50 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch | 2022
9th March 2022
According to our latest deal data, businesses founded by female entrepreneurs raised 24% of equity rounds in the UK private market last year (double the proportion seen in 2011) but just 15p in every £1 deployed. This is despite the fact that 26% of high-growth UK companies have at least one female founder. So whilst a disproportionately small number of businesses were founded by women, an even smaller proportion go on to secure equity finance. In fact, for all-female founding teams, this figure is closer to 1p in every £1.
We currently track 6,368 high-growth UK companies that were founded by at least one female entrepreneur, around half of which (3,407) have raised equity investment. That’s £12.1b secured in funding since 2011—by 4,222 female founders or co-founders. Diversity in business and tech is undeniably important year-round but, in celebration of International Women’s Day, we’ve narrowed down that list of successful business women to create our annual ranking of the UK’s top 50 female entrepreneurs.
Collectively, these female founders and business leaders have founded 46 ambitious startups and scaleups, in industries such as life sciences, insurance, e-commerce and fintech. Notably, 15% of these businesses are operating in the pharmaceuticals sector, with many of their founders entering the business world via academic research.
Each has raised many millions of pounds in investment, reaching into the billions at the top end. Securing such vast sums of money is no mean feat for business owners, but particularly for those such as women entrepreneurs that are under-represented at such high levels in the equity market.
Read on to discover 50 of the most high-potential and successful entrepreneurs in the UK today—ranked by the total amount of investment they’ve secured for their companies.
Addy Loudiadis is the CEO and Co-Founder of Rothesay Life, the UK’s largest provider of pensions security services. Before becoming a female entrepreneur, Loudiadis worked as a banker at Goldman Sachs for over ten years, organising complex derivatives deals that set her up for success in insurance.
Rothesay Life was founded in 2007 and has continued to scale since. In early 2022, the company took on Just Group’s portfolio of over 4,600 lifetime mortgages. It has raised £2b across six fundraisings and attracted many investors. Rothesay is currently backed by The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, MassMutual Ventures, The Blackstone Group, and other undisclosed investors.
Anne Boden is the Founder and CEO of Starling Bank, a mobile-based regulated bank that allows users to keep better track of their finances. After 30 years at some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, she founded Starling “to offer people a fairer, smarter and more human alternative to the banks of the past.” Based on her background in computer science, she saw an opportunity for app-based real-time finance management; Starling Bank has been a key player in this space since 2014.
Starling Bank is one of just six UK unicorn companies (businesses worth more than one billion dollars) to be female-founded. The fintech firm is backed by Fidelity Management & Research Company, Goldman Sachs Growth Equity (GS Growth), and Millennium Management (MLP), among many others. It has raised over £584m so far across eight fundraisings.
As the Co-Founder and Company Secretary of Africa Mobile Networks, Chenesai Darcy has been involved in expanding mobile network coverage across Africa for over 10 years. Founded in 2013, AMN develops and maintains infrastructure in rural, remote areas; Darcy is driven by a background in telecommunications.
Having been recognised in Top 100 Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses in 2018, AMN continues to scale. It now covers 2,000 base stations in 10 countries and holds ambitions to cover almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa.
AMN has raised over £331m of investment to date, with backing from CDC Group, DEG Invest, Intelsat, Mauritius Commercial Bank, Metier, Minerva Business Angel Network, and Proparco.
Eccie Newton is Co-Founder and CEO of Karma Kitchen, a London-based startup which delivers co-working and commercial kitchen spaces to SMEs in the food and drinks industry. Since launching in 2017, Karma Kitchen has raised an impressive £254m in equity investment, across three funding rounds.
Prior to this, Newton co-founded office lunch delivery service Karma Cans with her sister (Gini) in 2014, a year after graduating from LSE with a Masters in Terrorism & Conflict. After three years, the Newton sisters built on the knowledge they’d gained through Karma Cans to create Karma Kitchen, with both companies led by an all-female team.
Sister to Eccie, Gini Newton is Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at Karma Kitchen. Before starting Karma Cans and Karma Kitchen, Bristol University graduate Gini worked as the Marketing Director and Sous Chef at London-based pop-up Sustainable Supper, and authored the cookbook ‘Raw is More’.
