Innovation

Wonderbly, Smarkets & Darktrace top Tech Track 100

By Kitty Knowles 11 September 2017
Summary

Britain's booming digital businesses aren't always what you'd expect.

You might not have guessed it, but a children’s book company is at the fore of British tech, even sliding in ahead of betting exchange Smarkets and cybersecurity experts Darktrace.

Wonderbly, formerly known as Lost My Name, offers personalised stories to keep kids engaged, and today tops The Sunday Times’ Tech Track 100 – a list not compiled by nepotism or reputation, but by ranking Britain’s 100 private tech companies according to who’s had the fastest-growing sales in the past three years.

The east London publisher isn’t the only family-friendly business to make an appearance – kids ad agency SuperAwesome and Kano’s computer kits also rank in the top 50 – showing that you don’t necessarily have to be building a hard-nosed product to be tough in business.

What would you expect?

Traditionally moneyed industries are also thriving, of course, with well-known leaders in digital finance (TransferWise, RecieptBank and LendInvest) making the cut.

But what’s great about the Tech Track 100 is it shines a light on sometimes overlooked areas where creative culture and business combine: Festicket, for example, is making it easier than ever for music fans to catch their favourite bands on stage, while LADbible shines in the world of new media (both are in the Tech Track top 10).

In the world of fashion, Threads Styling, FarFetch and Lyst are blossoming, while other businesses are on a mission to streamline your holiday experiences (why not fly with a Victor private jet, to your SecretEscapes hotel, and send a selfie Touchnote postcard while you’re there?).

Game developers include Outplay Entertainment (who’ve worked on Candy Crush and Angry Birds franchises), while Milk has won Academy and BAFTA awards for its incredible visual effects.

Read more: Send sunny selfies with a TouchNote ‘postcard of the future’

Big business

Today, it can still be all too easy to forget how far-reaching technology is: to mistakenly box ‘tech’ into what you use at work, on your computer.

But the reality is, in our world of smartphones and smart homes, and it’s shaping every element of our lives – our finance, our fashion, our family lives.

If Tech Track 100 shows us anything, it’s that for Britain that means big business.

Check out the full rankings below…

Tech Track 100

Tech Track 100
Rank Company Location Year end Annual sales rise over 3 years Latest sales £000s Staff Comment
1 Wonderbly

Personalised children’s books

East London Apr-17 294.27% *25,860 80
Has sold nearly 3m customisable children’s books in 200 countries
2 Smarkets

Betting exchange

Central London Dec-16 280.05% *25,417 78
Says its staff set their own salaries and have an unlimited holiday allowance
3 Darktrace

Cyber-security developer

Cambridge Jun-17 267.61% *31,000 475
Has raised more than $180m from investors including Invoke Capital
4 Hunter Macdonald

IT consultancy

Reading Jun-17 267.06% *29,147 437
Employs a team of more than 100 developers to create bespoke applications
5 TransferWise

Currency transfer provider

East London Mar-17 226.85% *67,010 598
Valued at above $1bn after raising $117m from backers including Sir Richard Branson
6 Festicket

Festival booking services

Central London Dec-16 224.83% 16,026 51
Has created a one-stop-shop for 2.5m festival-goers
7 Oakbrook

Consumer finance provider

Nottingham Dec-16 213.84% 24,848 70
Uses machine learning to help estimate borrowers’ credit risk
8 SuperAwesome

Children’s advertising services

Central London Dec-16 210.71% *10,181 80
Serves some of the world’s largest kids’ brands from offices in America, Asia and Australia
9 LADbible Group

Online entertainment community

Manchester Dec-16 208.17% *9,221 110
Claims its flagship channels are followed by half of all 18-30 year olds in the UK
10 Receipt Bank

Bookkeeping automation services

Central London Dec-16 185.30% *6,177 185
Says 100,000 businesses in America, Europe and Australia use its bookkeeping software
11 GoCardless

Payment services provider

Central London Dec-16 174.15% *5,969 120
Processes £3bn of direct debit payments a year for more than 25,000 businesses
12 Brainlabs

Digital marketing agency

Central London Mar-17 172.11% *14,753 105
Founder Dan Gilbert left Google to start this company in his parents’ attic in 2011
13 Outplay Entertainment

Mobile games developer

Dundee Dec-16 171.61% 15,585 210
More than 20m players have downloaded its Alien Creeps game
14 Infinox

Currency trading platform

Central London Mar-17 164.26% *17,542 18
Generates two-thirds of its sales from traders in Asia
15 Virtus Data Centres

