employee at fellow Beauhurst-tracked companies GoCardless and Adzuna, where she worked in sales roles.
Shipamax understands the context of invoices and other data-heavy documents, and identifies the most relevant information to extract, and import into existing systems.
Founded in March 2016, the company has raised £7.4m over three funding rounds. Investors include Y Combinator, Mosaic Ventures and Crane Ventures.
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