Gini and Eccie’s experience in building kitchens for Karma Cans 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 other, undisclosed investors.
Guan Dian is Co-Founder and Asia Pacific Senior Vice President at Patsnap, an AI-driven organisation that allows subscribers to access intellectual property patents in order to analyse trends and drive innovation. Having worked as an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston and a software engineer at MooWee, Dian has used her background to optimise the software and its journey to market.
Patsnap works by using machine learning to comb through datasets, providing users with only the information they need. This could be patent expiry dates, renewals, licensing or litigation data.
The company has 10,000+ customers in over 40 countries; this includes heavyweights NASA, IBM, Ferrari and Starbucks. Investors include CITIC Capital, Qualgro VC, Sequoia Capital, Shunwei, Softbank Vision Fund, Summit Partners, Tencent and Vertex Growth. Patsnap has raised over £251m across four fundraisings since its inception in 2007.
An inspiring woman within the hospitality space, Kit Kemp is the Co-Founder, Owner & Creative Director of Firmdale Hotels. Having begun her career working for an auctioneer, she closely explored the role furniture can play in interior design; since then, she has developed her reputation as a designer and was recognised by Andrew Martin as Interior Designer of the Year in 2008.
Firmdale Hotels, founded in 1985 by Kemp and her husband, is a boutique chain that is based on the principle that “hotels should be living things not stuffy institutions.” Each of the eight hotels, located in London and New York, are designed with their own fresh style.
The company is backed by Barclays Corporate Banking as well as undisclosed investors. It has raised over £230m across two fundraisings to date.
Professor Giovanna Lombardi is a founding expert at Quell Therapeutics. The UCL spinout develops regulatory T cell (Tregs) 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 now a Professor of Human Transplant Immunology at King’s College London. Her healthcare research focuses on transplant rejection and tolerance, as well as the phenotype and function of Treg cells in health and disease.
Lombardi was one of six co-founders who helped launch Quell in 2019, in partnership with its leadership team. Since then, Quell has gone on to secure almost £178m in investment, across three funding rounds.
Also a Co-Founder at Quell, Professor Emma Morris is a Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy. She is also Director of the UCL Division of Infection & Immunity, and Director of the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre’s Inflammation, Immunity & Immunotherapeutics Programme.
Morris’ research covers new aspects of immune therapies for haematological malignancies and inherited immunodeficiencies. Her expertise has enabled Quell to help bring life-changing treatments to patients. Quell launched with initial backing from Syncona and the UCL Technology Fund (managed by venture capital firm AlbionVC), but now includes Fidelity, Point72 and Tekla Capital Management in its cap table, alongside several other investors.
Fiona Canning is Co-Founder and Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Pollinate. Founded in 2017, the London-based fintech develops software to improve merchant acquisition for banks, while providing SMEs with digital tools and insights into their business.
Having previously worked at big names like Visa, Nectar and Natwest, Canning has used her background in consulting and customer-centric roles to build the consumer engagement programme at Pollinate. During COVID-19, the company has built targeted solutions to help small businesses overcome some of the challenges of the pandemic.
To date, Pollinate has raised £128m in equity investment, across four funding rounds. Its investors include EFM Asset Management, Insight Partners, Mastercard, Motive Partners, NatWest, National Australia Bank and RBS.
Marcia Kilgore is the Founder of Beauty Pie, a skincare and makeup brand that sells premium products at affordable prices. Well-versed in entrepreneurship, Kilgore has founded several other companies in the space; these include Soap & Glory, Bliss Spa and Fit Flop.
Beauty Pie was founded in 2015 to deliver makeup and skincare products directly from the factory in order to reduce prices for customers. Kilgore describes the company’s ambition as wanting to “make sure that our customers are always having fun and have new [products] to shop.”
Beauty Pie is backed by Balderton Capital, General Catalyst Partners, Index Ventures, Insight Partners, and Latitude Investment Management. It was featured in LinkedIn Top Startups UK 2021 and has raised over £126m across four fundraisings to date.
Recognised in Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017, Alexandra Margolis is the Co-Founder & Creative Director of price comparison site, carwow.
carwow was founded in 2015 out of the simple idea that buying a car should be an enjoyable process. Free and easy to use, people can purchase and lease cars from local and national dealerships without hassle.