Data centre operator

Central London Dec-16 163.48% 23,573 45
Owns and operates data centres in Enfield, Hayes and Slough
16 Optal

Payment services provider

Central London Dec-16 162.84% *129,061 38
Offers payment processing in 34 currencies
17 Hyperoptic

Internet services provider

West London Dec-16 160.86% 8,775 297
Aims to provide superfast broadband to more than 2m homes by 2022
18 WDX

Wealth management platform

Central London Sep-16 155.25% *6,172 40
Its software is used by 10 of the UK’s top 25 wealth management firms
19 Perkbox

Employee engagement services

Central London Dec-16 146.34% *14,675 96
Companies use its platform to offer staff perks such as two-for-one meals
20 LoopMe

Advertising technology developer

Central London Dec-16 143.74% 12,820 60
Says its artificial-intelligence technology reaches 2bn devices around the world
21 iwoca

Business finance provider

Central London Dec-16 128.53% *13,236 140
Its 140 employees include three former Olympians
22 UKCloud

Cloud services provider

Farnborough Mar-17 127.13% *42,918 158
High-profile investors include Tim Henman, Andy Murray and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason
23 Yieldify

Marketing technology developer

Central London Apr-17 124.97% *9,106 103
Has raised nearly £15m from investors including Google Ventures and Softbank
24 LoveCrafts

Crafts communities platform

Central London Mar-17 124.62% *18,132 100
With £44m of venture capital, it has created a crafts community covering 140 countries
25 PsiOxus

Biotechnology developer

Abingdon Nov-16 120.50% *8,564 46
Its new solid tumour-destroying virus is entering clinical trials in America
26 ZappiStore

Research services provider

Central London Dec-16 116.87% 10,975 146
Holds weekly hackathons with its clients and programmers
27 Funding Circle

Peer-to-peer lending platform

Central London Dec-16 111.80% *50,878 741
Reports that more than £3bn has been lent through its website to 33,000 businesses
28 ImpulsePay

Mobile payment technology

Central London Dec-16 109.50% *16,242 7
CrossCountry Trains uses its technology to charge customers for wi-fi access
29 Neuven

HR software developer

Manchester Jul-16 107.11% 86,354 24
Its technology is used by employers of temporary staff
30 Love Energy Savings

Price comparison website

Bolton Dec-16 103.17% 13,207 114
Says it has helped 130,000 UK homes and businesses save on energy costs since 2007
31 Red Badger

Digital consultancy

East London Oct-16 102.61% *7,015 75
Designed and built a new content management system for Sky
32 Threads Styling

Online fashion services

East London Dec-16 102.30% *8,291 44
Uses social media to make it easier for fashionistas to buy luxury clothes
33 Victor

Online private jet hire

Central London Dec-16 101.33% 29,592 59
Counts Sir Elton John among its investors
34 Immunocore

Biotechnology developer

Abingdon Dec-16 100.41% 16,465 279
Has raised £205m from investors including Woodford Investment Management and Malin
35 Blis

Advertising technology provider

Central London Dec-16 100.15% *28,151 138
Its location-predicting tool is used by Stella Artois to target new customers in bars
36 StarLeaf

Video conferencing provider

Watford Dec-16 99.11% 6,048 130
Its founders set up Tech Track 100 alumnus Codian and sold it for $270m in 2007
37 LendInvest

Property finance provider

Central London Mar-17 97.90% *22,111 102
It has taken a 10% share of the short-term mortgage market
38 Captify

Advertising technology company

Central London Mar-17 96.05% *25,054 181
Analysis of 33bn searches a month provides data for its campaign and marketing insights
39 PM Connect

Mobile content provider

Birmingham Feb-17 95.54% †14,470 25
Bounce Games, iFitness and Love Food are among this company’s brands
40 WorldRemit

Currency transfer provider

Central London Dec-16 95.07% *41,054 324
Founder came up with the idea for the business after paying huge fees on money transfers
41 BBOXX

Solar system manufacturer

West London Dec-16 94.77% *8,898 447
Aims to provide electricity for 20m people in developing countries by 2020
42 Double Eleven

Video games publisher

Middlesbrough Sep-16 92.32% *6,112 38
Says its games have been played by more than 10m people worldwide
43 Symetrica

Radiation detection equipment

Southampton Sep-16 91.72% 8,175 50
Its technology can detect materials that may be used in dirty bombs
44 Media iQ

