Our Knowledge

Did we mention these five unicorns?

Our top 5 tech companies making waves in 2019

As we progress deeper into the digital age, it is those companies innovating with emergent technologies that are sending some of the biggest shockwaves through the business world. Indeed, amongst recent additions to the ‘unicorn’ list of companies, privately held start-up enterprises valued at over £1BN, are an over-representation of tech firms.

In this piece, we ‘re going to look at five companies who have leveraged new technologies to become some of the most influential disruptors in the UK and beyond.


Established in 2015 by British-Russian former trader, Nikolay Storonsky, Revolut is a UK financial technology company that offers a range of banking services. To date, these include prepaid debit cards, currency exchanges, cryptocurrency exchanges and peer-to-peer payments. The company was born out of Storonsky’s frustrations at having to fork out hundreds of pounds on foreign transaction fees and exchange rate commissions when travelling abroad.

Alleviating the frustrations felt by Storonsky and indeed many others, is a facility through Revolut which permits the equivalent of £200 per month in free international ATM withdrawals. No more foreign transaction fees and no more exchange rate commissions. Through the app, users can also now create budgets and round up card payments to the nearest whole number, before stashing the spare change away into a savings account.

As well as currently boasting close to 3 million users and with $336.4M raised in funding so far.


Founded in 2013 by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge and individuals with cyber operations experience at intelligence agencies, Darktrace have harnessed the power of AI to create a system for digital environments which mimics the human body’s immune system.

Darktrace’s ‘Enterprise Immune System’ uses proprietary machine learning and complex AI algorithms to build what they’ve termed a “pattern of life” for every user, device and network within an organisation. With the patterns identified, the system then establishes parameters within which “normal activity” takes place and any activity which disrupts the pattern is detected and targeted in a similar way white blood cells attack a foreign body.

In other words, abnormal behaviour is automatically detected, analysed and an appropriate method of defence applied. For example, the system slows down or stops compromised connections or devices, in order to nullify threats without impacting normal business operations.


Elvie are a company producing technological appliances specifically for the female body, FemTech as they call it. It all started when they launched a smart, app-connected Kegel trainer to help women develop stronger pelvic floors. Having scooped up dozens of awards, thousands of health expert recommendations and a tidy army of female devotees, Elvie moved on to digitalise a tool that had remained manual for far too long; the breast pump.

Again app-based, the Elvie Pump is a discrete, silent breast pump which fits into the cup of the bra and with no tubes or wires, silently pumps away, filling the receptacle with breast milk.

Not quite a unicorn company just yet, Elvie have nevertheless secured over £8M in funding since their 2013 launch. Moreover, they’ve allowed women to emerge from cupboards and toilet cubicles and bin their Victorian looking hand-pumps in exchange for a truly 21st Century device.


At a time when concerns are growing as to the fate of our planet, companies offering green alternatives are in vogue in a way they haven’t been ever before. Riding the crest of this wave is Bulb, an energy supplier offering gas and electricity derived from entirely renewable sources and with tariffs that undercut the traditional providers by some margin.

Founded by two former energy industry professionals who’d grown tired of the inefficiency, poor service levels, high tariffs and high carbon emissions the sector had become synonymous with, Bulb’s all-green proposition has gone down decidedly well with home-owners. In fact, they now supply over 300,000 households in the UK.

The Bulb model isn’t just posting impressive numbers in terms of customers either. After their latest round of funding, they’re calculated to be worth around £400M and are predicted to hit unicorn status within a couple of years.


Chances are you’ve never heard of Monese, which will probably make what you’re about to learn surprising; they were the first mobile bank in the UK.

The Monese story began almost 20 years ago when Estonian entrepreneur, Norris Koppel, moved to the UK. Upon arriving one of his first jobs was to set up a bank account but, unable to provide a proof of address or credit history, his applications for a current account with the major high-street banks, were roundly rejected. Koppel’s experiences led to him vowing that he would one day develop a banking service that did not exclude customers based on their residency or credit history.

It took until 2015 for Koppel’s Monese to launch their first product, but their rise since has been stratospheric. A year later they were awarded ‘Best Challenger Bank’ at the 2016 European Fintech Awards and by the end of 2017, £0.5BN worth of customer transactions had been completed.

Today, Monese employs over 200 people across four countries, around 3,000 people sign up for a product every day, and customers are moving over £3BN each year through their Monese accounts.

Read more from Our Knowledge...

Looking for insights from your industry? Curious to hear the views and thoughts of a diverse and interesting network?

Join the Friday Flash!

A weekly dose of something a little different.