The company is backed by Accel, Balderton Capital, Crowdcube, Daimler, Episode 1, Hercules Capital, Samos Investments, and Vitruvian Partners among others. It has raised over £120m across eight fundraisings to date and was featured in Top 100 – Britain’s Fastest Growing Businesses, BusinessCloud 100 eCommerce in 2017 and Trailblazers in 2020.
A female entrepreneur doing a great deal for the cause of women’s empowerment, Tania Boler is the Founder and CEO of Elvie. Elvie develops technology to address often overlooked, intimate issues that affect women. Boler began the company in order to fill a gap in the market of pelvic floor devices.
Elvie creates a range of products; kegel trainers and electric wearable breast pumps are two of their most popular. Speaking to Forbes, Boler described “finally, femtech is being taken seriously by investors.”
Elvie is funded by AllBright, BGF, BlackRock, IPGL, and Octopus Ventures, among others. It has raised over £108m to date across five fundraisings.
Malthilda Strom is the Co-Founder, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Director for Africa & Pakistan for BIMA. Established in London and aimed at developing markets, BIMA provides insurance and accessible healthcare via their proprietary app. The company is founded on the belief every family should be protected from life’s greatest health and financial risks, regardless of where they were born.
Strom gained a BSc in International Management from Manchester Business School and before, her time at BIMA, worked at Value Partners (formerly Spectrum Strategy Consultants) gaining knowledge of complex project management in Media & Telecoms.
BIMA has accumulated over £87m from six rounds of fundraising. It is backed by Allianz, Axiata, CEFIF, Digicel Group, Kinnevik, LeapFrog, Millicom and other undisclosed investors.
Zohra Slim is the Co-Founder & African Chief Web Officer at InstaDeep, an organisation which makes AI-powered software solutions for businesses. With a background in web development, Slim founded the company in 2015 after leading a team of developers on a similar project in India. Instadeep works across industries, providing machine-learning-driven solutions to a range of complex challenges.
Having raised over £84m to date across five fundraisings, Instadeep is backed by a multitude of investors. This includes AfricInvest, Alpha Intelligence Capital, BioNTech, CDIB Capital Group, Chimera Investment, DB Digital Ventures, Endeavor Catalyst, G42, Google LLC and Synergie.
An inspiration for women entrepreneurs within the tech space, we can’t ignore Soumaya Hamzaoui, the Co-Founder and COO of RedCloud Technologies. RedCloud is an organisation which develops cloud and mobile technologies that connect brands, distributors, and merchants.
Hamzaoui came to the role with a background in consultancy and project management. At RedCloud, she aims to “democratise the access to business technology by building a platform that is accessible to everyone and easy to use for any business regardless of their education level.”
Founded in 2014, RedCloud offers a digital ecosystem that is designed to unlock the full value in distribution for all parties. It has raised over £82m across four fundraisings.
Female entrepreneur Lady Amanda Feilding is Director and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at Beckley Psytech. Based in Oxford, the company conducts research into psychedelic compounds, aiming to develop them into licensed medicines 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 healthcare. She co-founded the startup in 2018, to build upon the work of the Beckley Foundation, a non-profit organisation she runs that focuses on drug policy reform and research into psychedelic medicines.
So far, Beckley Psytech has raised £75m worth of investment, across three funding rounds. Its backers include Adage Capital Management, Bicycle Day Ventures, Integrated VC, Prime Movers Lab and Delphi Ventures, among others.
Elaine Warburton OBE
Elaine Warburton OBE is the Co-Founder and Non-Executive Director of QuantuMDx, a UK-based medtech company that develops diagnostic medical devices. Warburton, who was awarded an OBE in 2021 as a result of her contributions to health innovation, is also the Co-Founder of ReadyGo Diagnostics.
Founded in 2008, QuantuMDx has brought a range of devices to market. The most well-known (the Q-POC) is a portable diagnostics laboratory designed to provide rapid testing via DNA analysis.
The company is backed by 3B Future Health Fund, the Future Fund, Helsinn Investment Fund, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Newcastle, and Vita Spring. It has raised over £72m to date across 12 rounds of fundraising.
As Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Arora Group, Sunita Arora oversees a group of companies in the property, construction and hotel sectors alongside her husband Surinder. Before meeting him and setting up their first hotel project in 1999, she worked as a dental nurse for several years.
Over the past decade, Arora Hotels has been one of the UK’s fastest-growing privately-owned hotel organisations; Arora Construction and Arora Property are equally thriving. The Arora Group as a whole was featured on the Fast Track Top Track 250 list in 2019 and it was on the Fast Track Profit Track 100 list in 2013. The company has raised over £68m in equity and loan fundraisings across two rounds.
Inspiring female entrepreneur, Maria Karvela is the Co-Founder & Chief Scientific Officer at health tech organisation, DnaNudge. Previously, Karvela completed a PhD at the University of Glasgow before working as a Principal Scientist at technology-enhanced skincare brand, GENEU.
Founded in 2015, DnaNudge was created to prompt consumers to make healthier food decisions based on their DNA profiles. Through wearable technology, users can be guided away from foods that could cause them illnesses they might be prone to—Type2 diabetes, for example. The organisation also provides genetic testing services, including lab-free PCR COVID-19 tests for which DnaNudge won the Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award.
DnaNudge has raised over £67m across seven fundraisings to date, with backing from UAE-based Ventura Capital.
Cherry Freeman is the Founder and Non-Executive Director at online crafting community, LoveCrafts. Before founding the business in 2010, Freeman received a degree from the University of Cambridge and then worked in operations and consultancy.
LoveCrafts is a home for creatives who want to find new inspiration and learn new techniques. The platform acts as a marketplace for supplies and a social place for members to share their work. As reported by the Huffington Post, the site’s visitors skyrocketed during the pandemic.
LoveCrafts is backed by a number of venture capital firms, including Balderton Capital, the Future Fund, Highland Europe, Scottish Equity Partners (SEP), TriplePoint Capital, and True Early Stage. It has raised over £65m across five fundraisings.
Moria Zituny Bennett
Moira Zituny Bennett is the Co-Founder and Wellbeing Ambassador at Electric Range Extended Vehicles (EREVs) company, Tevva Motors. Prior to founding Tevva Motors in 2013, Zituny Bennett completed a Master’s degree in Sustainability at London Business School.
The electric trucks produced by Tevva Motors are designed to be heavy-duty and low cost, and to do the work of a diesel truck without the environmental impact. The organisation was recently awarded over £43m to massively scale up manufacturing and get trucks on the road in London.
Tevva Motors is backed by Bharat Forge Limited, and the UK’s most active angel network, Envestors. It has raised over £62m across six fundraising rounds.
As well as being an ex-pop star, Victoria Beckham is the Co-Owner and Founder of the Beckham Brand; with over £60m raised by the company to date across two fundraisings, Beckham definitely deserves a mention in this list of inspiring women.
The Beckham Brand is the parent company for a number of businesses that sell clothing and accessories. Founded in 2008, the label has been widely celebrated, winning multiple industry awards, including Best Designer Brand and Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. The business was also featured on the Fast Track 100 list in 2014.
The Beckham Brand is backed by NEO Investment Partners as well as a number of undisclosed investors.
Rachael Bashford-Rogers is the Co-Founder of antibody-based therapeutics brand, Alchemab. Before founding the business, Bashford-Rogers received a degree in Chemistry from the University of Oxford and a PhD in Genetics from the University of Cambridge.
Founded in 2019, Alchemab has created a platform that enables the identification of new drugs through antibody analysis. It is building a pipeline of protective therapeutics, with an initial focus on neurodegenerative conditions and oncology.
Alchemab was part of the Illumina Accelerator Cambridge. It is backed by Danhua Capital (DHVC), Data Collective, the Dementia Discovery Fund (managed by SV Health Investors), Lightstone Ventures, RA Capital Management, and has raised over £60m to date.
Maria Chatzou Dunford
Dr. Maria Chatzou Dunford is Co-Founder and CEO of Lifebit, which helps to tackle challenges in drug discovery, precision medicine and population genomics. Founded in 2017, it has developed a cloud-based platform that combines biological data with existing workflows and analyses, using AI to automate future analysis.