Digital marketing agency

Central London Dec-16 91.20% *91,880 330
Develops its own analytical software in Bangalore, India
45 Kano

Educational computer developer

East London Dec-16 87.88% *6,295 44
Has shipped more than 150,000 of its build-your-own computer kits to 86 countries
46 Black Swan Data

Analytical software developer

Central London May-17 87.22% *15,098 252
Last year it raised £6.2m to develop its product platform and accelerate international growth
47 Adaptive

Financial software developer

Central London Jun-17 86.24% *15,198 116
Increased staff from five to more than 100 in just five years
48 Capital on Tap

Business finance provider

West London Mar-17 84.49% 9,080 54
Its founders also set up Paymentsense, No 63 in the league table
49 Zopa

Peer-to-peer lending platform

South London Dec-16 83.49% 33,220 188
Says it was the first European peer-to-peer lender to exceed £2bn in loans
50 Cloud Technology Solutions

Cloud software developer

Manchester Mar-17 82.62% *15,177 67
Its CloudMigrator software tool has moved 6.2m users to the cloud
51 Ebury

Business finance provider

Central London Apr-17 82.12% *38,052 480
Has raised more than £85m from venture capital and private equity investors
52 Farfetch

Online fashion platform

East London Dec-16 81.90% *622,217 1242
Secured a $397m investment from Chinese ecommerce business JD.com in June
53 Epos Now

Payment systems developer

Norwich May-17 81.21% *13,947 293
More than 30,000 businesses use its cloud-based point-of-sale systems
54 Performance Horizon

Marketing software developer

Newcastle Dec-16 77.61% 11,895 124
Its founders set up Tech Track 100 alumnus Buy.at and sold it to AOL for $125m in 2008
55 Qualasept Pharmaxo

Pharmaceuticals manufacturer

Wiltshire Apr-16 76.95% 87,857 141
Claims it has developed the UK’s single biggest aseptic clean room
56 iPulse

Hair removal technology

Swansea Dec-16 72.47% *17,492 32
Uses pulsed light technology to permanently remove unwanted body hair
57 Clyde Space

Satellite manufacturer

Glasgow Apr-16 71.95% *5,257 75
Builds up to 12 flight-ready mini-satellites each month
58 CashFlows

Payment services provider

Cambridge Dec-16 71.91% *37,312 78
Acquired online payment provider iCheque last year
59 CitNOW

Video software developer

Wokingham Dec-16 71.89% *7,019 67
Has subscribers in 44 countries, who produce 500 hours of video every day
60 geo

Smart energy monitoring

Cambridge Mar-17 71.76% *22,603 56
Has sold more than 4m devices to help people monitor energy usage in their homes
61 Trak Global Group

Vehicle tracking technology

Crewe Jun-17 70.60% *25,296 225
Says its software allows firms such as Rentokil to track their vehicles via employees’ phones
62 RateSetter

Peer-to-peer lending platform

East London Mar-17 68.00% *23,701 187
350,000 individuals and small firms have used its platform to borrow a total of £2bn
63 Paymentsense

Payment services provider

West London Mar-17 67.54% *62,301 235
Serves 57,000 small businesses and processed £5.5bn of card payments last year
64 Grapeshot

Advertising technology developer

Cambridge Dec-16 65.68% 9,045 76
Its founders spent four years developing its technology before launching
65 AnalogFolk

Digital marketing agency

Central London Dec-16 64.50% *27,662 220
Created the first UK brand campaign to use Snapchat’s wearable glasses, for Costa Coffee
66 Egress

Data security provider

Central London Dec-16 62.09% 5,442 100
Users of its platform can revoke access to emails after they have reached the recipient’s inbox
67 TouchNote

Personalised photo-card provider

Central London Dec-16 62.07% *5,072 16
Has sent more than 9m personalised photo cards to 200 countries
68 Secret Escapes

Online travel services

Central London Dec-16 61.31% *48,674 368
Has raised £51m from investors including Google Ventures
69 Giacom

Cloud services provider

Hull Jul-16 60.73% 6,629 50
Its MessageStream platform is used by more than 4,000 software resellers
70 LPW Technology

Metal powder manufacturer

Cheshire Aug-16 60.69% †10,406 82
Investing £20m over two years to develop its manufacturing facilities and product range
71 Prepaid Financial Services

Payment services provider

Central London Dec-16 59.05% 41,843 48
Its prepaid cards are used by governments, multinational companies and individuals
72 Croud

