10 Tech Startups to Watch in 2021

Fintech, payments, automation, data analytics and more - check out these energetic tech startups and their potential.

The UK’s B2B space is a bright and buoyant place with new technology companies popping up regularly and at speed. Here are 10 startups that have recently appeared on our radar – with some concise analysis of their services and area of interest. 

The startups are at different stages of their business lives but all their ambitions are to be applauded. They’re a healthy mix of fintech, payments, neobanks, digital credentials, automation, data analytics and cloud-based solutions for law firms.

BenePay

Well, let’s kick off in alphabetical order with BenePay. This is a payment and digital identity SaaS company for businesses and public sector entities.

Based in London, the fintech startup was founded in August 2020 by Sid Madavapeddi. His financial services experience includes HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Tesco Bank and BNY Mellon.

BenePay says it acts as an intermediary between payers and payees, providing a communication hub, capturing the payee details, managing their payments, and so on.

In the future, it intends to execute payments itself for the payers, providing various payment destinations around the world, and offering guaranteed foreign exchange rates.

BondAval

The name’s Bond, BondAval. This new payments entity is located in London and provides a digital platform for B2B credit security to replace bank guarantees and “traditional collateral-based instruments”.

With fintech action firmly in its sights, BondAval secured $1.64 million (£1.2 million) in pre-seed funding in January and launched in the US in July.

A lot of fintech firms talk of their ambitions to ‘democratise’ that sector of technology and this start-up is no exception. It reckons smaller companies are “forced to lock away large portions of working capital and go through long laborious procedures to secure inventory purchases”.

To shake up the “status quo” it unleashed MicroBonds in June. This is its proprietary technology-enabled and underwritten surety bonds.

BondAval was founded last year by Thomas Powell and Sam Damoussi.

Bound

Bound bounced into view in December 2020 with plans to offer businesses fixed exchange rates.

The London-based fintech startup lets companies set a protected rate that can be used anytime for up to a year. Bound points out that if the rate moves in favour of the client, they do get access to the better market rate.

Its website is in beta mode, and the firm is targeting the nation’s SMEs as they may not have financial departments dedicated to managing foreign currency risk.

Bound was set up by Daniel Kindler and Seth Phillips. It bagged £4 million funding last month.

cheqd

Formerly known as verim, cheqd was established in February 2021 and offers a network for creating digital credential businesses.

cheqd comments: “Over the past few years many startups, established ID companies, governments, and nonprofits have used decentralised identity to give people more control back of their data and make its use secure and transparent.”

However, it believes an incentives layer is missing for the self-sovereign identity ecosystem, which in turn hampers adoption. cheqd uses blockchain to create its decentralised network for digital identity payments.

The start-up’s founders are Ankur Banerjee and Fraser Edwards. In May, cheqd got some undisclosed funding, while last month it launched a testnet on the Cosmos network with Evernym (a platform for verifiable credentials) and others.

Climate X

The name is an obvious indicator of its ambitions, and Climate X provides climate data and analytics, quantifying how different climate-change pathways could result in physical risks until 2100 (the probability and severity of extreme weather events). The London-based start-up wants to bring all this into the real world by calculating a £/$ impact to assets affected by those events.

The firm explains that the projections are done at scale – “running calculations automatically across millions of assets anywhere in the world”. The plan is to help companies identify climate related-risks, build climate-resilient business strategies and comply with incoming regulatory requirements.

Climate X was founded in December 2020 by Kamil Kluza and Lukky Ahmed. Last month it secured £1.1 million in a pre-seed funding round.

Legl 

Another company name that makes it abundantly clear as to its market goals. Legl provides cloud-based solutions for law firms.

The start-up is the oldest on this list as it was set up in 2019 by Julia Salasky, whose experience includes work as a lawyer for the United Nations. Legl is her second legal tech venture – with the other being CrowdJustice. The latter was founded in 2015 and is a platform to help people fund legal action.

Legl offers digital client onboarding, due diligence, audit trails, integration and payment options. As it is a few years old it has already got some traction. For example, 20k+ clients have been onboarded.

In March it bagged £5 million in funding to boost its lawful good ambitions.

Kanexy

Kanexy launched in January this year offering money transfer and exchange services. The company provides personal and business accounts, and wants to build a “universal financial fintech platform”. (Which is a popular ambition in that sector.)

Its website goes into plenty of details about its services – such as banking, cards, bookkeeping, a marketplace and merchant accounts.

The startup will probably be deemed a neobank or challenger bank. Which is a fair description as such entities are taking on the banks. But as with many of these companies they do point out they are not a bank, but instead offer an e-money account which in turn is provided by another firm. In the case of Kanexy, this is done by Payernet.

Syam Puli is the founder and Kanexy is headquartered in London. His experience includes NEX, GE Capital, DHL and Accenture.

Looper

Emerging out of Edinburgh, Looper was founded in June this year by Shashwat Ganguly and Yiqiang Zhao.

As with Climate X it has the significant subject of climate challenges on its mind. Looper offers AI-powered B2B SaaS software to automate building carbon calculation. The start-up says its web-based performance analysis software can help architects and sustainability specialists accelerate the design validation process.

By using its explainable AI, the start-up will simulate “millions of design possibilities” based on its database and suggest several alternative options to assist architects.

Looper’s website is offering early access at present.

Templar Payments

Templar Payments is hunting for good days and nights with the launch of its fintech platform for merchant service brokers. It describes itself as a Boarding as a Service, payment gateway and cloud-based CRM system.

The financial services firm finds it “bemusing” that the sector is dependent on sharing information through emails and hard copies. It wants to cut out the number of service providers involved in accepting card payments online; and users of its white-labelled web application can apply to multiple banks at the same time.

It also wants its users – i.e. independent sales organisations – to aim high as Templar reckons its technology would give them the power to compete against the likes of Stripe and PayPal. Not an impossible dream, but certainly a tough one.

Templar is headquartered in Leeds and received £100,000 funding when it was launched in August 2020. In June 2021 it got an undisclosed amount of funding. The fintech start-up was founded by Kathryn Miller and Nathan Watkins.

Wedo

Let the music play! Wedo is headquartered in Glasgow and describes itself as “the world’s first live streaming social platform and neobank for people to monetise their skills”.

It’s looking for action in the B2B and B2C segments – and will provide chat, video and payments via one platform. There are a lot of new firms in the UK looking at offering payments and it has been that way for several years.

Wedo’s website has a waitlist at present, and it details some of the financial tools on offer. The startup was established in March 2020 and has bagged £730,000 in funding to date.

The founder is Indiana Gregg, and she has an interesting background. Gregg was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, and is a singer-songwriter and tech entrepreneur living near Glasgow. She has her own page on Wikipedia; and her music contains elements of pop, soul and folk. Bear with me… Gregg is a ‘Woman At Work’ and no doubt will be looking for ‘Sweet Things’ in the tech sector.

Antony Peyton
Antony Peyton is the Editor of eWeek UK and has 17 years' journalism and writing experience. His career has taken him to China, Japan and the UK - covering tech, fintech and business. Follow on Twitter @TonyFintech.

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