To date, Lifebit has raised £52m in fundraisings, across three rounds, with Tiger Global, Beacon Capital, Connect Ventures, Eurazeo, Pentech Ventures and Tiny VC. It also secured a £27.8k grant fom Innovate UK in 2019, and has attended the P4 Precision Medicine, Techstars London, and Mayor’s International Business Programme accelerators.
Prior to Lifebit, Chatzou Dunford also founded Innovation Forum Barcelona. She holds a PhD in Biomedicine and is a frequent industry speaker, covering topics such as cloud and big data, women in leadership, entrepreneurship and startups.
Tugce Bulut is the Founder and CEO of Streetbees, a global intelligence platform with worldwide users. Before her work here, Bulut received a degree from the University of Cambridge and worked as a Strategy Consultant at EY Parthenon.
Founded in 2014, Streetbees develops software that facilitates the collection of data from people who are paid for sharing aspects of their lives for the purposes of market research. Through AI, it can then provide advanced insights into consumer behaviour.
Streetbees has over 4.5m users in 189 countries and is backed by Atomico, BGF, JamJar Investments, Lakestar, LocalGlobe, and Octopus Ventures. It has raised over £51m across eight fundraisings.
Lourdes Agapito is the Co-Founder of Synthesia, an artificial intelligence company created to model the human face for the purpose of enhancing storytelling. Prior to founding the company in 2017, Lourdes Agapito was Professor of 3D Vision in the Department of Computer Science at University College London (UCL).
Synthesia, which unites researchers and entrepreneurs from UCL, Stanford, TUM, and Cambridge, is leading the way in synthetic audio-visual content. The videos the software creates can be used in everything from product tutorials to corporate communications.
A University College London spinout, Synthesia has gone from success to success. It has raised over £48m to date and is backed by Firstmark Capital, GV (Google Ventures), Kleiner Perkins, LDV Capital, MMC Ventures, Seedcamp, Tiny VC, and Vas Ventures.
Orat Benyamini is the Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer at REKKI, a mobile app that allows restaurants to communicate directly with their suppliers. With a background in law, Benyamini brings a diverse set of skills to the company.
REKKI is rethinking how the supply chain looks. Both suppliers and chefs can join the platform in order to secure the best deals for both parties. The app makes it easier for chefs to get access to high-quality ingredients cheaply and for suppliers to quickly grow their businesses. It’s also growing rapidly, with kitchens across London and beyond adopting it in order to cut costs and get produce quickly.
The company has raised over £47m to date across six fundraisings with undisclosed investors.
Operations Director Louise Hill founded GoHenry when she realised that, in an increasingly digital world, her children would need to know how to manage their money. The company provides prepaid debit cards that are linked to a parent’s account and monitored via applications.
As Co-Founder & Chief Operating Officer, Hill oversees customer service, supply chain, premises, legal and risk, using the skills she acquired during her time working for leading retailers.
GoHenry, which was founded in 2012, is a rewarding way for kids to build financial literacy. Based on gamification and integrated financial education, it offers a range of tools to kids from age six to 18.
GoHenry is backed by Citi Ventures, Crowdcube, Edison Partners, Muse Capital, and Revaia. It has raised over £46m to date across eleven fundraising rounds.
Nancy Butler is Co-Founder and Commercial Director of Bank North, a Manchester-based challenger bank. Founded in 2017, Bank North received its banking licence in August last year. It aims to disrupt the UK lending market by partnering with global fintech leaders to deliver a great borrowing experience for startups and SMEs.
With over 35 years’ experience in banking, namely at RBS, Santander and Atom Bank, Butler draws on her knowledge of lead generation and customer relationship management in her leadership role at Bank North. So far, the company has raised £46.9m, across seven funding rounds. Its investors include Channel 4 Ventures, Crowdcube, Greater Manchester Investment Fund and GrowthFunders.
Saasha Celestial-One is half of the founding team behind the food waste commerce app, OLIO. She also holds the position of Chief Operating Officer. As the daughter of Iowa Hippy Entrepreneurs (her own words!) Saasha has been involved with recycling and eco-friendly initiatives throughout much of her childhood.
When the opportunity to co-found OLIO with Tessa Clarke came up, Saasha jumped at the opportunity; in a few short years OLIO expanded from their local North-London community to an advanced and scaled app. OLIO now operates nationwide and continues to grow rapidly.