Digital marketing agency

East London Mar-17 58.75% *7,714 83
Employs more than 1,200 digital marketing experts, or ‘Croudies’, around the world
73 Milk Visual Effects

Visual effects developer

Central London Mar-17 57.94% *10,273 109
Co-founder Sara Bennett won an Oscar for creating visual effects used in the film Ex Machina
74 The Media Image

Digital marketing agency

South London Feb-17 56.77% *18,398 33
Founded by the man who was the first recruit for Google UK’s Adwords
75 Ipsotek

Video analytics provider

West London Dec-16 55.92% *5,062 41
Its patented software analyses CCTV footage to identify security threats
76 Bede Gaming

Gambling software developer

Newcastle Dec-16 54.41% *8,157 120
Employs 120 developers at its offices in Newcastle, London and Sofia, Bulgaria
77 Mediatonic

Computer games developer

Central London Sep-16 53.77% *7,367 110
Worked with Warner Bros to create a mobile game for Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts
78 InfoMedia

Mobile payment provider

Northampton Oct-16 52.34% *34,020 30
Last year it processed 40m payments for customers’ mobile phone bills
79 M Squared Lasers

Laser designer and manufacturer

Glasgow Feb-16 52.13% *13,896 90
Its advanced laser systems are used by Nobel prize-winning scientists
80 Kimble Applications

Software developer

Central London Dec-16 50.60% *5,206 41
Set up by serial entrepreneurs with backing from 30 angel investors
81 Infectious Media

Advertising software developer

Central London Mar-17 50.53% *45,177 101
Helps customers including Adidas and Expedia convert ad views to sales
82 NewVoiceMedia

Contact centre software developer

Basingstoke Jan-17 50.18% *32,204 370
Has raised more than £100m from investors including BGF Ventures
83 ActiveQuote

Price comparison website

Cardiff Sep-16 49.02% *7,598 129
Its technology is used by other websites such as Gocompare and uSwitch
84 Brandwatch

Social media monitoring

Brighton Dec-16 48.96% 29,100 354
Says it collects 200m online data points every day
85 Lyst

Fashion search platform

East London Mar-17 48.66% *10,538 120
Has raised £39m from technology investors including Accel Partners and Balderton
86 Godel Technologies

Software developer

Manchester Dec-16 48.65% *9,052 350
Is named after the late German mathematician Kurt Gödel
87 PrivateFly

Online private jet hire

St Albans May-17 48.38% *22,259 31
Opened an office in Fort Lauderdale last year to serve the growing American market
88 Spektrix

Ticketing software supplier

Central London Dec-16 48.04% *5,152 65
Processed sales of more than 15m theatre tickets in 2016
89 Chameleon

Smart energy monitoring

Harrogate Dec-16 47.97% *10,860 21
Almost 2m of its energy display units have been installed in UK homes
90 Bullitt Group

Consumer electronics designer

Reading Dec-16 46.86% *99,673 98
Sells its branded electronics to more than 70 countries
91 Lineup Systems

Advertising technology developer

Central London Jun-16 46.16% *7,285 85
Its software comes in 21 languages and has 8,000 users across 33 countries
92 Ratio

price comparison website

Bournemouth Apr-17 46.11% *8,756 22
Its diverse services range from a price comparison site to an underwear subscription club
93 SaleCycle

Marketing technology developer

Tyne and Wear Mar-17 45.85% *12,034 154
It has helped companies such as Virgin Atlantic increase online sales by more than 5%
94 Feefo

Customer review platform

Hampshire Mar-17 45.07% *8,090 100
More than 3,500 brands use Feefo to collect reliable customer feedback
95 Dianomi

Content marketing services

Central London Dec-16 44.24% *8,702 22
Its technology places more than 3.5bn ads each month on financial news websites
96 MVF

Lead generation services

North London Mar-17 44.06% *54,257 319
In February it acquired publisher Startups.co.uk for an undisclosed sum
97 Know Your Money

Price comparison website

Norwich Mar-17 43.94% *8,369 17
Its three co-founders launched the business in 2004 with a £5,000 credit-card loan
98 Edge Testing Solutions

Software testing provider

Glasgow Dec-16 42.46% 10,099 91
Offers two hubs for its clients to test their products before launch
99 M24Seven

Internet services provider

Manchester Mar-17 42.43% *33,555 217
Acquired internet infrastructure and hosting firm M247 for £47.5m last October
100 CV-Library Holdings

Online job site

Hampshire Jun-16 42.03% 25,186 132
Stores nearly 12m CVs on its website