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Silicon Roundup; The Good Ship Startup Plots A Course Through The Brexit Storm

London aerial view with Tower Bridge in sunset time

Whilst everyone in London discusses a potential “Brexit”, startup’s are quietly getting on with the job of scaling

There’s been good news for maturing early stage startup’s based in London in the past week.

It’s good to see the seed / Angel / VC model working just like it’s supposed to.

Last week, Polystream founders Adam Billyard and Bruce Grove, who between them have accumulated experience at Criterion, Electronic Arts, Dell and Onlive (Billyard is an ex fighter jet designer who spent 10 years in various tech leadership roles in the US) announced a $1.5m seed funding round led by early stage investors Venture Partners and Initial Capital.

Polystream is an ultra HD application delivery solution which leverages cloud services such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google to deliver playable game demos, beta trials and even entire games to almost any device, seamlessly and without hardware constraints.

““We are transforming the world of ordinary linear video into an extraordinary interactive experience; completely redefining both the technology and the business of application streaming”, commented Billyard.

““What they are delivering is transformative, and so of course we’re going to double-down” said David Lau-Kee, general partner at LVP of the service, which, he adds “has the tech and team to deliver app cloud streaming that actually works, economically and in UltraHD quality.”

Meanwhile Lost My Name, alumni of early stage “solo founder” backers Forward Partners, a team of startup scientists led by ex DFJ Esprit partner and well known Silicon Roundabout personality Nic Brisbourne, who successfully won investment live on Dragons Den in 2014, announced a further raise of €4m, from Berlin based VC Project A which saw Project A founding partner Florian Heinemann join the startup’s board. VCs Greycroft and Florida based Allen & Co also joined the round.

Lost My Name, who create personalised, digitally enhanced storybooks for children, and raised $9m in a Series A round led by Google Ventures last year, are one of the darlings of London’s tech scene.

Says founder and CEO Asi Sharabi, “we aim to create the best personalised experiences as we keep blending storytelling, print and engineering in ways that have never been done before.”

“Lost My Name is well on track to become one of the relevant global players in personalized children’s content”, added Heinemann. Sweet Harmony.

Thread, another Silicon Roundabout “name”, for want of a better expression, the custom, personalised style portal for the male fashion “shopper” has also bagged another round of investment, $5.7m from investors including growth capital investor Beringea, as well as Balderton Capital, who led an $8m investment round into the company last year also backed by Deep Mind’s founders and a former President of Saks Fifth Avenue.

Thread began in 2012 after serial entrepreneurs Kieran O’ Neill, Ben Phillips and Ben Kucsan left Y-Combinator with $25,000 of investment; the new money will be spent on expanding its staff, which numbers 30 at present, and trying to grow a customer base of more than 325k users.

Thread’s unique blend of personalised automation and human stylist based recommendations was described as an “exciting journey” by O’Neill. He must be cut out for the Fash Tech business.

flooding in luxurious kitchen interior. 3d creative illustration

wI’ll the trickle of funding into London startup’s become a flood? Unlikely, but steady accumulation is better than boom and bust in turbulent times

Together with a $2m seed funding raise by DAD, the home services startup led by strategic partner and lead investor Homeserve, as well as the news that digital banking service goHenry has just completed the largest ever funding round on equity crowdfunding site Crowdcube, £3.99m (a quick glance down the list of Crowdcube’s biggest ever investments reveals big rounds from other notable London startup’s such as 1Rebel, £2.9m, Brewdog, £3.1m, and eMoov, £2.6m), it would seem like London’s startup scene is as healthy as it has ever been.

Perhaps all the talk of scaling-up and EUnicorns was a little premature. Most of the bad news London has had to deal with in the first two quarters of 2016 have been around the implosion of one of its so-called biggest players, POWA technologies, and the news, slowly filtering across the Atlantic from Silicon Valley, that investors don’t want to fund loss making mega-startup’s with questionable balance sheets and preposterous valuations for much longer.

Which is a shame in some ways as the “scale up” revolution trumpeted by many never seems to have got started, and probably won’t now. But in a month dominated by Brexit turbulence in the UK, it’s comforting to know that some startup’s are simply making steady progress, continuing to grow and expand and, despite the deluges, making hay while the sun shines.

It’s something the UK has always been good at. But independent, disruptive companies are one thing, an independent, disruptive country is quite another. As 60 odd of London’s most influential “techorati” tried to tell parliament this week.


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