Saasha has helped the company to secure almost £300k in grant funding, and £46m in equity investment, across five fundraising efforts. The company has a long roster of venture capital backers, including Octopus Ventures, Mustard Seed and Accel.
Tessa Clarke is the other female founder & Chief Executive Officer of Food Waste App OLIO, a UK-based company that works to minimise both individual and business food waste by redistributing surplus food.
Created in 2015, OLIO aims to create a framework that allows people to purchase (or pick up free-of-charge) food that will otherwise go to waste. In part through social media, it connects local people and businesses within communities to allow the easy transfer and purchase of soon to be waste produce.
With two successful women at the helm, the London-based start-up now employs over 50 staff and has benefitted from the Mayor’s International Business Programme accelerator.
Professor Dame Carol Robinson, Co-Founder of OMass Therapeutics, is currently working as a Non-Executive Director and advisor to the healthtech startup. In 2001, she joined the University of Cambridge as a Professor in Chemistry and, since 2009, has held the named professorship of Dr Lee’s Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford.
Robinson was the first woman to be appointed a Professor of Chemistry at both Oxford and Cambridge, and was awarded a DBE in 2013 for her services to science & industry. She brings her expertise in using mass spectrometry for research into the 3D structure of proteins and their complexes to OMass.
Spun out of Oxford in 2016, OMass uses high-resolution native mass spectrometry and other biophysical technologies to drive drug discovery and commercialisation for immune and genetic disorders. Backed by Oxford Science Enterprises and Syncona, it has raised £42.5m in three equity rounds so far, alongside a £462k Innovate UK grant in 2018.
Sharon Pursey OBE
Sharon Pursey OBE holds the title of Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the SafeToNet Foundation. Formed in 2013, SafeToNet develops children’s online safety software that is designed to protect young people online from threats such as cyberbullying and grooming.
With 13 years experience running her own business, Pursey has since gone on to win the Women in Business – Rising Star award as well as making the shortlist for the Women in IT Awards – Woman of the Year. She also received an OBE in the 2020 New Years’ Honours List.
SafeToNet has secured over £41m in funding from 12 rounds of fundraising and is backed by Connectd, DuKlaw Ventures, Seedrs, Wealth Club, West Hill Capital, and other undisclosed investors.
As Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Katherine Mitchell has helped grow MPB to be the leading online marketplace for second-hand photo and video equipment.
Originally founded in 2011, MPB now has sites in the creative hotspots of Brighton, Brooklyn & Berlin, recirculating more than 300,000 pieces of used photo & video equipment every year.
Previously holding key roles in finance, operations and strategy, Katherine has had a hand in every step of MPB’s development. MPB was featured on FT 1000 & Fast Track Tech Track 100 high growth lists, and has secured over £40m from four fundraisings. It has backing from Acton Capital, Beringea, FJ Labs, Mobeus and Vitruvian Partners.
Paula Quazi is Co-Founder of Smol, which develops eco-friendly cleaning products and detergent capsules for dishes and laundry. Quazi previously spent 20 years working at Unilever, including four years as VP of Marketing for Europe. She went on to become a Founding Partner at boutique marketing consultancy Pea, before founding Smol in 2017.
Based in Crawley, Smol has secured £40.2m in equity investment so far, across three rounds. Its investors include Balderton Capital, Eight Roads Ventures, Latitude Investment Management, JamJar Investments, and Google’s corporate venture capital arm GV.
Margaret Randles is both the Co-Founder and Chief Academic Officer for the longstanding Busy Bees Childcare. A humble start-up in 1984, Busy Bees is now the UK’s leading childcare group and currently operates 379 nurseries across the nation, employing over 1,000 staff.
With a long career in the childcare sector, Margaret has decades of experience. In 2015, she received an OBE for her services to children and families.
Margaret’s connections with both the government and local authorities have helped her to propel Busy Bees to where it is today. She remains dedicated to providing the very best level of care and education opportunities for children.
Busy Bees has received over £38m from four rounds of fundraising.
Georgina Nelson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TruRating. Founded in 2014, TruRating has developed technologies to allow customers to give feedback and review their shopping experience at the payment terminal when finalising transactions.
