13 Serial Entrepreneurs Behind Top UK Tech Startups

| Lucy Wilson

Category: Tech & innovation

Over the past year or so, we’ve delved into the data on the UK’s top tech stakeholders, most active VCs, angel networks and corporate venture funds—but what about the entrepreneurs they’re backing?

There’s a whole host of impressive founders behind the scenes of the UK’s top startups and scaleups. In fact, we have profiles on more than 40k founders at ambitious businesses currently tracked on the Beauhurst platform (private UK companies that have hit one or more of our eight triggers). And with our handy Networks add-on, you can even find out who they know through the companies or funds they’re involved with, including who of your own connections.      

So now, we’ve taken a closer look at the country’s top serial entrepreneurs—those individuals that have built at least three high-growth UK companies already. This article spotlights a selection of the most active and successful among them, many of whom are now angel investors as well.

13 of the UK's Top Serial Entrepreneurs

Martin Frost

Martin Frost CBE is a serial entrepreneur and business advisor, focusing on the biotech and life sciences space. Most notably, he is the Co-Founder and former CEO of unicorn company CMR Surgical. The surgical robotics firm reached its billion-dollar valuation back in 2019. Frost was awarded his CBE in 2020 for Services to Robotics and British Industry. 

Alongside CMR, Frost has co-founded 3D locating and tracking company Omnisense and, more recently, fast-charge battery startup Nyobolt. And he is currently a NED at several other high-growth businesses, including Manchester-based cancer diagnostics firm Zilico and University of Cambridge spinout Sorex Sensors. 

As an avid investor himself, Frost is also part of Cambridge Angels, a group of high-net-worth individuals backing early-stage tech companies in the UK. On top of this, he is a member of the advisory panel at Cambridge Innovation Capital, a leading deeptech and life sciences VC firm.

Oriane Chausiaux

Oriane Chausiaux is a French healthtech entrepreneur, who has a PhD in the Genetics of Infertility from the University of Cambridge. Alongside her PhD, in 2006, Chausiaux and her colleagues co-founded Cambridge Temperature Concepts (now Sensiia), successfully developing a new fertility monitoring device, DuoFertility. Since then, Chausiaux has led the Cambridge spinout to secure an impressive 10 equity funding rounds, worth £7.7m in total. 

She went on to start Heartfelt Technologies in 2015, as Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer. Much like her previous business venture, Heartfelt is based in Cambridge and develops medical devices, but this time focuses on detecting signs of heart failure at home. And most recently, in 2016, Chausiaux founded new venture Cambridge Digital Health, which specialises in app design and development for the healthcare industry.

Alex Chesterman

With two unicorn companies already in his portfolio, Alex Chesterman OBE currently has an estimated £500m+ in private UK shareholdings and 62 directorships to his name. Having previously co-founded DVD rental company LoveFilm in 2003, later bought by Amazon for $200m, Chesterman went on to lead both Zoopla and Cazoo to their billion-dollar valuations. 

Chesterman founded proptech firm Zoopla (now ZPG) in 2008, and oversaw its £919m IPO in 2014, before it sold for £2.2b in 2018. Also in 2018, he started Cazoo, an online marketplace for people to buy and sell used cars. Chesterman remains CEO at Cazoo, with the company floating on the NYSE in August 2021, via a $900m SPAC merger with Ajax.

Like many of his peers on this list, Chesterman is also a very active angel investor. He’s backed the likes of Motorway, Secret Escapes, Perkbox, FLOWERBX and Lick. In 2016, he was awarded an OBE for Services to Digital Entrepreneurship.

Discover the most influential people in the high-growth space, with our Networks add-on.

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Stephen Fitzpatrick

Stephen Fitzpatrick has the highest estimated paper wealth of anyone on this list, with more than £1b in current shareholdings in high-growth UK companies. He has 47 directorships and is the Founder and CEO of both OVO Group and Vertical Aerospace.

Fitzpatrick started OVO Energy in 2009, with the aim of providing greener, cheaper energy to its customers. Headquartered in Bristol, OVO Group now comprises a number of green energy companies, with around 5m customers across Europe. We heard more about the company’s journey to unicorn status here

Already a successful entrepreneur, Fitzpatrick went on to build Vertical Aerospace in 2016. The cleantech firm, also based in Bristol, is designing and building zero-carbon, electric (eVTOL) aircraft technology, for use in urban travel. Vertical Aerospace merged with SPAC Broadstone Acquisition Corp. last year, to list on the NYSE in December 2021.

Jan Farrarons & George Karibian

George Karibian is a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. Together with his business partner, French entrepreneur Jan Farrarons, he has co-founded three fast-growing UK fintech companies: Capital on Tap, Judopay and PaymentSense. 

Farrarons and Karibian started Judopay in 2012, developing white-label payments processing software for mobile apps. That same year, they founded their next venture Capital on Tap, which provides working capital financing for SMEs. To date, Capital on Tap has provided £2b+ to more than 120k small businesses and, as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the UK, has placed on Fast Track’s Tech Track 100 three times and the Deloitte Fast 50 twice.

Meanwhile, their third joint venture, PaymentSense, provides card machines and payment processing software to SMEs in the UK and Ireland. The fintech aficionados started PaymentSense back in 2016, and have since grown its employee count to almost 800 people. In 2020, the company launched subsidiary brand Dojo, diversifying its offering with additional payment solutions for merchants.

