With 12 days to go until the publication of this year’s Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, Richard Tyler, director of research and editorial at Fast Track, previews some of the key themes.
From online shopping, peer-to-peer lending and gaming apps to life-saving biotechnology and software that enables new patterns of working, Britain’s tech sector is taking an increasingly important role in the economy and our everyday lives.
Compiling this year’s 15th annual Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, published on Sunday 6th September, we can see the individual companies driving this change. While we want to keep the full league table secret until 6th September, we can now reveal some of this year’s key findings.
First of all, while still male-dominated, this year’s ranking of Britain’s fastest growing tech companies goes some way to counter the stereotypical all-male tech scene, with roughly a tenth of the companies either run, co-founded or at least 20%-owned by women.
Our fast-moving tech companies are not constrained to Shoreditch. London is the indisputable hub of the UK tech scene, but this year’s league table will show that businesses can thrive elsewhere in the country. Edinburgh in particular is home to three fast-growing firms, and perhaps surprisingly another four can be found in Brighton and three in Norwich.
Amid growing concern that the sector is in a “bubble”, it may be reassuring that a large majority of the Tech Track 100 are profitable. This was the case last year too, when over three quarters (78) of the 100 made an operating profit in their latest financial year, with an average profit margin of 12%.
The list will also reinforce some more positive preconceptions: while not start-ups, the companies are typically young, with the majority having been founded since 2005. And they’re truly international, with the majority selling their goods and services overseas.
Among them are some fast-emerging household names. Their services can help when arranging your finances, buying a car, planning your next holiday, or upgrading the contents of your wardrobe. (See Hiscox’s Home of the Future hub for some examples of how technology is transforming the home).
Two fifths of last year’s Tech Track 100 companies are still growing quickly enough to make a return to the table in 2015. For others, their absence is actually a measure of their success. Take Hide My Ass!, the online security provider which 26 year-old founder Jack Cator sold to Dutch company AVG Technologies in May in a deal worth up to $60m. Another is smart home monitoring provider AlertMe, which was bought by British Gas for £44m in February, part of a new wave of “Internet of things” businesses.
Other past stars of Tech Track 100 over the past 15 years have started a new life on the stock market. Among recent examples, Just Eat was valued at £1.5bn, and Zoopla at £919m when they floated in 2014. Just Eat is now worth £2.4bn and Zoopla nearly £1bn.
We’re looking forward to revealing the latest crop of tech growth stars on the 6th of September.
Fast Track has been identifying the most successful private companies in Britain and ranking them in its league tables published with The Sunday Times since 1997. To find out more about the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, visit the Fast Track website.
Stay tuned on here for this year’s Tech Track 100 results as well as a range of interviews, opinion pieces, case studies and more.