With offices in London, Atlanta and Sydney, TruRating has expanded rapidly. It enables merchants around the world to receive real-time insights into their customer’s feelings, offering both high street and e-commerce brands valuable insights which allow them to continuously improve the commerce experience.
Bolstered by accelerators such as Mayor’s International Business Programme & Microsoft for Start-ups, Georgina has secured over £38m across ten fundraisers and received support from Sandaire and Seedrs.
Dr Emma Black is a Co-Founder of GB Bank, a North-East based organisation created with the aim of providing property development finance to the historically neglected regions of the UK. In an extensive career in the savings market, Black previously worked with Cascade. She was named Cash Management Woman of the Year in 2020 and Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year (2020) at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards.
With the focus of getting Britain back building again and supporting UK real-estate, GB Bank works with property developers in both the North East and beyond.
Under Emma’s experienced guidance, GB Bank obtained its banking licence last year and has achieved over £38m in four fundraisings, with backing from the Teesside pension fund and a number of undisclosed investors.
Since 2015, Charlotte has been at the helm of Netwealth as its Founder and Chief Executive Officer. She has over 25 years worth of experience in the private wealth management sector, including 10 as a Partner at Goldman Sachs.
Netwealth is a tech-enabled wealth manager, pioneering a hybrid model that combines human expertise with the power of technology. It was created to deliver a more transparent, cost-effective and superior service to high-net-worth clients.
Netwealth offers its clients a powerful online service, underpinned by a robust investment framework, as well as access to professional advisers. The company has raised £37.9m so far, across four funding rounds.
Nadine Hachach-Haram is Founder and CEO of Proximie, a London-based startup which develops remote surgery technology using augmented reality (AR) to assist and train surgeons worldwide. Alongside being a successful female entrepreneur, Hachach-Haram is a TED speaker and plastic surgeon for the NHS.
Founded in 2016, Proximie was born out of Hachach-Haram’s clinical experience and understanding of the disparities in clinical care between countries. Its online platform allows clinicians to virtually attend other operating rooms or cath labs anywhere in the world, to share skills in real time and ultimately move closer to a universal standard of clinical care.
The female-led company has raised over £37.6m in equity finance so far, across three funding rounds, with investors such as Eight Roads Ventures, F-Prime Capital Partners and Maverick Capital. Proximie has also been awarded three grants from Innovate UK, totalling £497k.
Amandine Le Pape
Amandine Le Pape is Co-Founder and COO of Element, a London-based firm that develops an encrypted messenger and collaboration app. The decentralised, web-based software allows governments, businesses and individuals to host 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 decentralised IP messaging and VOIP ecosystem for the internet. Element’s 28m users communicate through the open global Matrix network, including the French, German and US Governments.
Founded in 2017, Element has secured £36.1m in equity funding so far, across four rounds. Its investors include Automattic and venture capital firms Dawn Capital, Firstminute Capital and Notion Capital. The company was also named on the Startups 100 list of the UK’s most impressive startups last year, and has attended PUBLIC’s Govstart accelerator programme for tech companies with strong public sector applications.
Storme Moore-Thornicroft is Co-Founder and COO of Emergex Vaccines, an Abingdon-based biotech company. Moore-Thornicroft has worked in the biotech sector for over two decades now, and has formed subsidiaries and strategic structures in the UK, Europe and US. She’s also worked with businesses, governments and NGOs in South America, Southeast Asia, India and Africa.
Emergex develops vaccines based on T-cells (a type of white blood cell that contributes to our immune systems) to address serious infectious diseases such as Dengue Fever, Zika, Ebola, Flu and intracellular bacterial infections. Founded in 2016, the startup has now raised £35.9m in funding with Vickers Venture Partners and undisclosed investors, across nine equity rounds. On top of this, it has been awarded two Innovate UK grants, worth £1.47m in total.
Dr Heather Fairhead is the Founder and Chief Executive of East Anglian biotech company, Phico Therapeutics, which focuses on developing antibiotics designed to fight multidrug resistant bacteria. With over 20 years of research team directorship experience, Fairhead has led Phico in developing its SASPject technology. This technology has been developed for the intravenous treatment of hospital infections.