Judopay HQ

Brent Hoberman

Serial entrepreneur and investor Brent Hoberman CBE has co-founded six high-growth UK companies to date. These include startup accelerator Founders Factory, networking app Grip, and foodtech robotics and software venture Karakuri. 

Hoberman was also Co-Founder and NED at both lastminute.com and MADE, prior to their public market debuts. He founded lastminute.com in 1998 and, following its IPO in 2000, continued on as the company’s CEO, overseeing 14 successful acquisitions. The brand was bought by Sabre in 2005, for $1.1b. MADE underwent a £100m IPO on the London Stock Exchange in June 2021, valued at £775m.

Building on his successful track record as an entrepreneur, Hoberman has spent over a decade angel investing, and even launched his own venture capital fund in 2017. Firstminute Capital is a $300m seed fund that backs tech startups across Europe and the US. Notable companies in its portfolio include blockchain companies Risk Ledger and Argent.

Paul Vickery

With a background in tech investment at 3i Group, Paul Vickery has co-founded three high-growth companies in the UK so far. In 2010, he started Oxford PV with Henry Snaith and Kevin Arthur, a University of Oxford spinout which develops perovskite solar cell technology for clean energy generation. It’s secured an impressive £108m in equity investment so far, alongside a long list of innovation grants. 

Serial entrepreneur Vickery is also Co-Founder and Chairman of University of Cambridge spinout Silicon MicroGravity, which develops sensor technology for the oil and gas industry. He founded the company in 2014, and it’s now backed by BP Ventures, IP Group and Cambridge Enterprise, among others. 

Building on his portfolio of successful spinouts, the VC turned entrepreneur has also co-founded PrOXisense. Spun-out of Oxford in 2016, PrOXisense’s proximity sensors and data analysis software monitor complex industrial machinery and pharmaceutical equipment. The company is backed by Oxford Science Enterprises, The Stephenson Fund, and funds managed by Parkwalk Advisors.

Gaynor Matthews

Gaynor Matthews has spent 25 years on the UK startup scene, as a founder, partner and board advisor. She is currently Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer at myNexus, a Manchester-based venture using gamification to match entrepreneurs to potential investors. It aims to reduce bias in the investment ecosystem and improve access to early-stage funding. 

Having co-founded myNexus in 2019, Matthews now leads on partner acquisition at the company. Prior to this, Matthews founded Wow How in 2015, leading the business as CEO to develop an AR mobile app for the makeup industry. She also co-founded Sway Solutions, where she mentored startup entrepreneurs seeking pre-seed and seed funding rounds. 

Matthews has continued in her work supporting emerging founders, as a Business Growth Advisor at the University of Warwick Science Park. She has also backed e-commerce platform Octer as an angel investor, and is a NED at sustainable and ethical beauty brand Counter Culture Store.

Manoj Badale & Charles Mindenhall

Business partners Manoj Badale and Charles Mindenhall have been working together since 1998, when they set up London-based venture capital firm Blenheim Chalcot. Since launching, the fund has helped build 42 digital ventures and expanded to three offices (in London, Mumbai and New York), with thousands of employees and £1.5b worth of assets currently under management.

Alongside this, Baale and Mindednhall have also co-founded nine ambitious UK businesses together, across a broad range of tech sectors. These include payments scaleup Modulr, marketing tech platform Fospha, IT company Agilisys, edtechs AVADO and Hive Learning, alternative finance firm Liberis, and Nottingham-based fintech Oakbrook Finance. Badale is also Co-Founder at both Salary Finance and ClearScore. The pair have almost £20m in combined current shareholdings in high-growth companies in the UK.

Sarah Jane Thomson

Serial entrepreneur Sarah Jane Thomson is CEO and Co-Founder at First News and discover.film. She founded First News in 2006, a weekly newspaper for young people between the ages of 7-14, which now has an audience of over 2m readers. And then, having established herself in the UK’s fast-growth media space, Thomson went on to build discover.film in 2016. The company provides an online content streaming service, specialising in short films. 

Meanwhile, in 2007, Thomson co-founded cybersecurity firm ThreatAware (part of PriorityOne IT), with Jonathan Abbott and her husband Stephen. ThreatAware develops digital security software for businesses. It attended Plexal’s LORCA accelerator programme for innovative cybersecurity companies from January 2020 to January 2021. Alongside this, Thomson also holds shares in energy consulting startup Black Mountain Developments and music app Beat The Intro.

Daniel Cobley

Last but not least, Daniel Cobley has three high-growth UK companies to his name, as well as 21 directorships and around £1.5m in current shareholdings. He is a Managing Partner at Blenheim Chalcot and also works alongside Manoj Badale as a Co-Founder at Salary Finance and ClearScore.

In 2019, he co-founded proptech venture Koodoo with Sebastian McDermott and Andrei Lebed, where he is Chairman. Koodoo’s digital platform works with lenders to match homeowners with mortgages. Alongside this, Cobley is also Chairman at Pirkx, which operates an employee membership benefit scheme for gig economy workers.

Cobley’s primary focus is fintech, as both an entrepreneur and investor, having previously worked at Capital One (VP of Brand and Marketing) and Google (VP Brand Solutions). He has, however, advised and invested in high-growth businesses across several different industries, including fitness app FiiT, lawtechs Definely and Farewill, and adtech QuBit, which was acquired by Canadian company Coveo in October 2021.

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