Under Fairhead’s leadership, Phico Therapeutics has managed to secure over £9m from seven grant awards, as well as over £34m from 18 rounds of investment. It has backing from 24Haymarket, BGF, Cambridge Capital Group, CRIL, Emblem Tech, OION, Providence Investment, Winton Capital, as well as a host of other undisclosed investors.
Sara Linse is the Founder of Wren Therapeutics, as well as the Head of Wren Sweden, formed in 2016.
Wren Therapeutics research and develop pharmaceuticals to fight diseases that occur due to protein misfolding. This work could eventually allow for new medicines that can tackle neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Outside of her achievements as a business owner, Linse has also been awarded the Cozzarelli Prize by the National Academy of Sciences and the IUPAC Distinguished Woman in Chemistry prize (2011).
Under Linse’s expert leadership, Wren Therapeutics has secured over £33m in funding across three rounds, gaining backing from Industry Ventures, LifeForce, Malin, Schooner Capital and Baupost Group, along with various angels.
Dame Jayne-Anne Gadhia is Founder and Executive Chair of Norwich-based fintech startup Snoop. The company has developed a mobile app using artificial intelligence to help its users discover ways to save money.
Having begun her career as an Accountant at EY and Aviva, Gadhia went on to hold leadership positions such as Retail Managing Director at RBS, CEO at Virgin Money and CEO at Salesforce (where she remains a Senior Adviser). She is an advocate for female entrepreneurship and gender equality in business, and was the UK Government’s Women in Finance Champion between 2016 and 2021.
In 2019, Gadhia launched her own business which has since gone on to secure £33.2m in equity investment, across four funding rounds. Snoop has also been named on both The Fintech50 and BusinessCloud FinTech 50 high-growth lists in recent years.
Female entrepreneur Cara Norton is one of several co-founders to join Gadhia at Snoop. Prior to this, she spent more than 16 years at Virgin Money, most recently as Head of Customer Interactions Capability at Virgin Money Digital Bank.
Norton currently heads up Snoop’s operations and is responsible for customer support, feedback management, supplier procurement and data privacy, as well as leading the company’s out-of-app customer engagement strategy and execution. The fast-growing fintech company is backed by the UK Government’s Future Fund (managed by British Business Bank), Salesforce Ventures and Seedrs, among others.
Another inspiring female founder, Cheryl Williams is Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Park which opened in 2009 on the 260-acre site of the Brockholes Farm Visitor Centre. An experienced Zookeeper, Williams built The Yorkshire Wildlife Park from the ground up, and most recently reported an operating profit of £.278m in 2020—not bad for a tourist attraction in the middle of COVID.
The Park has a strong focus on education and through Williams’ hard work, The Yorkshire Wildlife Park has become a thriving hub for Conservation efforts. It has over 300 animals and over 60 unique species. In 2013 Cheryl founded the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation, with the aim of inspiring people to support conservation efforts and animal welfare.
Since The Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s inception, it has raised over £33m from two fundraisings, and is backed by BGF, Lloyds Bank, and other undisclosed investors.
Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne has dedicated her career to helping people with dietary restrictions to enjoy a mainstream lifestyle. In 2008 she founded Genius, which is now the country’’s leading manufacturer and supplier of gluten and dairy free bakery products. Originally starting with loaves of bread, the established company now makes a range of products including pancakes and pies. Genius has secured £32.6m of investment across seven rounds.
Bruce-Gardyne remains a Non Executive Director at Genius, as well as at Scotland Food & Drink trade association and The ScaleUp Institute. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Board Trustee of Royal Society of Chemical Industry.
Before founding Genius, Bruce-Gardyne worked as a chef, before founding catering service Thyme & Place.
Sophie Harrison is Co-Founder and Chief of Staff at Panaseer, a company that has developed software to assist businesses analysing the security of their data. The scaleup company reported a turnover of £2.39m in 2020, and has secured £32.2m of equity investment across seven rounds of funding.
Based in Surrey, Panaseer claims to be the first Continuous Controls Monitoring platform for enterprise security, helping stakeholders to make informed, risk-based security decisions.
Before founding Panaseer, Harrison was a Market Engagement Consultant for a cyber monitoring software product at BAE Systems. It was here that she met co-founders Charaka Goonatilake (CTO), Mike MacIntyre (VP of Product) and Nik Whitfield (Chairman).
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